Capital city: Singapore
Official languages: English, Malay, Tamil and Standard Mandarin
Currency: Singapore Dollar
Welcome to Lion City!
Okay so it might be pint-sized when compared with other tourist hotspots in Southeast Asia such as China and Thailand, but that by no means makes Singapore any less intriguing. Step inside and be amazed by the mosaic of contrasting cultures peacefully coexisting in the breathtaking natural environment. The dazzling mix of colonial, traditional and modern life integrates seamlessly in this island-city state just off the coast of Malaysia. What was once called a “dull” country has since risen to become one of Southeast Asia’s most modern cities. On offer here are some of the most fascinating touristic attractions, world class cuisine, splendid shopping malls, the famous Chinatown and Little India and a fascinating array of different cultures just waiting to be discovered.
The reason behind Singapore’s wealth and fame lies mainly in the Central Business District, with things like the skyscrapers, the 19th century Raffles Hotel and the convention centers in Marina Square. Singapore has really come a long way and have fought very hard to prove to the rest of the world that they are more than just a stopover point en-route to Malaysia, and really do deserve to be a called a top-notch tourist destination. With their modern manmade marvels and colonial buildings, this country proving itself on a daily basis.
For a country to have gone from third-world ranking, jungle stop-over destination to a world class city state means that there’s something very special lurking under the “bland” blanket that once covered Singapore. So what makes it so unique? Well, for one, the country has a magnificent blend of cultures, cuisines, customs and traditions you won’t likely find anywhere else. The locals have their own dialect called ‘Singlish’, which is a mix of Malay, Mandarin, English and Tamil. It’s also considered one of the cleanest countries in the world and have a contingency plan to make the natural environment a part of their city life! How’s that for unique?
Must see places in Singapore
If you really want to see all the splendor of Singapore, then Marina Bay is the place to be. The epic building and resort has an array of attractions to keep you entertained such as the Science Museum, Casino and a collection of shopping, dining and nightlife entertainment opportunities.
Think riverside meets busy nightlife scene and you’re right up the alley of Clarke Quay. With an array of bars and restaurants, boutique shops and nightclubs, it’s one of the biggest attractions after dark.
If you want to purchase some souvenirs, get a cultural experience and sample some Chinese food, Chinatown is a must visit destination.
Gardens By The Bay
This massive, colorful, futuristic park in the Bay won the award for World Building of the Year in 2012, and is home to the famous Supertrees and over-sized shell-shaped greenhouses that house hundreds of plants.
Nominated as a UNESCO world heritage site, the botanic gardens perfectly showcases Singapore’s wilder heritage. On offer here is the National Orchid Garden, the Eco Garden, Eco Lake, the Bonsai Garden and sculptures.
This is where you can find the Universal Studios, an impressive aquarium, cable car rides, the Sky Tower, nature trails and more than enough bars and restaurants to keep you entertained.
Little India and the Arab Quarter has a rich display of tradition, food and culture to entice the senses. Surrounded by music, food and amazing sights, the age old Indian community is at its best in these areas
The chapel and museum located here tells the tale of those who suffered under the Japanese rule during WWII.
This world-class zoo with its open enclosures and lush landscaped grounds is the ideal destination for a great day out in Singapore.
Orchard Road is the main shopping strip in Singapore and the selection of international designer labels, mid-market brands and concept stores seems endless. The most popular malls in the area are Ngee Ann City, The Paragon, Centrepoint, Wheelock Place and Wisma Atria.
Things to do in Singapore
Go shopping on Orchard Road
Take a walk on the wild side - at the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari
Go Bird Watching
Go Bird Watching - in Jurong Bird Park that is! It’s home to the largest collection of birds in Southeast Asia and also boasts the world’s largest walk-in aviary
Eat on the cheap
Get a bird’s eye view
Pick the time right
Tourist visit Singapore from December to January & April to May
Singapore has a tropical climate and stays hot and humid throughout the year with average temperatures of around 31°C during the day. The cooler months tend to be between December and January, with the hottest times of the year falling between April and May. The country has a Northeast Monsoon Season that takes place from December to March, which is when Singapore has the most rainfall. They also have the Southwest Monsoon season that produces a dryer climate which falls between May and September.
Did you know?
- Chilli crab
- Beef Rendang - a delicious coconut milk beef curry
- Char Kway Teow - thick rice noodles that are stir fried in soy sauce and chilli with prawns and clams
- Gado Gado - a tantalizing fruit and vegetable salad dressed with a peanut sauce
- Laksa - a rich and spicy coconut-based noodles soup with prawns or chicken and tofu and beansprouts
- Masala Dosa - a vegetarian curry stuffed savory rolled pancake
- Teh Tarik - this regional drink is tea that has been poured from ne cup to another repeatedly to cool it down while condensed milk is also mixed in to produce a frothy top
This festival is a celebration to commemorate the Hindu god Subramaniam, and sees a lot of body piercings being done by large steel hooks and hot coal walking contests to name just two of the jaw-dropping celebratory events.
Mid-January through to Mid-February
Chinese New Year
Probably one of the most hyped traditional festivals in Singapore, the Lunar New Year calls for massive celebrations all across this city-state. Bright red ornaments and extravagant decorations fill the streets for this happy occasion. The Chinese New Year consist of a lot of individual festivals that help build up the atmosphere such as the River Hong Bao Festival and the Chingay Parade. There’s also the Chinese festival of arts.
Hungry Ghost Festival
Seen in the same light as Halloween but with a lot more emphasis being placed on respecting and offering food to the ghosts, this is a very serious traditional event. This festival also sees a lot of stages being set up for singing shows accompanied by bright lights and bold colors to entertain the ghosts as they roam the earth for one day a year.
Hari Raya Puasa
This traditional Maylay festival is held every year at the end of Muslim Ramadan and is treated like a Thanksgiving feast of sorts.
Also known as the Lantern Festival, this celebration commemorates a great harvesting season. Chinese cultural performances liven up the night time and the festive night bazaars offer more than enough entertainment. The Moon Fest goes hand-in-hand with the Mid-Autumn Festival and is also crammed full of traditional Chinese festivities and bright lights.
This is probably one of the most important dates on the Hindu calendar and is also known as the festival of lights. It commemorates the defeat of Narakasura by the Lord Krishna, and celebrates the defeat of good over evil. This is also known as the New Year for all Hindu devotees. A trip to Little India during this festival promises lots of loud music, bright lights, traditional costumes being displayed and an abundance of great Indian food being served.
- Brace yourself for the heat and humidity and make sure you drink enough water to stay hydrated
- Always ask for permission before taking pictures of locals or festival offerings
- Always take off your shoes when entering a religious building or the home of locals
- Make sure you familiarize yourself with and stick to the crazy laws of Singapore such as the laws regarding jaywalking, littering and smoking.