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Singapore

Photo © uktvlr

Travel Guide Asia Singapore

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Introduction

dust in chinatown

dust in chinatown

© All Rights Reserved simon18

Bite-sized Singapore rakes in over US$40 billion in trade surplus in 2011[3], an amazing amount for a country without any natural resources and a profound testament to the city-state's amazing ability to grow and develop at an unprecedented rate. The modern look and feel of Singapore is that of a metropolis propelling itself headlong into the 21st century, symbolised most blatantly by the army of skyscrapers towering over the horizon.

Anthropologists will be disappointed to find this technological madness in what was once a minor trading port, but Asian culture still impresses its influence into the cosmopolitan face of Singapore. Singapore is an ethnically diverse city and areas like Chinatown, Arab Street and Little India highlight this variety. So does the food: from typical modern sky-rise food like McDonald's, to traditional Indian chapatis or Chinese dishes, Singaporean cuisine is as delicious as it is varied.

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Brief History

Early history of Singapore

The island located at the southern tip of the Malay peninsula was once an outpost of the Empire of Srivijaya (7th to 13th century) which was based in southern Sumatra. The present Singapore was then known as Temasek, which means "Sea Town" in Javanese.

According to a tale from the Malay Annals, a prince of Srivijaya landed on the island after surviving a shipwreck in the 13th century. On the island, the prince was told that a strange creature he saw was a lion. Trusting it as a good omen, he started a settlement there and named it Singapura, which means lion (singha) city (pura) in Sanskrit. Since lions are not native to this part of the world, it is thought that the creature he saw was most likely a tiger, probably a Malayan tiger, which continued to roam on the island until early in the 20th century.

Temasek became part of the Sultanate of Malacca during the 15th and early 16th centuries. After the invasion of Malacca by the Portuguese in 1511, an heir to the sultanate succeeded the last Malaccan Sultan and created the Sultanate of Johore in the south of the peninsula, which included Temasek between the 16th and early 19th century.

Modern Singapore

During a throne-dispute in the Johore Sultanate during the early 19th century, the British took the opportunity to gain control of Singapore. As a result, Singapore was ceded to the British East India Company in 1819. The British Empire took full control of the island in 1824. In 1826, Singapore was added to the newly formed Straits Settlements, a collection of territories of British East India Company, which included Penang, Malacca, Dinding, Province Wellesley and Labuan. The Straits Settlements became a British crown colony in 1867. During this entire time the British who also controlled the rest of of the Malay peninsula, encouraged open immigration to fill in the needs of mining and agricultural workforce. Large numbers of Chinese, mainly driven to seek greener pastures from civil war and famine in southern China, and Indians were brought into the region. Most settled down in more developed towns such as Penang and Singapore which subsequently made them culturally different from the rest of mainland because of the large Chinese majority and large Indian minority.

In 1942, Singapore fell to the hands of the Japanese during World War II. The defeat of the ill-prepared British was described by British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill as "the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history."[4] At the end of the war, the Japanese retreated and the British returned to rule Singapore. But Singaporeans envisaged a different future and started demanding self-governance.

Independence

Singapore became a self-governing crown colony in 1959. On 31 August 1963, it declared independence from Britain to establish the Malaysian Federation, a merger of Malaya, North Borneo (now Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore, in conjunction with Malaya's Independence Day. However, the event had to be postponed until 16 September 1963 due to delays on the Borneo side. In the years after the merger, heated ideological differences on racial issues ensued between the Singapore government and the federal government in Kuala Lumpur.[5] This is because the predominantly-Chinese PAP, the ruling party of Singapore led by Lee Kuan Yew, cried for a "Malaysian Malaysia", a policy to serve all regardless of race, whilst the Malay-based UMNO party in Alliance, the ruling coalition in the federal parliament, believed in affirmative action for Malays as a policy of positive racial discrimination.[5][6] In 1965, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, bowed down to the pressure of his own party, UMNO, and expelled Singapore from the federation. Singapore officially became an independent republic on 9 August 1965.

Large-scale development programs were carried out over the years to eradicate problems in the country and to improve the life of the nation. Singapore's economy thrived, mainly due to its trading port, and subsequently became a financial centre in Asia. Also Singapore's leadership took a different approach to socialism and took the philosophy of being a socialist government that makes money. It is now one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

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Geography

Singapore is an island-nation located at the southern tip of the Malay peninsula. It consists of 63 islands, including mainland Singapore. It is linked to Malaysia by a man-made 1,056-metre-long causeway and a bridge on the Straits of Johore. In the south, it is separated by Straits of Singapore from Indonesia's Riau Islands.

Urbanisation and development in this land-scarce island has caused the country to resort to land-reclamation, which is an on-going process. As a result, the total land area has increased by over one-fifth since the 1960s (581.5 km²) to over 700 km² today. About one-fifth of the land area is forests and nature reserves. Most of these areas are situated in the geographic centre of the island.

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Neighbourhoods

  • Balestier, Newton, Novena and Toa Payoh are home to some Burmese temples.
  • Riverside is packed with cultural institutions and a good number of bars, clubs and restaurants.
  • Orchard Road is Singapore's shopping Mecca and is packed with malls.
  • Bugis and Kampong Glam are the old Malay district, now home to numerous malls.
  • Chinatown
  • Little India is home to a large section of the Indian population. Visit in the evenings to find it at its most vibrant.
  • North and West Singapore are more residential / industrial.
  • East Coast is a largely residential neighbourhood, close to East Coast Park (SIngapore's largest beach) and Katong (Foodie heaven).
  • Sentosa Island is a separate island off Singapore and has been developed into a resort getaway.

