Beguiling Singapore is a modern city-state embracing economicprogress against the backdrop of age-old tradition. The customsthat underpin community life are created out of an ethnic mix thatincludes predominantly Chinese, Indian and Malay groups.
Singapore is an island off the southern tip of Malaysia, linkedto it by a causeway. It evolved from a sleepy fishing village inthe early 1900s to become one of Asia's economic leaders. SirThomas Stamford Raffles landed on Singapore's northern bank in 1819and felt that its location made it ideal as a trading station. Fromhere Singapore's landscape was transformed by British colonialrule, Japanese occupation, communist insurrection and finally,independence. Since becoming a republic in 1965 the island hasexperienced increased prosperity and exponential economic growth.Shimmering skyscrapers tower above the slick financial districtsand elegant colonial buildings preserve a lingering old-worldcharm.
The core of downtown Singapore is formed by the ColonialDistrict, embellished by cathedrals and cricket lawns. The notablesites of the area include the Empress Place Building and theluxurious Raffles Hotel. Although most of old Singapore has beendemolished to make way for the modern city, many major landmarkswithin the Colonial District have been preserved. The surroundingethnic enclaves of Little India, Chinatown and the Arab Quarteralso provide glimpses into the traditions that have sustained theirrespective communities through the centuries.
Singapore's sightseeing attractions reflect thediverse population which calls the country home. In downtownSingapore, the communities of Little India and the Arab Districtgive an exotic cultural spice to a country ultimately known morefor urban planning and a high-tech economy than its history.Similarly, Chinatown stands out with its traditions and vibrantdecorations in contrast to a very modern city. The creativeachievements of this modernity can be viewed at the Red Dot DesignMuseum, the many shopping malls and the Gardens by the Bay, afascinating marriage of technology and nature.
To escape the urban rat race, tourists can enjoynumerous stunning gardens and parks, including the SingaporeBotanic Gardens, the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, the Jurong BirdPark and the Singapore Zoo. Probably the best way to experiencenature within the city limits is a visit to Bukit Timah NatureReserve, where swathes of tropical rainforest have been preserved.For others, ferrying between islands can be the best escape.Sentosa Island is a fun theme park with myriad attractions,including beaches, aquariums and amusement parks like UniversalStudios Singapore. The more relaxing Palau Ubin Island isinteresting for its Malay culture and is an ideal spot to gocycling or hiking along unspoiled beaches and through the forestedinterior.
Visitors planning a lot of travel around Singaporeshould consider purchasing the Singapore Tourist Pass, which allowsunlimited transport on the bus and train systems.
The Raffles Hotel is a grand Victorian edifice rising from thepavements of the colonial district. Its elegant charm has enticedwriters and entertainers such as Somerset Maugham, Rudyard Kipling,Joseph Conrad, Alfred Hitchcock, Ernest Hemingway and CharlieChaplin. Singapore Slings have become the hallmark of the Long Barand they may not be cheap or as original as they once were but theycertainly are tasty. Here ceiling fans whirr above the heads ofexpatriates and tourists as they sip smart cocktails in superbcolonial comfort. The Tiffin Room is best known for its afternoonteas and sumptuous Saturday night buffets. Gin and tonics alongsidethe odd game of snooker can be enjoyed at the Bar & Billiard.There are about 15 restaurants and bars at the Raffles Hotel andreserving a table for a meal is the best way to experience theplace if you are not a resident. Other distractions include anupper-level museum containing vignettes and photographs on thelives of Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and NoelCoward, as well as a Victorian-style playhouse and numerousspecialty shops and restaurants. One of the world's most famoushotels, the Raffles offers luxury, history and impeccableservice.
Chinatown is set against the backdrop of Singapore's moderninfrastructure and the prosperous financial district. It is acrowded and colourful network of streets and alleyways contained byUpper Pickering Street, Cantonment Road, New Bridge and SouthBridge Road. The area is a receptacle of traditional Chinesecustoms that were carried to Singapore by immigrants in ChineseJunks from the provinces of Guangdong and Fujian in the early 19thcentury. Temples, terraces, markets and shops still provide aglimpse of the old ways but much of its original character has beenlost in the redevelopment of the past 30 years. Yixing XuanTeahouse provides a fascinating insight into the ancient,ritualistic art of tea-making, while a visit to the Thian Hock KengTemple leaves one in awe of Chinese traditions of worship andsymbolism. Many medicinal shops in the district sell traditionalhealing paraphernalia. Here snake skins are blended with herbs andspices to produce powerful potions for various ailments.
The streets are a delight for bargain hunters looking to buykimonos, jewellery, t-shirts, pottery and traditional crafts.Tanjong Pagar is the area best known for its traditional craftssuch as painted masks, paper umbrellas, clogs and kites. Electronicgoods, luggage, textiles and other more conventional products canbe found in Chinatown's modern section located at the intersectionof Cross, New Bridge Road and Eu Tong Street.
The first Indian settlers in Singapore arrived with Sir StamfordRaffles in the early 19th century, bringing with them colourfulsilks, aromatic spices, incense and other accoutrements of Indianculture. They worked on the roads and helped build theinfrastructure of the city, settling within the ethnic enclave thathas become known as Little India. The area is delineated by thenorth-south Serangoon Road, which runs parallel to Race CourseRoad. Its eastern end stretches to Jalan Besar. Temples, busyrestaurants, curry spices, jasmine garlands and the exotic hues ofsilk saris fill the vibrant streets to create a colourful andpungent atmosphere. The colourful buildings make for wonderfulphoto opportunities and it is fun to do things like get hennatattoos and have your fortune told, or simply shop around forbargains in the many shops. Most people come to Little India forthe food, however, which tends to be remarkably cheap andinvariably comes in huge portions. Little India is at its bestduring traditional festivals, particularly the Hindu Festival ofLights, when the area is festooned with decorative lightingdisplays.
