Country guides Asia
Singapore Travel Guide
The city-state of Singapore is a true marvel of the modern world: a highly urbanised, cosmopolitan economic powerhouse where skyscrapers and high-tech infrastructure blends seamlessly with an interesting cultural mix of Chinese, Malay and Indian influences. Known as the Garden City due its extraordinary amount of parks and urban greenery, Singapore is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia, welcoming well over 10 million international visitors each year.
Singapore is also one of the most popular destinations in the world for expatriate workers, and although many foreign visitors to Singapore are there for long-term stints, it remains a beguiling holiday destination as well. This is especially the case for families travelling with children in tow: a survey of Singapore's most-visited tourist attractions, including the Singapore Zoo, Universal Studios Singapore and the Singapore Discovery Centre, reveals its status as a premier family vacation destination.
For the culturally minded, Singapore is home to an impressive range of museums (such as the Asian Civilisation Museum), while the areas of Chinatown, Little India and the Arab Quarter pay homage to the city's roots, and play host to some of the city's best cultural sights, events and cuisine. Outdoor enthusiasts will delight in the amount of open space Singapore has on offer, including the urban rainforest of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve; while from the second they step foot on Orchard Road, shopaholics will feel as though they've died and gone to heaven. As if all this wasn't impressive enough, Singapore also lays claim to a vibrant (and pretty wild) nightlife, and the resort hub of Sentosa Island.
Best time to visit Singapore
Singapore has a tropical climate, characterised by hot and humid weather all year round. Although rainfall is common throughout the year, the wettest months are between November and January. The best time to visit Singapore is during its festive seasons, the best of which is Chinese New Year (occurring at the end of January or beginning of February each year).
What to see in Singapore
-Book a seat on the Singapore Flyer, the world's biggest Ferris Wheel, for outstanding views of the city centre.
-Visit the Gardens by the Bay, a space-age botanical gardens featuring Supertrees (mechanical tree-like structures that contribute to the upkeep of the gardens themselves), and a fine selection of exotic ferns and orchids.
-Visit Jurong Birdpark, which boasts one of the world's most extensive bird collections, and is the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia.
What to do in Singapore
-Go shopping on Orchard Road, the retail and entertainment hub of the bustling city-state.
-Experience the famous Night Safari at Singapore Zoo, where a huge variety of nocturnal animals (from tigers to tarsiers) can be glimpsed.
-Go for a picnic in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, one of two urban rainforests worldwide.
-Take a trip to Sentosa Island, and marvel at the luxurious resorts and theme parks dotted around the small tropical paradise.
Getting to Singapore
Cheap direct flights to Singapore are available from London and there are numerous indirect flights to Singapore from the USA. Travellers should bear in mind that Singapore's incredible Changi Airport is almost a tourist attraction in itself, so they shouldn't despair if they find themselves with some time to kill before their flight.
The Singapore Grip by JG Farrell and A Many-Splendoured Thing by Han Suyin.
Red Dragonflies (2011) and Chicken Rice War (2000).
Chilli crab, satay (barbecued meat served on a skewer) with peanut sauce, and the coconut milk-based curry known as laksa.
Singapore Sling cocktails at chic bars along the Three Quays waterfront area.
What to buy
Merlion key-rings and jewellery, jade carvings, bronze statues and coasters made from Peranakan tiles.
What to pack
Travellers should pack an umbrella and a lightweight rain-slicker for Singapore, as heavy downpours are a common occurrence. A light sweater is also a good idea for ultra air-conditioned buildings, even in the heat of summer.
What's on in Singapore
Singapore is at its best during Chinese New Year (January), when the streets of Chinatown are lit with red lanterns and decorated with good luck charms. The Singapore Arts Festival (May/June) is widely regarded as one of the best of its kind in Asia, encompassing dance, drama and music, and with an emphasis on creative freedom and cultural diversity. The Thimithi Festival (October) is one of the most important of the Hindu cultural calendar, and culminates in a breathtaking fire-walking ceremony in honour of the goddess Draupadi.
Did you know?
-Chewing gum is still illegal in Singapore, unless recommended through a doctor's prescription!
-Singapore is the second most densely populated country in the world (after Monaco).
-Singapore's Changi Airport has won more than 350 awards since 1981.
A final word
Singapore is a complex land, where several strong cultures mix with economic prosperity and cutting edge technology, offering visitors a dream Asian holiday destination full of old and new world charm.