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Sights and Activities

Sentosa Island

The artificial beach of Sentosa Island - Singapore

The artificial beach of Sentosa Island - Singapore

© All Rights Reserved snatterand

If you want to escape the city, Sentosa is the right place to go. Sentosa is an island theme park that features a multitude of activities from indoor skydiving, zip lines into the ocean, alpine slide rides, laser shows, and beach activities. It is one of the most visited parks in Singapore. The island also has a casino, Universal Studios, Underwater World, and a number of resorts to stay at overlooking the ocean.
While it all sounds rather like Singapore's version of Disneyland, there are also some beaches where you can relax.

Universal Studios Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore is among the newest attractions in the city focused on family fun. This world renowned Hollywood theme attraction is located on the northern side of the Sentosa island. It features different rides, shows, and the famous characters from Universal Studios like Shrek, Madagascar, Transformers, Jurassic Park, and Waterworld. This theme park is part of a bigger integrated resort under the Resorts World Sentosa.

Singapore Zoo and Night Safari

Occupying an area of 28 hectares within a forest, the Singapore Zoo is home to over 300 species of animal. It displays animals in "open" exhibits where visitors are separated by moats or in some cases, glasses-enclosures. It also houses one of the world's largest captive colonies of orang-utans. The Night Safari, located adjacent to the Singapore Zoo, is the world's first wildlife park built for visits at night to enable visitors to watch nocturnal animals in their natural habitat. There are some 1,000 animals of more than 100 species within the 40-hectare secondary forest. Lastly, the Jurong Bird Park is Asia’s largest bird park with a collection of more than 5,000 birds across 380 species. The park and its line-up of award-winning exhibits, located at the west-end of Singapore, offers 20.5 hectares of exploratory landscape and gives visitors the opportunity to meet and interact with the live birds.

Orchard Road

Orchard Road is where you have to go if you like shopping. Orchard Road turns into Bras Basah Road as it heads east and this is probably the better part if you don't like shopping at all, with some fine museums and colonial architecture. Museums include the national museum of Singapore, Battle Fox, and the Singapore Art Museum.

Other sights and activities

Chinatown

Chinatown

© All Rights Reserved zags

  • The Merlion - The Merlion is the symbol of Singapore and the original statue spouts water into Marina Bay from the Merlion Park. Two other replicas can be found in Mount Faber and in Sentosa.
  • Mount Faber - Mount Faber is Singapore's highest peak and provides a 360-degree view of the island state.
  • Raffles Hotel - Raffles Hotel is famous for the Singapore Sling cocktail.
  • China Town - China Town is the location of the original Chinese settlement on Singapore and the centre of traditional Chinese culture with several temples.
  • Little India - Little India is the location of the original Indian settlement and is home to the a large percentage of the Indian population. There are several nice temples and some great food to be found in this area of town.
  • Singapore Botanic Gardens - The Singapore Botanic Gardens are a welcome escape from the buzz of the city and are lovely to stroll around. Hours: They are open from 5:00am to 12 midnight daily, Price: admission is free.
  • 1-Altitude - 1-Altitude located at Raffles Place is the highest observation deck in the country. Set 282 metres above sea level the place offers a great 360-degree view of the whole island. Hours: Open daily 8.00am-10.00pm.

Interesting Info

Smokers may notice something interesting here. Locals only light up near one of the many large comunal ashtrays that are atop most garbage recepticals spread around the city. Locals also tend to only have a few puffs on a cigarette before putting what looks like a whole cigarette in the ashtray.

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Events and Festivals

Cultural and Religious

  • Chinese New Year - With Chinese residents making up about three quarters of the population in Singapore, Chinese New Year is one of the most highly celebrated festivals in the city. Chinese New Year occurs every year in January or February (depending on the lunar calendar). During this highly celebrated event, Chinese families gather for dinners, parties, and parades. Traditional food is served during this time, and it is also customary for Chinese elders to give their children and grandchildren little red packets that contain money. This packet, or hóngbāo, symbolizes good luck and good fortune in the new year. The next New Year (2014) will be year of the Horse. New Year celebrations last for two weeks.
  • Chingay Parade - Chingay Parade is a spectacular event held during the Chinese New Year celebrations on Orchard Road. This is one of Singapore's most extravagant street festivals, with the parade including crowd favorites like, lion dancers, samba dancers in traditional costumes, stilt-walkers, and elaborately decorated floats. Visitors will be sure to enjoy watching this lively event.
  • River Hong Bao Festival - A popular location to celebrate Chinese New Year is at River Hong Bao. Every year, a huge event is thrown here that includes a large parade with decorated floats and a beautiful fireworks display.
  • Mid-Autumn Festival - Alternatively known as the Moon Festival, Lantern Festival, or Mooncake Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the full moon day (15th day) of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar - usually in September. During this festival, people eat "moon cakes" - which are a small dessert cake filled with ground lotus, sesame seeds, and egg yolk. Along with the dessert, visitors will enjoy colorfully decorated streets and lanterns of many shapes and sizes.
  • Diwali/Deepavali - Diwali is the most anticipated Hindu holiday of the year. It's celebrated by the Indian residents of Singapore, which make up about 10% of the city's population. Diwali is known as the "Festival of Light", where Hindus hold candle lighting rituals to ward off evil spirits and celebrate the victory of good over evil. The epicenter of this celebration is found in Singapore's Little India, where the streets are decorated in vibrant colors, and beautiful lanterns are on display everywhere.
  • Eid ul-Fitr - Eid ul-Fitr is one of the most celebrated Muslim festivals of the year. Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, a religious fasting month. This annual festival is celebrated by family gatherings, lavish dinners, and general merriment.
  • Christmas (25 Dec 2014) - During the Christmas season, downtown Singapore is illuminated with a truly spectacular light display, with some shopping centers even competing for the most spectacular light presentation. Christians make up just under 20% of Singapore's population, and this holiday is the joyous celebration of Christ's birth. Streets are filled with carolers, street performers, and Christmas shows during this holiday season.
  • Vesak Day - A little over a third of the population of Singapore profess to be practicing Buddhists, so Vesak Day is very popular among the locals. Vesak Day, or Buddha's birthday, is the day where Buddha's life, enlightenment, and death are celebrated. Many Buddhist temples hold events on this day, monks offer chants and prayers, and devotees bring gifts and other offerings to the temples where incense is burned. Popular locations to watch this festival are: Buddhist Lodge at River Valley Road, Thai Buddhist Temple at Jalan Bukit Merah, and Lian Shan Shuang Lin Temple at Jalan Toa Payoh. Vesak day is typically celebrated on the first full moon in May.

