Singapore Travel Guide
🗝️ Key Facts
💶Currency: Singapore Dollar $ (SGD)
🕙Time Zone: +8 GMT
📞Phone Code: +65
🌐Language: Chinese, Malay and English
✈️Best time to visit: Nov-Feb
🍴Eat: Beef rendang
🍷Drink: Bubble tea and tropical juices
🗺️Don't miss: Marina Bay evening show
🗺 Menu of Contents:
The unique country, one of the smallest in the world, is a true marvel of the modern world: a highly urbanised, cosmopolitan economic powerhouse where skyscrapers and high-tech infrastructure blends seamlessly with an interesting cultural mix of Chinese, Malay and Indian influences. Known as the Garden City due its extraordinary amount of parks and urban greenery, Singapore is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia.
Singapore is also one of the most popular destinations in the world for expatriate workers, and although many foreign visitors to Singapore are there to actually work long-term, it remains a popular holiday destination as well. This is especially the case for families travelling with children, including the Singapore Zoo, Universal Studios Singapore and the Singapore Discovery Centre. So it's the perfect destination for a premier family vacation!
But not only, there is fun here for the kids! For the culturally-minded, Singapore is home to an impressive range of museums (such as the Asian Civilisation Museum), while the areas of Chinatown, Little India, and the Arab Quarter pay homage to the city's roots, and play host to some of the city's best cultural sights and cuisine.
Although not as popular, outdoor enthusiasts will delight in the amount of open space Singapore has on offer, including the urban rainforest of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
As if all this wasn't impressive enough, Singapore also claims to a vibrant vivid nightlife, specially since the resort hub of Sentosa Island was established, attracting loads of party goers and late night owls!
Whatever reason brings you to Singapore, there is something here for everyone! Take note that it is more expensive for accomodation and dining than other neighboring countries so a little planning when coming here is essential to guarantee the best deals!
Despite being such a small nation, Singapore is a major gateway. In addition, it's location is ideal for transit passengers, who are travelling between Europe and Australia or other Asian destinations.
The country has only one airport, Singapore Changi. Getting there is very easy thanks to many airlines which operate direct daily services from Europe, Asia the Gulf region and America. The main operating airline is Singapore Airlines which is the national carrier. You can fly with them direct from a number of European, Asian and American cities.
Also it's possible to reach Singapore from other Asian cities, if you are doing intra-tourism within the region, with multiple other airlines from national airlines to low cost. Cheaper airlines are Air Asia, Tiger Air, Scoot, or Silk Air which offer more competitive fares if you are doing multiple destinations within the region.
Getting around the country is very easy thanks to a very complete and accessible network of busses and underground (MRT) trains lines connecting all areas. Transportation in Singapore is one of the greenest in Asia, with many hybrid busses now in operation. The transport is very reliable, comfortable with air conditioning and digital display information.
Singapore has a very tropical climate and year round weather is hot, humid and sunny. Average temperatures are about 30°C but the feeling can be higher when travelling during the hot season (April to June). Rainy season starts in July and lasts till September, it's muggy and hot but clouds acts as protection to the intense sunlight.
The best time to travel to Singapore is during the Monsoon Season, (December to February), still hot but easier to walk around with temperatures around 25-31°C.
Singapore is a gourmet's paradise, with everything from humble street stalls to 5-star restaurants. There are over 30 different cooking styles, including various regional styles of Chinese cuisine, American, English, French, Indian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Russian and Swiss.
The most common, are Malay, Indian and Chinese cuisines. Malay food is famed for its use of spices and coconut milk; but no pork is used. The Indian community mostly traces its roots back to South India and their food reflects this, meaning that spicy vegetarian dishes are predominant.
It's very typical to find big food markets, street stalls and all the shopping malls have massive food courts where to eat all kind of dishes. Prices are always cheaper in these places than going to individual restaurants and bars where prices are by far much more expensive.
