All posts by Vago Damitio

Vago Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. He jumped ship from a sinking dotcom in 2000 and decided to reclaim his most valuable commodity, time. He bought a VW bus for $100, moved into it and set out on a journey to show the world that it was possible to live life on your own terms. That journey took him from waking up under icy blankets in  the Pacific Northwest to waking up under palm tress in Southeast Asia. Three years later, his first book, Rough Living: Tips and Tales of a Vagabond was published. After diving into the Anthropology of Tourism and Electronic Anthropology at the University of Hawaii (with undeclared minors in film and surf) he hit the road again in 2008. Since that time,he's lived primarily in Morocco and Turkey, married a Moroccan girl he couchsurfed with, and become a proud father. He's been to more than 40 countries, founded a successful online travel magazine (this one!), and still doesn't have a boss. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

Singapore Hotels and Hostels

Singapore is just one of those places that you have to visit at least once in your life. In terms of travel, nothing could be easier. Everyone speaks English, it’s modern, and it’s easy to get around. You can fly there from all over the world or if you are in Malaysia you can take an easy bus ride for about $30 U.S.

singapore hotelsI went with First Coach out of KL and enjoyed the ride. Comfortable, air con bus with a stop for food at a big roadside plaza.

Once you arrive you will realize that there are literally hundreds of hostels and hotels in Singapore to choose from.
As you know, one of my odd hobbies is wandering in and out of hotels and here are a few that are worth taking note of. The 1929 Hotel was right in the heart of Chinatown and at first looked like a classic Victorian style hotel, which I like – but when walking in I found that there was something ultra-modern about 1929. I toured the rooms and was blown away by the glass walled bathrooms and the iPod docks in the rooms equipped with Wi-Fi, a Jacuzzi on the roof and a nice garden. The restaurants smelled delicious though I was full on street food so didn’t stop to sample.

Another amazing boutique hotel in Singapore is Wanderlust. Wanderlust is clearly a hipster concept hotel and it is a place for 29-50 year old people who have some money (that’s not me by the way, but I still admired the concept) For those who don’t know wanderlust is a noun that means an irresistibly strong desire or an impulse to travel far away and explore different places. I felt like this hotel was worthy of the name.
boutique hotel room
From their site:

Wanderlust is a left-field and totally experimental boutique hotel set to draw madcap voyagers and curious travellers to its doorstep. Located in Little India – a bustling cultural enclave where Indian immigrants once settled, and the building was originally an old school built it 1920s.

With four thematic levels of 29 rooms by award winning Singapore design agencies, each group was given full creative freedom.
– Lobby Level – Industrial Glam by Asylum – A juxtaposition of the surrounding’s setting and contemporary design.
– Level 2 – Eccentricity by :phunk Studio – Colours everything from the walls to the neon lights and the rainbow corridor leads to a outdoor deck with a customised mosaic-tiled jacuzzi.
– Level 3 – Is it just Black and White by DP Architects – Walk across the black corridor and enter into the contrasting white rooms to discover Origami and Pop-Art works.
– Level 4 – Creature Comforts by Furious – Get cosy with friendly monsters in each room that presents a different vibe and be assured of a fantasy-filled experience.

Those looking for a less eclectic high end experience can simply head to the iconic Marina Bay Sands where they can swim in the pool that pours over the edge of the odd spaceship thing docked on top of the three towers. This is an integrated resort like nothing else you’ve ever seen and even if you aren’t staying there, it’s worthwhile as a tourist stop.

Skypark pool at Marina Bay Sands

Now, I’ve gotta admit, I’m a sucker for names and when I heard the name of the Celestial Resort Pulau Ubin Singapore, I just needed to check it out. Then I looked online and said….eh…not so much. Reviews included the words bloodstained, worst service ever, mosquitos, and hell. I decided to pass since it was a bit out of the way. If you check it out, let me know.

Singapore lion cityOn the budget end of the scale there are a lot of options. Most of them I saw were on the level of Backpackers Inn – Chinatown. Not that clean, not that fun, not that interesting. I can’t particularly recommend any of them since River City Inn offered me a free nights stay but when I was delayed by a day sent me an invoice and Ark 259 was cheap and had rooms but was perhaps the loudest hostel I’ve stayed in. Here is a list of all the hostels in Singapore.

And for those looking for something more enjoyable,here is a fairly complete list of hotels in Singapore.

What hotels do you recommend in Singapore?

Modern Wonders of Singapore

My grandmother used to tell us about how wonderful Singapore was. She would rest and relax there for months on end while my geologist grandfather opened oil wells in Sumatra. My grandparents in Singapore about 1965We never did figure out why they weren’t rich, but maybe it was their mutual love for Singapore hotels and casinos. In any event, one thing is certain, my grandmother loved Singapore. If anyone knows where the bridge above is located in Singapore or the history of it, I would love to know. The people on it in the picture are my grandparents. The year was 1974.

That’s partly why I chose to visit the Lion City in mid March. The other reason was simply that I happened to be nearby. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the budget to stay in the many fancy boutique hotels the city offers to the jetset, nor did I have the inclination to indulge in the many touristic opportunities the city offers. What I did have was a desire to wander around this magnificent city-state and get a sense for what it has to to offer. My conclusion in brief: my grandmother was right, Singapore is a wonderland.

Singapore Resources
Singapore Eyewitness Guide
Singapore Travel Insurance
Singapore Hostels
Singapore History

Each day it seems, Singapore offers something new and innovative to those who are looking to have a unique, adventurous, or just relaxing holiday. As a city it is ultra-modern, easy to get around, exotic, and (here’s a big bonus) nearly everyone speaks English. Singapore is safe for families and solo travelers and it offers plenty to do whether you want to take thrill rides, soak in history or culture, or get pampered and spoiled in the many spas and boutiques.