Other Events and Festivals

  • Singapore Fashion Festival - This dynamic fashion event draws acclaimed fashion designers, celebrities, and leaders in the fashion industry from all over the globe. This highly publicized event showcases the latest and greatest in international fashion trends. In between fashion events, be on the look out for specials at local shops and restaurants who offer good deals during this festival.
  • National Day (09 Aug 2013) - National Day is on 9 August and is a public holiday. Singaporeans celebrate the country's independence (9 August 1965) with a big parade, fireworks, and other festivities.
  • Singapore Arts Festival - The Singapore Arts Festival, started in 1977, is one of Asia's most popular arts festivals. Visitors can choose from an array of arts-focused events including: music, theater, dance, spoken word, etc. This Arts Festival is sure to please a variety of artistic tastes.
  • Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix - During this event, thousands gather to watch exciting drag races and cheer on their favorite driver! The Grand Prix is accompanied by a variety of other events around the city including music concerts (featuring big-name international artists like Maroon 5), parties, and exhibitions.
  • Singapore Food Festival - Singapore is the perfect location for foodies to visit, as it is a literal "melting pot" of culture and cuisines from all over Asia. This summer food festival (held annually in July) boasts some of the most decadent and delicious cuisine the region has to offer. Featuring locally caught and prepared seafood, this festival is sure to satisfy the palates of all its visitors.
  • Great Singapore Sale - Attention shoppers! This event is for you! Shops all across the city participate in this great event, where all of your favorite things are available for purchase, but at a discounted cost! Along with great deals, this event also includes shopping competitions, runway shows, bridal events, late night shopping, and much more!
  • Singapore River Buskers Festival - This very popular street festival attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city each year. This is the largest forum for street performers in the region. For this festival, hundreds of known and unknown entertainers line the streets and perform for the masses. This nine-day festival begins with a parade, and continues with other fun events throughout. Performers can be seen on the streets of Orchard Road, Singapore River, Clarke Quay, Marina Bay, Robertson Walk and the Riverside. Visitors can expect to see humorous theater performers, comedians, jugglers and mimes, acrobats, contortionists, magicians and sword-swallowers, and a variety of musical acts (just to name a few). This event occurs annually in November.

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Weather

Located at just over 1º north of the Equator, Singapore has a tropical rainforest climate with no distinctive seasons. Singapore enjoys year-round tropical temperatures averaging around 32 °C during the day. November to January is the peak of a monsoon season at which time there is higher than average rainfall, while the hottest months are April and May. Visitors should bear in mind that the combined humidity (70–80%) and heat takes quite a toll when spending time outside.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max29.9 °C31 °C31.4 °C31.7 °C31.6 °C31.2 °C30.8 °C30.8 °C30.7 °C31.1 °C30.5 °C29.6 °C
Avg Min23.1 °C23.5 °C23.9 °C24.3 °C24.6 °C24.5 °C24.2 °C24.2 °C23.9 °C23.9 °C23.6 °C23.3 °C
Rainfall198 mm154 mm171 mm141 mm158 mm140 mm145 mm143 mm177 mm167 mm252 mm304 mm

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Getting There

By Plane

Singapore Changi Airport (IATA: SIN, ICAO: WSSS) is a major hub in South East Asia and located about 17 kilometres from Singapore's commercial centre. Singapore Airlines is the national airline and services routes throughout the world. A budget off-shoot of Singapore Airlines, Tiger Airways services routes through Asia. AirAsia flies from Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Langkawi, Miri, Penang, Tawau) Thailand (Bangkok, Phuket), Indonesia (Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Bali) into Singapore.

There are several modes of transport between the city and the airport.

  • Train (MRT) - approximately half an hour
  • Bus (SBS Transit Route 36 to city, SMRT Bus Route 858 to Woodlands, near Malaysian border)
  • Taxi - approximately half an hour
  • Limousine Taxi
  • Airport Shuttle (to Hotels)
  • Car Rental

The Changi Airport Skytrain operates between Terminals 1, 2 and 3, with a total of seven stations. The service is free of charge and operates between 5:30am and 2:30am daily. Transportation is also provided to passengers and visitors between Terminal 2 and the Budget Terminal in the form of zero-fare shuttle buses. zero-fare buses are also deployed to run every 20 minutes during the non-operational hours of the Skytrain; that is, from 02:30am to 05:30am hours between all three terminals.

