ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

An Essential Guide to Singapore

Updated on November 19, 2015
JohnMello profile image

JohnMello is a writer, composer, musician and the author of books for children and adults.

The Merlion near the Central Business District in Singapore
The Merlion near the Central Business District in Singapore | Source

Singapore is one of the true melting pots of the world. Its tropical climate and near-constant temperature attract tourists and business people from across the globe all year round. In fact, almost half of the population at any one time comes from outside Singapore itself, and tourism continues to be a driving force in the country's economy.

Singapore's mascot is the Merlion, a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. The name combines "mer" (the sea) with "lion" harking back to Singapore's original Malay name Singapura, meaning "lion city."

Understanding Singlish

Singlish, or Colloquial Singaporean English, is a construction of parts of several languages designed for ease of communication between divergent cultures. Here's an example of how Singlish might work in practice:

  • Singlish phrase: I go bus-stop wait for you
  • Translation: I will be at the bus stop waiting for you

Singapore's Languages

Singapore's native languages include Chinese, English, Malay, and Tamil. English is spoken in most places, while Singaporeans have their own version of English known as Singlish.

Singlish is a pidgin language made up of parts of many other languages, developed possibly as a means of communication between different cultures. This colloquial form of expression has traditionally been linked with the lower classes, and its usage is dying out partly due to government attempts to discourage it.

The City State of Singapore

A
Singapore:
Singapore

get directions

Singapore in Pictures

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ngee Ann City on Orchard Road, known as "Taka" in honour of the Takashima bookstore found insideThe Mandarin Gallery, Orchard Road, SingaporeWheelock Place on Orchard Road, SingaporeWisma Atria on Orchard Road, SingaporeVivoCity, Singapore's largest shopping mall located on the Harbour Front.
Ngee Ann City on Orchard Road, known as "Taka" in honour of the Takashima bookstore found inside
Ngee Ann City on Orchard Road, known as "Taka" in honour of the Takashima bookstore found inside | Source
The Mandarin Gallery, Orchard Road, Singapore
The Mandarin Gallery, Orchard Road, Singapore | Source
Wheelock Place on Orchard Road, Singapore
Wheelock Place on Orchard Road, Singapore | Source
Wisma Atria on Orchard Road, Singapore
Wisma Atria on Orchard Road, Singapore | Source
VivoCity, Singapore's largest shopping mall located on the Harbour Front.
VivoCity, Singapore's largest shopping mall located on the Harbour Front. | Source

Singapore & Tourism

Why do people flock to Singapore year after year? The country is a fascinating blend of old and new, offering a taste of Asia in a contemporary setting. Giant steel and glass buildings dominate the skyline while their ancient cousins nestle inconspicuously below, all but obliterated in the race to modernize.

Singapore is renowned as being one of the easiest places in the world to do business. Shopping centres abound on the tiny island, and yet it's still possible to experience the diverse cultures that combine to create this southeast-Asian gem.

The Mustafa Centre 24-hour department store in Little India, Singapore, selling everything from toasters to televisions
The Mustafa Centre 24-hour department store in Little India, Singapore, selling everything from toasters to televisions | Source

If you like shopping, you'll love Singapore. Catch a bus to Orchard Road, packed with shopping malls spread over multiple levels, where you can spend as little or as much as you want. Or plan a trip into Little India to visit the Mustafa Centre. Open 24 hours a day, this massive complex is the place to go for almost every item you can think of, from tissues to toaster ovens and everything in between. Pop down to the basement level to check out their vast range of appliances. Every one gets plugged in and checked before customers complete their purchases.

Keep your eyes open for shop houses which can be seen dotted about the city. These typically contain a shop on the ground floor opening out onto the street with accommodation above, and can be found in the various cultural districts as well as along the river in the guise of tea houses, theatres and budget hotels.

Singapore's Shop Houses

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Shop houses in Chinatown, SingaporeShop houses along the riverBaboo Lane in Little India, Singapore
Shop houses in Chinatown, Singapore
Shop houses in Chinatown, Singapore | Source
Shop houses along the river
Shop houses along the river | Source
Baboo Lane in Little India, Singapore
Baboo Lane in Little India, Singapore | Source

Singapore's Currency

The currency used in Singapore is the Singapore Dollar (SGD). Though exchange rates vary, at the time of writing one Singapore dollar was equivalent to roughly 2 British pounds, 0.62 Euros and 0.81 US dollars.

Sightseeing in Singapore

If you ever get tired of shopping, there are plenty of other things to do. Whether you're after cultural enhancement, wining and dining or exploring the diverse indigenous population, there's something for everyone in Singapore.

