- One of the busiest ports in the world, Singapore is a city state of 5.3 million people
- One of the wealthiest (GDP per capita) and densely populated cities in the world
- Known worldwide for its high quality of life, economic freedom and strict legal system
- Nicknames: the Lion City, the “nanny state” (in jest)
- Currency: Singapore dollar (SGD)
- Spoken languages: Four official languages (English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil)
- Best time to visit: year-round (Singapore is very close to the equator)
- Arriving via airport: airport train is $1.90, airport bus is $2.00, taxi is about $30
WHERE TO STAY
Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the world. For budget accommodations, look for rooms in Little India, Chinatown or the East Coast. Upscale hotels can be found in the Marina Bay and Orchard Road.
- The city’s MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and LRT (Light Rail Transit) networks are world-class, easy to use, and will take you just about anywhere in the city. Fares start at $0.80.
- The bus network in Singapore is more difficult to use and can sometimes be slow.
- Drinking age is 18, last call is at 3-4 AM (weekends) and 1-2 AM (weekdays)
- Trendy scene: Clarke Quay is where you will find the city’s hippest clubs.
- Backpacker crowd: backpacker pubs found all over the city, often connected to hostels.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- With its signature rooftop bar and infamous infinity pool, the Marina Bay Sands is a must-see. Grab a cocktail and enjoy the sunset.
- 165 meters high, the Singapore Flyer is the world’s tallest Ferris wheel and offers amazing views of the city. Rides are 30 minutes long.
- The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown is believed to hold the sacred tooth of the Buddha. It is also the only temple in the world with its own underground parking.
- Sentosa Island is a whole island dedicated to act as a holiday resort. The Universal Studios theme park is found on the north side of the island.
- The statue of Sir Stamford Raffles (founder of Singapore) is a popular tourist attraction.
- Note: be sure to bring an umbrella when walking around in Singapore – the weather can go from nice to dark/wet in a matter of minutes. Quick bursts of heavy rain are very common.
- Walk along Orchard Road for the ultimate window shopping experience – the many shopping malls and stunning architecture will keep you engaged for hours.
- Singapore’s Chinatown is its cultural heart, featuring alleyway markets and religious sites. Make sure to grab a bite at one of its hawker centers.
- Take a stroll along Arab Street and check out the city’s mosques and other interesting architecture.
- Singapore is a very restrictive country, and has laws regulating things that many take for granted in the rest of the world. Examples of things that are outlawed: pornography, jaywalking and drinking in public. Singapore also has a death penalty for drug related crimes – it is not only illegal to possess a drug, but even to have small traces of it in your body. Laws are strongly enforced, so it’s best not to take any chances.
- Where to find good cheap eats: as street hawkers are outlawed in Singapore, so street food is not available on every corner (unlike in most of Asia). Instead, the street hawkers are centralized in large hawker centers – all of these food stalls are rated by the city’s health department (ratings are visible on each stall).
- Dangerous areas: Singapore is one of the safest cities in the world. With such strict laws and harsh penalties (including caning) for even minor crimes, the city is very safe at any time of day and night.
RECOMMENDED SINGAPORE GUIDE BOOKS
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days