Representing the spirit of modern Asia, Singapore is a progressive island where one can witness the vibrant fusion of cultures, ethnicity, communities and most importantly, people. The place is a complete package full of excitement, surprises and charm, especially for the first time visitors.
Singapore is a cosmopolitan city-state, which, over the years, has grown from its tag of dull state to reinvent itself as a dynamic city and one of the Southeast Asiaęs most modern destinations. Spread 42 km (26 miles) east to west and 23 km (14 miles) north to south, today Singapore is one of the worldęs leading shipping and banking hub on the economic front. This garden city is also a melting pot of cultures, combining together different ideas, cuisines, new architectures going well with the gleaming hint of old school. One can witness the Chinese, Indian, Malay and European influence in the daily life of Singapore adding to its charm. The incredible shopping malls, classy boutiques, departmental stores on Orchard Road, the exotic elements of Chinatown and Little India and the world-class nightlife span across the spotless land of Singapore. Expensive with respect to South-eastern standards, the city offers plethora of other options for entertainment such as Sentosa Island, Singapore Zoo, Botanic Garden, Marina Bay Sands, Tiger Balm Garden, Night Market etc. With picture perfect skyline and city centre bustling with people, Singapore is an amazing destination offering everything a traveller could think of.
Although a small island, Singapore offers a variety of accommodation options suiting oneęs requirement and expectations. However, accommodation isnęt very cheap on the island. Orchard Road (Orchard Hotel, Orchard parade Hotel, Raffles Hotel and Royal Plaza on Scotts etc.), Little India (Hotel Grand Chancellor, The Park Royal, Albert Court Village Hotel, and Landmark Village Hotel etc.), Clark Quay (Park Hotel, Swissotel Merchant Hotel, Carlton Hotel and Marina Bay Stands) and Sentosa (The Sentosa Resort & Spa) are the areas that offer medium budget to super luxurious lodgings and hotels depending on budget. The medium hotels cost around SGD 50 for a basic room; however most of them cost between SGD 80 - 110 per night. For cheaper option one can stay at hostel dorm charging around SGD 15 - 30.
People of Singapore are quite possessive when it comes to the food. With a myriad of food outlets all over the island, you can find food according to your taste. The various restaurants and cafes serve cuisines from all over the world with varying budget and eating style. You can enjoy the affordable delicious food, mainly Indian and Chinese dishes that you will not even find in India and China, served by pushcart hawker and vendors along with super Malay and Indonesian food. However, western food is a lot more expensive when compared to its Asian counterparts. Nonya cooking, native to Singapore is a unique fusion of Chinese and Malay cooking styles prepared by the Peranakan community that is worth trying. Chilli crab; Satay with peanut sauce, onions and cucumber; Katong laksa (white noodles in a creamy, immensely rich coconut-based curry broth, topped with cockles or shrimp) with chilli paste and chopped laksa leaf in a spoon are some of the most popular local delicacies of Singapore.
Singaporean Dollar, symbolized as $ (SGD) Almost all the major credit card brands are widely accepted in Singapore including Visa and MasterCard (although a 3 % surcharge may by charged by some shops, taxis may charge up to 15 %). Travelleręs cheques are usually not accepted, however, can be cashed at most of the exchange booths. EZ-Link and Nets Flash Pay cards are valid in case of some convenience stores and fast food chains. The Brunei Dollar, which is at par with Singaporean Dollar, can be used interchangeably in both the countries.
Currency exchange in Singapore is done in banks as well as currency exchange booths found in almost every shopping mall. Generally, these booths offer better rates, opening hours and much faster service than banks. The Mustafa Mall, which is open 24 hours, accepts almost any currency at a very good rate with equal competitiveness as the small shops located at Change Alley next to Raffles Place MRT. Rates at the airport are not as good as in the city, so avoid exchanging there. The ATMs are easily available throughout the island in large numbers.
Singapore in general is an expensive country by the standards of the Asian countries. Although, the city caters to the taste and interest of each kind of tourist, the minimum budget for backpackers, mid-rangers and luxury travellers are higher in comparison to the neighbouring countries. The cost of travelling in Singapore per day and per person (excluding hotel expense) is as follows: Budget Traveling: SGD 30 - 40 approximately Comfortable travel: SGD 50 - 90 approximately Luxury travel: SGD 100+ (sky is the limit)
Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity are considered the major religions of Singapore. Most people practice two religions - primary and secondary.
Singapore is a racial mixture of people from several distinct communities and culture. However, Singaporeans have created a culture of their own irrespective of their ethnicities. While meeting a Singaporean formally or informally, make sure to shake hands firmly with all, even when departing. A slight bow while shaking hands is considered respectful. Make sure to never pin point someone or something with a finger, just raise your hand for indication. Western type of clothing is most common here. Men usually wear shirt, slacks and tie for business and women wear blouses with sleeves with skirts or pantsuits. For normal routine, any kind of casual clothes can be worn. Gender discrimination is legal offence, thus take care to not disrespect anyone. Tipping is usually practiced in Singapore in restaurants and hotels. A standard tip of 10 % of final bill is given. Make sure to handover the tip to waitperson specifically, as owners might keep any cash left at table. It is not customary to tip anyone except waitperson and bellhop at hotels.
Singapore is potpourri of people from various ethnic groups and religion. Thus many languages are spoken widely. However, English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil are considered the four official languages of Singapore. English is the most widely spoken language and is regarded as business language of the country.
According to the historical records, the story of Singapore goes as back as third century, then referred to as ?island at the end of peninsulaę. It was between 1298 and 1299 AD that the first settlement was established when the city came to be known as ?Temasekę or Sea Town. According to a legend, the current name of the country came into being during 14th century when a prince of Palembang (capital of Srivijaya) saw an animal he had never seen before while on his hunting trip. Taking it as a good omen, he named the city ?Singapuraę or ?the lion cityę derived from the Sanskrit words ?Simhaę meaning ?lionę and ?puraę meaning ?cityę. Soon, the city located at the tip of Malay Peninsula (natural meeting point of various sea routes) became the major trading hub for Arabs dhows, Chinese junk, Portuguese battleships and Buginese schooners. However, the modern city of Singapore was founded in 19th century by Sir Thomas Stanford Raffles. After passing from various hands of power, the island was handed over to British in 1946 as its crown colony. The revolution for independence came about in 1959 when countryęs first general elections were held and Lee Kuan Yew became first prime Minister of Singapore. One can witness the imprints of the islandęs rich past and struggle at various museums, monuments and memorials.
Singapore is an entirely different city at daytime and an absolutely different picture at night. The city very efficiently transforms itself from punctual and efficient to dancing and enjoying the present type at night. The nightclubs and bars around Clark Quay are pulsating with music and constantly buzzing with people all around. Tourists come out of the travelersę mode and give in to the high energy around Orchard Street at numerous caf_ and rooftop bars. Where Singaporeans are efficient employees during daytime, they are equally efficient at pubbing and clubbing at night. This is the true essence of this Lion City, and you have to experience it.
With several great options to shop at, one can find literally anything on this island. Orchard Road, 2.2km long, is one of the most popular shopping streets comprising of about 20 shopping centers alone. Haji Lane is yet another place that is regarded as a paradise for Singaporeęs hipsters offering rage of cool casual wears. Tion Bahru is known fir its high fashion sense and numerous lifestyle boutiques. Other major shopping places of Singapore are Little India, Chinatown, Holland Road Shopping Center, Dempsey Road, and Vivo City. Mustafa mall is a duty free mall for shopping in budget. Happy Shopping!