Singapore

Singapore

Founded originally as a British trading post in 1819, Singapore is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations to visit and live in Southeast Asia. The city seamlessly integrates a variety of cultures, landmarks, restaurants and general landscapes that couldn’t be more polar opposite.

Concrete skylines are starting to evolve into futuristic green spaces as the city works towards its ‘City in a Garden’ dream, with the Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Botanic Gardens and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the island of Pulau Ubin the current highlights. World famous sites – most notably Marina Bay Sands, Clarke Quay, Raffles Hotel and Merlion Park – make for a change of pace, especially when you need a break from the stifling heat the city is so renowned for.

The ever-modernising city is simply bustling with activity, from the shopping frenzies on Orchard Road to sampling local cuisine at a local hawker, there is truly something for everyone.

Main images: courtesy of Visit Singapore

singapore-visit-singapore

Cash

The national currency is the Singapore Dollar, abbreviated SGD.

 

£1 – 1.82 SGD

$1 – 1.31 SGD

1 Euro – 1.62 SGD

Check with your local exchange bureau or the International Currency Converter for up to date conversion rates.

Constantly rated one of the most expensive tourist locations worldwide, travelling in Singapore can become burdensome. Cheap hotel accommodations range from anywhere £40 – £100, depending on how centrally located they are. Other options include hostels and local shared residences, such as branches of the YMCA.

All museums cost money, but there are public gardens, as well as street markets and food stalls that provide an enchanting walking experience when visiting the city-state.

Travel

Singapore’s Changi Airport is not only the most convenient option for all travellers entering Singapore, but for most air transportation in Southeast Asia. The airport has its own train station that allows travellers to reach the city easily after their flight.

As Singapore has some of the best public transport in the world, it’s best to take the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) to travel around, including public buses. It is advisable to buy an EZ-Link card, which cost $12 SGD at Transitlink offices, and are automatically loaded with $7 of credit. They can also be purchased at 7-Eleven, where they cost $10 SGD, of which $5 is usable credit.

Food

Food is monumentally important to Singapore’s national identity. Singapore’s cuisine represents the nation’s constantly mixing cultures, fusing dishes from Chinese, Malay, and Indian cooking. Some dishes are uniquely Singaporean, including the local Kaya toast breakfasts (a spread made of pandan leaves served with toast and a soft boiled egg), and fried carrot cake (fried radish or turnip with sauce).

While some more proper meals may result in being more expensive, there are many cheap options for food in Singapore, including government-run Hawker Centers, as well as many inexpensive yet tasty, authentic Indian and Chinese joints in Little India and Chinatown.

As local drinking goes, try local brew Tiger Beer or the classic Singapore Sling cocktail. For a non-alcoholic choice, Bandung (cold milk with rosewater syrup,) or sugarcane juice are readily sold at food stalls.

Language

The Singaporean government lists four national languages, including English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. However, English is the language most commonly spoken. Most locals are bilingual, so you’ll hear many languages being spoken on the streets. You may even hear Singlish, a unique mix of local expressions and English.

Climate

Singapore’s climate remains tropical almost  all year long, with temperatures rarely fluctuating more than from 30-40 degrees Celsius. However, the nation does have two monsoon seasons, December – March and June – September, so planning a visit between these periods is optimal.

Population

Approximately 5.6 million.

Visas

According to the Singapore government’s website, only specific countries require a visa to enter Singapore. These countries do not include most of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and EU countries.

People

Singapore is extremely diverse as a nation. The majority of its population is made up of people of Chinese, Malay, or Indian descent. There is also a growing ex-patriot community. The culture therefore is somewhat classified as Eurasian, blending European and Asian traditions.

Dress

Since Singapore is a walkable city, make sure to wear comfortable shoes. Since the climate is all around tropical and warm, as the nation is near the equator, prepare for warmth and humidity, with occasional rain and extreme sunshine.

Health

While the nation is safe from most special viruses and health concerns, it is advisable to visit having taken all the necessary routine vaccinations needed for travellers. It is safe, according to the World Health Organization, to drink the tap water in Singapore.

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