As for drinks, there is a lot of international presence again. Popular drinks to find are Bubble tea (sweet, milky tea with tapioca balls which can be sucked up through the extra-wide straw). Kopi (coffee, served with condensed milk by default but available in a variety of forms including Kopi-O which is black with sugar).
Singapore Sling (cocktail containing gin, cherry liquor, Cointreau, benedictine, pineapple juice, lime juice, grenadine and Angostura bitters). It was invented in the early 20th century for the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Sugar cane juice and Tiger Beer also being quite popular as a local brewed beer.
One of the most affluent countries in Asia and centre for both business and tourism, Singapore has placed itself at the head of innovation, quality of life and development over the last few decades.Singapore is a true inspiration to any country wishing to develop further. The country and its people are well adapted to the modern age technology, but also it's a country of tradition and good values. The country is impressive by its orderly manner in which traffic, people and nature coexist and live together.
It's impeccably clean and tidy. It has now also placed itself at the top of the greenest cities in the world, with a great respect for nature and restoring the balance of it within the city, with plenty of green open spaces and beautiful gardens. It's perhaps not a country you could come so much for culture; its highlights reside on the entertainment, shopping and business interests. However, Singapore definitely has the Wow Factor! Naturally it's expensive compared to neighbouring cities but it remains as one of the top Asian destinations to visit for me.
(2 times visited)
Singapore Tourism Information Guide
It's history and British Colonial heritage is present in every street and some historical buildings.The English Empire took control of Singapore till 1965 when it was declared as an independent state. A lot of businesses elected Singapore to establish themselves here and so the city soon grew into prosperity and wealth thanks to the major development of its port and shipping operations. Now Singapore remains an important player both commercially, financially and economically as it's one of the most visited cities in Asia.
It's tourism has developed a lot in the last decade, with new resorts, hotels and entertainment complexes opening. Singapore places itself for the high quality end of the market but if you look a little deeper you will soon realise that any budget can actually come to Singapore without spending that much.
In Singapore the official languages are Chinese, Malay and English. Most people understand English and speak it fluently, however there are many immigrants or the elderly who don't. Be patient and respectful if you find a language barrier but more often you will always find good service and a polite attitude towards visitors and someone willing to translate.
❗Attention: Don't chew gum, spit on the floor or dispose litter on the streets in Singapore! This is considered an offence and can be fined if police sees you. Singapore praises itself for being extra clean so always try to help not to leave rubbish behind you. As well in the public transport, it's forbidden to eat or drink.
(one curious thing is that chewing gum is not sold in the entire country).
Singapore, as the city, has practically the same weather characteristics as the country, by its small city. The weather is tropical year round and generally hot, humid and sunny. Average temperatures are about 30°C but the feeling can be higher when travelling during the hot season (April to June). Rainy season starts in July and lasts till September, it's muggy and hot but clouds acts as protection to the intense sunlight.
The best time to travel to Singapore is during the Monsoon Season, (December to February), still hot but easier to walk around with temperatures between 24°C at night and 30°C during the day.
Singapore has one of the most easy, modern, cheap and reliable transport systems in the region. When you arrive by plane, Singapore has only one major airport, Changi (SIN) which offers you a quick trip by train to the city centre. The MRT (metro) will take you into the city centre in 30 min. Take the green line and change at Tanah Merah station, where you will transfer across platform for the green line into the downtown. Fares range depending on distance travelled, but expect to pay only $2.50 (SGD) into the city centre. Another option is to take bus 36 to the city centre. The first bus arrives at around 6.00am and the last leaves just before midnight. A single fare is around $2.50 and the ride takes about an hour. Bus stops are located at the basement bus bays of Terminals 1, 2 and 3. Please prepare the exact fare as no change will be given.
✔️Tip: For cheaper rides on the transport, purchase the EZ-Link card for multiple rides.It can be purchased from any authorised store or the Changi Airport or MRT stations. With it you can transfer for free from the MRT to a bus. It is also much cheaper than paying for single cash fares.
