Singapore, on the Republic of Singapore to give the country its full title, is situated just north of the equator, at the foot of the Malaysia peninsula. It is a booming city-state, comprising Singapore Island and 58 smaller islands within its territory. At its widest point, Singapore Island measures roughly 42km across, and anywhere on the island is reachable within a couple of hours by car. A real cosmopolitan society, the Chinese form the majority of the population, but there are extremely large Malay and Indian communities too, as well as a large number of Western expatriates and business people. Singapore is well known for its clean, modern attitude but part of the efficiency involves a continued tough civil order stance.
WEATHER & CLIMATE
Singapore has an equatorial climate, which is warm and humid all year round, with only slight variations between the average maximum of 31 degrees Celcius and minimum of 23 degrees Celcius. Rain falls throughout the year, with more consistent rain coming during the monsoon season from November to January. Showers are usually sudden and heavy, but also brief and refreshing.
WHEN TO GO?
Any month is a good time to visit Singapore but it gets a fairly steady annual rainfall with the wettest months being late October to January, and December being the wettest month. February is the optimum month to visit Singapore.
Culture and religion remain entwined in Singapore, far more than in the West. Throughout the year, a constant stream of festivals and celebrations in the streets and temples reflect the diverse beliefs and backgrounds of this multicultural society, comprising of Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Sikhs.
PLACES TO VISIT
JURONG BIRD PARK
Jurong Bird Park is Southeast Asia's largest bird park and home to more than 8,000 birds of 600 species from around the world. Highlights include the Southeast Asian hornbills, the South American toucans, and the penguin exhibit.
Singapore's Chinatown evolved around 1821 when the first Chinese junk arrived from Xiamen, Fujian province in China. Vancouver’s Chinese Quarter is not only a strong, established ethnic community, but also a popular tourist attraction and prosperous commercial district. Its bustling streets are full of colour and commerce; even the pagoda-topped telephone booths add to the atmosphere. The Al Abrar Mosque along Telok Ayer Street, and the Jamae Mosque and Sri Mariamman Temple along South Bridge Road lay witness to the harmonious racial and religious atmosphere in Singapore.
Arab Street or Kampong Glam area is a very interesting area of Singapore. Just a few blocks from the hustle bustle of Bugis Junction. This area has beautiful old shophouses that line the streets. The highlight of the area is the grand Sultan Mosque, which you can enter as a visitor if you are properly dressed. The mosque may be closed to visitors on certain days. The spectrum of fabrics flowing onto the pavements of Arab Street comprise chiffon, silk, cotton georgette and include the batiks of Indonesia and Malaysia.
Little India, centered around Serangoon Road, embodies the vibrant and colourful culture of the Indian community in Singapore. The aroma of Indian spices mixing with the scent from burning incense together with the bright colours, great food, interesting shops and warm smiles all combine to form a lasting impression. The Hindu religion plays an important part in the life of Little India, and the Sri Veerama Kaliaman and Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temples in the area are well worth visiting.
SINGAPORE BOTANICAL GARDENS
Spread over 52 hectares close to the centre of the city, the Botanic Gardens combine both primary jungle and manicured gardens which together hold thousands of species of plant life, including many rare specimens. Malaysia's rubber industry had its origins in the Botanic Gardens in the late 19th century when colonial botanist Henry Ridley propagated rubber plants from London's Kew Gardens. A lake adds to the serenity of the gardens, and is home to water fowl, ducks and kingfishers.
Sentosa is Singapore's premier island resort getaway with multi-faceted appeal, teeming with events all year round. Just 15 minutes from the city, it is a unique blend of leisure and recreational facilities including family attractions, sea sports, golf as well as hotel accommodation and retreats.
Situated on Sentosa, Underwater World is a dream haven which showcases the awe-inspiring beauty of a whole different world beneath the seas. It is home to more than 2,500 fishes from 250 different species. All around you, sharks, stingrays, eels and schools of fish glide past – engrossed in their own world. Sentosa's saving grace, Gracie the dugong, is Underwater World's star performer. Leafy sea-dragons and wobbling Medusa jellyfish are mesmeric; stingrays and ten-foot sharks cruise above Ocean Colony's submerged glass tubes.
Orchad Road is the commercial main street of the city. Modern Singapore is truly a Western creation. During centuries, theisland was populated by fishermen and pirates. The central shopping area is concentrated on Orchard Road. It rivals all other areas in terms of sheer volume, quality, and choice. It is a significant center of export of wood and rubber and its population increased considerably with the arrival in mass of Chinese merchants and workmen. Singapore's Champs-Élysees stretches 2.5 kilometres long and is said to have the largest concentration of shopping malls worldwide.
As the sun sets, a different world comes to life. At the Night Safari, you can look a rhinoceros in the eye, hear the howls of a pack of striped hyenas or watch giraffes glide serenely across the plain in the still of the night.
SINGAPORE HISTORY MUSEUM
The Singapore History Museum, originally opened in 1887, is an architectural gem with each of its two levels reflecting a different order of Greek classical architecture. Of particular note are the three-dimensional reconstructions of historical scenes and events tracing Singapore's development from a sleepy fishing village to the present day metropolis. Another exhibit shows the world of a wealthy Straits Chinese family at the turn of the century, complete with elaborate Peranakan furnishings and finery. The Children's Discovery Gallery is another compelling attraction, with interactive exhibits designed to explain Singapore's cultural heritage, visual and per forming arts. In addition to the Singapore History Museum, Singapore offers a number of museums with specific themes.
The cuisine of Singapore is often viewed by her population as a prime example of the ethnic diversity of the culture of Singapore.. There are Chinese, Indian to French, Italian to Malay food. It may be a small country but the choices of food available is always an eye opener for first timers to Singapore. Some of Singapore delicacies include Satay (Originated by the Malays, but also sold by Chinese these days), Roti Prata (Indian "pizza"), Fried Kway Tiao (fried black noodles- normally served with cockles), Hokkien Noodles (seafood noodle delight), Hainanese Chicken Rice, and some of our local desserts like Ice Kachang (flavoured ice with ingredients like red bean and jelly), Chendol (coconut based dessert), Grass Jelly (a refreshing black jelly that cools down on a hot day) and Tao Suan (bean in sticky paste, topped by fried dough).
SHOPPING & ENTERTAINMENT
The vast range of available goods and competitive prices have led to Singapore rightly being known as a shopper’s paradise. Special purchases include Balinese, Chinese, Filipino, Indian and Malay antiques; batiks; cameras; Chinese, Indian and Persian carpets; imported or tailored clothing; jewelry and specialized items made of reptile and snake skins, including shoes, briefcases, handbags and wallets. Orchard Road, would be the most popular and most commonly heard names if anyone should mention about shopping. This place is the central hub, also known as the 'city' of Singapore, and it is well known among tourists. Avid shoppers would love the annual Great Singapore Sale, which usually falls between June to July. It has become a legendary annual event for both Singaporeans and visitors alike.
HOW TO GET THERE?
More than 60 airlines serve the Changi International Airport which is only a few hours away from most major Asian cities. Singapore is located right in the heart of Asia.
The MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) is a fast and the most convenient way to move around, with trains arriving and leaving every few minutes.