Welcome to Singapore
If you are looking for the trends of the West coupled with the originality of the Far East, Singapore is the perfect place to be! When the British claimed the strategic port as a colony in 1819, the island of Singapore (from Singapura, meaning ‘Lion City') was a swamp dotted with small villages called kampongs. Today, Singapore is a modern, vibrant city of luxury and indulgence that has embraced its rich heritage and diverse culture, making it a fantastic tourist destination.
The people of Singapore are made up of Indian, Malay and Chinese cultures, with very much a Western twist on their ways. Technologically and economically, Singapore is very advanced, and Singaporeans take business very seriously. They do not believe in being over-formal in the social sphere though, and they know how to have a good time – which is evidenced by the abundance of bars and cafes!
The best place to enjoy nightlife in Singapore is around the Boat, Clarke and Robertson Quays, as well as Sensota and St James Power Station. Superclubs with techno and trance dance music have put Singapore on the clubber’s map, but there are also smaller venues, homely bars and cool cafes to be found as well. Singaporeans themselves, prefer to spend a night singing karaoke at one of the many dedicated clubs, where it is possible to rent out a box. Public drunkenness is very much frowned upon, but considering the extremely high price of alcohol – the legendary Singapore Sling could cost you over $20 – you are unlikely to drink to excess!
The cuisine in Singapore also cannot be beaten. While you are there, you can get a complete taste of Asia. Singapore features world-class Chinese, Thai, Malay, and Vietnamese cuisine. A visit to Chinatown is a great place to start! Here you will find a good mix of street food vendors, or hawkers, for cheaper snacks, as well as restaurants with buffet and a la carte choices of Chinese favourites. Singapore is renowned for its food halls, which are essentially large, under-cover eating areas with a string of canteen-style services lining the walls so people can go from vendor to vendor and choose what they want. Of course, Western food and chain offerings such as McDonalds, Burger King, Subway and KFC are readily available, but for true authenticity try dishes such as chilli crabs, kaya toast and runny eggs, or drinks such as the strong, sugary kopi coffee.
If you want to learn more about the history of Singapore on your travels, then head north of the river or to the Bras Basah area. Here you will find many historical buildings and museums in which to while away the time, as you learn about Singapore’s colonial history. Owing to the huge cultural diversity of Singapore, there are many interesting religious sites to visit as well; these include mosques, Buddhist temples, and churches. Take a look at the massive Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery – you will need at least half a day to explore it fully. Also worth spending time in, is the vibrant Sri Mariamman Hindu temple, which can be found in Chinatown, or check out the Burmese Buddhist Temple in Balestier.
Things to see and do
Natural sights to see include the vast botanical gardens, which showcase the beautiful flora and fauna that are found in this area. Singapore Zoo is a good place for animal-lovers to visit, and for a truly unique experience go to the Singapore Night Safari, where you can tour through compounds where nocturnal animals roam – or fly. In the Chinese Gardens, there is a tortoise and turtle sanctuary where you can buy special pellets to feed the inhabitants. If you want to be truly awe-struck by one of the largest collections of plants in the world, then set aside a day to visit the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
Shopping in Singapore
If shopping if more your thing, then you are spoilt for choice in cosmopolitan Singapore. There are so many shopping malls, high streets and markets that it would be impossible to get round it all in just one holiday! The Great Singapore sale is held in June or July, and attracts hoards of shoppers every year looking for a bargain, with most stores staying open to trade until midnight. Just as a general guide however, if you want to find some boutique shops, then head to Ngee Ann City and Paragon at Orchard where you will discover some truly unique brands. Chinatown and Tanglin Shopping Centre are good places to find antiques, and Ngee Ann City on Orchard, is a good place to buy books. For high-street clothes and jewellery, as well as shoes and other sundries, head to Bugis, Orchard or Ngee Ann City. If you are after electronic items and gadgets, you will find plenty of shops dotted around, but the premier place to go is certainly Sim Lim Square, which has towering stores dedicated to all things electrical.
There are no specific seasons in Singapore and it is usually sunny – apart from when a sudden thunderstorm occurs. It can, however, get extremely humid due to the distinct lack of wind blowing through, so ensure you drink plenty of bottled water and stay out of bright sunshine. This is a sensible precaution in order to avoid heatstroke, or if you are sensitive to the heat in any way. The temperature is consistent all year round. It tends to average around 30 degrees Celsius during the day in December and January, lowering to around 24 degrees Celsius at night, then for the rest of the year it remains at around 32 degrees during the day and 24 degrees at night.
Getting around Singapore
Getting around Singapore, is made very easy with the well-functioning Metro system. As signs are all in English, you cannot go wrong with getting a ticket and choosing the right stop. There is also an overground rail and bus system. Be sure to obey the rules when travelling on public transport – no food, drink, chewing gum and, interestingly, no durians (a stinky fruit). Rickshaws are an exciting method of getting round the city and can be hired cheaply, ensuring you can see the sights without getting too hot walking around.
Places to stay
Accommodation in Singapore is very easy to find. People who are backpacking around South-East Asia, can find numerous guest houses and hostels that offer well-priced rooms on a nightly basis. Of course, there is more luxurious accommodation to be found too, with spa and gym facilities, onsite pool, concierge and well-equipped rooms. However, a happy middle ground is to be found in many of Singapore’s purpose-built resorts and holiday apartments, which cater for families, couples or lone travellers with various room types to choose from, depending on requirements and budget bracket. Accommodation prices tend to stay the same all year round – there is no high or low season.
Accommodation, driving and car rental in Singapore
At Cheaperthanhotels and Cheaperthancars we have a wide range of car rental discounts at convenient locations and accommodation to meet all budgets and taste across Singapore. We really do believe that the less you spend, the more you will have to do when you get there.
Your Cheaperthanhotels Team