Once arriving, Singapore has a very effective transport system which connects the entire city via underground MRT and busses. All transport modes are equipped with air conditioning and many trains and stations now offer free WiFi and digital information. You can also find a monorail system which connects the MRT station of Harbourfront to the island of Sentosa. You can also use the EZ card for it for $4 return trip (SGD).
Below you will find the MRT map for Singapore:
Singapore is a great city for any traveller to explore. It offers from low budget and free attractions to the high end luxury rooftop bars, paid for attractions or entertainment options at night. It also offers some interesting historical sites such as Kampong Gelam and Thian Hock Keng Temple or cultural communities like Chinatown and Little India. Singapore has a wide range of attractions on offer.
Almost everyone would have seen an image of the city’s symbol, the Merlion, and of course, the nearby Marina Bay Complex, which stands out even from when you arrive by plane into the airport! It's a very impressive city from the beginning but there are plenty of other attractions to keep you busy during your stay.
Below are some of the highlights you can see in the city:
- Marina Bay Sands is the place to go to see the city's most spectacular site, three spectacular buildings which are joined at the top with a ship-styled structure. At the top there are the finest restaurants, bars and swimming pool for the hotel guests. Not accessible only for visiting. You will need to make a dinner reservation or hotel booking if you want to enjoy the views from the top. However, the complex is not only a luxury Hotel. Below the building, you will find the ArtScience Museum, (famous for it's Lotus Flower shaped structure), casino and various shopping, dining and nightlife options.
✔️Tip: Arrive at Marina Bay before 20:00 to catch the spectacular light show, which illuminates the water as well as several icon landmarks you've probably seen on the postcards. To get to the front of the complex, take MRT to Bayfront. But to see the building from the distance with a panoramic view get off at City Hall MRT and walk for 10 minutes.
Marina Bay panoramic view during the light-music show intro video
Marina Bay light-music show up front intro Video
- Gardens by the Bay, is a huge, colourful, futuristic park in the bay area of Singapore.The famous Supertree structures offers an impressive skywalk over the gardens, oversized seashell-shaped greenhouses recreate chilly mountain climates and there are hundreds of trees and plants to discover, making this destination great fun for both kids and adults. It also offers a light and music show at 19.45 and 20.45 dailly. The light show, walking around the gardens and the Supertree Grove is FREE of charge. But if you wish to visit the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest these are paid for attractions. ($28 SGD for the two). There are also other attractions like Floral Fantasy, or the Skytree Walkway which cost $20 and $8 (SGD) respectively. For more information and check deals see the Gardens by the Bay website.
Supertree Grove Light and Music Show at Gardens by the Bay Video intro
- Marina Bay and the Merlion: Around the area opposite the Marina Bay Sands you can walk around the whole promenade and the many paths which take you around the bay. Along it you will find plenty of upmarket restaurants, cafes or bars to have a memorable evening. As well its the location to see the Merlion of Singapore, a half Lionfish, symbol of Singapore, located in front of The Fullerton Hotel. The Merlion is the official mascot of Singapore, depicted as a mythical creature with a lion's head and the body of a fish.
- The Singapore Flyer: is the world’s largest observation wheel. The Flyer is 150 metres in diameter, 165 metres high, (it is some 30 metres taller than the famous London Eye!) With breathtaking panorama views that are so radically different during the day and at night, it’s hard to choose the best time to take a ride. The main reason to take a trip on the Flyer is the view of Singapore's sleek cityscape that it affords: views of Marina Bay and Singapore River, with the sights also of the notable landmarks such as Raffles Place, Merlion Park, the Empress Place and the Padang. The Singapore Flyer is housed in a large terminal building that also includes bars, restaurants and shops, as well as fun kid's attractions like flight simulators and an indoor tropical forest. Prices are $33 (SGD) per adult. For tickets and updates check the official website, Singaporeflyer.com.