Kampong Gelam is said to have taken its name from the Gelamtribe of sea gypsies who lived in the original Malay villagesouthwest of the Rochor River. Sir Stamford Raffles allotted thearea as an ethnic enclave to the Muslim population and it becamethe focal point for Arab trade and traditional Malay culture inSingapore. Baghdad Street, Muscat Street and Haji Lane resonatewith tradition as cane, straw, rattan and pandan leaf goods spillout onto the streets. The variety of fabrics flowing onto thepavements of Arab Street include chiffon, silk, cotton georgetteand the batiks of Indonesia and Malaysia. Located between Kandaharand Aliwal streets is the Istana Kampong Gelam. The royal palacewas commissioned by Sultan Ali Iskandar Shah, the son of SultanHussein, who negotiated the handover of Singapore to Britain. Thegovernment gazetted the palace as a national monument in 2015, andhas since turned it into the Malay Heritage Centre. Anothersignificant building in the area is the Sultan Mosque. Theglistening necks of the domes are decorated with the bases ofthousands of glass bottles. It is a wonderful district to strollthrough, especially in the morning or the evening.
The Singapore Zoo has been thoughtfully created to simulate thenatural habitats of its resident animals. Eight zones recreate thegeographic regions of the animals indigenous to them, including theSouth East Asian rainforest, African savannah, Nepalese rivervalley, Burmese jungle, and South American pampas. These vistas canalso be explored after daytime during the famous Night Safari,billed as the first of its kind. Conceived of as a way to allowvisitors to observe nocturnal animals 'acting naturally', the NightSafari is one of Singapore's most popular touristic activities. Themethod in which this has been achieved is typically ingenious: thezoo is closed during the day so the animals' sleep isn't disturbed,and at night it is lit by soft lighting that resembles naturalmoonlight. The zoo can be explored along its meandering walkingtrails or from the comfort of a tram that winds its way along acircular route. It is home to more than 2,000 animals representingover 300 species, the highlights of which include the Komododragons, polar bears and the many primates.
Animal shows are held daily, and children can enjoy camel ridesor share food with an orangutan in the zoo's Children's Worldsection. A Guide to the Zoo is available on arrival with details offeeding times and other activities. It includes a map and suggesteditineraries incorporating the major shows and attractions.
The park is contained within a 20-hectare (49-acre) stretch ofland in the Jurong Lake area. It is one of the world's mostextensive bird collections and the largest in South East Asia. Fivethousand birds of about 400 different species inhabit the park,ranging from Antarctic penguins to New Zealand kiwis. Walkingtrails meander through the tropical landscape, allowing visitors tofeel as though they are exploring in the wild. Incredible sights tolook out for include the Waterfall Aviary, which at 115ft (35m) isone of the world's highest manmade waterfalls. The Penguin Paradehas a large pool set against a landscape of rocks, cliffs, nestingalcoves and burrows; it has a viewing gallery where visitors cansee penguins 'flying' underwater through a 98ft (30m) wide window.The South East Asian Bird Aviary is a breathtaking spectacle thatincludes the experience of a simulated thunderstorm. Other birdshows feature flamingos, macaws, hornbills and cockatoos. The parkalso includes facilities for young children to enjoy, including thefun Splash 'n Slide Station. The birds are at their most active andentertaining at feeding times and it is a good idea to time yourvisit to coincide with these - check the official website listedbelow for the feeding schedule.
Singapore certainly is a vibrant place, and in many ways OrchardRoad is the city-state's beating heart. The retail andentertainment centre of Singapore, 'Orchard' (as the surroundingarea is commonly known) is as popular with locals as it is withforeign visitors, and for many years has been Singapore's primetourist hotspot. At the southern end of Orchard Road you will findThe Istana (the official residence of the Singaporean president),and at the northern end the immensely popular Botanic Gardens;while in between there is a pulsing street lined with pedestrianmalls and department stores, offering some of the best shoppingopportunities in Asia. Must-see places include Tangs, the firstupmarket department store in Singapore, and the Tanglin Mall, whichfeatures an enormous food court that is incredibly popular withtourists and expatriate workers in Singapore. There is an almostinexhaustible range of stores and boutiques in Orchard Road, andplenty of upmarket cafes and restaurants serving internationalcuisine of the highest order. Make sure to leave some room in yoursuitcase, as shopping in Orchard Road is an irresistible touristactivity in Singapore.
The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is housed in a beautifullyrestored building (formerly St Joseph's School for Boys) whichstands serenely on Bras Basah Road. The old colonial buildingcontrasts pleasantly with the wide selection of contemporary andpop art. The museum showcases the national art collection and playshost to a range of special exhibitions and outreach programmes.More than 7,000 artworks represent the largest collection of20th-century Southeast Asian art in the world, but most of theexhibitions at SAM are temporary and the museum changes drasticallyevery few months which makes it supremely revisitable. Tours withknowledgeable volunteers are available in English, Japanese andMandarin. The Singapore Art Museum is actually a very goodrainy-day attraction for those travelling with kids in Singapore asthe museum has a large interactive section dedicated to children.There is also a pleasant cafe at the museum for refreshments, and afantastic museum shop selling all sorts of merchandise that willexcite lovers of design.
Note: SAM is closed for renovations until 2021. Art lovers cancheck the museum's website for details about offsiteexhibitions.