By Train

The Malayan Railway (Malay: Keretapi Tanah Melayu, KTM) operates several train services daily from major cities and towns in Peninsular Malaysia to Singapore. The iconic 1932 Art Deco style Tanjong Pagar station near the city centre has ceased operations from 1 July 2011. Trains to Singapore now terminate at the Woodlands station at the causeway border checkpoint. Journey times are usually longer than the bus due to the single-track railway in most parts of the network.

All times are departure except the final destination. Both Malaysia and Singapore are in the same time zone (GMT+8). For routes on the reverse direction, refer to the Malaysia article.

1Ekspres RakyatButterworth 0800 – Ipoh 1121 – Kuala Lumpur 1406 – Gemas 1703 – Johor Bahru 2002 – Woodlands 2025
13Sinaran SelatanKuala Lumpur 0900 – Gemas 1204 – Johor Bahru 1527 – Woodlands 1600
25Senandung Sutera (with sleeper berth)Kuala Lumpur 2300 – Gemas 0159 – Johor Bahru 0552 – Woodlands 0635
15Sinaran TimurTumpat 0700 – Wakaf Bharu 0804 – Gua Musang 1051 – Jerantut 1348 – Gemas 1708 – Johor Bahru 2058 – Woodlands 2120
27Senandung Timuran (with sleeper berth)Gua Musang 2030 – Wakaf Bharu 2047 – Gua Musang 0024 – Jerantut 0313 – Gemas 0628 – Johor Bahru 0955 – Woodlands 1015
61ShuttleGemas 0145 – Kluang 0349 – Johor Bahru 0519 – Woodlands 0550
91ShuttleKuala Lipis 0815 – Jerantut 0908 – Gemas 1244 – Kluang 1515 – Johor Bahru 1710 – Woodlands 1725

By Car

There are two ways to drive from Malaysia into Singapore. The first and most common way is from Johor Bahru, Malaysia via the causeway to Woodlands, Singapore. The other way is on the west side via the the Second Link bridge linking Tanjung Kupang in Malaysia and Tuas in Singapore.

Motorists with foreign-registered vehicles are required to pay tolls and Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) at the border checkpoints when they drive into Singapore. Payment for tolls and VEP have to be made using Autopass Card, an electronic smartcard, which is sold at the checkpoints. The VEP fee costs SGD20 a day, Monday to Friday, from 02:00am hours to 5:00pm. It is not required on Saturday, Sunday, public holidays and weekdays from 5:00pm to 02:00am. Tolls are only charged at the checkpoints. The Autopass Card can be topped up at convenience stores, ATMs, petrol stations and Autopass Card topup booths.

More information on driving into Singapore

By Bus

Buses frequently drive between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur as well as other Malaysian destinations. The trip from Kuala Lumpur takes roughly five hours, depending on the operator and traffic condition. The quality of the buses is generally very high and prices are affordable. Unfortunately, there is no central bus terminal in Singapore and the various operators stop in different parts of the city.

By Boat

Ferries connect Singapore to the Riau Islands in Indonesia and Johor in Malaysia.

To Johor, there are frequent bumboats leaving for Tanjung Pengelih by various privately-owned companies. Ferries leave when full (12 people). Daily boat services between Changi Point and Pengerang (Johor); Tanah Merah and Sebana Cover Resort (Johor). Ferry Link offers boats between Changi Point and Tanjung Belungkor.

Penguin Ferries offers frequent ferry services between Singapore and Batam, Sekupang, Tanjung Balai, Tanjung Pinang and Lobam.

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Getting Around

StreetMap@Singapore is a free service provided by Singapore Land Authority to find a location map using address, postal code, road name or the nearest MRT/LRT stations.

By Plane

Although of course there are no internal flights, you can do a sightseeing tour in small plane or helicopter with the Singapore Flying Club.

By Car

A valid national driving licence or international driving permit is required for driving in Singapore. Vehicles in Singapore are driven on the left side of the road.

Electronic Road Pricing
The Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) is a scheme to help reduce congestion on Singapore roads by charging a fee on vehicles in the zone. Certain major roads, particularly those in the Central Business District, and expressways in the city state fall under the ERP.

By Public Transport

Singapore has an advanced and efficient public transportation network of trains, buses and taxis. SBS Transit is the largest bus company in Singapore. SMRT operates the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) trains and also buses on the island city.

For the convenience of frequent commuters, a stored value ticket known as the EZ-Link card is available. The EZ-Link card can be purchased from any ticket office at most MRT stations for S$15, which is inclusive of S$5 non-refundable deposit, S$3 refundable travel deposit, and S$7 stored value. The stored value can be topped up at many locations. Alternatively, if you are going to use the public transport extensively during your stay, you may opt for The Singapore Tourist Pass instead. This pass offers unlimited travels on all MRT trains and basic bus services. It comes in the options of 1-, 2-, or 3- day pass, at S$8 per day. A S$10 deposit for the card will be charged and is refundable if returned within five days. The pass can be extended, if required, by simply topping up S$8 for each day.

Train
The ultra-modern Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train network connects the whole island quickly and efficiently. A cheap and convenient way to travel, tickets can be purchased on the spot at all MRT stations around the island via a machine for immediate travel. The (hard plastic) ticket includes a S$1 deposit which can be recovered after your trip at one of the MRT machines. For longer term use, stored value cards can be purchased at selected stations and topped up at any station for further travels. The trains can at times be crowded, even at off-peak times of the day.

Bus
Singapore is connected by an efficient bus network - the same MRT stored value cards (EZ-link cards) can be used for bus rides (through tapping on card readers positioned at the entry and exits of buses). Alternatively, the fare can be paid by cash (ask the driver how much it is to the destination) and no change will be given. Normally bus routes and stops are posted on a display board at bus stops. Bus and train guides can be bought cheaply at virtually all news stands and bookstores around the island. Buses operate from 06:00am to midnight. .

