Your comprehensive travel guide to Singapore - All in one place!
Singapore has been described as a playground for the rich. But Singapore offers more than just high-end shopping malls, luxury hotels, and fine dining. There is also a vibrant history and diverse ethnic quarters to discover, along with many family-friendly attractions and lovely public spaces that make visiting this slightly futuristic city worthwhile. Singapore is one of the easiest and most comfortable countries to navigate in Southeast Asia.
History and Government
Inhabitants of the Malaysian peninsula and the island of Singapore first migrated to the area between 2500 and 1500 B.C. British and Dutch interest in the region grew with the spice trade, and the trading post of Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles. It was made a separate Crown colony of Britain in 1946.
Singapore attained full internal self-government in 1959, and Lee Kwan Yew, an economic visionary with an authoritarian streak, took the helm as prime minister. On Sept. 16, 1963, Singapore joined Malaya, Sabah (North Borneo), and Sarawak in the Federation of Malaysia. It withdrew from the federation on Aug. 9, 1965, and a month later proclaimed itself a republic.
Under Lee, Singapore developed into one of the cleanest, safest, and most economically prosperous cities in Asia. However, Singapore's strict rules of civil obedience also drew criticism from those who said the nation's prosperity was achieved at the expense of individual freedoms.
Lee Kwan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister, died in March 2015 at age 91. Six months after the death of Lee Kwan Yew, the People's Action Party took 83 of 89 seats in parliament in an early election. With over 70% of the vote, it was a strong victory for the ruling party whose leader, Lee Hsien Loong, 63, is the son of the late Lee Kuan Yew.
Singapore's strategic location at the southern tip of the Malaysian peninsula has ensured its importance, which is greater than its size might seem to justify. Singapore consists of the island of Singapore and some 63 islets within its territorial waters. The main island is about 42 km from west to east and 23 km from north to south. Singapore's Central Business District actually spreads across both the central and southern parts of the island. The Singapore cityscape looks magnificent, particularly at night when buildings are brilliantly lit. Offshore, there appears to be another city all lit up because of the many ships anchored there. Singapore is one of the busiest seaports in the world.
Many of the city's attractions are clustered closely together. Orchard Road, the shoppers' haven, is located in the northern part of the city center. Chinatown, where you'll find Boat Quay, is just to the southeast of Orchard Road, while Little India is northeast. Sentosa Island, with its many amusements, is directly to the southwest of the city center.
Singapore has a population of about three million, 2.7 million of whom are citizens and permanent residents. The other three hundred thousand are mainly foreign workers. The Chinese constitute about 78 percent, the Malays 14 percent, the Indians 7 percent, and others 1 percent of the population. The ethnic composition of the population has been relatively stable.
The population of Singapore is a melting pot of complementary ethnic groups, consisting of 77% Chinese, 14% Malay, 8% Indians, 1% Eurasians, plus a sprinkling of people of other descent. Though each of these racial groups still remains distinctive, for instance, in celebrating their own festivals and religious events, they open-heartedly share and celebrate other cultures, too. This acceptance, sensitivity and respect for other cultures are in clear contrast to the strained ethnic relations that exist within many of its neighbouring countries. The festivals themselves are extraordinary, too. These highly colourful events are centred on religion, age-old myths and family traditions. All year round the ethnic quarters and temples of Geylang, Little India and Chinatown come to life. These carnivals of music, dance and food even spill out into the surrounding suburbs, town centres and shopping malls.
Food and Drink
Going on a food trip to Singapore is one of the best decisions you can take, as it guarantees a wide range of choices - consider this as a gateway to the delightful East! The Lion City is famous for its choices in food and drinks, as it caters to a vast audience. Be it Taiwanese, Malay, Chinese, Japanese, Indian or continental, Singapore always has food to serenade your taste buds!
Singapore is a melting pot of cultures, with Chinese, Malay and Indian ethnic groups comprising its sociocultural fabric. The influx of foreigners in recent times has lent a cosmopolitan image and Singapore’s lifestyle is multi-cultural. Each of the ethnic communities maintains its unique way of life and at the same time live harmoniously. Given this unique blend of cultures and people, Singapore’s event calendar is marked with holidays and celebrations all year round. Festivals range from religious celebrations, socio-cultural festivities and sports events.
Best Time to Visit
From November to January and from June to July is the best time to visit Singapore and also the peak season. The city sees a surge in tourism during the Christmas season and Chinese New year while the Great Singapore Sale begins in June and lasts till the end of July.
If you are a shopping lover, then the best time to explore the city is around July when the Great Singapore Sale and the Singapore Food Festival are held.
From August to October is the Off-season in Singapore except for mid-September, when the rush of tourist increases. Temperature is slightly higher than the rest of the months, and the rains are continuous. However, hotel rates are cheap and easily negotiable.