Singapore's Botanic Gardens sweep across an area of 52 hectares(128 acres) constituted by primary forest and specialty gardens inclose proximity to the city centre. The National Orchid Garden isthe world's largest orchid garden, featuring thousands of varietiesset among water features and an exotic bromeliad collection fromSouth and Central America. The park also contains many rare plantspecimens in addition to the specialty gardens decorated withfrangipanis, roses, ferns and desert plants. Outdoor concerts inthe gardens can be enjoyed on the Symphony Lake or French cuisinecan be savoured at the Au Jardin restaurant. Because the gates openso early the gardens are the perfect place for some morningexercise in Singapore and in the morning the grounds are full ofdog-walkers, runners and yoga and tai-chi practitioners, creating astimulating, active environment. The Jacob Ballas Children's Gardenis located at the quieter northern end of the gardens and has itsown visitor centre and cafe - here those travelling with kids willfind a playground, some tree-houses and a maze, as well as someeducational, interactive exhibits. The gardens are consistently oneof the most popular attractions in Singapore, loved by both localsand tourists.
Singapore and Rio de Janeiro are the world's only two cities tocontain primary rainforest within their boundaries. Bukit Timah islocated seven miles (12km) from Singapore's centre and provides awonderful opportunity to experience the region's tropicalrainforest without travelling into rural areas. It is a 164-hectare(405-acre) reserve preserving a variety of tree and animal speciesincluding flying lemurs, long-tailed macaque monkeys and anteaters.Designated walking and cycle trails undulate through the densejungle and its highest point is marked by Bukit Timah at 538ft(164m). Visitors should resist the natural urge to justautomatically take the main route to the summit, as the side routesand detours often traverse the best scenery. The trails are verywell-maintained and visitors can choose to go for a gentle strollor a high intensity hike depending on fitness levels. Those hopingto climb Bukit Timah should note that the ascent is steep with manysteps. It is best to start exploring early in the morning to avoidthe midday heat, but the forest is usually pleasantly cool comparedto the city. Park authorities warn travellers not to explore thepark when it is stormy as falling trees and branches can be verydangerous.
Traditional Chinese and Japanese landscape design is gorgeouslyrepresented in these neighbouring gardens, which provide a tranquilretreat from the city and take hours to explore thoroughly. Thegrounds are huge and immaculately well-maintained and will delightgardening enthusiasts. The Imperial Sung Dynasty style is clippedto perfection within the 13-hectare (33-acre) Chinese Garden. Itboasts the world's largest Suzhou-style Bonsai garden outside ofChina, containing more than 1,000 plants. There is also aseven-storey pagoda which affords views of the city and a number ofgraceful bridges spanning the water. The symmetry and simplicity ofZen aesthetics is the motif of the Japanese Garden with itspeaceful rock gardens and summerhouses. It is interesting tocompare the landscaping traditions of the two cultures, and thedifference is so striking that you are immediately aware when youmove from one to the other. There is a wealth of bird life in thegardens and visitors will likely see animals like monitor lizards,squirrels and fish. There is also a Live Turtle and Tortoise Museumwhich is a great stop for those travelling with kids in Singapore.You can buy drinks in the gardens but no food is available so packyour own if you want to make a day of it.
This theme park island is a popular weekend excursion and one ofthe most visited attractions in Singapore, receiving millions ofvisitors a year. A day's fun could easily turn into an overnightstay in any one of the hotels or camping sites. The island isenveloped by a high-speed monorail and linked to downtown Singaporeby a causeway and cable car system. Entertainment ranges fromsoaking up the sun on the imported-sand beaches to visiting avariety of entertainment areas. From a moving walkway one canexperience the sea life of The Underwater World and Dolphin Lagoon.The images on display in the Singapore Exhibition exploreSingapore's history in life-size dioramas. On the furthest westernpoint of the island lies Fort Siloso, from which Singapore guardedits territory against invading Japanese forces. Other attractionsinclude the Merlion, the Musical Fountain and the Sentosa Luge.
It was here, during World War II, that Allied Prisoners Of Warsoldiers (POWs) were subjected to harsh treatment at the hands oftheir Japanese captors. Changi Prison is still in use as acorrectional facility and it is now the place of execution forconvicted drug offenders. Half a mile (1km) from the old site, nextto the prison, is the new Changi Chapel and Museum. The complex isdedicated to all those who suffered and died in Singapore duringthe war and the war graves are a sombre and moving reminder of thesacrifice made by many. The display of photographs, letters,drawings and other personal artefacts in the museum are a profoundtribute to the tragic legacy of the Japanese occupation. During theoccupation, which spanned three and a half years, more than 50,000civilians and soldiers were captured and imprisoned. Visitors haveaccess to a variety of videos and literature relating to the waryears. A British POW returned to the museum to faithfully recreatethe chapel murals which gave the prisoners hope and comfort duringtheir incarceration and seeing them is one of the highlights of thetrip. To peruse the artefacts properly you will need at least twohours.
The island of Ubin is Singapore's second largest offshore islandand provides a peaceful interlude to the city's bustle. The islandcan be reached by traditional bumboat from the Changi Point FerryTerminal and the boat ride is fun in itself. The boat docks at Ubinvillage, a Malay settlement where houses perch serenely on stiltsabove the beach sand and mangrove. Beyond this point one canexplore the island by mountain bike and enjoy its pristine beachesfringed with coconut palms, its variety of seafood restaurants andrestful Buddhist temples scattered here and there. There arenumerous hiking and biking trails to enjoy. The island was onceused for mining granite, which went into the construction of themain causeway between Malaysia and Singapore, among other things,but today the mines have been submerged by lakes and overgrown byjungle and the island feels as though it has been reclaimed bynature. Ubin gives visitors a taste of what the main island ofSingapore must have looked like before it became a sparkling urbanplayground, with the coastal and rainforest ecosystems intact andtraditional village life preserved to some extent.
