Singapore - Abbey Travel, Ireland



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Welcome to Singapore


Beguiling Singapore is a modern city-state embracing economic progress against the backdrop of age-old tradition. The customs that underpin community life are created out of a cultural mix that includes predominantly Chinese, Indian and Malay ethnic groups.

Singapore is an island off the southern tip of Malaysia, linked to it by a causeway. It evolved from a sleepy fishing village in the early 1900s to become one of Asia's economic leaders. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles landed on Singapore's northern bank in 1819 and felt that its location made it ideal as a trading station. From here Singapore's landscape was transformed by British colonial rule, Japanese occupation, communist insurrection and finally, independence. Since becoming a republic in 1965 the island has experienced increased prosperity and exponential economic growth. Shimmering skyscrapers tower above the slick financial districts and elegant colonial buildings preserve a lingering old-world charm.

Singapore's full calendar of events showcases a spectrum of cultural celebrations and shopping activities. The early summer months bustle in anticipation of the Singapore Sale - a time when tourists can cash in on the competitive prices of electronic equipment, jewellery and other merchandise. The business activity thrives amidst the celebration of Chinese, Hindu and Muslim festivals that punctuate the year with their colourful representations. These include Chinese New Year, Ramadan, Hari Raya Puasa, Vesak Day, the Dragon Boat Festival, Festival of the Hungry Ghosts and Thaipusam.

The core of downtown Singapore is formed by the Colonial District, embellished by cathedrals and cricket lawns. The notable sites of the area include the Empress Place Building and the luxurious Raffles Hotel. Although most of old Singapore has been demolished to make way for the modern city, many major landmarks within the Colonial district have been preserved. The surrounding ethnic enclaves of Little India, Chinatown and the Arab Quarter also provide glimpses into the traditions that have sustained their respective communities through the centuries.

Information & Facts

Attraction Overview

Singapore's attractions reflect the diverse people who live there. In Downtown, communities of Little India and the Arab district give an exotic spice to Singapore. Chinatown stands out with its traditions and decoration in contrast to a very modern city. The edges of this modernity can be viewed at the Red Dot Design Museum and at the many shopping malls. To escape the feel of the city tourists can enjoy the Singapore Botanical Gardens, the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, the Jurong Bird Park or the Singapore Zoo.

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is the best way to experience nature while still inside city limits. For others ferrying between islands can be the best escape. Sentosa Island is a fun theme park to let loose of city congestion. The more relaxing Palau Ubin island is both interesting for its Malay culture and an ideal spot to soak up beach sun especially in the rare sunny months of April and May.


Business in Singapore is conducted formally. The adherence to a dress code is strict, with suits the preferred business attire. Punctuality is essential in all business meetings, unlike social engagements where a 'fashionably-late' policy is observed. Appointments should be made at least two weeks in advance. The exchange of business cards is vital at introductions and the ceremony of it is important for creating good relations. Business cards are to be treated with respect and not folded, written upon or vandalised in any way. Shaking hands is the common form of greeting for both men and women and may last up to 10 seconds. The person is to be addressed by their respective title followed by their surname. It is a good idea to ask beforehand how the person is correctly addressed as this may vary depending on the different cultures within Singapore. Business hours are generally 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday with an hour taken over lunch.


Singapore's climate is mostly hot and humid with average temperatures ranging between 79°F (26°C) and 86°F (30°C) during the day with cooler temperatures at night. The wettest months are between November and January (the monsoon period); however rainfall occurs throughout the year. Rainstorms are usually short but heavy, so remember to take an umbrella.


The international access code for Singapore is +65. The outgoing code is either 001, 002, 008 or 018, depending on the service provider, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 00144 for the United Kingdom). City or area codes are not used. Public phones are good for local and international calls; they take credit cards or phonecards, which can be bought at newspaper kiosks and Telecom shops. Calls made from hotels are free of any surcharges. Several local mobile phone operators use GSM 900/1800 networks. Email and Internet access is available at Internet cafes throughout the city.


Singapore is a fairly diverse society and has been moulded by its immigrant population, primarily Malay, Chinese and Indian, along with the large expat community. The city is incredibly efficient and the citizens very law-abiding - there are fines issued for just about any offence in Singapore, including S$500 for smoking in public places, S$50 for jaywalking, S$1,000 for littering and S$500 for eating, drinking or chewing gum on the MRT. There are even fines for not flushing public toilets so it goes without saying that getting involved in illegal drugs is not advisable; trafficking carries a maximum penalty of death. Chinese Singaporeans have three names, the first of which is their surname, or family name. As a result visitors should be prepared for hotels mistakenly reserving rooms under their first names. For clarity surnames may be underlined.

Duty Free

Travellers to Singapore over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 1 litre of wine, spirits and beer. Chewing gum and tobacco products must be declared on arrival. Strictly prohibited is the trafficking in illegal drugs, which carries the death sentence. Prohibited items include meat and meat products, and firearms and explosives without a permit.

Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Three-pin, square-shaped plugs are in use.

Travellers from countries where there is an incidence of yellow fever need to have immunization records on arrival in Singapore. There are excellent medical facilities in Singapore. There is a high risk of dengue fever. Visitors should avoid poorly cooked food, particularly seafood, and be cautious of certain types of fish that contain biotoxins even if cooked. Health care is excellent but also very expensive and medical insurance is advised.

Singapores official languages are English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. A patois called Singlish, or Singaporean English is widely spoken. It is the by-product of mixing English, Chinese and Malay syntax and idiom.

Singapore's currency is the Singapore Dollar (SGD), which is divided into 100 cents. The US and Australian Dollars, Yen and British Pound are also accepted in the larger shopping centres. Major credit cards are accepted in hotels, shops and restaurants. ATMs are widely distributed and banks advance cash against the major credit cards. Travellers cheques can be cashed at banks or licensed moneychangers and at selected hotels. Banks are open daily, but some do not do foreign exchange on Saturdays.

Passport Visa

Travellers should hold confirmed documents and tickets for onward or return travel and enough funds to cover their stay. Male travellers with long hair are advised to tie their hair back on arrival. Women who are six months pregnant or more may be refused entry. All nationals, regardless of visa requirements, may be issued with a Social Visitor's Pass on arrival allowing for a stay of 14 or 30 days provided their visit is for touristic or business purposes. Extensions are possible for S$40, but the initial Pass is free. Passports must be valid for at least six months from date of arrival. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.


Singapore is a very safe travel destination with crime limited to the odd theft. The Singapore Government has stepped up security measures following the terrorist attacks in Bali and is committed to maintaining Singapore's reputation as a safe destination.

Local time is GMT +8.

Tipping is not encouraged as most hotels and restaurants in Singapore already levy a 10% service charge on customers' bills. Tipping is not a way of life in Singapore, but is appreciated for excellent service.

Attracting thousands of visitors each year, The Singapore Crocodilarium is home to over 1,000 reptiles, including crocodiles and some of the world's rare and endangered species of reptiles. A must for families visiting Singapore with children, kids will love learning about these menacing beasts and can even watch the crocs being fed if they're lucky enough to be visiting on Tuesdays.

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