Singapore is much more than the sum of its numerous attractions. It’s constantly evolving, reinventing, and re-imagining itself, with people who are passionate about creating new possibilities. It’s where foodies, explorers, collectors, action seekers, culture shapers, and socialisers meet―and new experiences are created every day.
Singapore, an island city-state off southern Malaysia, is a global financial center with a tropical climate and multicultural population. Its colonial core centers on the Padang, a cricket field since the 1830s and now flanked by grand buildings such as City Hall, with its 18 Corinthian columns. In Singapore’s circa-1820 Chinatown stands the red-and-gold Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, said to house one of Buddha’s teeth.
Other notable religious buildings include tranquil Lian Shan Shuang Lin Buddhist monastery, colourful Sri Mariamman Hindu temple and the massive Sultan Mosque. The neoclassical National Museum of Singapore contains exhibits on the city’s history and culture. There’s shopping at the giant malls on Orchard Road and stylish boutiques in Kampong Glam. Sleek Marina Bay Sands SkyPark rises 200m above the water with sweeping city views. Little India offers colourful souvenirs. Arab Street is lined with fabric shops. Singapore is also known for an eclectic street-food scene, served up in Tiong Bahru and Maxwell Road.
Singapore’s MRT (mass rapid transit) system is probably the fastest way to zip around the city. The extensive rail network means that most of Singapore’s key attractions are within walking distance from an MRT station.
You can buy tickets for single trips, but if you intend to use the MRT and basic bus services frequently during your visit, you can buy a Singapore Tourist Pass, a special EZ-Link stored-value card which will allow you unlimited travel for one day, two days or three days.
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. You can hail a taxi by the roadside at most places, or by queuing for one at taxi stands found at most shopping malls, hotels and tourist attractions.
Singapore’s bus system has an extensive network of routes covering most places in Singapore and is the most economical way to get around, as well as being one of the most scenic. You can pay your bus fare using an EZ-Link stored-value card or the Singapore Tourist Pass, which you tap on the card reader located next to the driver as you board. Do remember to tap your card again, on the reader located at the rear exit, when you alight. You can also pay in cash but you need to have exact change. Most buses in Singapore have air-conditioning – a welcome comfort in a tropical city.
History & Culture
A diverse ethnic mix goes hand in hand with a diverse set of religions – Islam, Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Judaism are the main ones. You only need to look to the Singapore skyline to appreciate the distinctive minarets of mosques, spires of gothic cathedrals, intricate figurines of Hindu temple gods and distinctive roof architecture of Chinese temples.
Singapore’s population is made up of roughly 77% Chinese, 14% Malays, 8% Indians and 1% of other descent. While the original inhabitants were Malay fishermen, the establishment of Singapore as a British trading post made the country a magnet for migrants and their families seeking a better life. They came in the thousands from China, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Ceylon and the Middle East.
Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay is a nature park spanning 101 hectares of reclaimed land in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. The park consists of three waterfront gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden.
Universal Studios Singapore
Universal Studios Singapore is a theme park located within Resorts World Sentosa on Sentosa Island, Singapore. It was a key component of Genting’s bid for the right to build Singapore’s second integrated resort.
Sentosa is an island resort off Singapore’s southern coast, connected to the city by road, cable car, pedestrian boardwalk and monorail. By Sentosa Station, Tiger Sky Tower has panoramic views that can stretch as far as Indonesia. On the south coast, Palawan Beach is lined with food stalls and bars, and has a suspension bridge to a small offshore island. Palm-lined, crescent-shaped Tanjong Beach is more tranquil.
When to visit
The weather’s warm and tropical year-round. Rainstorms are possible at any time, but rainfall usually peaks Nov–Dec. Chinatown comes alive for Chinese New Year (varies Jan/Feb), celebrated with parades, lights and traditional lion dances, including at the large, multicultural Chingay Parade.
Major events include
- The Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix (Sep) is staged at the Marina Bay circuit.
- There are music concerts and other events in the run-up to the race.
- Chinese New Year (varies Jan/Feb)