Haw Par Villa is a theme park containing more than a thousandstatues and 150 giant dioramas depicting scenes and characters fromChinese mythology and folklore. Located along Pasir Panjang Road,Haw Par Villa was previously known as Tiger Balm Gardens andsubsequently renamed after its original owners. The Aw brothers,Boon Haw and Boon Par (who made their fortune from the well-knownTiger Balm ointment) opened the park in 1937. This is an oddtourist attraction which will appeal to those who enjoy the weirdand unique. Some of the statues are grotesque and all are gaudy.The coup de grâce of the park is the Ten Courts of Hell exhibit,which features gruesome depictions of torture, pain, suffering andall sorts of physical degradations in accordance with thedescriptions of hell in Chinese legend. There are also milderattractions like mythical creatures, sumo wrestlers and the animalsof the zodiac. It is a bit rundown but provides laughs and somewonderful photo opportunities and children love the bright coloursand magical stories - although if you are visiting with kids youmay want to keep them out of the Ten Courts of Hell, which isenclosed in its own area and can be easily avoided.
The perfect place for active and enquiring young minds, theSingapore Discovery Centre is a great place to bring the kids forthe day. Children will love the colourful exhibits which will teachthem all about Singapore's past and present in fun and informativeways. With popular permanent exhibitions and constantly changingtemporary attractions to keep things fresh and exciting, visitorswill have a hard time deciding where to start, from 4D movies toexhibits you can touch and interact with, children will love theSingapore Discovery Centre. Many of the attractions are aimed atyoung teenagers and include not just interesting information onSingapore but fun activities that will get kids thinking aboutcareer choices: visitors can experiment with town planning, usingSingapore as a model; try out being a TV reporter by reading thenews on film; be a general on a battlefield for a day with animmersive game; learn traditional Singaporean dance moves in adigital dance studio; and play games designed to testentrepreneurial ability. There is even a theatre which exploreswhat to do in emergency situations like a terrorist attack. Adultswill also enjoy the Discovery Centre and will be delighted with theeducational entertainment for their families.
The 'Temple of Heavenly Bliss', the Thian Hock Keng Temple isthe oldest and most important of the Chinese Hokkien temples inSingapore. Construction was completed in 1842, in a traditionalsouthern Chinese architectural style, with not a single nail usedin its construction. The temple stands where Singapore's waterfrontused to be before the land was reclaimed and the main temple isdedicated to Mazu, the Taoist goddess of the sea, to whom Chineseimmigrants gave thanks for a safe journey to Singapore. Theelaborate doors are guarded by tigers, lions and Door Gods andbeyond this gateway there are two courtyards and a series ofshrines and pagodas. Those who want to pray should ask forassistance in selecting the right altar or shrine for the kind ofprayer they want to make. The temple contains many beautifulstatues and altars, and a centre for the creative arts that hostsdance, acting, and music lessons. There is a pagoda behind thetemple gate that makes a perfect spot for a cool drink in theshade. The temple is generally quiet and tranquil, unlike manyothers tourists might visit, and although it isn't a must-see forvisitors any traveller interested in such things should find itfascinating.
The Asian Civilisations Museum is one of Singapore's finest,most comprehensive museums and one of the most popular touristattractions in the city. Its permanent collection consists offurniture, jade, porcelain, fine arts, and other artefacts covering5,000 years of the region's history, with exhibitions illustratingChinese, Islamic, and South Indian culture. As the name suggests,the museum explores broader Asian cultures and histories, ratherthan just that of Singapore. Some of the artefacts are genuinelybeautiful and the exhibitions provide great insight into trade andexploration in Asia, documenting the meeting points of variouscultures. There are also regular temporary exhibitions which can beextremely impressive. English audio guides are available, withheadphones provided, and free guided tours in English are availablefrom Monday to Friday, usually at about 11am and 2pm, on Fridayevenings at 7pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays at 11am, 2pm and 3pm.On Friday nights, during the extended opening hours, tickets arehalf price. There is a museum gift shop and a pleasant restaurantnext door, perfect for a drink or a bite after your visit. Themuseum is at its most pleasant on mornings during the week, when itis not crowded.
Singapore's equivalent of the London Eye, the Singapore Flyer isan enormous Ferris wheel that doubles as an excellent urbanobservation point. The Flyer is an incredible 42 storeys, or 541feet (165m) high, making it one of the largest Ferris wheels in theworld, a full 98 feet (30m) taller than the London Eye. The chiefreason to take a trip on the Flyer is the view of Singapore's sleekcityscape that it affords: views of Marina Bay and Singapore Riverare punctuated by notable landmarks such as Raffles Place, MerlionPark, the Empress Place and the Padang. Locals say that on cleardays you can even see out as far as the Indonesian islands of Batamand Bintan; while a night-time trip on the Flyer turns the bustlingcity into a glittering light show. The Singapore Flyer is housed ina large terminal building that also includes bars, restaurants andshops, as well as fun kid's attractions like flight simulators andan indoor tropical forest. A sure bet for a great day out inSingapore for the whole family, the Singapore Flyer is a fantasticintroduction to the city for first-time visitors. If the stunningviews are not enough of a diversion for you, it is possible toenjoy cocktails or a luxurious four-course meal on the Flyer, oreven to get married with the panorama of the city as a backdrop toyour vows!
