Singapore is a country with unique features blending modern civilization with traditions and culture from different ethnic groups; Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian. A dynamic city rich in contrast and color, you’ll find a harmonious blend of culture, cuisine, arts and architecture here. Brimming with unbridled energy, this little dynamo in Southeast Asia embodies the finest of both East and West. Singaporeans are passionate about food and eating. In almost every corner of the island, you will find an endless variety of food, served hot or cold, at any hour of the day. In this cosmopolitan and multicultural city, you can experience an endless journey from fine dining to street dining offering flavors from all over the world. Nightlife is also an experience on its own, whether you are looking for a pub to enjoy a glass of tiger beer or an entertainment complex.
Located at one of the crossroads of the world, its geographical location is 136.8 km north of the equator, between latitudes 103 degrees 38′ E and 104 degrees 06′ E. It is linked to Malaysia by two causeway bridges, and the key islands of the Riau Archipelago of Indonesia are just a quick ferry trip away. Singapore, with an airport served by more than 69 airlines, is very much the gateway to Southeast Asia.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Singapore itself is a destination that one must visit, let alone the many sights and activities it has to offer. Some of the favorites would be; the world class Singapore Zoo with over 240 species of animal to view and its famous Night Safari or Breakfast with the Animals; Sentosa Island with its huge range of activities and attractions for the whole family including Universal Studios; the three Quays along the Singapore River that offer all the food and night life one could ever dream of; Orchard Road is the shoppers dream – with almost endless shopping malls it will satisfy the most discerning shopper; and finally Bukit Timah Nature Reserve will allow you to get out of the city and view some pristine wilderness and nature trails with wild monkeys climbing through the trees.
The island is warm and humid all year around with average maximum 31 degrees Celsius and minimum 23 degrees Celsius. Rain falls throughout the year with more consistent rain coming during the monsoon season from November to January. Showers are usually sudden and heavy but also brief and refreshing.
IMMIGRATION AND VISA REQUIREMENTS
Generally, foreigners who do not require visas for entry and are visiting Singapore as tourists may be given up to 30-day social visit passes upon their arrival in Singapore. Tourists, however, should have valid passports, onward / return tickets, onward facilities (visas, entry permits, etc) to their next destination and sufficient funds for their stay in Singapore.
For more information on immigration requirements into Singapore, please visit : www.ica.gov.sg
Travelling around Singapore is a cinch! An efficient public transportation network of taxis, buses and the modern Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) rail system ensures that getting from point A to point B is hassle-free and extremely affordable.
There are four official languages in Singapore: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English. English is the language of business and administration, and is widely spoken and understood. Most Singaporeans are bilingual, and speak their mother tongue as well as English. Malay is the national language.
MONEY AND BANKING
The local currency is Singapore dollars and cents. Notes come in denominations of SGD $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, $1,000, and $10,000, while coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and SGD 1.
Banking hours are : Mondays to Fridays: 1000 hrs to 1500 hrs. Saturdays: 0930 hrs to 1300 hrs (some banks are open until 1500 hrs) Sundays: 0930 hrs to 1500 hrs (some banks in Orchard Road).
Most banks handle travelers’ checks and change foreign currencies. However, some banks do not have foreign exchange dealings on Saturdays.
Passports are required when cashing in traveler’s checks A nominal commission may be charged.
Singapore Post operates a network of more than 1,300 postal outlets conveniently located throughout the island. These outlets offer a wide range of postal, telecommunication and agency services. Most postal outlets are open Monday through Friday, from 0830 hrs to 1700 hrs and until 1300 hrs on Saturday.
CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR
Light and summer clothing made from natural fabrics like cotton is best for everyday wear. Casual dress is acceptable for most situations and occasions but some establishments may require a more formal dress code. Comfortable walking shoes, sandals are advisable to wear around Singapore.
With its ethnic mix also comes its diverse set of religions. Singapore’s skyline boasts the distinctive minarets of mosques, spires of gothic cathedrals, intricate figurines of Hindu temple gods and distinctive roof architecture of Chinese temples. The main religions are Islam, Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Judaism.
EATING OUT AND NIGHT LIFE
Singapore has some of the world’s finest international cuisine and restaurants, at the same time Singapore can offer visitors a chance of eating at the local hawker centers and enjoy a budget meal. Singapore is a place that will cater for all cuisine budgets. Singapore night life can be described as vibrant and exciting with everything from many internationally famous and respected nightclubs through to boutique micro breweries, at the same time one can enjoy your favorite Irish Pub and sports bars. A line of upscale restaurants offer anything and everything from local to Italian, Indian to even Indonesian, Singapore is the haven for satisfying your taste buds. One of the many famous areas for dining is Clarke Quay and Boat Quay, located opposite to each other separated by a river and both host endless choices of restaurants. Dining out in the evening at Clarke Quay is a wonderful experience, combining a delicious meal, sounds of the river boats on the water, colorful lights and an atmosphere that is totally unique.
Singapore is a shopper’s heaven. Any item can be found in one of the many department stores or along the local markets scattered throughout the country. A good number of department stores and some smaller shops are open daily from 1000 hrs to about 2100 hrs, or even 2200 hrs. Singapore is one of the few countries in the world it is reasonably safe out in the streets even late at night. As long as basic precautions are taken, you can shop in peace. There is always a reason to celebrate discounts throughout the year, but the best and most suitable time to visit Singapore for shoppers are in the month of June-July, when the Great Singapore Sale is on!
Mustafa Centre in Little India is the only department store in Singapore that is open 24 hours a day, every day!
It is perfectly safe to drink water straight from the tap in Singapore. However, for those who prefer bottled mineral water, local supermarkets and grocers usually carry a sizeable selection.
Smoking is not permitted in public service vehicles, museums, libraries, lifts, theatres, cinemas, air-conditioned restaurants, hair salons, supermarkets, department stores and government offices. Offenders can be fined up to SGD 1,000. While it is an offence to smoke in air-conditioned eating places, smoking is permitted in air-conditioned pubs, discos, karaoke bars and nightspots.
More information on Singapore can be retrieved from www.visitsingapore.com