Singapore is a city-state, located at the southern-most tip of Malaysia. Modern Singapore was established in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles as an outpost for the British East India Company. At that time Singapore, was a small island only 710 square kilometres, it was home to a simple fishing village of just 1,000 inhabitants. Today, Singapore’s population has grown to approx. 5.7 million, making it the world’s second most-densely-populated country – and one of Asia’s most successful economies.
The city’s rich mixture of Asian and Western cultures offers visitors a truly unique experience. Boasting four official languages – English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil – Singapore’s multi-cultural community lives in harmony, celebrating all major cultural festivals and ultimately combining to form a unity of excellence.
Singapore’s highly efficient public transport system is world-renowned, making island exploration easy and convenient. Everywhere you go, you’ll be delighted by the impeccable cleanliness and order that have also become hallmarks of the island. Visitors are struck by this the moment they arrive at Singapore’s modern Changi Airport. In the city, there is no need for a car. Public transportation is excellent and walking is a good way to explore the city. All major attractions are also accessible by tour bus. Since the city is only 140kms from the equator, the tropical temperatures do not vary much and rainfall is fairly evenly distributed through the year. Visitors will be struck immediately by Singapore’s abundance of parks, nature reserves and lush, tropical greenery.
The highways leading to the city are likewise neat and trim, lined with majestic palm trees and colourful bougainvilleas. Offshore, vessels from all across the globe queue up for their turns to load and unload in one of the world’s busiest container ports.
Singaporean food is legendary. The city’s distinctive hawker centres, coffee shops and food courts line the streets and malls, offering an abundance of sumptuous local fare and unique tastes of colourful local culture. Eating happens to be one of Singapore’s favourite pastimes, a fact reflected in the city’s amazing diversity of celebrity-chef restaurants, to the famous local Hawker Centres.
Another favourite pastime is exploring the city’s glitzy, vibrant and fancy shopping malls. You’ll find entire roads dedicated to shopping, with such an astonishing variety of malls, department stores and designer boutiques that you’ll find yourself looking for a spa at day’s end, just to soothe your happily tired feet.
Singapore’s skyline has grown enormously over the past few years. Marina Bay Sands – a world-class luxury hotel and casino – is just one of the many highlights, joined by such iconic establishments as the Esplanade, the Fullerton Bay Hotel and the Singapore Flyer. Yet in contrast and complement to all the dazzlingly modern structures, lovely historic shop houses in areas such as Chinatown, Arab Street and Little India retain their timeless charm, and are well taken care of by the Singaporean government.
While much of the city has enjoyed a remarkable burst of new construction in recent years, half the country is still wrapped in lush greenery, offering abundant opportunities for lively jungle hikes and serene nature walks. Mischievous monkeys, colourful birds and impressive water monitor lizards are common sights in the island’s many well-kept nature reserves.
This island country is actually not limited to just a single island. In fact, it is officially composed of a total of 63 islands – though there is only one among them that is developed and a major attraction: The island-resort of Sentosa – whose name means “peace and tranquility” in the native Malay language – is well worth a visit. It offers gorgeous beaches, five-star hotels, beautiful golf courses, and major theme parks, Universal Studios Singapore, S.E.A Aquarium, Singapore Cable Car, Bunge Jumping, Casinos and lots more.
Like most of Southeast Asia, Singapore is generally hot with high humidity. Sitting just 137 km North of the Equator it’s warm and humid year round, with the temperature almost never dropping below 20°C (68°F), even at night, and usually climbing to 30°C (86°F) during the day. Recent times, it even reached 35°C.
November and December is the rainy season. June-August is considered to be the best time to visit, but even then it rains often. Don’t let the climate stop you from going, however. Most buildings are air-conditioned (to the point that you may want to take a jumper), and when it does rain, it’s generally pours only for a short period of time.