Singapore's Gardens by the Bay consists of three distinctwaterfront gardens in the city's Marina Bay area. The initiativewas started as a means to transform Singapore from a mere 'GardenCity' into a 'City in a Garden' and is intended to provide aholistic and sustainable way to keep Singapore green, and toprovide its inhabitants with outdoor areas where they can relax,exercise and picnic in communion with nature. The Gardensthemselves have a couple of interesting features, not least ofwhich are the space-age Supertrees - tree-like mechanicalstructures that reach up to 165 feet (50m) high, and which harnesssolar energy to perform a multitude of functions such as planting,shading, managing rainwater resources and even acting as the'lungs' of the Gardens' immense cooling system. There are alsohorticultural-themed gardens featuring exotic ferns and orchids,which aim to educate the public about the preciousness of naturalresources. A true 'Garden of the Future', visitors to Singaporeshould check out the Gardens by the Bay for their technologicalinterest alone. The vast lawn area is often used for outdoor eventslike live music concerts and is a wonderful venue. The incredibleCloud Forest is another highlight, including the highest indoorwaterfall in the world. There are about 10 restaurants in thegrounds, many with breathtaking views.
Singapore's neighbourhood of Geylang is strange in that althoughit looks and feels like a typically 'Asian' neighbourhood, it isactually quite different from the rest of Singapore, which has seengreat gentrification and modernisation over the last 40 years orso. The rows of shop-houses bedecked in neon lights, the bustlingstreets, the curbside food stalls, and masses of karaoke barspresent visitors with an urban environment quite distinct from thesleek lines of the concrete-and-glass inner city buildings, whilethe Geylang Serai Market is a classic Asian 'wet market', featuringhanging meat and buckets of flapping fish. This grit (and slightseediness) is even more obvious at night, when Geylang's otherdistinguishing feature becomes most apparent: that it is home toSingapore's only established red-light district. Geylang is a verypopular neighbourhood for backpackers (accommodation is usuallymuch cheaper in Geylang than in other areas) and for travellers whofind the ultra-modern city centre a bit alienating, and who arecraving a more authentic experience of Asian city life.
It is also a good place to go to if you're looking for a party,because although Singapore's nightlife mostly consists of expensivedrinks in glamorous bars, Geylang is a riot of alcohol and fun anda good time can be had very cheaply in comparison to the rest ofthe city. To experience a side of Singapore which is notair-conditioned and shining with cleanliness head for Geylang.
Drawing an astounding two million visitors in its first ninemonths open, the theme park and resort area of Universal StudiosSingapore is proving to be as popular as its counterparts in theUSA. Located on Sentosa Island, home to all of Singapore's mostfamous holiday resorts, Universal Studios Singapore is ideal forfamily vacationers looking to treat their children to a full day ofexciting rides, delicious treats and non-stop excitement. The themepark is divided into seven distinct zones, each featuring their ownthemed rides and attractions: Hollywood, New York City, AncientEgypt, Lost World, Madagascar, Far Far Away and, pick of the bunch,Sci-Fi City. There is also an Aquarium and a Marine Park on-site,numerous 3D theatres, a huge array of restaurants and cafes, andplenty of stalls and shops selling official Universal Studiosmerchandise. Singapore is in many ways a technological marvel of acity, and Universal Studios is a fitting place to experience itsunique talent for high-tech entertainment. Exciting rides includethe Battlestar Galactica suspended roller coaster, the Revenge ofthe Mummy roller coaster, and the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure.There are also numerous rides designed for smaller children andtons of fun performances and themed restaurants.
Singapore is a great city for kids on holiday, compact andbrimming with varied and exciting attractions, some uniquely Asian.In fact, some of the most popular tourist attractions in Singaporeare family orientated.
Singapore is a city of gardens and this combined with thecountry's world-class animal attractions ensures that there is lotsof fun to be had outdoors. For a great day with the family head tothe Singapore Zoological Gardens where the kids can bond withanimals such as Komodo dragons, polar bears and orangutans, or headto the Jurong Bird Park to marvel at hundreds of pink flamingos.For a more relaxed day, pack a picnic and visit the SingaporeBotanical Gardens where kids will have plenty of room to stretchtheir legs and let off a bit of steam. The Bukit Timah NatureReserve is a wonderful place to spend the day and children will beamazed by this verdant wonderland. The Singapore Crocodilarium isanother exciting attraction, home to over 1,000 reptiles, includingcrocodiles and some of the world's rare and endangered species ofreptile.
On rainy or cold days, when outdoor activities with kids are notan option, head to an indoor playground like eXplorerkid. Hugelypopular Singapore tourist attractions, like Universal StudiosSingapore, are other great options for rainy days.
Singapore has a tropical climate, meaning that it is hot andhumid all year round with hardly any variation in temperaturebetween seasons and plenty of rain, which is possible all yearround, usually falling in heavy downpours. The wettest months arebetween November and January. There is generally more rain in thewest of the island than in the east. Average temperatures rangebetween 74°F (23°C) and 89°F (32°C) during the day with coolertemperatures at night. Humidity is constantly high, usually above75 percent. April and May are the hottest months. Theair-conditioning in most buildings provides a welcome escape fromthe heat and humidity, but is sometimes so cool that visitors willrequire light sweaters indoors. Between June and September,Singapore may suffer from air pollution due to forest fires inIndonesia. There isn't really an agreed upon best time to visitSingapore, although the weather is often at its most pleasantbetween June and August.
