Information & Facts
Singapore experiences a tropical climate with hot, humid weather
all year round. Temperatures remain high with daytime averages of
86°F (30°C). Humidity is usually above 75%. Singapore has two
distinct monsoon seasons, the North Eastern season being from
December to March and the South Western season from June to
September. November to December is the rainy season. June to August
is the best time to travel to Singapore, although it is still rainy
and humid and travellers should pack accordingly.
With heavy influences of Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and
British, the cuisine in Singapore is far from dull and fusion food
is the order of the day. Street vendors are common in this bustling
city for a tasty meal on the go, and most specialise in one dish
with favourites including fish head curry or Mee Goreng (yellow egg
noodles stir fried with ghee, tomato sauce, chilli, egg, vegetables
and various meats or seafood). Seafood such as prawns, oysters,
crabs and lobsters are also popular dishes on most Singapore menus
and traditional dishes such as laksa (soup), popiah (spring rolls),
and satay (barbecued meat skewers) are worth trying. Those with a
sweet tooth will enjoy the sugary desserts like kuih (steamed
cakes), bubur cha-cha (coconut milk soup), and ice kachang (shaved
ice with sweet red beans).
Hawker centres are the cheapest places to eat, and come with
their own unique atmosphere, which is somewhere between a market
and a food court. Prices are low and the food is very good, so it's
a great way to try a lot of dishes. Find a table first, and many
stalls will deliver your food to you. Popular hawker centres
include Newton Circus, Glutton's Bay, and Lau Pa Sat, as well as
several options in Chinatown.
Singapore has its share of international fast food chains, but
local takeaway options worth trying include Bengawan Solo's Chinese
pastries, Old Chang Lee's deep-fried curry puffs, and the
traditional Singaporean breakfast at Ya Kun Kaya Toast.
Singapore's more upmarket restaurants have a lot to offer as
well, with plenty of variety. A special focus is on Chinese cuisine
and seafood, however. Head to the Orchard Road area and the
historic district for eateries of every nationality, or for a
trendy night out then a trip to Boat Quay or Clarke Quay along the
riverfront is a must.
Restaurants will often display the prices with plus signs:
$19.99++ indicates that service charges and sales tax are not
included and will be added to the bill. Tipping is not practised in
Singapore, and is officially discouraged by the government.
Because of government-induced deterrents towards drivers to
combat traffic congestion and air pollution, hiring a car is very
expensive, but getting around Singapore is easy without one due to
efficient, modern and inexpensive public transport. An extensive
bus network and the reliable MRT train subway system are both cheap
and user-friendly and service all parts of Singapore. Electronic
ez-linkpasses cover trains and buses and save carrying loose
change for fares as well as giving a slight discount on standard
ticket prices. There is also a
Tourist Day Ticketthat is valid for 12 rides of any length.
The city also has thousands of metered taxis, which are safe,
air-conditioned and surprisingly affordable, driven by helpful and
honest drivers. The only drawback is the long taxi queues during
rush hour. There are services offered to travellers that include
the Singapore Explorer shuttles, which stop at most tourist
destinations, and the SIA Hop-on bus, which offers passes for
unlimited rides for a day and is free for visitors who travelled to
Singapore on Singapore Airlines.
Singapore is a great city for kids on holiday, compact and
brimming with varied and excited attractions, some uniquely Asian.
For a great day with the family head to the Singapore Zoological
Gardens where the kids can bond with animals such as Komodo
dragons, polar bears and orangutans, or head to the Jurong Bird
Park to marvel at the hundreds of pink flamingoes. For a more
relaxed day, pack a picnic and visit the Singapore Botanical
Gardens where kids will have plenty of room to stretch their legs
and let off a bit of steam. The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is a
wonderful place to spend the day and children will be guaranteed to
be amazed by this verdant wonderland. On rainy or cold days when
outdoor activities with kids are not an option, head to an indoor
playground like eXplorerkid in downtown east, the Fun Maze at
Tampines Mall, or Fidgets, Singapore's largest indoor playground
which also includes baby and toddler play areas. With all these
options and more, kids will have a great time exploring the city of
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.
