21 Things Singaporeans Will Never Experience If They Don't Travel

21 Things Singaporeans Will Never Experience If They Don’t Travel

This one goes out to all our fellow Singaporeans.

A common sentiment among Singaporeans is the lack of activities on this Little Red Dot except eating and shopping. While the past two years have changed our minds by beckoning us to visit hidden gems or explore the many hiking trails, we can’t deny the immense benefit that comes from Singaporeans travelling overseas — regardless of where that may be to.

Now that most of the borders to our favourite holiday destinations are open, here are some things you might miss out on if you don’t venture out of Singapore!

1. An endless field of flora

singaporeans travel to provence

Image credit: x1klima

Isn’t it a dream to run wild and free through fields of lavender in Provence, tulips in Amsterdam, or sunflowers in Italy with the sun shining on your face and the soft breeze giving your hair the shampoo-ad effect? Admittedly, the floral displays at Gardens by the Bay can be pretty amazing, but they’re a far cry from the bed of roses (literally and metaphorically) that other countries’ open fields have to offer.

Also read: Here Are the Best Spots to Enjoy the Lavender Fields of Provence

2. A mountain higher than 164 metres

singaporeans travel to iceland

Image credit: Charlotte Karlsen

The higher you climb, the fresher the air. However, when your highest summit is a mere 164 metres, your options can be pretty limited. Singaporeans travelling overseas to the many scenic mountain ranges across the globe would be a breath of fresh air compared to Singapore’s small hills.

You’re in for a good workout trekking up those mountains, making hiking up Bukit Timah Nature Reserve seem like a walk in the park. With long trails meandering through the slopes, you might require not just hours but days to complete your hiking adventures.

Also read: Day Trips From Singapore: 7 Mountains To Climb in Malaysia

3. The sight of a million stars in the sky

singaporeans travel to korea

Image credit: SCILLA KIM

Imagine being under a sky filled with thousands of bright twinkling stars; it’s something you can’t dream of seeing in Singapore, even with the clearest night skies.

When Singaporeans travel to witness the most astounding night skies, astronomy class will come alive with just the naked eye, and spotting constellations become a game beyond pen and paper. Truly, the significance of this goes beyond the aesthetic aspect. We’ll take it from Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes: “If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live a lot differently”.

4. A rainbow from one end to the other

singaporeans travel to usa

Image credit: Dave Hoefler

While not entirely impossible, spotting a rainbow from one end to the other is definitely a rare occurrence in Singapore, with so many buildings obstructing the view. (Unless it’s after a heavy rain shower, of course — which we have been witnessing frequently as of late).

For a change, try driving through the New Zealand countryside after a shower, or cruising through the Norwegian fjords where rainbows appear so generously. They often stretch across the sky; you could easily sit under a rainbow, take time to look for that mythical pot of gold, or even run laps from one end to the other.

Editor’s fun fact: A complete rainbow is actually round! 

5. The spectacular Northern Lights

singaporeans travel to scandinavia

Image credit: Balazs Busznyak

Northern lights: on the bucket list of many, and crossed out only by Singaporeans who travel for the adventure: These are the ones who traverse the seas to get to the Nordic countries and brave the cold in the darkness of the night for aurora activity that may or may not appear.

Truly, it goes without saying that this natural phenomenon is an impressive display of light that pretty much beats the Marina Bay Sands Light Show without much competition.

Also read: How to Capture The Northern Lights in Iceland

6. The four seasons and everything in between

Image credit: Boxed Water Is Better

In Singapore, you can never experience the magic of seasons changing. Picture this: The smooth etchings of winter followed by the rainbow of flowers blossoming in spring, before the sun sets ablaze long summer days that unleash a kaleidoscope of red, orange, and yellow on the leaves when autumn comes. Whether you enjoy the cold, crisp winter air or prefer to be blanketed by warm sunshine, seasonal countries have something to offer for Singaporeans travelling overseas.

Also read: Top 10 Coldest Cities in the World for True Winter Lovers

7. Amazing beaches with crystal clear waters

singaporeans travel to brazil

Image credit: Elizeu Dias

Travelling around the globe will lead to the discovery of countless incredible beaches of various kinds. The common favourite: stretches of white sand clear of human traffic, with waters so sparkling clear you can even see deep underneath. After Singaporeans travel to one too many of these beach paradises, your newly-formed “beach standards” might even render the man-made beaches on Sentosa Island subpar.

