Know as the Garden City and the Lion City, Singapore is one of Southeast Asia's most exciting destinations. One of the first cities in the world to put environmentally aware planning into effect, its parks, gardens, and amazing "Supertrees" are awe-inspiring.
A cultural melting pot, Singapore's unique neighborhoods are shaped by Malay, Chinese and Indian influences. Celebrations such as Chinese New Year, the Muslim celebrations of Hari Raya Puasa in June and the Hindu Deepavali festival of lights in October attract thousands of visitors to the island each year.
It's hard to beat Singapore if you're looking for the perfect island for a family vacation, a romantic break or a fun shopping and sightseeing trip. The tropical climate, the friendly locals, or the huge range of shops, museums, galleries, restaurants and attractions; there are so many great reasons to visit Singapore.
Although Singapore is the world's second most densely populated city after Monaco, almost 50 percent of the island is green. The island has more eco-attractions than anywhere in the world and parklands as varied as the Botanic Gardens and the jungles of Pulau Ubin have paved the way for newer developments like the Green Corridor leading to the River Safari at Singapore Zoo, the refurbished Admiralty Park and the Gardens by the Bay where spaces include the Cloud Forest, the Flower Dome and the Supertree Grove. Be sure to catch the spectacular light show - every evening at 7:45 pm.
Visit in mid-June to July for the Great Singapore Sale. Prices are slashed in shops and stores all over the island including the famous shopping districts of Orchard Road, Dover Street Market, Haji Lane, and Bugis Street.
It's no surprise that art, culture, music, and creativity are taken seriously in a city that was designed by some of the world's leading urban and environmental planners. Events like Singapore Art Week in January and the Singapore Writers Festival in November feature local and international talent. Music lovers will delight in huge events like the Ultra Music Festival in September, Neon Lights in November, and St Jerome's Laneway Festival in January.
Singapore's famous skyline is recognized all over the world. The highest skyscrapers include One Raffles Place and Republic Plaza while newer builds like the striking Marina Bay Sands towers add to its allure. Visit one of the city's elegant sky bars like 1-Altitude or Cé La Vi for the best skyline views.
Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast, a history fan, or a shopaholic, you'll find plenty to keep you busy in Singapore. Learn about the island state's history at the National Museum of Singapore or take the kids to the Mint Museum of Toys. Visit theme parks like Wild Wild Wet or Universal Studios Singapore or try Haw Par Villa, a park containing thousands of Chinese myth-inspired statues and dioramas.
Singapore's greatest attractions sit along Marina Bay. Surrounded by futuristic urban landscaping in the sci-fi looking Gardens by the Bay, wanderers can enjoy epic skyline views. Towering above is the Marina Bay Sands, an integrated resort offering world class dining and the largest infinity pool on Earth. Just across the water, the great Merlion statue - the mythical mascot of Singapore - looks over the harbor.
Chinatown sits at the center of Singapore's Central Business District. Here, the city's Chinese heritage translates into a booming restaurant and bar scene beneath historical temples and contemporary skyscrapers. Not to be outdone, the colorful streets of Little India are right around the corner.
Along Singapore's historical river, old wharfs have become bustling social centers for shopping and leisure. Clarke Quay is host to popular restaurants, pulsing night clubs, and beautiful waterside views of the glimmering city. For an even better skyline photo op, Boat Quay is just downstream, a modern pedestrian mall lined with smaller shops and bars.
It is impossible to run out of things to do on Sentosa. The Universal Studios theme park and the perfectly groomed beaches remain staples of the island; the Tiger Sky Tower offers panoramic views of both the city and the islands out at sea. For visitors seeking nature over crowds, Pulau Ubin is a lovely alternative on the other side of the city.
The world renowned Singapore Zoo does an incredible job immersing visitors in the thrilling animal kingdom, with diverse rainforest to arctic tundra exhibits recreating authentic climates. The zoo is home to unique and endangered species, with white tigers and Komodo dragons among favorites. The Night Safari offers a famed tram tour that lets you discover nocturnal animals at arm's length.
The island enjoys a tropical climate with a monsoon season and afternoon showers are common from November to January. Peak season runs from July to September. Visit from February to April for fewer crowds and pleasant weather and to take advantage of low-season rates.