With so many choices on offer, it's a difficult task deciding
what to do for an evening out in Singapore and to experience its
nightlife best. From cultural performances and traditional dancing
and music to nightclubs, bars and partying it up amongst hardcore
revellers, Singapore is a city that never sleeps.
Start an evening out at one of the many international touring
Broadway shows or head to the nightlife hub of the city such as
Boat Quay where a variety of bars, karaoke bars, clubs, discos and
lounges can be found, as well as some of the city's glitterati, who
can be seen hanging out and mingling with the who's who. Muhammad
Sultan Road is another key area where clubs and bars are scattered
as well as the Zouk complex, where many gay and lesbian clubs and
bars can be found.
A night out in Singapore isn't complete without a visit to the
Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel, where the infamous cocktail the
Singapore Sling was invented sometime between 1910 and 1915.
Drinking in Singapore is an expensive pastime however, as the
country's heavy sin taxes push the price of drinks up to $15-25 in
Clarke Quay is the place for hardcore clubbers, where the
Ministry of Sound is based as well as a handful of hip new dance
clubs. There are other areas of the city that have become eclectic
in their entertainment choices and live jazz, acid jazz,
international guest DJs and live music is easy to come by. Sentosa
has a number of cocktail bars on the beach, and the Central
Business District has plenty of chic nightclubs. One of the largest
and longest-running clubs is the sprawling Zouk in Jiak Kim Street,
which hosts visiting international artists and has a variety of
floors ranging from house to hip hop, pop and even a dinner-dance
Singapore is a relatively safe place at night, even for women
alone. Many clubs stay open until very late, closing 1 or 2am on
weekdays and 3 or 4am on weekends. Taxis can be found fairly
easily, but be prepared for a rush of people, and an increase of
fares, after midnight when the clubs start to close.
In Singapore, shopping is said to be the national sport,
strongly supported by numerous shopping areas, malls and markets;
at the mid-year Great Singapore Sale, the whole island offers
fantastic shopping discounts. Despite its reputation as an
international shopping destination however, everything sold in
Singapore is made somewhere else, so don't expect to find local
goods or handmade treasures.
If ethnic goods are what you're after, however, Chinatown sells
Chinese items like seals and painted fans, and Geylang Serai and
Little India offer a range of Malay and Indian goods. Colourful
Peranakan clothing and artwork is available in Katong.
Low import taxes mean there are bargains to be had, but if
you've come to Singapore in search of bargain electronics or
computers, it pays to do some research ahead of time so you don't
end up paying more than you could have. Singapore's consumer
protection laws are good though, so most shops are honest and fakes
are not openly sold.
Orchard Road is the main shopping area and features mall after
mall of fashion, furniture and cosmetic shops. There are countless
stores offering every imaginable form of electronic device shoppers
might require, and the street markets and smaller shops sell
Chinese seals and painted fans - good souvenirs. There is also late
night shopping on Orchard Road every Saturday till 11pm.
Exhibitions, fairs and garage sales take place often and offer
many discounted goods. Wet Markets smell bad but sell well-priced
fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, spices and flowers. The general
opening hours for shops are from about 9am to 10pm, but many shops
(especially those in Suntec City and Funan IT Mall) do not open
before 11am. A 7% GST is charged in Singapore, refundable to
Teeming with sightseeing opportunities, Singapore is a great
city for any traveller to explore. With historical sites such as
Kampong Gelam and Arab Street and the Jurong Birdpark, the largest
of its kind in Southeast Asia, Singapore has a wide range of
attractions on offer. Take a stroll around Little India where the
smells of spices and incense fill the air, have a picnic in the
Singapore Botanical Gardens and enjoy the peace and quiet, or take
the kids to the Singapore Zoological Gardens where animals from all
over the world can be viewed. Those with an eye for art and design
will love the red dot design museum, which showcases some of the
most innovative and exciting designs, and art lovers should visit
the Singapore Art Museum. Visitors wanting to see the sights should
buy a Singapore Tourist Pass, which is an all-day travel pass that
allows unlimited travel of Singapore's public buses and MRT trains
and can be bought for 1, 2 or 3-days. The starting cost of the pass
is S$8 and it can be bought from and SMRT office around the
Local time is GMT +8.