Situated only one degree north of the equator, it is notsurprising that Singapore has a tropical climate, meaning that itis hot and humid all year round with hardly any variation intemperature between seasons; in fact, Singapore doesn't really haveseasons. Travellers to Singapore would be wise to take an umbrella,because rain is abundant and possible all year round, usuallyfalling in heavy downpours. The wettest months are between Novemberand January, which is the monsoon period. There is generally morerain in the west of the island than in the east. Averagetemperatures range between 79°F (26°C) and 86°F (30°C) during theday, with cooler temperatures at night. April and May are thehottest months. Temperatures in Singapore can reach as high as 95°F(35°C) and the lowest recorded temperature in the country was 67°F(19°C) in 1934. The air-conditioning in most buildings provides awelcome escape from the heat and humidity, but is sometimes so coolthat visitors will require light sweaters indoors. Between June andSeptember Singapore may suffer from air pollution due to forestfires in Indonesia.
There is no concrete best time to visit Singapore weather-wise,and it is best to time holidays to coincide with festivals andevents that are of interest.
With heavy influences from Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Indianand British cuisines, the restaurant scene in Singapore is far fromdull and fusion food is the order of the day. Street vendors arecommon in this bustling city for a tasty meal on the go, and mostspecialise in one dish with favourites including fish head curry orMee Goreng (yellow egg noodles stir fried with ghee, tomato sauce,chilli, egg, vegetables and various meats or seafood). Seafood suchas prawns, oysters, crabs and lobsters are also popular dishes onmost Singaporean menus and traditional dishes such as laksa (soup),popiah (spring rolls), and satay (barbecued meat skewers) are worthtrying. Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy the sugary dessertslike kuih (steamed cakes), bubur cha-cha (coconut milk soup), andice kachang (shaved ice with sweet red beans).
Hawker centres are the cheapest places to eat, and come withtheir own unique atmosphere, which is somewhere between a marketand a food court. Prices are low and the food is generally verygood, so it's a great way to try a lot of dishes. Find a tablefirst, and many stalls will deliver your food to you. Popularhawker centres include Newton Circus, Glutton's Bay, and Lau PaSat, as well as several options in Chinatown.
Singapore has its share of international fast food chains, butlocal takeaway options worth trying include Bengawan Solo's Chinesepastries, Old Chang Lee's deep-fried curry puffs, and thetraditional Singaporean breakfast at Ya Kun Kaya Toast.
Singapore's more upmarket restaurants have a lot to offer aswell, with plenty of variety. A special focus is on Chinese cuisineand seafood, however. Head to the Orchard Road area and thehistoric district for eateries of every nationality, or for atrendy night out a trip to Boat Quay or Clarke Quay along theriverfront is a must.
Restaurants will often display the prices with plus signs($19.99++) indicating that service charges and sales tax are notincluded and will be added to the bill. Tipping is not typicallypracticed in Singapore, and is officially discouraged by thegovernment.
The 'Grand Dame' of Singapore's restaurants is an experience inelegant sophistication, fine dining and colonial charm. Impeccablydressed waiters with a daunting display of culinary knowledge,attentive yet discreet service, and courteous efficiency are backedby the majestic décor and spotless tableware. The food is similarlyoutstanding, and dishes like the signature smoked Atlantic salmon,the roasted rack of suckling pig, and various exquisite dessertsare stylishly presented. Raffles has one of the best cellars in thecountry and the cellar master can select a wine to complement eachcourse. Lunch Monday to Friday and dinner Monday to Saturday. Thedress code is 'smart elegant' and booking is essential.
One of Singapore's best restaurants and the ideal place forIndian cuisine, Song of India transports diners to old-worldcolonial elegance in several ornately decorated dining rooms and alovely garden area. Both a la carte dishes and set menus are highlypraised by the Singapore dining world. A great way to experienceIndian cuisine is the Journey Through India set menu option whichincludes six courses from different regions in India. Reservationsare recommended.
The appeal of Iggy's is the warm ambiance of a very small venue,comfortable as a friend's living room, but with much better food!The internationally inspired meals are set according to seasonalingredients so it important to check what they are serving for thenight ahead of making reservations. Vegetarian replacement mealscan be made if they are notified in advance. Reservations areessential.
For a quick, casual bite to eat, Alt. Pizza is a great option.This conveniently located pizzeria serves up crispy, thin-basedpizza cooked in a wood oven, with a number of sides available. TheHangover Pizza is a great favourite! Open daily from 11am to 10pm.Reservations may prove convenient but aren't strictlynecessary.
The understated décor of Li Bai is sleek and modern with astrong Chinese influence, with contemporary furnishings in red andblack lacquer, jade table settings, and silver and ivorychopsticks. Large vases of elegant pussy willows add subtleopulence to the ambience. The Cantonese fare is traditional with amodern and innovative touch of class that includes creations suchas the aromatic farm chicken smoked in jasmine tea leaves. Thefresh seafood should not be missed; baked fillet of cod with honey,shark's fin sautéed with crabmeat, and Canadian cod sautéed withginger and garlic, accompanied by the fabulous crab fried rice, aredelicious. Reservations required. Open daily for lunch anddinner.
Singapore's currency is the Singapore Dollar (SGD), which isdivided into 100 cents. The US and Australian Dollars, Yen, andBritish Pound are also accepted in the larger shopping centres.Major credit cards are accepted in hotels, shops, and restaurants.ATMs are widely distributed and banks advance cash against themajor credit cards. Banks are open daily, but some do not doforeign exchange on Saturdays.
