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Singapore may be an island nation, but it is also a fantastic city to explore. One of the most unique aspects of life in this city is that there is always something new to find.
With an extensive network of trails that connect the city’s parks and lots of retail therapy available, you’ll find this destination to be an active holiday experience.
The first thing you should do is enjoy the local culinary scene. Confectionary shops are common in Singapore and they make some fantastic tarts and cakes. Get in line early because most shops sell out before lunch.
Side-street ice cream is another delight that you’ll find in Singapore. These carts are found in the busier districts, such as Marina Bay, and the pricing is fantastic. Imagine a waffle biscuit filled with ice cream on rainbow bread and that’s what is waiting for you.
The nightlife in Singapore is thriving and lively to the extent that the city sometimes closes the streets around the busiest districts. Make your way to Holland Village or Club Street for the most opportunities. There are secret bars and underground pubs to find in the city as well.
Then make your way to the Rail Corridor. Reclaimed from a railroad, you’ll find 24 kilometers of green space where you’re completed surrounded by nature. It is a quiet refuge from the hustle and bustle of regular city life.
One of the most unique places to visit is the Gardens By the Bay, which is a public garden that is situated on reclaimed land. There is a Universal Studios theme park to enjoy or you can head to Sentosa to take advantage of a long boardwalk and a resort-like atmosphere.
One unique opportunity Singapore offers is a night safari. This zoo is designed for animals that prefer to be nocturnal. You’ll board a tram or take on a walking trail in a rainforest environment to see leopards, tigers, and elephants. If darkness isn’t your thing, then the Singapore Zoo offers a world-class experience as well.
The beaches around Singapore are beautiful and warm – and many of them are also manmade. Try Changi Beach if you want something that feels less like a resort. You’ll find cycling lanes, running trails, and a family-friendly environment that encourages a barbecue and some camping. You can also hop onto a ferry and enjoy the outer islands, where it feels more like an isolated tropical resort.
You can enjoy rooftop swimming pools, stunning gardens, and a world-class resort atmosphere. What makes Singapore special is that you can also become a local from your first day there.
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What to see and do in Singapore ?
Singapore is a highly urbanised island city-state, and a leader in technology. Most of the country is centred on the main Singapore Island but altogether more than 60 islands, most of them tiny islets, make up the country. The Straits of Johor to the north separates Singapore from Malaysia, while the Singapore Straight lies to the south.
Singapore is Asia’s pristine jewel, a glittering, modern city-nation set in the heart of Southeast Asia next to Malaysia and influenced by its British colonial past. Unlike almost every other major city in Asia, tropical Singapore stands out as immaculate among its swaying palm trees. To maintain its clean image, it does not even permit billboard advertising and even chewing gum is banned. Despite its small size, Singapore packs a big punch on the world stage, especially in global finance, research and development and new technology. Singapore has almost no natural resources but is among the wealthiest countries on the planet. Start your Singapore holiday with a visit to the beautiful Sentosa Island and look out onto this modern metropolis.
In Singapore, it’s all happening along the famous strip that is Orchard Road. Here, you’ll find towering department stores, all manner of small shops selling all kinds of things, as well as bars and clubs. Many of the city’s top hotels are located on or near the lengthy Orchard Road. It’s one of the best places to stay during your visit. Other areas to consider for your Singapore accommodation include the historic Clark Quay along Singapore River, where there’s an exciting open-air restaurant and pub scene, and Marina Bay, Chinatown and Little India. Hotel rates are generally more affordable in those locales.
Singapore is great for shopping, whether high-end fashion or off-the-rack or for tech gadgets, and many people head there just for that reason. Orchard Road is the main shopping district and is normally thronged by locals and overseas visitors seeking bargains. Singapore is a shopping destination in its own right.
A fun way to spend the day in Singapore is to take a cable car to Sentosa Island. You can spend some time on the beach, play a round of golf or visit the Universal Studios theme park, which claims to be a “one-of-a-kind theme park in Asia”. Marine Life Park is the world’s largest oceanarium and is also located on Sentosa. It has more than 100,000 marine animals from over 800 species, and is definitely not to be missed. You can also stay on the island if you wish.
Singapore Zoo is another top visitor attraction. It says it’s the “world’s best rainforest zoo” and tends to have more natural and open-style habitats for its wildlife inhabitants. The dream-like and expansive Gardens by the Bay are also worth a visit while in Singapore.
Singapore is a successful meld of various ethnicities, including Chinese, Malay, Indian, Arab and many others. They all live alongside each other in harmony, and you can experience their respective cultures in different parts of the city where their communities are based. Places like the Chinatown Heritage Centre and Malay Heritage Centre give visitors a deeper understanding of their cultures.
Singapore is a food lover’s paradise, and you can sample the local cuisine at the many open-air markets known as hawker centres. One of the best ways to spend an evening in Singapore is dining at Boat Quay, where you’ll find dozens of riverside restaurants serving all kinds of fresh seafood.
Have a Singapore Sling at Raffles
Singapore is home to the famous Raffles Hotel, where the equally well-known Singapore Sling cocktail was devised. If you’re not staying there, make sure you at least drop in for a drink. There are many more world-class hotels around this city-state, but also lots of more affordable options more suitable for family holidays to Singapore. There’s even a range of budget accommodation too.
