Singapore is a sprawling city-state which is considered by many to be the jewel in Asia’s crown. Keen to impress the international community the city has a reputation for impeccable cleanliness to the extent that chewing gum has been banned from the city. The best thing about Singapore is definitely the rich mix of influences, ranging from the hi-tech modern chrome and glass building via it’s colonial past and stretching deep into its ancient cultural roots. Within the city you can do everything from Jungle trekking in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, to the usual Asian temple pilgrimages or just spend the day shopping in the unparalleled Orchard Road
- Currency: Singapore Dollar (Sing $) = 100 cents
- Time Zone: GMT + 8
- Language: Mandarin
- Telephone Services: Country code +65, International Access code 005
- Emergency Numbers: 999 for all services
Singapore sits almost on the equator and enjoys a tropical climate. Temperatures are hot and humidity is high all year round with no distinct rainy season. Despite this the time between November and January has marginally more rainfall so visitors might want to avoid this time.
Things to see and do
Singapore has a lot of distinct influences on its culture, the most famous of which is probably the colonial influence. In particular Sir Raffles was responsible for the building and development of most of the infrastructure during colonial rule. The famous Raffles Hotel is world renowned as one of the most luxurious and high class hotels in Asia. Also impressive remnants from this era of Singapore’s history is the fantastic Empress Palace building which now houses an exclusive restaurant as well as a museum and an art gallery. With colonial rule came the mark of Christianity and you can see excellent examples of architecture at both the St Andrew’s Cathedral and the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd.
It is impossible to visit Singapore without paying a trip to Chinatown, this area is still very much the city’s cultural hub and is representative of Singapore’s ancient oriental roots. The entire area is bustling with activity and boasts some of the best food on the island. During the day it is possible to find plenty of traditional shops selling everything from incense and herbal remedies to Chinese style teahouses. Although the growth of the financial district and redevelopment has to a certain extent suppressed the charm of this area it is still possible to find plenty of examples of traditional Chinese style life, one superb example is the Thian Hock Keng Temple which is notable for having been assembled entirely without nails.
Orchard Road is one of the most fashionable streets in Singapore, it is here that all of the luxury 5 star hotels jostle with the most trendy of boutiques and shops. The nightlife here is unparalleled if pricy and there are enough shops to keep even the most demanding shopper satisfied all day.
Singapore has an excellently maintained underground system which is both easy and cheap to use, this is supplemented by a good bus service and together there isn’t anywhere that you can’t reach easily. An increasingly popular way to travel the city however is by rickshaw, small carriages towed by an energetic bike rider. When using these services or taxis always be sure to agree on a fare beforehand to avoid a nasty shock when it comes to time to pay.
There is an absolute wealth of choice when it comes to accommodation in Singapore. There are ample hotels of all types ranging from luxurious international standard hotels like the Raffles to cheap budget places. The Singapore Hotel Association can offer more information
There are a reasonable number of youth hostels in Singapore including a YMCA International hostel. In general it is easy to find a night in dormitory accommodation for under �10.
Singapore General Hospital provides healthcare of an exceptionally high standard and generally treats emergency cases. There is also a huge private sector also with very high standards. There is no reciprocal health agreement with the UK at this time so travellers will be asked to find a way to pay for any medical costs incurred. This of course means that a comprehensive travel insurance policy is a necessity.
There are no vaccinations required for entry to Singapore. It should be noted that hepatitis A and B are widespread so appropriate precautions should be taken especially during sexual contact. Rabies is also present and travellers bitten should seek medical assistance immediately.
The water and food in Singapore is to be considered safe and only normal everyday precautions need to be taken.
The Singapore Hotel Association can offer more information on hotels in Singapore