Also read: 14 Top Islands in Malaysia to Visit in 2022 for the Perfect Beach Getaway

8. A nude beach in all its full-frontal (and full-backal) glory

nude beaches around the world

Image credit: Joe Joe

Lift your top in Sentosa and you will “kena STOMP” before the beach patrol officers can walk over to stop you. Even if you don’t have plans to get naked, simply experiencing a nude beach is only possible outside the confines of this Little Red Dot. Granted, it might end up being much less sexy than what you have in mind. After all, human beauty in all its forms comes in all shapes and sizes; and what better way is there to witness that than when Singaporeans travel to the nude beaches of La Jolla and Crete?

Also read: Go Nude or It’s Rude! 6 World’s Top Nude Beaches You Must Visit

9. REAL skydiving and other adrenaline-pumping activities

swiss alps skydiving

Image credit: Yogendra Negi

Singapore’s Universal Studios Singapore, G-Max Reverse Bungy, and iFly may be exhilarating for some, but for hardcore thrill junkies and adventure seekers, these are child’s play.

Care for some bungee-jumping in New Zealand where it was pioneered, or skydiving over a breathtaking view of the snow-capped Swiss Alps? How about a ride on Japan’s Takabisha, the world’s steepest roller-coaster, or embark on the world’s most dangerous hiking trail on Mount Huashan in China? With so many extreme options outside of Singapore, your thirst for all things heart-stopping can only be quenched if you cross the shores.

Also read: Skydiving, Swimming with Sharks & More: Best Things to Do in Bangkok for Thrill-Seekers

10. Winter sports, sandsledding, and caving

where to do snowboarding

Image credit: swallowsan

When it comes to sports, some things are just rendered impossible due to the climatic and geographical limitations of this tiny island. Unfortunately, our humble Snow City can’t accommodate the quintessential winter activities of skiing and snowboarding.

With no sand dunes, active volcanoes, or labyrinth of caves, how would one tick the experience of these exhilarating activities off their bucket list?

11. Cattle roaming around the streets

Image credit: David Dolenc

No matter what age you are, you can’t miss the chance to say “look! Horse!” whenever you spot one on your road trip in anywhere else but Singapore. Whether it’s sheep or cows or even deer and opossum, you can’t deny that the scene of cattle grazing expansive fields under clear skies is a therapeutic and picture-perfect one.

12. Streetcars, funiculars, and trams

singaporeans travel to portugal

Image credit: Andreas M

Singapore may have extensive train and road networks, but railways and streets remain very much separate. In many other countries, you’ll see trams or streetcars sharing the roads with other vehicles. Also, an inclined version known as the funicular is available in several parts of the world to help you ascend those steep slopes. Even the common train has an added dimension, with the ability to cross state or city lines at the speed of light: just look at Japan’s bullet trains!

Alternatively, ride the world’s slowest express train, the Swiss Glacier Express, and enjoy hours of breathtaking scenery.

13. A vast expanse of cultivated land

prettiest rice terraces

Image credit: Doan Tuan

What you see when driving on the roads of Singapore: tall buildings, trees, followed by more tall buildings and trees. How about making way for a refreshing change of rolling tea plantations, rice terraces, strawberry farms, endless rows of vineyards, and everything else in between?

In fact, Singaporeans travelling overseas across the Causeway into Malaysia will reveal sights of oil palm, rubber, and fruit plantations.

Also read: How to Travel to Malaysia from Singapore Starting April 2022

14. Castles and palaces

singaporeans travel to germany

Image credit: Frédéric Paulussen

Social studies classes in primary school would’ve taught us that before Sir Stamford Raffles came along in 1819, Singapore was a small fishing village. Anyway, with nothing much else known about Singapore’s history, Singaporeans’ travel to incredible old buildings around the world such as Spain’s El Castillo or India’s Mehrangarh Fort will promise a day filled with mysteries and stories of emperors, knights, and crusaders.

Also read: 10 Dazzling German Castles That Are Straight Out Of A Storybook

15. A Medieval Old Town

Image credit: Ivan Ivankovic

Every European city takes pride in its historical district, known as the “Old Town”. This is often where the life of the city is centred around, and where all the tourists flock for the sights and attractions. For instance, there’s a certain magic in stepping into Prague’s Old Town which is flanked by Gothic and Baroque churches and the impressive astronomical clock tower; or exploring the maze of Lucerne‘s cobblestone streets and discovering pretty murals and intricately-designed water fountains.

