City Rumble – London Versus Singapore

And we’re away. The second round of City Rumble has begun, and we start with a real hum-dinger! It’s Singapore and London, London and Singapore – one the capital of the United Kingdom, home to Buckingham Palace, steeped in centuries of history. The other was colonised by the British, and even today you can still see reminders of its colonial past.

See how the two cities made it here –

City Rumble – New York City Versus London

City Rumble – Singapore Versus Kuala Lumpur

Tallest indoor waterfall in the world, Changi Airport

Having said that, Singapore feels like a new city. Much of it destroyed in WWII so much of it rebuilt since then. It is slick and sleek and probably other words starting with ‘sl’. London perhaps struggles to mix the history with the modern, succeeding in some instances and yet other parts lag behind. Certainly there are some examples of abandoned neighbours coming back to life in the last 10-20 years, Fisherman’s Wharf near the Tower Bridge is a prime example. Derelict when I visited in 2000, I was there again in 2017 and it’s pretty swanky and hip these days!

So how to we go about comparing these two cities, which despite similarities, are also very different in many ways. Well, we could start with infrastructure. And airports. Singapore has the one airport, Changi. It’s modern, with the world’s highest indoor waterfall and a hotel occasionally staff by robots, and it’s a major Asian hub.

London is served by a multitude of airports, Heathrow being the main one followed by Gatwick and Stanstead and I feel like there’s another as well. Heathrow has always struggled to deal with the volume of people coming through the door. I used Gatwick last time and it wasn’t as far from town which was nice. If you can get a flight in there not through Heathrow well, you’re doing all right. But all in all Changi is the ‘gold standard’ that airports should aspire too, always reinventing itself as does Singapore.

The public transport in Singapore is very clean and effective. It’s not nearly as big a city as London though. The Metro takes you most places, supplemented by buses. The Tube in London though is an incredibly extensive network, much built before electricity and I think even carried steam trains at one point in the late 1800s. It’s history is amazing. Supplemented by the iconic red double-decker buses of course. All in all it’s an amazing feat of engineering back in a time when it was much harder to build underground tunnels. Having said that, there are often issues and late trains, and in summer it is stiflingly hot on the Tube. The thrill of the history does balance it out. As a tourist experience – well it is one in my opinion. As far as a service goes, Singapore’s is much better. But far less interesting.

Both are expensive places to visit. Let’s be honest here – no-one has ever called London ‘cheap’, and some of the prices to enter places are upwards of 20 – 25 pounds, and which is pushing $50USD. Singapore is expensive too, especially compared to the rest of South East Asia, and particularly when it comes to hotels and accommodation.

Raffles Hotel, Singapore

In either city $100USD may not get you a particularly great room unless you are savvy and perhaps lucky too. London you can find one a little further from the centre I guess which helps keep the price down somewhat, whereas go too far from the centre of Singapore and you’re in Malaysia! You may be lucky enough to find an historic building that houses a place to stay in London. In Singapore, well history is on show at the predictably expensive Raffles Hotel, home to the famous ‘Singapore Sling’.

The weather is, in all fairness, going to be better in Singapore. Although storms do roll in, and at other times it’s very hot and humid. Which it can be in London too, but then it can rain all day and night and be freezing depending on when you are there. In Singapore there is a lot of air conditioning and you can escape inside. London and most of the UK melts when it gets hot. Which in the UK is anything over 25 degrees!

As for sites, well, Singapore has a fort and the Changi Prison to grab some history, otherwise it’s modern stuff like the Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa Island, Universal Studios and the like. London’s sites could keep you busy for WEEKS. Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tower of London, various historical houses and palaces, a wonderful selection of parks such as Hyde Park, Tower Bridge, National Gallery, British Museum (and many others). It really is brilliant. Singapore can’t compete in the number of things to see and do.

But then there’s shopping, and there’s so much on offer! In London you will have heard of Oxford street, and in Singapore there’s… Oxford Street? Either way you won’t be disappointed. There’s fashion – London the winner there, but then there’s electronics, and I guess Singapore wins there although it’s been a long time since you could really nab a bargain in Singapore as far as cameras etc are concerned!

Singapore is great for eating. You CAN find good cheap food in Singapore. Both cities have many restaurants, and for variety London wins, but for top quality Chinese food it’s going to be Singapore. British food is often regarded as not worth mentioning, but at least in London you will find cuisines from all over the world.

At the end of the day, I have to find a winner to go through to the second round here. And I’ll be honest, I was expecting that London was going to win with ease. But Singapore feels like it’s ahead on points right now. But what Singapore does not have is the affection in my heart. It doesn’t symbolise my childhood the way London does. It’s not the home of Doctor Who or The Bill. And so for me this is tilting the scales back in favour of London.

So a narrow win to London here for me. What do YOU think? What does this mean? Well, next week we shall see the face off between Melbourne and Bishkek, and London is going to face the winner of that match. Something tells me London is too strong for either, but I don’t really determine the winner until I’ve written the post. So folks, hold onto your hats!

Thanks for popping by today, take care – and May the Journey Never End!

7 thoughts on “City Rumble – London Versus Singapore

  1. I like your analysis. It hits the most important points to me. They are both great cities. London wins as far as western history but I have to go with Singapore primarily because of the food prices and variety and Changi Airport. My Heathrow experiences have been bad. Singapore has the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant, a takeout (takeaway) joint.

  2. I’ve never been to Singapore, only to London, so I can’t really compare the differences between the two. However, Singapore is a dream of mine to visit someday, so I hope to enjoy it and report back on my findings of it! I’d be curious to see you compare London to Paris, but otherwise, I look forward to other “City Rumbles” you put out soon!

  3. I back you up on this rumble. I want to visit Singapore so much, but for me London is a heavyweight, because of its historical depth, the richness of its architectural heritage, the accumulation of creations and cultural references. Just say 007 and everyone has something in mind, everywhere in the world. Singapore does not (yet?) have the equivalent.

  4. Ha about British food. We are living in Costal Spain and since there are a lot of British expats there one cuisine we find here that we really appreciate – Indian food!
    Otherwise Singapore for sure has the best food.

    I think Singapore is a city that people have to visit at least once in their lives. It’s the perfect example of futuristic city planning. Having said that it’s not my favorite place though – hot, humid, flat, and devoid of any significant geographic features.

  5. Spot on, I agree with so much of what you say. However, for me, Singapore wins marginally over London. I think the climate swung it for me!! Plus London is a bit too like Dublin where I was born and bred, so the novelty factor for want of a better word.

  6. Although I live in London, I will have to go with Singapore. I just love this city and I would disagree on your history point. I think it is amazing how Singapore rebranded itself as the green city in the past years and I find its colonisation history fascinating and there is also Palau Ubin. Food is amazing, there is so much to see and do.

    I think London is sometimes over marketed and of course it is really expensive. In the guide books for instance it says go and visit Piccadilly Circus, but there is nothing special about it! And do not get me started on the tube… Still, the history is great and the old manor houses etc, but I still like Singapore more.

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