Distinctive sights, sounds, and experiences accompanied by year round tropical warmth make Singapore the ultimate one-stop destination. While the city remains a popular stop-over for many long haul travellers who know the wisdom of planning a break in the Australia to Europe route, it is also a standalone destination worth visiting.
The city-nation state has many elements to it, including bite size samples from all over Asia which are conveniently presented in distinctive precincts. The friendliness, cleanliness and safety are well known, however for those travellers who need the peace of mind, Singapore offers world-class health facilities and great limited mobility access activities. It really is a city for everyone.
The amazing thing about Singapore is that for an ever-changing city, somehow it retains a sense of the familiar. It's an in with the new, and keep the essence of the old, kind of place.
Discover Singapore – authentic international experiences
The main elements of Singapore - China Town, Little India, Orchard Road, Kampong Glam, Marina Bay and more - are all easily accessible and in relatively close proximity.
Sentosa Island is a little further out and generally it is a day trip on its own. If this is your first visit to the Lion City, or if you haven't been to Singapore in a while, it is worth taking a tour or studying a map to help orientate you to the city's layout. If maps aren't your thing then ask a helpful local Singaporean.
There is logic to the city that, once you have an overview of the various neighbourhoods, will help make your travel around the city straightforward and much more fun. The websites to help plan your travel are:
Only have a few spare hours – don't despair!
Changi Airport is a destination in its own right. If you can make time to see the Butterfly Garden located within one of the best airports in the world, it is a great free activity to experience. Similarly, the Orchid Garden and Koi Pond are located right in the middle of Changi Airport. You can shop, dine, take in a movie or see some theatre. To see what's on visit the airport website http://www.changiairport.com/en/airport-experience/explore-changi.html
Great architecture and 21st century design
Singapore still retains some colonial architecture such as the iconic Raffles Hotel and some spectacular temples, of which the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown is a great example. The temple is welcome to all people and the only requirement is that the temple managers request modest dress, such as covered shoulders. This dress code applies to most religious temples and shrines.
The Marina Bay Sands Skypark has observation decks and towers set atop three 55-story high hotel towers where the city skyline unfolds before you. The 1.2 hectares of walkways and gardens perched on top of the integrated resort complex is a great vantage point for panoramic views of the city.
The museums and art facilities are magnificent with the National Gallery Singapore and the National Museum of Singapore being standout venues.
Wildlife - zoos and gardens
Another name for Singapore is the Garden City. Famed for its orchids, botanical gardens, nature parks, zoos and reserves, the greenness of this largely built environment is for many a pleasant surprise. It is easy to find yourself in a calm space despite being in a city of over 5 million people.
The offerings range from very commercial such as the Night Zoo, Breakfast with Orangutans, Juong Bird Park through to very tranquil and free spaces in gardens and parks including the Singapore Botanical Gardens.
Dining & shopping
As you would expect from a city that fuses together the best of Asian and western influence, the cuisine in Singapore is mouthwatering. Street food vendors remain, fabulous cheap eat options abound and the gourmet scene is more alive than ever. As a global trade centre, Singapore brings together the best ingredients from all over the world. Fine dining in Singapore includes Michelin starred chefs and award winning restaurants.
Similarly, being a world trade centre provides Singapore with some of the best value shopping and quality merchandise on the planet. The Singapore Tourism Board operates http://www.yoursingapore.com, which provides up to date information for dining and shopping options. Shipping from Singapore to Australia can be good value so check with retailers and accommodation providers on what deals they can access to help you minimise your airline baggage weight and maximise your purchasing potential.
Singapore's reputation for efficiency and cleanliness are exemplified by the city wide, integrated public transport infrastructure called the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport). Travellers can purchase a travel card for the MRT at http://www.thesingaporetouristpass.com.sg/about-the-passes/ , which provides for almost unrestricted access to the super efficient transport system.
Taxis are cheap and plentiful in Singapore. As are pedal power options - rickshaw and trishaws are convenient ways of hopping between city precincts, or even to get from one end of Chinatown to the other. There is a Cable Car to Sentosa Island, which is a great way to get to Singapore's playground in style.
Singapore abounds with quality tour providers who can provide insights and information to help you identify key places of interest. If time permits, a day trip to the truly historic Malaysian port city of Malacca can be a highlight of your trip.
A hire car in Singapore is an option to carefully consider. Unless you are familiar with the city, cars can be a hassle. Car parking constraints, costs and fines, not to mention traffic congestion make this a complex and expensive city to self-drive.
Just because Singapore is a relatively safe place to visit, it is still worth checking on http://www.smartraveller.gov.au for the latest updates. Singapore has strict laws so be careful to ensure that you remain aware of them as ignorance is not an excuse.
The city's latitude is only 1 degree North, so it has an equatorial climate and can experience extreme weather events. Those with respiratory conditions need to pay attention to weather forecasts regarding haze, particularly if there are major fires in Malaysia or Indonesia that produce smoke haze in Singapore. Be sun smart, UV aware and plan ahead on how you can stay cool and hydrated. Fortunately, air-conditioning is everywhere. An umbrella can be a useful piece of kit in this city for both sun and rain protection.
Prices listed throughout Singapore may not include sales tax at 7% and sometimes, in restaurants for example, you will also have an additional 10% service charge added to the bill.
Anyway, enjoy your trip to the Garden City!