16. Tribes and tribal villages

Image credit: Ken kahiri

As much as we’d like to pride ourselves on our racial and religious diversity, the Singapore population doesn’t even come close to skimming the surface of the multitude of peoples and cultures that inhabit this earth. In the depths of the Himalayan Mountains, Egyptian deserts, or even the nearby Sarawak rainforests, live tribes with unique cultures, rich traditions, and ways of life relatively untouched by modern civilisation. Surely, not venturing out of Singapore would definitely disappoint the anthropologist in you.

17. A UNESCO World Heritage Site

singaporeans travel to vietnam

Image credit: PerfectLazybones via Canva Pro

Singapore Botanic Gardens may be a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site, but how about exploring the other 1,153 sites of “outstanding value to humanity” around the globe?

Italy is home to the most number of World Heritage Sites — 58 — while Southeast Asia alone has 41! These include both cultural and natural sites, and include Laos’ Luang Prabang, Vietnam’s Hạ Long Bay, and the Baroque Churches of the Philippines.

18. Greeting people in a foreign tongue

Most Singaporeans are bilingual, but there’s no better way to become a (self-proclaimed) polyglot than when Singaporeans travel overseas. Not only can foreign tongues be a feast for the ears, but what’s even more fun is to learn basic words or phrases, and attempt to master the often tricky pronunciations.

So what if some of the locals laugh at you? It’s the perfect excuse to ask for help, make new friends, and share some laughs together.

Also read: 50 Essential Spanish Phrases for Your Next Vacation

19. Getting invited to a stranger’s house

Image credit: Ondřej Odcházel

Travelling exposes us to cultures so immensely diverse and oftentimes incredibly different from what we are accustomed to. That is why venturing abroad with open minds and open arms means returning home with incredible stories to share: such as being invited to a middle eastern feast in a stranger’s home in Oman, spending a white Christmas with a Canadian family in Montreal, or having a backyard barbecue with a whole bunch of new friends in Sydney.

To be at the receiving end of such hospitality is truly heart-warming. It reminds us of simple things like the general kindness of people and how putting our trust in strangers can sometimes lead to wonderful things.

20. That “other” side

Image credit: Benjamin Stäudinger

Due to habitual practices governed by the subconscious, Singaporeans overseas may experience things that feel so incredibly strange: like left-hand driving of a vehicle or riding the escalator on the right.

While little experiences like these will be brushed off by small readjustments, others may find enlightenment in the idea that many things, even little ones, are often taken for granted as “natural”. Inertia often resists changes, but truly, all it takes is a little push to move things in a new direction.

Also read: In This Japanese Prefecture, It’s Illegal to Walk Up and Down Escalators

21. A protest every other day

Image credit: Studio Incendo

With a designated public protest space in the form of Hong Lim Park, you can never find masses of people occupying the streets in a show of solidarity: think of the global phenomenon of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement, the Arab Spring, or the Occupy Wall Street movement. While Singaporeans get to enjoy a safe, orderly environment, the flip side is that Singapore is hardly abuzz with political activism that brings hope and the promise of change.

Having said all that, Singapore does boast plenty of sights that make it a hotspot for overseas travellers. Perhaps if we put ourselves in their shoes, we may be surprised by the gems we can uncover on this little island. There is no place like home, after all.

About Authors

Sitti Maryam
Sitti Maryam

Maryam loves meeting cats (and people) from all over the world. She hopes to have illuminating adventures like the Little Prince, and often dreams of frolicking through fields of flowers.

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Dina Malyana

Dina is one who is constantly dreaming of elsewhere. Her favourite days are those spent traversing across the globe with a backpack, chasing every sunset. Find her on Instagram @dinamalyana.

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Cassandra Nerva
Cassandra Nerva

Cassandra seeks comfort in warm blankets, period dramas, and all things hazelnut. If she's not getting carried away with a wartime novel or decorating her house with plants & fairy lights, she's uncovering hidden gems around her as she continues to embrace her keen sense of adventure.

CLICK TO SEE MORE ARTICLES BY Cassandra Nerva