How Many People Can You Cram Onto One Island?

Singapore is everything I expected it to be: a spotlessly clean shopping  mecca teeming with people.

Which actually made me worry that Singapore would be everything I hate.


I do not like shopping in general, and have zero interest in shopping malls. I’ve never understood the allure of traveling to a foreign city only to enter another Nike store, or H&M, apple, Prada, Cartier, Hugo Boss, etc., etc., etc.. But people do it. These stores are packed, and seem to be the main draw for people to come to Singapore in the first place. I don’t get it.

But commerce is what Singapore is built on. And continues to build on. This is a country that can be traversed from one coast to another by car in an hour. It is 274 square miles and is home to 5.3 million people. The sidewalks and subway trains are swarming with crowds. And yet – it’s not enough. Singapore is hoping to attract more people and increase its population to 6 million. The trouble is, there’s not enough housing yet.

As someone who can only stand crowds for about 5 minutes before I’m ready to scream and push people out of my way, I’m glad I came while Singapore is relatively uncrowded. Imagine cramming more people into this picture:

The MRT stations were always bustling. At times, I had trouble crossing the street because it meant fighting your way through massive crowds of opposing pedestrians. I didn’t expect crowds like this in Singapore. It’s what I thought I’d encounter in Beijing, but didn’t.

And yet, despite the crowds, the heat, and shopping mall after shopping mall, there’s something alluring about Singapore. Obviously, I’m not alone in thinking so.

What do you think? Could you handle crowds like this on a daily basis?



19 responses to “How Many People Can You Cram Onto One Island?

    • I’m with ya. This was very hard to take for long. It made things into an ordeal; sometimes I chose not to venture out of my hotel just because I couldn’t deal with the crowds again. Very unlike me.

    • I hear you. I think it’s one thing when there’s a crowd for a specific event (which can still be exhausting), and another thing entirely to never escape the crowds. I’m sure if I’d wandered away from the more touristy areas, things would have been a little calmer. I think. ?

  1. Wonderful post. I haven’t explored Singapore but I visited its airport twice and it’s the best one I’d seen so far. It even have a sleeping zen -like area. How cool is that? Happy Holidays to your and your family.

    • Yes, the Singapore airport is an adventure in itself. It’s basically another shopping mall! It was strange to wander past so many specialty stores before ever getting to any gates. I missed the sleeping area – which is probably a good thing. I canonly imagine grabbing a little snooze there and then missing my flight.

  2. Taiwan is a lot like this too. The MRT stations during rush hour is absolutely horrific. I never like going out on weekends much because everyone is out and about and its impossible to go anywhere without facing a crowd. Guess Singapore is not that different, judging from that picture!

  3. I grew up in Singapore but I’m now living in the UK. I can’t get used to the crowd in Singapore now. I get really grumpy hehe.
    I hope you had time to visit the Night Safari. It’s one of my places to visit and it is not crowded! 😀

    • I did go to the Night Safari and will be writing about it soon. It was a little crowded the night I went, but I believe it was the night before a school holiday, so like any zoo, there were lots of kids. But I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  4. I lived in Los Angeles for many years and don’t think I could return to big city living. I find it stifling, noisy and overwhelming. Singapore would be a nightmare for us.

  5. Totally agree about the crowds AND the malls! I just don’t get the idea of mall hopping, when they all essentially carry the same items!!

  6. To be honest, Singapore is on my bucket list. I personally don’t mind crowds any and the convenience/cleanliness in Singapore sounds extremely appealing. Also there are a lot of articles about sustainability measures in that area which greatly interests me. I guess for now I’m a crowd person- any chance to be around people to observe them and possibly interact is a chance I will take.

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