Bus Fares [7]

  • Non air-conditioned buses: S$0.70 to S$1.40
  • Air-conditioned buses: S$0.80 to S$1.70

Taxi
Taxis are a very nice way to get around Singapore. To be a Taxi driver in Singapore, you must be born in the country, speak English and pass some sort of certification tests that include driving skills and knowledge of the city/country among other things. It is a very sought after job there. Due to this taxi drivers are very personable, knowledgeable and eager to please tourists. It is not uncommon for tourists leaving Singapore to realise their favourite local they met was their taxi drivers. Like anywhere they may take you a slightly longer route, but you won't need to deal with the questionable practices that you will encounter in that profession elsewhere in the world.

Taxis are available at reasonable cost. Fares are charged according to the meter. The following are the rates of a standard taxi: [8]

  • Flag-Down (inclusive of 1st kilometre or less): S$2.80 to S$3.00
  • Every 385 metres thereafter or less, up to 10 kilometres: S$0.20
  • Every 330 metres thereafter or less, after 10 kilometres: S$0.20
  • Every 45 seconds of waiting or less: S$0.20
  • Peak-hour Surcharge (Monday - Friday: 7:00am to 9:30am; Monday - Saturday: 5:00pm to 8:00pm): 35%
  • Midnight Surcharge (Midnight - 6:00am): 50%
  • Central Business District (CBD) Surcharge (Monday - Saturday : 5:00pm to Midnight): $3.00
  • Public Holiday (major ones only) Surcharge: S$1.00
  • Airport Surcharge: S$3.00 to S$5.00 (depending on time)
  • Booking fee: S$2.50 to S$5.20
  • Toll: According to charged rates

By Foot and Bike

The city of Singapore itself can be explored on foot easily, although taking a taxi, bus or train once a while is recommended in the hot and humid weather. Renting a bike is a possibility as well. There are also rickshaws, mostly catering to tourists in Chinatown and several city centre streets.

By Boat

The Singapore Cruise Centre is located at the World Trade Centre, a short taxi ride from the city centre. There are both leisurely harbour cruises as well as ferry services to Singapore's islands. There are also ferries from the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal at Changi. A ferry for Sentosa leaves every 20 minutes starting at 7:30am. Pulau Ubin is another popular place to go from the latter terminal.

Both motorised sampans as well as luxurious junk tours are a nice way of travelling along the Singapore river.

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Red Tape

Most travellers can enter Singapore without a visa. Social visit passes valid for 14, 30, or 90 days, depending on citizenship, are issued to foreigners who do not require a visa.

Citizens of the following countries will require a visa to enter Singapore: [9]

  • Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Commonwealth of Independent States (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan), Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Myanmar, People's Republic of China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen.

Visitors holding these travel documents also require a visa to enter Singapore: [9]

  • Hong Kong Document of Identity;
  • Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR) Travel Permit;
  • Palestinian Authority Passport;
  • Refugee Travel Document issued by the Middle-East countries;
  • Temporary Passport issued by United Arab Emirates.

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Money

See also: Money Matters

The Singapore Dollar (S$) is the official currency, and Singapore has a currency interchangeability agreement with Brunei so the S$ is pegged 1:1 with the Brunei Dollar. One Singapore Dollar is divided into 100 cents.

  • Banknotes: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, $1,000, $10,000.
  • Coins: 5, 10, 20, 50 cents, $1.

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Work

Work Holiday Programme

Singapore has a Work Holiday Programme which allows one to live and work in Singapore for up to six months. This program open to university students and recent graduates, between 17 and 30 years of age, in Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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Study

Singapore a several world-ranked Universities including the largest, the National University of Singapore (NUS). This University has over 36,000 students, and is located on the Yellow MRT line with a stop called Kent Ridge MRT at the National University Hospital (located on campus). Other Universities include Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Management University (SMU), SIM University, Singapore Institute of Technology, and Singapore University of Technology and Design.

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Language

See also: Malay phrasebook

Singapore has four official languages: English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. English is the medium of instruction in schools, and is widely spoken. However, the national language of Singapore is Malay and is used in the national anthem "Majulah Singapura" (Onward, Singapore). As the majority of the population is ethnic Chinese whose ancestors came from southern China, several Chinese dialects from that region such as Hokkien (Min Nan) and Teochew are also in use. Most Singaporeans also speak a localised version of English known as "Singlish", which is easily identifiable by terms such as "lah" and "lor" at the end of sentences.

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Eat

Singaporeans are known to love their food. Besides the traditional cuisines of each ethnic group, hybrid dishes like Fishhead Curry (Indian and Chinese) have also been developed over the years. This has created a rich gastronomical scene in Singapore.

There are a number of top-notch restaurants like the Michelin star La Dolce Vita at City Hall. However, true Singaporean food is found cheaply in the hawker centres and coffee shops. These are akin to the street food stalls that exist in other Asian countries, but in the 1950s and 60s the government brought the stalls together as hawker centres or food centres, mostly to deal with hygiene issues.

Make sure to try at least a few favourite Singaporeans dishes like Hainanese Chicken Rice or Mee Rebus. Check out this not-yet-fully-developed list for some ideas: http://sethlui.com/best-local-famous-foods-to-eat-singapore/ or use http://www.hungrygowhere.com/singapore-hawker/ to search more. There are a number of famous hawker centres (with a number of famous stalls) like Maxwell Food Centre, Old Airport Road Food Centre, Bedok Block 85 that you can go for a one-stop-shop dining experience.