- Raffles Hotel, this luxurious colonial-style hotel has a long history dating back to 1887 and has become one of the most important Singapore landmarks. The Hotel features 103 suites and 18 distinctive restaurants and bars as well as an arcade with over 40 boutiques and stores (like Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co.). Other distractions include an upper-level museum containing vignettes and photographs on the lives of Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Noel Coward, who stayed at the elegant hotel. There is a Victorian-style playhouse and numerous specialty shops and restaurants. One of the world's most famous hotels, the Raffles offers luxury, history and impeccable service. Even you don't stay here, its free to walk around the building, visit the playhouse and walk to the upper floors with the bars or restaurants. To get there, the closest station is City Hall and walk 5 minutes to reach the hotel.
- Sentosa Island and attractions: is a purpose built island off the southern tip of Singapore which was built with leisure and relaxation in mind. A collection of beaches, theme parks, golf, shopping, dining and more are all available on this strip of reclaimed land that can be reached by road, shaded pathway, monorail or cable car. It is also possible to stay overnight at the island, in any one of the hotels or camping sites, though the price tag is quite expensive for its location. Some of the highlights are the Universal Studios Singapore, the Aquarium, Waterpark, Cable car, Bungy Jumping, Zip Wire, Fort Siloso, (from which Singapore guarded its territory against invading Japanese forces), the big Merlion, the Musical Fountain, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and the Sentosa Luge amongst a few others. To get to the Island, take the MRT to Harbourfront Station and from here you can take the cable car ($38 (SGD) for the two cable car lines). Alternatively take the monorail from Vivo City shopping Mall (next to Harbourfront) for $4 (SGD) return trip. You can also walk the distance by a covered walkway. (taking the monorail back to Vivo City is free).
✔️Tip: The best beaches are located on Sentosa Island, take the monorail to Beach Station and with a short walk you will arrive at a paradise of soft sand, clear waters and small waives ideal for all the family. It's an ideal place to relax and enjoy your trip in a paradise setting.
- Chinatown: great for shopping (specially for souvenirs), and to try out authentic Chinese food. There are countless restaurants and food vendors to choose from. Learn more about its history from the Chinatown Heritage Centre on Pagoda Street. Other attractions include Thian Hock Keng Temple, the oldest temple in Singapore, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Eu Yan Sang Chinese Medical Hall and Maxwell Road Food Centre. To get there, take the MRT to Outram Park (EW16) or Chinatown (NE4)
- Little India: With the first Indian settlers in arriving in the early 19th century, bringing with them colourful silks, aromatic spices, incense and other influences of Indian culture, they worked on the roads and helped build the infrastructure of the city. The area is delineated by the north-south Serangoon Road, with busy shops, specially gold sellers of jewelry and other accessories, restaurants, curry spice bazars, traditional South Indian clothes shops of silk saris fill the vibrant streets to create a colourful and pungent atmosphere. The colourful buildings make for wonderful photo opportunities and it is fun to do things like get henna tattoos and have your fortune told, or simply shop around for bargains in the many shops. Most people come to Little India for the food, however, which tends to be remarkably cheap and comes in huge portions. Little India is at its best during traditional festivals, particularly the Hindu Festival of Lights. Don't forget to visit the Mustafa Centre, a market that stays open day and night all year round! To get there, take the MRT direct to Little India station.
- Geylang: Singapore's neighbourhood of Geylang is a big contrast to the modern, upmarket and luxury of the downtown. The rows of shop-houses bedecked in neon lights, the bustling streets, the curbside food stalls, and masses of karaoke bars present visitors with an urban environment The area is also known to be a the local nightlife district for night shows and other adult entertainment, meaning that it can be seedy. Geylang, is home to Singapore's only established red-light district, but the area offers the advantage of being much cheaper for hotels, and hostels in this side of the city, more suited for budget travellers.
