How to be a Conscious Traveller When You're in Singapore
Conscious travel and sustainable travel will be this year's big buzzword. Here's how you can start when you're travelling in or out of Singapore.
2023 is set to be a year of new adventures. But we need to reckon with the impact we have when we travel. Climate crisis and carbon footprint aside, mass-market tourism has a massive negative impact on local communities. Environmental degradation, overcrowding, cultural erosion. So more and more travellers are waking up to the concept of conscious travel to try and make a positive impact wherever they go. This year will see the rise of responsible travel as we explore new destinations. Here’s how you can start, whether you’re travelling in or out of Singapore.
Conscious Travel in Singapore
‘A City in a Garden’, they’d always say. Singapore is indeed built with biodiversity in mind, a daunting task as it’s one of the densest cities in the world. Yet, despite its comparatively small carbon emissions, fossil fuel companies played a crucial role in Singapore’s economic growth. Fossil fuel companies still have an outsized influence in Singapore. Shell remains one of its largest investors. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has even attended Shell’s 100th, 125th and 130th anniversary celebrations.
Find the Hidden Gems
But conscious travel into Singapore is still possible. For starters, you can take advantage of the city’s efficient public transportation. The MRT, of course, is its most popular mode of transport You can visit all the hidden gems along the Thomson-East Coast Line, to avoid overcrowded boroughs such as Orchard and Marina Bay.
Or, you can get deeper in touch with Singapore’s legacy of craftsmanship by signing up for craft workshops. If you’re an architecture aficionado, consider visiting the heartland malls of Singapore, a few of which are one of the first air-conditioned malls in the nation-state.
If you still can’t shake off the shopaholic in you, you could always shop at local businesses and markets. There are plenty of sustainable clothing brands in Singapore. For bold prints and fantastic colours, check out OliveAnkara and their vibrant Afro-inspired clothes made from upcycled fabrics. Looking for something with a local flair? Check out Gypsied, where they take a more thoughtful approach. Their clothes can only be pre-ordered so customers can be more intentional with their purchases.
Vintage shopping is getting bigger in Singapore too. There are plenty of vintage shops now hawking their wares over social media. Be sure to check out The Loop Garms, or see if you can catch the exuberant pop-ups by Commoner’s Market.
Delve Deeper into Nature
All you need to do is veer off the beaten path, and find meaningful connections with the land which Singapore has settled on, and all its rich culture and heritage. The conscious tourism scene may yet grow, so you’d need to look at the right places.
Singapore has a wealth of nature reserves that highlight and preserve its unique geological features. So head to the great outdoors of Singapore with guided nature walks by Nature Adventures SG. Lifelong nature lover Ivan Kwan founded the organisation. With Nature Adventures SG, he hopes to educate and reach out to visitors who want to explore Singapore’s green spaces and wild spaces. On their guided walks you can catch a glimpse of white-bellied sea eagles in their natural habitats at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve or collared kingfishers over at Pulau Ubin.
Untamed Paths also offers adventures in Singapore’s landscapes. Established by young naturalists in Singapore, they want to bring immersive natural experiences for visitors near and far. With them, you can explore intertidal habitats, Singapore’s nocturnal animals, and vibrant avian diversity too.
Otherwise, you can dive into Singapore’s diverse marine life as well. You might be surprised, but Singapore’s small reefs contain a microcosm of marine wildlife. With Hantu Bloggers, you can not only find dive spots around Singapore but do educational work on Singapore’s marine life too.
Named after Pulau Hantu, the Hantu Bloggers aim to spread awareness of Singapore’s reefs. A non-profit organisation, they take people out for dives, while also organising exhibitions, talks and tours. If you want, you can even become one of their volunteer reef guides as well, where you have to be committed to volunteering at least four times a year. This will include training dives so you can get familiar with the reefs. If you prefer to stay on land, you can still volunteer for their land-based events too.
Conscious Travel Out of Singapore
Whether you’re a Singaporean citizen or an expat, conscious travel out of Singapore is possible too. After all, Singapore’s geography makes plenty of destinations a hop away from Changi Airport. So here’s how you can play your part in sustainable travel out of Singapore.
Find Closer Destinations
It’s the easiest rule to remember: the shorter the distance you travel, the lower your carbon footprint. If you still want to travel farther, you can always look at more sustainable destinations. You can fly to destinations that help better their own communities and environment.
There is even one destination just off the coast of Singapore: LooLa Adventure Resort in Bintan. They make sustainability fun. You can plant mangroves so that your trip can aid in carbon removal. You could even work with local professors as they conduct surveys. If you want to just let loose, there are plenty of outdoor activities too, from kayaking to ziplining to rock climbing.
Cruise ships only seem like a good alternative. They’re actually more polluting; even the most efficient cruise ships emit three to four times more carbon dioxide per passenger per kilometer when compared to commercial flights. Cruise ships usually burn the lowest quality fuel, which can affect not only the passenger and crew, but the environment and people of the ship’s destinations too.
And it’s not just the pollution. The ship’s largeness can dominate the skyline and landscapes of sensitive destinations, such as Venice. Their passengers can easily overcrowd the destination. Not to mention, they can even cause large waves that contribute to erosion.
Take the Train
Of course, there are some destinations that you can only reach by plane because of Singapore’s geography. So you could consider train trips to nearby destinations from Singapore. Albeit you need to cross to Johor via the Woodlands Border before taking the train from JB Sentral over at Johor Bahru. From there, you can take a train all the way to Butterworth, Penang.
You could also take a train to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s financial and commercial hub. From Kuala Lumpur, you can take an overnight sleeper service to Bangkok. From there, you can also find train services to other parts of Thailand, such as Chiang Mai, Vientiane, and Kanchanaburi.
MetroResidences Singapore Serviced Apartments—Your Home Base for Travels Beyond
Looking for your home away from home? Our Singapore apartment rentals and serviced apartments are perfect for a longer period of stay. We have properties in luxury developments across Singapore’s most coveted addresses: Bugis, Bukit Timah, Shenton Way, and Novena.
And, you can rest easy at any of our properties. We adhere to our strict Property Standards that account for the comfort and cleanliness of all our serviced apartments. Our fully-furnished apartments come with amenities like wi-fi, air conditioners, and a fully-equipped kitchen.