One tip from a local: if you're still jet-lagged, awake in the middle of the night and starving, try some famous supper places like Swee Choon (dimsum) in Jalan Besar. Unfortunately by around 12am public transport has closed, and taxis have a night surcharge. But if it's nearby or you have a car, it's worth the travel.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
98SG98SG Geylang Lorong 27Hostel68
A Beary Good Hostel66A&B Pagoda StreetHostel82
Asphodel Inn380 Race Course Road 218704Guesthouse74
Backpackers Inn Chinatown30A Mosque StreetHostel72
Beach Hotel Pte. Ltd.95 Beach Road 189699 SingaporeHotel75
Betel Box Backpacker Hostel200 Joo Chiat RoadHostel78
Drop Inn253 Lavender StreetHostel80
Fernloft City (Chinatown)Blk 5 Banda Street #02-92Hostel79
Fernloft East Coast693A, East Coast Road Singapore 459508 NAHostel-
Fernloft Little India257 Jalan BesarHostel73
Footprints Hostel25A Perak RoadHostel78
Frankel Hostel502A Changi RoadHostel-
G4 Station11 Mackenzie RoadHostel75
Haising Hotel37 Jalan Besar S208801Hotel73
Hangout @ Mt. Emily10A Upper Wilkie Road 228119Hotel-
Happy HotelNo.9 Lorong 10 GeylangHostel70
Harbour Ville Hotel512 Kampong Bahru RoadHotel-
Hostel One66Block 166 Woodlands Street 13 #01-545 Singapore 730166Hostel76
Madras HotelNo. 28-32 Madras StreetHotel74
Madras Hotel Eminence407 Jalan Besar Singapore 209012Hotel74
One Florence Close1 Florence CloseHostel-
Perak Lodge12 Perak Road Singapore 208133Hotel77
Prince Of Wales101 Dunlop Street Little IndiaHostel77
Radius International City Lodge99 Rangoon RoadHostel-
Rucksack Inn33-B Hong Kong StreetHostel83
Service World Chinatown (Chin Swee) HostelBlock 52, Chin Swee Road #03-45 (next to Manhattan House)Hostel76
Service World HostelBlock 5, Banda Street #02-82Hostel77
Sleepy Sam's Bed & Breakfast55 Bussorah StreetHostel78
Superb Hub @ Bugis City2A Jalan PinangHostel-
The Hive: The Backpackers' Hostel624 Serangoon RoadHostel82
The InnCrowd Backpackers Hostel 273 Dunlop Street 73 Dunlop Street, Historic Little India ConservatiHostel80
The Mitraa427 Race Course Road SingaporeHostel81
Tresor Tavern243 Jalan BesarHostel79
Urban Hostel LLP (Backpackers)67A Lorong 27 GeylangHostel55
WoW Hostel67B Lorong 27 Geylang, Above JAS Medical Next to Aljunied MRT StationHostel73
Feel At Home7A, Jalan PinangHostel72
Sky Orchids HostelLorong 27Hostel-
Travellers Inn290 Jalan Besar 208953HOSTEL80
Ideal Backpackers Hostel89 Geylang RoadHostel71
Kallang River Backpackers8 Jalan AyerHostel65
Zenobia Hotel41 Upper Weld RoadHotel-
River City Inn33C Hong Kong StreetHostel87
@ The Little Red Dot125 Lavender Street SingaporeHostel78
Beary Nice! by a beary good hostel46B Smith Street ChinatownHostel80
Society Backpackers Hotel259A, Jalan BesarHOSTEL82
Pillows & Toast40 Mosque StreetHOSTEL-
The Chancellor Hostel188L Tanjong Katong RoadHostel-
Prince of Wales - Boat Quay51 Boat QuayHostel77
Drop Inn Too247 Lavender StreetHostel-
Empire Residences202A Syed Alwi Road Off Jalan Besar Opp McDonalds New World CentreHostel-
City Center Backpackers Hostel41-A, HongKong Street SingaporeHostel-
Green Kiwi Backpacker Hostel280A Lavender StreetHostel82
Diamond ResidencyBlock -52, Chin Swee Road #02-35Hostel-
Tree In LodgeLevel 2, #02-01 Tan Quee Lan St, BugisHOSTEL-
Tresor Tavern Hotel26 Cavan RoadHotel75
Matchbox The Concept Hostel39 Ann Siang RoadHostel80
Rucksack Inn @ Lavender Street280 Lavender StreetHOSTEL80
5footway.inn Project Chinatown 161/63 Pagoda StreetHostel80
Pillow.Talk Backpacker's Hostel5 Hamilton RoadHOSTEL79
Wink Hostel8A Mosque StreetHostel83
Five Stones Hostel61 South Bridge RoadHostel76
City Backpackers Singapore18 HongKong StreetHostel74
Mitraa Backpackers Inn531, Serangoon RoadHOSTEL80
Queens Hostel284 Jalan BesarHOSTEL-
Backpackers SG111J King George's AvenueHostel80
Beary Best! by a beary good hostel16 Upper Cross Street ChinatownHOSTEL80
Rucksack Inn @ HongKong Street38A Hong Kong Street Clarke QuayHOSTEL81
Siglap Homestay653 Changi RoadGuesthouse-
Empire Hostel41 Opal Crescent Level 2 UnitHostel72
Kallangriver II Singapore6 Jalan AyerHostel74
Mercury Backpackers Hostel57 Lavender StreetHostel76
Bunc@Radius Little India15 Upper Weld RoadHOSTEL78
Happy Snail HostelBlock 147 Silat Avenue #01-32Hostel82
Moni Gallery Hostel263 Lavender StreetHOSTEL81
City Backpackers@Kallang12A, Lorong 1 Geylang, Singapore 389120HOSTEL72
5footway.inn Project Sultan8 Aliwal StreetHOSTEL-
Manhanttan InnBlock 52 Chin Swee Road Unit #02-35HOSTEL-
Grace Lodge195 Upper Paya Lebar RoadHOSTEL-
Yes Chinatown Pt. Hotel68A Smith StreetHOTEL75
Woke Home Capsule Hostel61 South Bridge Road 4th , 5th , 6th levelHOSTEL-
Lofi Inn43 Dickson RoadHOSTEL-
Rucksack Inn@Temple Street52, Temple StreetHostel-
Lodge@Siglap711A East Coast RoadHOSTEL77
5footway.inn Project Chinatown 2227 South Bridge RoadHOSTEL77
Pillows & Toast IINo. 38 Upper Cross Street (Level 2)HOSTEL-
Traveller@SG111H King George's Avenue SingaporeHOSTEL-
Adler Hostel259 South Bridge RoadHOSTEL-
B88 Hostel134 Jalan BesarHOSTEL-
Hello WOW25 Opal Crescent Off Serangoon RoadHOSTEL-
Blissful Loft33B, Hong Kong Street Singapore 059672HOSTEL76
5footway.inn Project Bugis10 Aliwal StreetHOSTEL76
ABC Premium Hostel91A ,93A & 95A Owen RoadHOSTEL-
Kawan HostelNo. 28 Dunlop StreetHOSTEL-
Gap Year Hostel322 Lavender StreetHOSTEL-
Singapore Backpacker HostelBlk 146, Jalan Bukit Merah #01-1088HOSTEL79
Just Inn181 Upper Paya Lebar RoadHOSTEL-
Snooze Hostel @ Chinatown293 South Bridge RoadHostel-
Gusti Bed And Breakfast Singapore30A/B/C Penhas RoadHOSTEL80
Shophouse The Social Hostel48 Arab StreetHOSTEL-
Sleepy Kiwi55 Bussorah StreetHOSTEL-
iStay.inn211A - 217A South Bridge RoadHOSTEL75
Bunc@Radius Clarke Quay36 South Bridge RoadHOSTEL79
5footway.inn Project Chinatown 352 Pagoda StreetHOSTEL-
5footway.inn Project Boat Quay76 Boat QuayHOSTEL79
Fisher Hostel127 Tyrwhitt RoadHOSTEL78
Royal Hostel Singapore28A Smith StreetHOSTEL79
Blanc Inn151, Tyrwhitt RoadHOSTEL78