Singapores official languages are English, Mandarin,Malay and Tamil. A patois called Singlish, or Singaporean Englishis widely spoken. It is the by-product of mixing English, Chineseand Malay syntax and idiom.
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Three-pin,square-shaped plugs are in use.
United States passport holders do not require a visa for travelto Singapore for a stay of up to 90 days. A passport valid for sixmonths after intended travel is required.
British passport holders endorsed British Citizen, BritishOverseas Territories Citizen with Right to Abode, or BritishSubject with Right to Abode do not require a visa for travel toSingapore for a stay of up to 90 days. British passport holdersendorsed British Overseas Territories Citizen, or British Subjectwithout Right to Abode do not require a visa for travel toSingapore for a stay of up to 30 days. Passports should be validfor six months beyond date of arrival.
Canadian passport holders do not require a visa for travel toSingapore for a stay of up to 30 days. Passports should be validfor six months beyond date of arrival.
Australian passport holders do not require a visa for travel toSingapore for a stay of up to 90 days. A passport valid for sixmonths beyond arrival is required. Australian citizens with an APECbusiness travel card endorsed for travel in Singapore may stay upto 90 days.
South African passport holders do not require a visa for travelto Singapore for a stay of up to 30 days. Passports should be validfor six months beyond date of arrival.
Irish passport holders do not require a visa for travel toSingapore for a stay of up to 90 days. A passport valid for sixmonths after intended travel is required.
United States passport holders do not require a visa for travelto Singapore for a stay of up to 90 days. A passport valid for sixmonths after intended travel is required.
New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa for travel toSingapore for a stay of up to 30 days. A passport valid for sixmonths after intended travel is required. Passport holders with anAPEC business travel card endorsed for travel in Singapore may stayup to 60 days.
Travellers should hold confirmed documents and tickets foronward or return travel and enough funds to cover their stay. Maletravellers with long hair are advised to tie their hair back onarrival. Women who are six months pregnant or more may be refusedentry. All nationals, regardless of visa requirements, may beissued with a Social Visitor's Pass on arrival allowing for a stayof 14 or 30 days provided their visit is for touristic or businesspurposes. Extensions are possible for S$40, but the initial Pass isfree. Passports must be valid for at least six months from date ofarrival. It is highly recommended that passports have at least sixmonths validity remaining after your intended date of departurefrom your travel destination. Immigration officials often applydifferent rules to those stated by travel agents and officialsources.
Travellers from countries where yellow fever occurs need topresent vaccination records on arrival in Singapore to prove theyare not infected. No other vaccinations are required butvaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. AJapanese encephalitis vaccination is recommended for travellersspending a month or more in rural areas or for those spendingsubstantial time outdoors in rural areas, but as the country ishighly urbanised this is seldom necessary. There is a high risk ofdengue fever and there have been outbreaks of chikungunya fever inrecent years as well - both are mosquito-borne diseases andmeasures should be taken to avoid mosquito bites. Visitors shouldalso avoid poorly cooked food, particularly seafood, and becautious of certain types of fish that contain biotoxins even ifcooked.
Health care is excellent in Singapore but also very expensiveand comprehensive medical insurance is advised. Pharmacies are wellstocked in Singapore but it is still advisable to take along allrequired medication, in its original packaging, accompanied by asigned and dated letter from a doctor detailing what it is and whyit is needed.
Tipping is not encouraged as most hotels and restaurants inSingapore already levy a 10 percent service charge on customers'bills. Tipping is not a way of life in Singapore, but isappreciated for excellent service.
Singapore is a very safe travel destination with crime generallylimited to occasional petty theft. The Singaporean government hasstepped up security measures due to an increased risk of terrorattacks in the region and is committed to maintaining Singapore'sreputation as a safe destination.
Singapore is a fairly diverse society and has been moulded byits immigrant population, primarily Malay, Chinese and Indian,along with the large expat community. The city is incrediblyefficient and the citizens very law-abiding - there are finesissued for just about any offence in Singapore, including smokingin public places, jaywalking, littering and for eating, drinking orchewing gum. There are even fines for not flushing public toiletsso it goes without saying that getting involved in illegal drugs isnot advisable; drug trafficking carries a maximum penalty of death.Chinese Singaporeans have three names, the first of which is theirsurname, or family name. As a result visitors should be preparedfor hotels mistakenly reserving rooms under their first names. Forclarity surnames may be underlined.
Business in Singapore is conducted formally. The adherence to adress code is strict, with suits the preferred business attire.Punctuality is essential in all business meetings, unlike socialengagements where a 'fashionably-late' policy is observed.Appointments should be made at least two weeks in advance. Theexchange of business cards is vital upon introduction and theceremony of this exchange is important for creating good relations.Business cards are to be treated with respect and not folded,written upon or vandalised in any way. Shaking hands is the commonform of greeting for both men and women and may last up to 10seconds. The person is to be addressed by their respective titlefollowed by their surname. It is a good idea to ask beforehand howthe person is correctly addressed as this may vary depending on thedifferent cultures within Singapore. Business hours are generally9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with an hour taken over lunch.
The international access code for Singapore is +65. The outgoingcode is either 001, 002, 008 or 018, depending on the serviceprovider, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 00144 for theUnited Kingdom). Calls made from hotels are free of any surcharges.There are several local mobile phone networks available, and wifiis easily available.
Travellers to Singapore over 18 years do not have to pay duty on1 litre of wine, spirits and beer unless they are arriving fromMalaysia. Chewing gum and tobacco products must be declared onarrival. Strictly prohibited is the trafficking in illegal drugs,which carries the death sentence. Prohibited items include meat andmeat products, and firearms and explosives without a permit.
