Singapore - The Lion City
Planning a trip? here's the best time to go.
The city-state of Singapore is a Metropolis of incredible diversity. Singapore was called Singapura, which translates as Lion City in Sanskrit, by Sang Nila Utama, a Sumatran Prince after he thought he saw a lion on the island but there have never been any lions so it was probably a tiger he saw as tigers used to be found in the wild in Singapore, up to the 1930s. Singapore is made up of one large island and 63 small, mostly uninhabited, surrounding islands.
The Singapore Flyer ferris wheel and the gravity-defying SkyPark atop the Marina Bay Sands Hotel provide the breath-taking views. Meanwhile the shopping malls on Orchard Road, or the colourful street stalls in Little India will tempt your curiosity, while nearby Sentosa island is a perfect getaway, complete with golf courses, natural walks, and man-made beaches. Just a few of the tours you can embark on include a river or night safari, go racing at Singapore racecourse, attend the Tiger Brewery tour discover how Singapore’s iconic Tiger beer is made.
Visit Raffles Hotel and step back in time to the 1800’s and enjoy afternoon tea with cake or sip a world famous Singapore Sling cocktail. There’s so much to see and do that a stop over on the way to Australia or other Asian country will not be long enough to see and do it all. Once you have been to Singapore it’s a place you will definitely want to add to your return list.
Things to do and see...
This breath-taking area, where the F1 race takes place, almost defies description and is modern and super stylish. A buzzing 24-hour destination, a vibrant mix of luxury hotels, entertainment, shopping and trendy dining locations. Don’t forget to get you photo taken with the Merlion, a mythological creature that is part lion and part fish. At Marina Bay you can grab some of the most breath taking views of Singapore from the Sands SkyPark at the Marina Bay Sands 200 meters in the sky. Visit some world class touring exhibitions at the Art Science museum. The Singapore flyer is a must if you don’t mind heights as this giant rotating observation wheel will whisk you 165 meters (42 storeys) above the ground for some stunning 360 degree views of the Singapore skyline.
Orchard Road the entertainment and retail heart of the city is lined with shopping malls, restaurants and bars. It is one of the most popular tourist areas supported by no less than 3 MRT stations. If you are after some amazing deals, and one-of-a-kind buys, head to ION Orchard, TANGS, Robinsons The Heeren, and Orchardgateway. Also look out for the weekend pop-up markets, browse the popular flea markets, trendy bazaars and the classic vintage markets. Whatever your budget shopping in Singapore doesn’t get better than this with so many choices it’s a shoppers paradise. Tourists can claim a tax refund on the 7% Goods and Services Tax (GST) paid on your purchases if you spend more than $100 at any participating shops.
Singapore is the melting pot of cultures. Stroll through Chinatown with its lively street scene, Chinese traditions, and old shop-houses, in Little India, wonder along Serangoon Road, sample spicy dishes and discover the Veeramakaliamman Temple. Visit Thian Hock Keng Temple, one of Singapore’s oldest Buddhist-taoist temples.
Visit and experience the different religious cultures in Chinatown, such as Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. Sri Mariamman Temple, and Masjid Jamae (Chulia) Mosque. Glimpse into the lives of Chinatown’s early residents at the Chinatown Heritage Centre and retrace the journey of those who left their villages in China to escape famine, floods and unrest and headed to Singapore to seek a better life. If you’re in town during the month of February, this is where to soak up Chinese New Year festivities. Taste the local delicacies at Chinatown food street. Shop and dine at the few pre-war conservation shop houses on Pagoda Street. Bring back Chinatown exclusive souvenirs at the Chinatown street market for your loved ones.
The historic riverside harbour is home to two of Singapore’s vibrant nightlife hotspots. Here you will find award winning seafood restaurants and nightclubs and Chinese junk boats serving as floating bars and restaurants. Here you can indulge in Singapore’s unofficial national dishes of Chilli Crab and Black Pepper Crab. Enjoy a wide range of Singapore style seafood while dining under the canopy of stars with the romantic glow of the streetlamps along the riverfront. Just around the corner from Clarke Quay is Boat Quay. This little stretch, along with Circular Road, is lined with bars and nightclubs to satisfy just about any party animal.
Take an excursion on the night Safari where you can travel through seven geographical zones, from the African Savannah to the South American lowlands and enjoy the unique experience of seeing animals in their night-time habitats. Gardens By The Bay features more than 1 million plants from more than 5,000 species. Here you can marvel at the 35 meter tall indoor waterfall and stroll above the jungle canopy via aerial walkways.
Perhaps most famous for housing the iconic colonial Raffles Hotel, opened in 1887 and named after Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore. The hotel was built by the Sarkies brothers and continued to be changed over the years. The hotel finally came of age in 1899 when the hotel’s new building was completed. The new building was a shining example of neo-Renaissance architecture with extensive verandahs, marble floors high ceilings and the first hotel in the region to install electric lights and powered electric ceiling fans. No trip to Singapore will be complete without trying out a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar which they have been serving for over 100 years. The saying goes that if you have not been to Raffles then you have not been to Singapore.
Singaporeans love their food and Singapore’s cafes, restaurants, and food stalls are a multicultural mix serving Chinese, Malay, Indian and much more. Try Chilli Crab a lip-smacking combination of sweet crab and egg-tomato gravy, one of Singapore's most famous delicacies. Smith Street, also known as Food Street is lined with street food stalls most evenings. If you are tempted to try something traditional try a piping hot bowl of laksa a coconut milk based curry noodle soup. Another dis to track down is char kway teow. Flat rice noodles are fried with sweet and savoury soy sauce, chilli, eggs, bean sprouts, cockles, Chinese pork sausages, chives and sometimes prawns and fish cakes.
Need to know Information
Currency: Singapore Dollar
Time difference: GMT +8 hour
Flight time: from UK 13 hours direct
Airport: Singapore Changi
Singapore is hot and humid all year-round, with temperatures usually reaching over 30°C. You should be prepared for rain at any time, which can be torrential but usually brief.