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Drink

Look into the age restrictions at any bars you are planning on going to. Most allow women from ages 18-21 and up, but many limit the age of men to 23-35 and up, depending on the place.

Go to the Raffles Hotel and have a Singapore Sling where it was first sold.

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Health

See also: Travel Health

There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Singapore. There is one exception though. You need a yellow fever vaccination if you have travelled to a country (7 days or less before entering the Singapore) where that disease is widely prevalent.

It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Singapore. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended and when travelling longer than 2 weeks also typhoid.

If you are staying longer than 3 months or have a particular risk (travelling by bike, handling of animals, visits to caves) you might consider a hepatitis B vaccination.

There is no malaria, but Dengue sometimes occurs, so use mosquito repellant (50% DEET).

Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.

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Safety

See also: Travel Safety

Singapore is one of the safest cities in the world. Even so, travellers should still use common sense for their own safety and security.

The emergency numbers to call:

  • 999 - Police
  • 995 - Civil Defence (Ambulance, Fire Engine)
  • 1777 - Non-emergency Ambulance

The country lives up to its name as a fine country, a local joke. Law enforcers will not hesitate to slap fines on those who flout the rules. So be aware of sign boards with strict rules against smoking, jay-walking, littering, spitting, drinking and eating (on public transport), etc.

Vandalism comes with caning as a punishment. The most famous case of caning for vandalism is the one in 1994 involving American teenager Michael P. Fay. [10] Caning is also sentenced for corruption, illegal entry, overstaying for more than 90 days and sexual-related offences (e.g. rape, sexual assault, etc).

Singapore prescribes capital punishment for very serious offences. Drug trafficking is punishable with a mandatory death sentence by hanging upon conviction. [11][12] Possession of illegal drugs over a certain amount, depending on the category of drug, will be classified as trafficking. [13] Other drug-related offences (possession, abuse) come with severe punishment of imprisonment or caning, or both.[12]

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes charging around $2/hr, but are not particularly common since almost all locals have broadband Internet access at home, work, and/or school. Head to Chinatown or Little India if you need get on-line, or check out the top floors of many suburban malls, which feature Internet cafes doubling as on-line gaming parlours. Alternatively, all public libraries offer cheap Internet access ($0.03/min or $1.80/hr), but you need to jump through registration hoops to get access.

