Singapore travel guide, including map of Singapore, top Singapore travel experiences, tips for travel in Singapore, plus where to munch the best food
South-East Asia’s powerhouse city state, Singapore is a bustling modern metropolis and a common stopover for travellers.
Famous for its shopping and its food, Singapore is also a great introduction to Asia. Clean, ordered and affluent, here you can dip your toe into Chinese, Indian and Malay culture with none of the hassle.
You don’t have to be a retail junkie or foodie to have fun in Singapore. Non-shoppers can potter around the mosques and cafés of the Arab quarter, nose into the shops of Chinatown, have breakfast with an orang utan at Singapore Zoo, catch a show at the Esplanade or have their fortunes told by a parrot in Little India.
Try to come during one of Singapore’s many festivals; children in particular love the Hong Bao Festival during Chinese New Year, when little ones are given money in red envelopes and fireworks light up the sky.
When you’re ordering at a hawker stall, unless you’re really hungry ask for a small or medium-sized portion – otherwise you’ll be presented with the biggest and most expensive option. To get into the centre of Singapore from the airport, either jump on the MRT or get a Maxicab – a shared taxi which leaves regularly and will take you to any hotel in the city for a flat fare.
Singapore is very humid for most of the year. November and December are usually the coolest, wettest months. Chinese New Year (Jan/Feb – date varies year on year) is a great time to visit.
Changi Airport (SIN) is 16km from the city centre.
Public transport is excellent in Singapore. The whole island is covered by the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport System) which is a cheap way to zip around the city. Try to avoid rush hour. Buses are also good, but make sure you have the correct change. Bikes can be rented from various outlets. Driving in Singapore is trying – the roads are extremely busy.
There are plenty of hotels in Singapore – especially if you’ve got cash to flash. High-end and mid-range options are the norm. There are budget options (the majority in little India and Chinatown) but communal dorms in resthouses can be variable, to say the least. There’s a campsite at Changi and East Coast Parkway. If you’re stuck, Singapore Hotel Association has desks at the airport and will find you a room for a small fee.
Food is an obsession with Singaporeans – and frankly, who can blame them when the food is this good? Don’t expect too many fancy restaurants; the focus here is on the food rather than the surroundings. Most people eat in unpretentious food courts or hawker centres where Asian food is served up at bargain prices. Chinese, Indian and Malay food is the norm here. Look for fish-head curry, char kway teow (clams and noodles in a chilli and black bean sauce) and nasi lemak (coconut rice with fried anchovies). Vegetarians should be careful – meat and fish have a way of creeping into ‘vegetarian’ dishes.
There are no specific inoculations required for Singapore but check with your GP that your jabs are up to date. Hygiene and medical care levels are high in Singapore and tap water is safe to drink. Singapore is a very safe city to walk around. However, there are large fines for smoking in public places, jaywalking, littering, eating or drinking on the MRT, chewing gum and various other misdemeanours. Drug offences carry extreme penalties.