- Clarke Quay: is located in the city’s traditional centre on the banks of the Singapore River. A nice place to walk during the day, sprinkled with beautiful colonial-era architecture, but the best time to come is actually at night, when it undergoes a big transformation when its famous nightclubs come alive. The area is packed full of bustling bars and restaurants, boutique shops and nightclubs. Get there by MRT, to Clarke Quay station.
✔️Tip: Continue walking down the river from Clarke Quay and you will reach more restaurants and bars to hang out. The area, closer to the financial centre and to the Bay area, is the best area to flavour some international cuisine, with great views across the Singapore River and on to the Marina Bay.
This area is a little more calm at night than Clarke Quay, with less nightclubs and bars but still hosts great evening entertainment, ideal for business meeting dinners, family or for friends. Stroll along the area is also very pleasant to admire the great views!
You will be spoilt for choice in Singapore with so many choices on offer, and hard to decide which attraction to go first to experience the city's nightlife. From cultural performances and traditional dancing and music venues to nightclubs, bars and upmarket lounges, Singapore is a city that never sleeps.
Start an evening out at one of the many international touring Broadway 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's glitterati, who can be seen hanging out and mingling with the general public. Muhammad SultanRoad is another key area where clubs and bars are scattered.
🌈The Zouk complex is one of the best places to go if you're looking for gay and lesbian clubs and bars. One of the largest and longest-running clubs is the sprawling Zouk in Jiak Kim Street, which hosts visiting international artists and has a variety of floors ranging from house to hip hop, pop and even a dinner-dance area.
Clarke Quay is the place for hardcore clubbers. There are other areas of the city that have become eclectic in their entertainment choices and live jazz, acid jazz, international guest DJs and live music is easy to come by.
Another area is, Sentosa, which has a number of cocktail bars on the beach. Singapore is a very safe place at night, even for women alone. Many clubs stay open until very late, closing at about 2am on weekdays and 4am on weekends.
❗Attention: Visiting the popular bars in the towers overlooking the Marina Bay Sands and late night clubs come at a high cost in Singapore. Drinks come with a heavy tax that push the prices up. As well many elite clubs will charge an entry fee and might also have an etiquette.
The city is a heaven for shoppers, due to the hot weather it's popular to find lots of malls and shopping centres all close by. Shopping in Singapore is always related to luxury brands, top designer's shops and quality establishments giving excellent customer services for the demanding shopper. For the best shopping malls head to "The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands" or the malls around City Hall.
But not only it's about luxury, there are many areas where you can find market items and local shops where second hand and nearly new products can be bought at discounted rates. These areas can be found at the China Town, Haji Lane, Little India (near by you will find Mustafa Centre) and Bugis Street Market .
Staying in Singapore might seem expensive for a first time traveller, many Hotels within the city are 4 or 5 stars and the city is aimed for the business type of traveller predominantly. But luckily if you are willing to stay a little further away from the centre and you travel by MRT, then you can find decent accommodation at more affordable prices. Average rooms can be found for €30 a night. Hostels and cheaper hotels can be found in the Geylang area.
It's very safe in Singapore and crime rates in the city are practically nonexistent.
❗Attention: Airbnb is not available in Singapore.
Singapore is one of those cities that offer much more of an entertainment value to the visitor. It has many attractions, most of them paid for, which can make your stay a little longer in order to enjoy the highlights. For a budget conscious travellers, there are a few free activities and places to visit which need 2 to 3 days to see. The city centre in itself is not that big and can be walked around within a few hours. However, one should consider the high temperatures which can limit the amount of activities you can see in one day. During the day, plan one or two things to see, whilst at night it's a more relaxing experience to walk around.
For a minimum stay, 3 night would be enough to see all the city has to offer in a compact and cost effective way.
For a longer stay, taking advantage of the many attractions and to relax, staying in Singapore up to 1 week is also recommended.