Remember to visit Thian Hock Keng
One of the most important Singapore attractions is the temple Thian Hock Keng, referred to as the Temple of Heavenly Bliss. Thian Hock Keng is an ancient Chinese worship site, initially built in tribute to Ma Po Cho, the patron goddess of sailors, also known as the Mother of the Heavenly Sages. The entrance inside the temple is guarded by the statues of two imposing lions, symbols of strength and fertility in Asian culture. At the temple gates, “door gods” provide further protection against evil spirits, purifying temple visitors from malignant energies. In front of the altar is the statue of Ma Po Cho, flanked by statues of the Protector of Life and the God of War.
The Muslim centre of Singapore
The Muslim centre of Singapore is a traditional textile district, full of batiks from Indonesia, silks, sarongs and shirts. Add to this mix rosaries, flower essences, hajj caps, songkok hats, basketware and rattan goods, and you have a fair idea of the products haggled over in this part of the city.
The grand Sultan Mosque is the biggest and liveliest mosque in Singapore, but the tiny Malabar Muslim Jama-ath Mosque is the most beautiful. There’s fine food along nearby North Bridge Rd and the foodstalls on Bussorah St are especially atmospheric at dusk during Ramadan.
Shopping in Singapore – try Orchard Road
For shopping, Orchard Road is the ideal place to spend a day there. The bustling shopping centres sells everything from the most fashionable and outrageous shoes and clothes to precious gems, eyewear and accessories. And when the shopping gets a little exhausting, revitalize yourself at one of the many restaurants and eating outlets.
Explore Sentosa Island
Sentosa Island overlooks the mainland of Malay capital, Singapore. It is a popular resort, visited by over five million people per year. Known as ‘Asia’s Favourite Playground’, it has a fantasy and adventure theme, so it is a little like a beach-side fun-park for adults. Sentosa means ‘peace and tranquillity’, originating from ‘Santosha’ in Sanskrit. Sentosa has huge sheltered beaches, several resorts and a thriving nightlife. You will discover a fantastical aspect with an amusement water park, an insect kingdom, the tiger-statue sky tower, celebratory functions, musical fountains and fully integrated resorts.
There are several options for Sentosa Island accommodation. There are several luxury resorts and it is hard to tell when visiting that you are so close to the mainland. The resorts are enormous with giant swimming pools – it is almost as if you are transported to paradise right next to Singapore. There are also several deluxe sized and rated hotels of equal ranking to best 5-star hotels around the world. However, rates are, in relativity, quite reasonable. A sanctuary resort offer several kinds of living design, including apartments, penthouses and manors. For a more outdoorsy stay, you could find a resort that offers a mixture of chalets and kampong huts. Sentosa Island accommodation offers a really luxurious and indulgent stay for adventurous visitors.
Getting around Sentosa Island is easy. You can get from Singapore mainland via driving over a causeway, or by cable car. There is also the Sentosa Express monorail – with three stations – which circumvents the island, from shopping precinct to beach and back. Also you will find several bus services and a wonderful tram. Cars are now permitted, hence there is plenty of parking. You can even walk over the causeway from Singapore mainland.
Given that Sentosa Island is actually quite small, compared to the mainland, it holds a lot of surprise. There is a resort with water-themed parks integrated, and even a Universal Studios, if you did not think Sentosa could get any bigger!
For the ultimate fantasy, you can take a cabin car up to the top of the Tiger Sky Tower for a panoramic view from 360ft above the ground over the South China Sea and Singapore itself. Everything on this island is highly technologically advanced and is maintained, rebuilt or updated every few years.
For the nature lover, you might want to visit the Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom, which holds a community of 15000 butterflies of jewel-like colours, as well as rare insects. Sentosa also houses Underwater World, an oceanarium, where you can swim with dolphins, dive with sharks – or a dugong – if you like.
There are also theatre shows including 4D shows or light and visual effects to tantalize the viewer. You can also find rock-climbing, parasailing parks with amazingly engineered simulators.
For those serious about swimming, there is a beach club with entertainment, eateries and hydro-sports. Take a Skyride down to the 2 km of beach and relax on the golden sands and imagine you are on a pacific island. The beaches are indeed real and there are three of them if you would like to treat this remarkable island as a beach-holiday. The beaches: Palawan, Siloso and Tanjong hold events such as volleyball, canoeing and on the boulevard – lined with shops – rollerblading.
Singapore for history buffs
To understand Singapore you need to realize that it is the extension of one man’s intelligence, dream and drive. And that man is Lee Kuan Yew, the original prime minister of the Republic of Singapore.
Yes, it is true he was aided in his task by the people of Singapore. It is interesting to ponder on what would have happened to Singapore if Lee Kuan Yew, one of the remarkable men of his century, had not been present.
Lee Kuan Yew is a nonya. That is he can claim both Malay and Chinese heritage. He was born in 1923 and was prime minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990. And during his rule, as a simple statement of fact, Singapore went from being something of a backwater to becoming the most prosperous nation in Southeast Asia.
Lee Kuan Yew went to Cambridge University where he got a double starred first which is not something that is given out with the rations. He became a lawyer and was admitted to the English bar but returned to Singapore to work, as a committed socialist, with the unions.
In 1963 Lee took Singapore into the newly created Federation of Malaysia. This created all sorts of problems. In Singapore 75 percent of the members of the PAP were Chinese and there was much tension between Chinese and Malays. There was communal rioting in Singapore and in 1965 Lee Kuan Yew was told by his Malaysian colleagues in the federal government that Singapore must leave the federation.
Singapore had to secede and it then became a sovereign state with Lee Kuan Yew as its first prime minister. It is fair to say that in return for a mildly authoritarian style of government that sometimes infringed on civil liberties Lee Kuan Yew brought Singapore honest and efficient administration and spectacular prosperity. Lee Kuan Yew resigned the office of prime minister in November 1990.