Most visitors will fly to Singapore Changi Airport (SIN), which is 16 miles from the CBD and travelers can reach the city easily by bus (Adult S$9 l Children S$6), taxi (S$20-30 including S$3-5 airport surcharge), or metro (S$1.90 with one change en route at Tanah Merah).
Trains run to Johor Bahru from most parts of Malaysia. From there, travelers can take a shuttle train service to the Woodlands Checkpoint in north Singapore. Trains have a separate immigration checkpoint enabling you to cross the Causeway faster. Buses can then be boarded at Woodlands for the city center.
There are two land crossings between mainland Malaysia and Singapore. Those driving from Johor Bahru can take the Causeway crossing, which leads directly to Woodlands in the north of Singapore. If you're coming from Tanjung Kupang in the western part of the Malaysian state of Johor, the Second Link crossing to Tuas in western Singapore is more convenient. Roads leading to the city are well signposted from each crossing.
You can catch a bus to Singapore from Kuala Lumpur and several other Malaysian cities. Buses travel via either the Causeway/Woodlands Checkpoint or the Second Link at Tuas. You'll pay S$33-55 for a single ticket from Kuala Lumpur depending on the operator you choose. Aeroline offers a luxury service with on-board meals, while First Coach provides a more basic service.
You'll find accommodation to suit every budget in Singapore. Affordable hotels include the Fragrance Hotel - Pearl and Fragrance Hotel - Bugis. Backpackers hostels can be found at Clarke Quay, Little India, and Chinatown. Families may prefer good mid-range hotels like Hotel Boss, Elizabeth Hotel, Ibis, or the Carlton Hotel. Singapore's luxury hotels are ideal for that special vacation and some of the most popular include the Raffles Hotel and the Fullerton Bay Hotel.
Riverside District – the colonial heart of Singapore, the Riverside or Civic District is where many of the city's museums and landmarks are located. There are lots of good restaurants, clubs, coffee shops, and bars.
Chinatown – an area of restored shophouses, offbeat stores, and great restaurants. Pagoda Street and Smith Street are popular with tourists. Other highlights include the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum and the Red Dot Design Museum.
Marina Bay – the newest part of Singapore is built on reclaimed land and its most notable features are the Marina Bay Sands resort that includes a hotel, casino, and shopping center and the Marina Barrage. The Gardens by the Bay - with its giant supertrees, Cloud Forest, and Flower Dome - are next to the resort.
A network of local buses and the MRT subway system make it easy to get around Singapore. It is possible to pay when boarding buses but no change is given. Most people prefer to purchase a NETS FlashPay Card or EZ-link contactless RFID card. The card costs S$12, which includes an immediate balance of S$7. Cards can be topped up at card vending machines or in 7-11s, and you can travel on all MRT trains and city buses.
Metered taxis are widely available and reasonably cheap. An average city center trip costs S$10 while a cross-island journey from Changi to Jurong won't be more than S$35.
If you want to rent a car, most major rental companies like Sixt and Hertz can be found at Changi or Singapore International Business Park. Contrary to popular belief, car rental isn't overly expensive and a compact car will start at around S$75 per day.
Shop for everything from designer fashion to electronics in the malls on Orchard Road or explore boutiques and one-of-a-kind outlets in trendy Haji Lane and Tiong Bahru. The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands is the ultimate in luxury shopping, while vibrant flea markets like MAAD Pyjamas, the Market of Artists and Designers, held on the first Friday of each month, and the weekly Sunday Artists Market, will appeal to bargain lovers.
12 eggs will cost S$4.17 and a quart of whole milk will be S$3.04 in a Singapore supermarket such as FairPrice, FairPrice Finest, and Giant. Local favorites include Cold Storage, which stocks lines from international brands like Waitrose, and Huber's Butchery for meat products.
Foodies will be in heaven in Singapore, where cuisine ranges from Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian to European and fast food. Tiantian Hainanese Chicken Rice in the Maxwell Road Hawker Center is a local institution, or you might try Wing Seong Fatty's in Bencoolen Street or Wan Hao in Orchard Road for authentic Chinese dishes. Sit down to elegantly prepared nasi goreng in Malaysian restaurants like Spize or Papparich, or visit one of the celebrity restaurants at the Marina Bay Sands such as Gordon Ramsay's Bread Street Kitchen. You'll pay S$12 for a simple lunch and S$150 for dinner in a top restaurant.