From Sentosa Island to the Skyline Luge there is something for everyone in Singapore and the weather is almost always perfect for a holiday. For those looking for thrills, the Skyline Luge offers some serious adrenaline. Essentially, it’s taking a bobsled down a concrete track through the jungle. It’s up to you how fast you go down the 650 meter track. On the way down you can watch for monkeys or just check out the views of Sentosa Island and the newly revamped Harbour Walk.

Singapore SkyparkIn my grandmother’s time it was the gardens and the sea that drew the most attention, but these days the architecture of Singapore is equally as exotic. The incredible Marina Bay Sands is composed of three 55 story towers with a huge banana spaceship perched on the top. Since 2009, this modern wonder has been captivating visitors. Especially when they go to the amazing Skypark which fills the banana.

Singapore SkyparkWith the theatre, the casinos, the innovative Art Science Museum, and the many flowers in the city, you will be forgiven if you didn’t happen to look up and see the Skypark, but just in case you did, here is the lowdown. Completed in 2009, the Skypark holds a 146 meter long pool that sits just about 190 meters in the air. Nearly 400,000 gallons of water surrounded by restaurants, botanical gardens, and nightclubs.

The whole complex sits on movable joints connected to the three hotel towers so that if the ground shakes or the wind shifts the buildings, the Skypark will adjust and flex. If you take a swim in the infinity pool, you will no doubt note that the water seems to be falling off the edge of the park…Getting in isn’t cheap (not much in Singapore is) but $20 Singapore dollars is a small price to pay to experience this modern wonder of the world.

Singapore MerlionOf course you are going to head to Sentosa Island while you are in Singapore for the restaurants and more. Sentosa is also called Pulau Belaking Mati, or Death Island. Ohhh…scary. But in fact, Sentosa (the name since the 1970’s) is anything but scary except to your wallet. To get there you take a ten minute cable car ride. After that you can play in the water at the Wave House, visit Universal Studios, or take a walk through some carefully managed rainforest. Of course, if you prefer to zip through the jungle, there is a fun looking adventure park too.

While some people turn up their nose at it, the Singapore Flyer is a must see and must ride for many travelers. The Singapore Flyer is the world’s largest observation wheel and while it may not look like it is moving from a distance, that is because the thing is just really really big (and it moves pretty slow).

world's largest observation towerThe ride takes 30 minutes and passengers sit inside one of twenty eight air con capsules. Each capsule holds twenty people so that means that the Singapore Flyer holds a whopping 784 people. Wow. It was built by Japanese architect Dr. Kisho Kurokawa. It took more than two year to complete and stands 165 meters high. On the ground it takes up more space than not one but two football stadiums. From the top when the weather permits it is easy to see both Indonesia and Malaysia.

New Year’s Eve in the Florida Keys

For many people, New Year’s Eve is one of the most exhilarating events of the year, providing the ideal time to forget about the past and celebrate what’s about to come. Throughout the world, many spectacular events take place on December 31st as the clock edges towards midnight and the anticipation builds. Florida Keys is no different, and if you’re lucky enough to be holidaying in this beautiful area of the United States during Christmas and New Year’s, then you have to make sure you participate in the quirky parties and celebrations the city offers.

Florida Keys New Year

If you’re visiting the sunny state during the festive season, it’s a good idea to get a car so you can easily get around. Especially on the Keys, attractions and events can be spread out, and if you want to head down to Key West, then having the flexibility to jump in a car and drive can be a huge advantage.

There are many places in Florida Keys that celebrate the New Year with style, including the Schooner Wharf Bar, Sloppy Joe’s Bar and Ernest Hemingway’s old hang out. You should remember that many party venues will be selling tickets for the big event and post-midnight celebrations, so it’s important to book ahead so you’re not disappointed. On Duval Street, Sloppy Joe’s is particularly famed for its annual Dropping of the Conch Shell. Whilst New York has a ball drop, and Atlanta has a peach drop, Florida Keys celebrates in a particularly quirky style, with a shell dropped at midnight to celebrate the local surroundings. Crowds start to gather around 10pm and you’ll notice that many people are appropriately dressed in flip flops and bathing suits. As the clock strikes midnight, the Conch Shell drops from the roof of Sloppy Joe’s Bar, much to the excitement of everyone in attendance.

Also on Duval Street, is the world famous Shoe Drop. Located at Bourbon St. Pub, a drag queen Sushi sits atop of a giant high heeled shoe. As the clock nears midnight, crowds gather in anticipation of the drop, and as the New Year is ushered in, the giant red shoe, complete with drag queen, is lowered in celebration. Alternatively, if the crowds are too much as Sloppy Joe’s Bar and Bourbon St. Pub, there’s also the Schooner Wharf Bar, which lowers a Pirate Wench as January 1st arrives.

Florida Keys is a fantastic place to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Long before the evening’s festivities start, you can enjoy the tropical landscape and culture by indulging in some afternoon parasailing, kayaking and snorkelling to get you in the mood. The city is famed for its beaches, and spending December 31st lazing on a sandy shore is an ideal way to say goodbye to the year. Watching the sun go down is also a stunning sight, particularly if you indulge in a glamorous sunset cruise. Then, after you’ve seen the sun disappear on the horizon, you can prepare for the celebrations of the coming night.

The various quirky drops around Key West, including the Wench Drop, Conch Drop and Red High Heel Shoe drop are all free to attend. Whilst this ensures a vibrant atmosphere, it also means that a lot of people fill the streets. If you want a good spot, it’s important to get there early so you’re not disappointed. Florida Keys is certainly an exciting place to spend an unusual New Year’s Eve, and if you’re holidaying in the state’s southernmost city, then celebrating with residents and visitors alike, is a must.