  • Chinatown - located within the larger district of Outram, Singapore's Chinatown contains distinctly Chinese cultural elements and a historically concentrated ethnic Chinese population.
  • Little India - located east of the Singapore River on the opposite side from Chinatown, Little India is where you'd expect to find the scent of curry and spices drifting through the sultry air.
  • Arab Street - the name of a street and a neighborhood where many Muslim traders were originally located.
  • Raffles Hotel - a colonial-style hotel named after Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore, now recognized as the country's best known icon.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Lanterns decorate the entrance to Singapore's ChinatownLooking down on Chinatown with modern Singapore behindThe Chinatown Heritage Centre at Pagoda Street occupies three shophousesShop houses turned into a hotel in Little India, SingaporeNarrow lanes in Little India, SingaporeShophouses in Little India, SingaporeArab Street at Kampong Glam with shophouses on both sides of the streetSingapore's iconic Raffles Hotel
Lanterns decorate the entrance to Singapore's Chinatown
Lanterns decorate the entrance to Singapore's Chinatown | Source
Looking down on Chinatown with modern Singapore behind
Looking down on Chinatown with modern Singapore behind | Source
The Chinatown Heritage Centre at Pagoda Street occupies three shophouses
The Chinatown Heritage Centre at Pagoda Street occupies three shophouses | Source
Shop houses turned into a hotel in Little India, Singapore
Shop houses turned into a hotel in Little India, Singapore | Source
Narrow lanes in Little India, Singapore
Narrow lanes in Little India, Singapore | Source
Shophouses in Little India, Singapore
Shophouses in Little India, Singapore | Source
Arab Street at Kampong Glam with shophouses on both sides of the street
Arab Street at Kampong Glam with shophouses on both sides of the street | Source
Singapore's iconic Raffles Hotel
Singapore's iconic Raffles Hotel | Source
Singapore's MRT train service, always clean and on time
Singapore's MRT train service, always clean and on time | Source

Getting Around Singapore

Although Singapore is a city, country and island all in one, it covers only 710 square kilometers. That makes it roughly 3.5 times the size of Washington D.C. Being so compact makes it easy to get around, especially if you take advantage of the efficient public transport system.

Wherever you are on the island, you're likely to be near a bus stop. Buses run frequently to all the major centres and prices are reasonable. Buy an ez-link card for 10 Singapore dollars to avoid the need for change. The card can be topped up in 7-11 stores and used on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train lines, the fastest way to tour Singapore on the cheap. If you're in even more of a hurry you can text for a taxi. Taxi fares vary according to company and distance, the least expensive option being to travel in a group.

Singapore's Social Scene

A temperature that floats around 25-30 degrees Celsius all year round makes Singapore the perfect place for evenings out. Wherever you go, sidewalk cafes, bars, and restaurants are found in abundance. Here are a few of the top areas you should try to visit:

  • Clarke Quay - pop down to Clarke Quay near the river for a night buzzing with excitement. Trendy bars and clubs offer music, comedy or just the chance to sit by the water and relax.
  • Holland Village - Singapore's Bohemian enclave packed with art and craft shops, street cobblers, coffee shops, bars, and restaurants. The Village now has its own MRT connection making it easier to drop by on an evening.
  • Dempsey Road - the former home of the British army barracks, this area has been transformed into yet another trendy spot for dining out, with upmarket shops and restaurants.
  • Hawker centres - get a taste of the local cuisine, eating food the Singaporeans eat. You'll find hawker centres in every area you visit, most of which serve very cheap food and drink.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Clarke Quay, Singapore, at nightHolland Village, SingaporeA hawker centre in Chinatown, Singapore
Clarke Quay, Singapore, at night
Clarke Quay, Singapore, at night | Source
Holland Village, Singapore
Holland Village, Singapore | Source
A hawker centre in Chinatown, Singapore
A hawker centre in Chinatown, Singapore | Source

Family Fun in Singapore

Traveling with children? Here are a few additional activities that will keep everyone occupied, no matter what their age:

Singapore Zoo - occupying 69 acres on the margins of the Upper Seletar Reservoir, the zoo boasts about 315 species of animal, attracting 1.6 million visitors each year. It houses the largest captive colony of orangutans in the world, and its location has earned it the nickname The World's Best Rainforest Zoo.

Singapore Night Safari - the world's first nocturnal zoo and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Singapore, this open-air zoo set in a humid tropical forest is only open at night.

Universal Studios Singapore - theme park located within Resorts World Sentosa on Sentosa Island, Singapore, the only one of its kind in Asia.

The Singapore Flyer - located near the shore of Singapore's Marina Bay, the flyer is a giant Ferris wheel that's 30m taller than the London Eye.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Polar bears at Singapore ZooA tiger seen on the Night SafariThe entrance to Singapore's Universal StudiosThe Singapore Flyer
Polar bears at Singapore Zoo
Polar bears at Singapore Zoo | Source
A tiger seen on the Night Safari
A tiger seen on the Night Safari | Source
The entrance to Singapore's Universal Studios
The entrance to Singapore's Universal Studios | Source
The Singapore Flyer
The Singapore Flyer | Source
Terminal 2's relaxing transit area at Singapore's Changi International Airport
Terminal 2's relaxing transit area at Singapore's Changi International Airport | Source

Travel to Singapore

Singapore has its own international airport called Changi International Airport. A taxi ride into the city will cost between 20 and 40 Singapore dollars and should take about half an hour. Ask the taxi driver for a fixed price before you set off.

Changi Airport was the seventh busiest international airport in the world in 2011. As airports go, it's delightful. Three terminals cater for your every need, with rooftop bars and terraces, and a butterfly garden in Terminal 3. Residents can even pay for their TV licenses at the Post Office kiosk.

The Changi Airport Skytrain operates between Terminals 1, 2 and 3, with separate cars for air-side (transit) and land-side (public) passengers. The service is free of charge and makes getting around the airport much easier.

Quick Quiz on Singapore

view quiz statistics

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • JohnMello profile imageAUTHOR

      JohnMello 

      5 years ago from England

      You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by :)

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Singapore is a great place to visit, even to just overnight on the way to somewhere else. The people are friendly, too. Enjoyed the visit, thank you.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)