The first phase of the nationwide free Wireless@SG system is now operating and visitors are free to use the system, although you must register and receive a password via e-mail or a mobile phone first. See the Infocomm Development Authority website for a current list of hotspots. Commercial alternatives include McDonalds, which offers free Wi-Fi at most outlets; StarHub, a member of the Wireless Broadband Alliance with hotspots at Coffee Bean cafes; and SingTel, which has hotspots at most Starbucks cafes. Roaming or prepaid rates are on the order of $0.10/min.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The international telephone country code for Singapore is 65. There are three main telecommunication providers in Singapore: SingTel, StarHub and MobileOne (M1). Mobile phones are carried by almost everyone in Singapore, and coverage is generally excellent throughout the country. All 3 service providers have both GSM 900/1800 and 3G (W-CDMA) networks, and international roaming onto them may be possible; check with your operator before you leave to be sure. Prepaid SIM cards are sold in 7-Eleven convenience stores, phone shops and currency exchange counters, just bring your own GSM/3G phone or buy a cheap used handset in Singapore. You will need to show an international passport or Singapore ID to sign up. A local phone call costs between $0.05-$0.25 per min, whereas each local text message (SMS) costs about $0.05, with international SMS about $0.15–$0.25 (but a few dozen local SMS are usually thrown in for free when you top up).

Public phones are an increasingly endangered species, but you can find them in most MRT stations. They are either coin-operated pay phones (10 cents for a three-minute local call), card phones operated by phone cards in denominations of $3, $5, $10, $20 and $50, or credit card phones. Phone cards are available at all post offices and from phonecard agents. Most coin-operated pay phones are for local calls only, there are some which accept coins of larger denominations and can be used for overseas calls. Credit card phones are usually found at the airport or in some major hotels.

Post

Singpost is the national postal service of Singapore. It has fast and reliable services. Post offices are generally open from 8:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday, and 8:00am to 1:00pm on Saturday. Rates for local mail start at around 26c a piece (up to 20 grams). Prices to send a letter or postcard to Malaysia and Brunei start at 45c, to other countries in Asia and the Pacific at 65c, and letters and postcards to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the USA start at around $1.10. Stamps are available at post offices or at some kiosks and hotels. You can send parcels through Singpost or several international courier companies, like for example UPS, TNT, FedEx or DHL.

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References

  1. 1 Singapore is a city-state.
  2. 2 Mid-2012 Estimate. Latest Key Indicators (2013–05–17). Statistics Singapore. Retrieved on 2013–05–19.
  3. 3 WTO Trade Balance Data. List of countries by net exports. Wikipedia. Retrieved on 2013–05–19.
  4. 4 1942: Singapore forced to surrender. ON THIS DAY (15 February 1942). BBC. Retrieved on 2008–08–29.
  5. 5.1 5.2 PAP-UMNO relations. Wikipedia. Retrieved on 2008–08–31.
  6. 6 Malaysian Malaysia. Wikipedia. Retrieved on 2008–08–31.
  7. 7 Buses. Uniquely Singapore. Singapore Tourism Board. Retrieved on 2008–09–01.
  8. 8 Taxis. Uniquely Singapore. Singapore Tourism Board. Retrieved on 2008–09–01.
  9. 9.1 9.2 Visa Requirements. Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (28 July 2008). Retrieved on 2008–10–12.
  10. 10 Michael P. Fay. Wikipedia. Retrieved on 2008–08–30.
  11. 11 Misuse of Drugs Act. Singapore Statutes OnLine. Attorney-General's Chambers. Retrieved on 2008–08–29.
  12. 12.1 12.2 Second Schedule: Offences Punishable on Conviction. Misuse of Drugs Act. Singapore Statutes OnLine. Attorney-General's Chambers. Retrieved on 2008–08–29.
  13. 13 Presumption concerning trafficking. Misuse of Drugs Act. Singapore Statutes OnLine. Attorney-General's Chambers. Retrieved on 2008–10–12.

Quick Facts

Singapore flag

Map of Singapore

[edit]

Local Name
Chinese: 新加坡; Malay: Singapura; Tamil: சிங்கப்பூர்
Capital
Singapore[1]
Government
Parliamentary Republic
Nationality
Singaporean
Population
5 312 400[2]
Languages
Chinese (Mandarin), Malay, Tamil, English
Religions
Buddhism, Islam, Christianity
Currency
Singapore Dollar (SGD)
Calling Code
+65
Time Zone
UTC+8
Coordinates
  • Latitude: 1.289407
  • Longitude: 103.849962

Contributors

as well as chandie702 (9%), Peter (6%), seaskimmer (3%), Cassi (2%), tleb (2%), dr.pepper (1%), pau_p1 (1%), summer910 (<1%), Lavafalls (<1%), Budai (<1%), Herr Bert (<1%)

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Singapore Travel Helpers

  • acrina

    There are some interesting things you can do around there even on a short trip.

    Ask acrina a question about Singapore
  • Cassandra goh

    Hi to all curious minds and travelers! I'm born in singapore, during my leisure time and when i'm outta school for awhile i'll travel or explore the island or island of- singapore, pulau ubin, st john island and kusu island. (Because if you can't cash in for traveling out of singapore all the time, why shouldn't we explore our own right?)


    Ask me anything,i'll help if i know the answers to them!
    i'm willing to travel with you in singapore as well. Just send me a message via my page/profile or even my facebook page- http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=725331545


    I love meeting new people and perhaps i would travel to your country someday,or even tag along like your luggage(haha!)

    Ask Cassandra goh a question about Singapore
  • bryannn

    Singapore has been my home for 11 years.

    Ask bryannn a question about Singapore
  • Kelvin Ang

    I've lived here all my life, so I guess I might know a thing or two about the little island! If you like "guidebook" information, I think you can find them with a simple search online. If you want something from a local's point of view, drop me a mail!

    Ask Kelvin Ang a question about Singapore
  • zags

    I travelled to several places in Singapore, used the MRT trains a lot and stayed in a nice hostel in a nice neighbourhood.

    Ask zags a question about Singapore

Accommodation in Singapore

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