Singapore Visitor Centre, Singapore: +65 6736 2000 orhttps://www.visitsingapore.com/travel-guide-tips/getting-around/tourism-centre/
Singapore Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 5373100.
Singapore High Commission, London, United Kingdom (alsoresponsible for Ireland): +44 20 7235 8315.
Consulate of Singapore, New York City, USA (also responsible forCanada): +1 212 223-3331
Singapore High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 4306035.
Singapore High Commission, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 62712000.
Singapore High Commission, London, United Kingdom (alsoresponsible for Ireland): +44 20 7235 8315.
Singapore High Commission, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 4700850.
United States Embassy, Singapore: +65 6476 9100.
British High Commission, Singapore: +65 6424 4200.
Canadian High Commission, Singapore: +65 6854 5900.
South African High Commission, Singapore: +65 6339 3319.
Australian High Commission, Singapore: +65 6836 4100.
Irish Embassy, Singapore: +65 6238 7616.
New Zealand High Commission, Singapore: +65 6235 9966.
With so many choices on offer, it can be a difficult taskdeciding what to do for an evening out in Singapore, and hard toknow how best to experience the city's nightlife. From culturalperformances and traditional dancing and music venues tonightclubs, bars and upmarket lounges, Singapore is a city thatnever sleeps.
Start an evening out at one of the many international touringBroadway shows or head to one of the nightlife hubs of the city,such as Boat Quay, where a variety of bars, karaoke bars, clubs,discos and lounges can be found, as well as some of the city'sglitterati, who can be seen hanging out and mingling with the who'swho. Muhammad Sultan Road is another key area where clubs and barsare scattered. The Zouk complex is one of the best places to go ifyou're looking for gay and lesbian clubs and bars. One of thelargest and longest-running clubs is the sprawling Zouk in Jiak KimStreet, which hosts visiting international artists and has avariety of floors ranging from house to hip hop, pop and even adinner-dance area. Clarke Quay is the place for hardcore clubbers.There are other areas of the city that have become eclectic intheir entertainment choices and live jazz, acid jazz, internationalguest DJs and live music is easy to come by. Sentosa has a numberof cocktail bars on the beach, and the Central Business Districthas plenty of chic nightclubs.
Singapore is a relatively safe place at night, even for womenalone. Many clubs stay open until very late, closing at about 2amon weekdays and 4am on weekends. Taxis can be found fairly easily,but be prepared for a rush of people, and an increase of faresafter midnight when the clubs start to close. Drinking in Singaporeis an expensive pastime as the country's heavy sin taxes push theprice of drinks up.
In Singapore, shopping is said to be the national sport,strongly supported by numerous shopping areas, malls and markets;at the mid-year Great Singapore Sale, the whole island offersfantastic shopping discounts. Despite its reputation as aninternational shopping destination, however, pretty much everythingsold in Singapore is made somewhere else, so don't expect to findauthentic local goods or handmade treasures. If ethnic goods arewhat you're after, Chinatown sells Chinese items like seals andpainted fans, and Geylang Serai and Little India offer a range ofMalay and Indian goods. Colourful Peranakan clothing and artwork isavailable in Katong.
Low import taxes mean there are bargains to be had, but ifyou've come to Singapore in search of bargain electronics orcomputers, it pays to do some research ahead of time so you don'tend up paying more than you could have. Singapore's consumerprotection laws are good, so most shops are honest and fakes arenot openly sold.
Orchard Road is the main shopping area and features mall aftermall of fashion, furniture and cosmetic shops. There are countlessstores offering every imaginable form of electronic device shoppersmight require, and the street markets and smaller shops sell goodsouvenirs. There is also late night shopping on Orchard Road everySaturday till about 11pm.
Exhibitions, fairs and garage sales take place often and offermany discounted goods. Wet Markets smell bad but sell well-pricedfresh fruits, vegetables, fish, spices and flowers. The generalopening hours for shops are from about 9am to 10pm, but many shops(especially those in Suntec City and Funan IT Mall) do not openbefore 11am.
Hiring a car is very expensive in Singapore. However, anextensive bus network and the reliable MRT train subway system areboth cheap and user-friendly and service all parts of Singapore.Electronic EZ-Link passes cover trains and buses and prevent theneed to carry loose change for fares as well as giving a slightdiscount on standard ticket prices. The city also has thousands ofmetered taxis, which are safe, air-conditioned and surprisinglyaffordable, driven by helpful and honest drivers. The only drawbackis the long taxi queues during rush hour. Many of the touristattractions are situated close together and walking is a safe andpleasant option if you can handle the heat.
Teeming with sightseeing opportunities, Singapore is a greatcity for any traveller to explore. With historical sites such asKampong Gelam and Thian Hock Keng Temple; cultural enclaves likeChinatown and Little India; and beautiful gardens and animal parkslike the Chinese and Japanese Gardens and the Jurong Birdpark,Singapore has a wide range of attractions on offer. Have a picnicin the Singapore Botanical Gardens and enjoy the peace and quiet,take the kids to the Singapore Zoological Gardens where animalsfrom all over the world can be viewed, explore tropical rainforestwithin the city at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, or lounge on thebeaches of the resort island of Sentosa. Those with an eye for artand design will love the red dot design museum, which showcasessome of the most innovative and exciting designs, and art loversshould visit the Singapore Art Museum.
Visitors wanting to see the sights should buy a SingaporeTourist Pass, which is an all-day travel pass that allows unlimitedtravel on Singapore's public buses and MRT trains and can be boughtfor one, two or three-days.