GAP YEAR students and baby boomers treating themselves to a midlife crisis no longer want to rough it, sleeping on the beach or stowing their fading backpacks at a hard-bedded hostel.
These days it’s all about flashpacking, and the new breed of travellers has more kit than Nasa.
According to hostelworld.com, 21 per cent of us travel with a laptop, 54 per cent with an MP3 player, 83 per cent with a mobile phone and 86 per cent with a digital camera. Flashpackers are also happy to lug around techie essentials such as memory cards, USB drives, chargers, batteries, power adaptors, blank CD-RWs, cables and cords to run it all. So much for travelling light.
For those who like their gadgets, Singapore is a perfect fit as the city is a favourite with trendy technologists and luxury-lovers whose tastes run to hostels where conditions are more boutique than basic. In a young nation that has dragged itself from fishing village to cutting-edge cybercity in under 50 years, where else could you leave your iPhone on a chair to reserve your place in a café?
Best internet cafe
ACROSS the road from the famous Raffles, where you can indulge yourself by dropping in for the signature Singapore Sling once you’ve e-mailed/blogged/googled till your eyes buzz, Cyber House is located in the heart of the city and is just a three-minute walk from City Hall MRT station. It has 22-inch LCD screens, web cams and headset/mics on every machine for video conferencing, and printing and scanning services. Open seven days a week, 9am to 11pm, Cyber House, 231 Bain Street, Singapore 180231 (cyberhouseinternet.wordpress.com).
FLASHPACKERS have a little extra cash to splash, so the Mustafa Centre (www.mustafa.com.sg) in Little India is worth a visit to stock up on souvenirs. With a truly amazing amount of stock spread over seven floors, it’s open 24 hours a day and consists of two shopping centres: one selling jewellery and household appliances, the other books, CDs and DVDs, watches, electronic goods, footwear and clothing. If you can’t find it in Mustafa’s, it may not exist.
Best street food
THE Singapore Food Trail, a 1960s-themed food street in the heart of the iconic Singapore Flyer, aims to recreate the nostalgia of the era and showcase the city’s street food: barbecued skewered meat and chicken wings, chicken rice, banana fritters, prawn rolls, fried oysters, all of them typical of the Malay, Chinese and Peranakan food that is the true taste of Singapore, at prices that won’t break the bank. Singapore Food Trail, Level 1, open Monday to Thursday, 10.30am to 10.30pm; Friday to Sunday, 10.30am to 11.30pm (www.singaporeflyer.com)
WINK Hostel (www.winkhostel.com) is all about high style and hi-tech. With sound-resistant pod beds, contained lighting and private nooks, the aim here is to make you forget you’re in a dormitory. There’s communal space (café, lounge, kitchenette), but the emphasis is on internet stations and high-speed fibre-optic next generation network (NGN) connectivity. They also provide guests with their own Blackberry Playbook rent-free for use anywhere on the premises. Single Pod $50 (£25), double $90 (£45).
IF YOUR budget runs to a high-end home from home check out The Club Hotel (www.theclub.com.sg). Housed in a 100-year-old heritage building, it’s a blend of contemporary minimalism and antique oriental highlights. Rooms from $235/£119.