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SINGAPORE

Return to Asia

Marina Bay, Singapore
Marina Bay, © Can Stock Photo / leungchopan

Singapore gained independence from Britain in 1963 and its affiliation with Malaysia ended in 1965, after it was expelled from Malaysia for political reasons.  Although the country is made up of more than 60 islands, it is basically one large island and one city, which is also known as Singapore.  The population exceeds 5 million while the land area is less than 700 sq km (300 sq mi), making it one of the most densely populated areas in the world.  Singapore is bordered by Malaysia to the north, across the Straits of Johor, and to the south, across the Singapore Strait, is Indonesia.  There is a causeway and a bridge connecting Singapore to Malaysia.

Various empires controlled Singapore over the last 2,000 years.  It was ruled by the British in the 1800s and by Japan during World War II.  Over the past few decades, Singapore has become one of the wealthiest countries in Asia.  The country is extremely clean.  Vandalism can result in physical punishment and it is illegal to bring gum into the country.  Singapore has four official languages - English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil.  Buddhism is the most predominant of many religions.

Visas:

Most tourists staying less than 30 days will not require a visa to visit Singapore.  To see a list of countries that will require a visa, visit the Singapore Government site or check your specific country at VisaHQ.   For a list of exempt countries, visit Project Visa.

Currency:

 The currency for Singapore is the Singapore dollar.

Merlion Park, Singapore

Merlion Park, © Can Stock Photo / javarman

Dengue Fever:

Singapore is subject to dengue fever and there is no vaccine, so make sure to take steps to avoid contracting it.  Exposure is unlikely in the popular downtown areas around Orchard Road and the financial district.  Mosquito repellent is a good idea for the Botanic Gardens, Singapore Zoo and Pulau Ubin.  Here are some steps to reduce exposure:

  • Stay in air-conditioned or screened accommodation, especially at night.

  • Avoid outdoors at dawn and dusk.

  • Wear protective clothing in infested areas.

  • Use mosquito repellent.

  • Avoid areas with standing water.  Mosquitoes can breed in small puddles such as those found in abandoned car tires or tarps.

Clarke Quay, Singapore

Clarke Quay, © Can Stock Photo / leungchopan

Weather:

Singapore's location near the equator in Southeast Asia creates remarkably consistent year round temperatures.  Expect average highs of 31 C (88 F) and average lows of 24 C (75 F) with no distinct seasons.  The high humidity makes air conditioning very popular in Singapore.  Rainfall in this tropical rainforest setting often occurs daily in heavy short bursts.  Rainfall exceeds 150 mm (6 in) in every month of the year, with November through December exceeding 250 mm (10 in). 

   

Transportation:

Changi Airport ( SIN) is located at the eastern edge of the island of Singapore about a half hour by cab from downtown attractions such as the Marina Bay Sands.  There is also an airport shuttle and the subway is an inexpensive half hour ride to City Hall in the center of downtown.  Most of the attractions for Singapore are located in the downtown core.

Things to see and do in downtown Singapore:

  • Marina Bay Sands - This consists of a ground level complex and three hotel towers, resembling 3 decks of cards.  The towers are connected by a 57th floor roof top sky terrace called the Marina Bay Sands SkyPark.  The SkyPark has an observation deck but the amazing infinity pool on the 57th floor is only open to hotel guests.  At ground level, in front of the hotel, is a mall with indoor sampan boat rides, two Broadway theatres, a convention centre, the ArtScience Museum, an ice rink and a casino atrium with 1,600 slot machines.  Near the Marina Bay Sands, visit Gardens by the Bay and walk on the OCBC skyway suspended at over 70 feet high between the "trees" of the 16-story-high Supertree Grove.  Also in the Gardens, escape to a cool Mediterranean climate in the Flower Conservatory or experience a rain forest climate in the Cloud Conservatory.  Admission tickets always include both Conservatories for tourists.  Then head to Marina Barrage - a freshwater reservoir where you can picnic and participate in water sports.  The Double Helix Bridge connects pedestrians at the Marina Bay Sands with Marina Bay Floating Stadium.  The Ritz-Carlton is beside the stadium and has artwork which can be viewed for no charge. The Singapore Flyer is nearby and is higher than the London Eye.  Just after sunset, when the lights of the city appear, is an excellent time to take this half hour pricey ride.  There's a SkyDining option.  Hopefully their power problems from 2008 won't reoccur and you won't be forced to be rappelled down.  Also, wander along the Esplanade at night and stop by the Esplanade, Theatres on the Bay and then the Merlion fountain at Merlion Park.  Cruise the Singapore River on a bumboat.  Visit the Asian Civilizations Museum while on this side of the Bay.

  • Clarke Quay - popular, especially at night, with tourists and locals for its numerous restaurants, bars, clubs and a reverse bungee that rockets you up at 200 kph.

  • Singapore Botanic Gardens with the National Orchid Garden and a food court near Tanglin Gate.

Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple, Singapore

Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple, © Can Stock Photo / swisshippo

Singapore

Marina Bay Sands, © Can Stock Photo / happyalex

Things to see and do near downtown Singapore:

Sentosa Island, Singapore

Sentosa Island, Singapore, © Can Stock Photo / leungchopan

Savor the Tastes of Singapore:

Singapore's multicultural background is reflected in the diversity of its cuisine.  Head to Chinatown, Little India or Kampong Glam (Malay/Arab).

  • Hawker Centres, such as the Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre, where you can eat lunch for about $3.  Former pushcart vendors have been moved to giant permanent complexes by the government.  Try a variety of dishes such as Bak Ku Teh, Lor Mee or Chicken Rice.

  • Kopi - coffee with butter and sugar.

  • Seafood Paradise - multiple locations.

  • The White Rabbit

  • Lau Pa Sat Festival Market

  • Have a Singapore Sling at Raffles, where the drink was invented.  Famous visitors to the hotel include Rudyard Kipling and Michael Jackson.

Singapore Tours:

Hotels in Singapore:

Take That Vacation Recommendation: Marina Bay Sands.  This hotel is expensive, but it's the only way to gain access to the amazing infinity pool on the 57th floor with views of downtown Singapore.

Changi Airport (SIN) - including a list of hotels with a shuttle.


View Singapore map


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