Singapore is a bustling cosmopolitan city populated with high-rise buildings
and landscape gardens. A harmonious blend of culture, cuisine, arts and architecture, Singapore is a dynamic city that’s rich in contrast and colour enabling travellers to ignite their passions. So take the time to explore and discover what awaits in Singapore.
- Singapore is located just off the tip of the Malay Peninsula, about one degree north of the equator. It is comprised of one main island with a number of smaller islets and islands forming part of the country.
- Language – You will be able to speak English to Singaporeans, most of whom are fluent in it. Many Singaporeans also speak an additional language, usually Mandarin Chinese, Malay or Tamil.
- Singapore is hot and humid all year-round, with temperatures usually reaching over 30°C. You should be prepared for rain at any time, which can be torrential but usually brief. Planning a visit around January to March will see you coinciding with some of the island’s festivals like Chinese New Year and Holi. Singapore also comes alive from November to December with Deepavali (the festival of lights) and some absolutely epic Christmas and New Year celebrations.
- The local currency is the Singapore Dollar (SG$). Tipping isn’t required in Singapore, however you’re welcome to if you would like to, of course. This would be above the standard 10 percent gratuity to your bill added by some restaurants and hotels.
- Getting around –
- Singapore’s public transport system is fast and efficient, and will whizz you to memorable attractions without fuss. Singapore’s MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) system is probably the fastest way to zip around the city. Most of the popular attractions are just a short walk away from an MRT station.
- The bus system has an extensive network of routes covering most places in Singapore. Besides being an economical way to get around, it’s one of the most scenic. You can pay for your train or bus fare using an adult stored value smartcard (EZ-link / Nets FlashPay) or the Singapore Tourist Pass (STP). You can also use your foreign-issued Mastercard® and Visa contactless bank cards issued outside of Singapore to pay for your ride.
- Taxis are comfortable and especially handy if you want to go to places not accessible by the bus or MRT. Cabs here are metered, but there may be surcharges depending on when, where and which company’s taxi you board. To get a rough idea of the final fare, check with the driver on the surcharges and ask for a receipt at the end of the trip.
- Where to stay? –
- If shopping is your passion then staying around Orchard Road would be perfect for you. Alternatively look at staying around the Downtown area. Ideally, you want to find a place right above or very close to an MRT station. Look for spots near City Hall, Esplanade, Raffles Place, Telok Ayer and Downtown MRT stations.
Where Foodies Meet
Food in Singapore is taken very seriously. From cheap hawker fare to Michelin-starred fine dining, food-enamoured Singaporeans will line up for it, Instagram the hell out of it and passionately debate whether it is up to the hype. Don’t fret about finding a place to chow down, as each neighbourhood is home to local hawker centres and coffeeshops dishing up some of the island’s best meals for just a couple of bucks. Simply follow your nose or join the longest queue whatever morsels lie at the end, they are almost guaranteed to be scrumptious.
- Must try –
- Head to Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Gelam are great places to start if you’d like to try the local Chinese, Indian and Malay cuisine respectively, while the neighbourhood of Joo Chiat/Katong is filled with restaurants serving Peranakan classics.
2019 saw the Lion City upping the ante as a global food capitol, with 44 making the Singapore Michelin Star list, and a host of restaurants and eateries being awarded the Bib Gourmand. If world class dining is what you crave we suggest securing a seat before you touch down in Singapore. Reservations at a number of these restaurants have been known to take months to secure.
- A visit to Singapore just wouldn’t be complete without a foray or two into the local hawker centres. Pay a visit to Chinatown Complex Food Centre, home to 260 food stalls including Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle, a hawker selling the world’s most affordable Michelin-starred dish.
- Kaya Toast, made from a sweet, coconut jam, and delicious silk-stocking tea or coffee.
- Fried Carrot Cake, This savoury carrot cake has no carrot, the core ingredients of the cake are rice flour and white radish, which some call white carrot. The mixture is steamed, then cut into cubes and fried with garlic, eggs and preserved radish called ‘chai poh‘. Commonly referred to as ‘chai tow kway‘ in the Teochew dialect, these smooth and soft fried rice cakes can be found in almost every hawker centre. It is served black (fried with sweet dark soya sauce) or white (original).
- Chilli Crab, This Singaporean iconic seafood dish is a must try to complete the culinary exploring journey of any traveller.
- Hainanese chicken rice, It’s so important to Singaporeans they even made a movie about it, a Romeo and Juliet inspired piece called The Chicken Rice War which tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers at the centre of their families’ bitter chicken-rice feud, played out mostly in a Hawker Centre.
A Green City
The concrete jungles that once dominated Singapore’s skyline are slowly giving way to green skyscrapers, which look more like living ecosystems than business hubs. Fervently working towards its “City in a Garden” dream, the nation is ploughing money into becoming more sustainable and, well, green. Head out of town a little and you’ll find plenty of walking trails, treetop jungle bridges, wildlife galore and the city’s green jewel, the Unesco World Heritage–listed Singapore Botanic Gardens: these are the lungs of Singapore.
When the sweltering outdoor heat gets too much, Singaporeans love ducking inside for a spot of retail therapy and a good dose of air-conditioning. Orchard Rd is the queen of shopping malls: with all the high-street brands, plenty of high-fashion houses, and a few discount outlets thrown into the mix, everyone’s needs (and more often wants) are catered for here. If you prefer your shopping a little less mass-market, head out to local neighbourhoods for independent designers, quirky art galleries, bustling markets, Chinese medicines, Persian carpets and a sari or two.
- Sentosa Island – With its pristine beaches, exciting attractions and tropical landscapes and visit Universal Studios for a fun-filled day. You can get to Sentosa by taking the monorail or riding a cable car, but the pedestrian boardwalk (accessible from VivoCity) is a great option as well if you fancy a stroll.
- Gardens by the Bay – This is a hugely popular tourist attraction in Singapore, and rightly so. The breadth of plants and the creative ways in which they’re displayed is awe-inspiring. In one part of the conservatory, the Cloud Forest mimics the cool-moist ecology of the tropical highlands. Come face to face with 12 of the Gardens’ 18 Supertrees at the Supertree Grove! Rising up to 50 metres above ground, these iconic giants provide shade in the day and come alive with an exhilarating light and musical show at night.
- Try the Iconic Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel – Think of this as your welcome drink to Singapore. The Singapore Sling is a gin-based cocktail developed over a hundred years ago by Ngiam Tong Boon, a Hainanese bartender at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel, which is still often cited as Singapore’s finest hotel. It’s become synonymous with Raffles and a must-try for first-time visitors to Singapore.
- Kampong Glam – Blending the religious and historical with a modern take on the city-state. Along with stores and eateries, Kampong Glam is also a treasure trove of cultural attractions like Sultan Mosque, Singapore’s biggest mosque; the Malay Heritage Centre; and the country’s only Vintage Camera Museum (whose facade alone is worth a photo).
- Soak in the very best views of the island from above by visiting rooftop spots like Pinnacle @ Duxton, 1-Altitude offers the highest views of Singapore’s cityscape, including a breath taking view of Marina Bay and Ce La Vi the most well known rooftop bar in Singapore sits atop Marina Bay Sands.
- Step back in time to the 1920s and visit Tiong Bahru. From its vinyl shops to boutique art galleries, Tiong Bahru is a treasure trove of inspiration a favourite haunt of many local artists, creatives and culture lovers. Be sure to grab a bite at the iconic Tiong Bahru Bakery and explore Tiong Bahru Markets.
Photo Credits to Visit Singapore