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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.


Singapore's 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. Banks are open daily, but some do not do foreign exchange on Saturdays.


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


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


Singapore is a very safe travel destination with crime generally limited to occasional petty theft. The Singaporean government has stepped up security measures due to an increased risk of terror attacks in the region and is committed to maintaining Singapore's reputation as a safe destination.


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). Calls made from hotels are free of any surcharges. There are several local mobile phone networks available, and wifi is easily available.


Travellers from countries where yellow fever occurs need to present vaccination records on arrival in Singapore to prove they are not infected. No other vaccinations are required but vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. A Japanese encephalitis vaccination is recommended for travellers spending a month or more in rural areas or for those spending substantial time outdoors in rural areas, but as the country is highly urbanised this is seldom necessary. There is a high risk of dengue fever and there have been outbreaks of chikungunya fever in recent years as well - both are mosquito-borne diseases and measures should be taken to avoid mosquito bites. Visitors should also avoid poorly cooked food, particularly seafood, and be cautious of certain types of fish that contain biotoxins even if cooked.

Health care is excellent in Singapore but also very expensive and comprehensive medical insurance is advised. Pharmacies are well stocked in Singapore but it is still advisable to take along all required medication, in its original packaging, accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what it is and why it is needed.

Public Holidays

Hari Raya Haji (Feast of the Sacrifice)31 Jul20 Jul
Hari Raya Puasa (End of Ramadan)24 May13 May
Chinese New Year25 Jan12 Feb
New Year's Day1 Jan1 Jan
Good Friday10 Apr2 Apr
Labour Day1 May1 May
Vesak Day7 May26 May
National Day9 Aug9 Aug
Deepavali (Hindu Festival of Light)14 Nov4 Nov
Christmas Day25 Dec25 Dec


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 upon introduction and the ceremony of this exchange 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.

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 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 smoking in public places, jaywalking, littering and for eating, drinking or chewing gum. There are even fines for not flushing public toilets so it goes without saying that getting involved in illegal drugs is not advisable; drug 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 unless they are arriving from Malaysia. 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.


Singapore Visitor Centre, Singapore: +65 6736 2000 or

Emergencies: 999 (Police); 995 (Ambulance and Fire).

Entry Requirements

United States passport holders do not require a visa for travel to Singapore for a stay of up to 90 days. A passport valid for six months after intended travel is required.

British passport holders endorsed British Citizen, British Overseas Territories Citizen with Right to Abode, or British Subject with Right to Abode do not require a visa for travel to Singapore for a stay of up to 90 days. British passport holders endorsed British Overseas Territories Citizen, or British Subject without Right to Abode do not require a visa for travel to Singapore for a stay of up to 30 days. Passports should be valid for six months beyond date of arrival.

Canadian passport holders do not require a visa for travel to Singapore for a stay of up to 30 days. Passports should be valid for six months beyond date of arrival.

South African passport holders do not require a visa for travel to Singapore for a stay of up to 30 days. Passports should be valid for six months beyond date of arrival.

Irish passport holders do not require a visa for travel to Singapore for a stay of up to 90 days. A passport valid for six months after intended travel is required.

New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa for travel to Singapore for a stay of up to 30 days. A passport valid for six months after intended travel is required. Passport holders with an APEC business travel card endorsed for travel in Singapore may stay up to 60 days.

Embassy Consulates

United States Embassy, Singapore: +65 6476 9100.

British High Commission, Singapore: +65 6424 4200.

Canadian High Commission, Singapore: +65 6854 5900.

South African High Commission, Singapore: +65 6339 3319.

Irish Embassy, Singapore: +65 6238 7616.

New Zealand High Commission, Singapore: +65 6235 9966.

Embassy Consulates

Singapore Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 537 3100.

Singapore High Commission, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 20 7235 8315.

Consulate of Singapore, New York City, USA (also responsible for Canada): +1 212 223-3331

Singapore High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 430 6035.

Singapore High Commission, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 20 7235 8315.

Singapore High Commission, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 470 0850.


Singapore's sightseeing attractions reflect the diverse population which calls the country home. In downtown Singapore, the communities of Little India and the Arab District give an exotic cultural spice to a country ultimately known more for urban planning and a high-tech economy than its history. Similarly, Chinatown stands out with its traditions and vibrant decorations in contrast to a very modern city. The creative achievements of this modernity can be viewed at the Red Dot Design Museum, the many shopping malls and the Gardens by the Bay, a fascinating marriage of technology and nature.

To escape the urban rat race, tourists can enjoy numerous stunning gardens and parks, including the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, the Jurong Bird Park and the Singapore Zoo. Probably the best way to experience nature within the city limits is a visit to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, where swathes of tropical rainforest have been preserved. For others, ferrying between islands can be the best escape. Sentosa Island is a fun theme park with myriad attractions, including beaches, aquariums and amusement parks like Universal Studios Singapore. The more relaxing Palau Ubin Island is interesting for its Malay culture and is an ideal spot to go cycling or hiking along unspoiled beaches and through the forested interior.

Visitors planning a lot of travel around Singapore should consider purchasing the Singapore Tourist Pass, which allows unlimited transport on the bus and train systems.


Situated only one degree north of the equator, it is not surprising that Singapore has a tropical climate, meaning that it is hot and humid all year round with hardly any variation in temperature between seasons; in fact, Singapore doesn't really have seasons. Travellers to Singapore would be wise to take an umbrella, because rain is abundant and possible all year round, usually falling in heavy downpours. The wettest months are between November and January, which is the monsoon period. There is generally more rain in the west of the island than in the east. Average temperatures range between 79°F (26°C) and 86°F (30°C) during the day, with cooler temperatures at night. April and May are the hottest months. Temperatures in Singapore can reach as high as 95°F (35°C) and the lowest recorded temperature in the country was 67°F (19°C) in 1934. The air-conditioning in most buildings provides a welcome escape from the heat and humidity, but is sometimes so cool that visitors will require light sweaters indoors. Between June and September Singapore may suffer from air pollution due to forest fires in Indonesia.

There is no concrete best time to visit Singapore weather-wise, and it is best to time holidays to coincide with festivals and events that are of interest.

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