Singapore

 

 


  

 

 


Singapore is a small Island at the tip of the Malay Peninsula.

Probably the best places to go in Singapore City to get a feel of the traditional culture is Chinatown, Little India and Arab Street.

In the evenings the historic Singapore River is a sight that is not to be missed. The restaurants and bars in Boat Quay and Clark Quay are overflowing with people.

Among Singapore's most popular attractions are the Singapore Zoological Gardens. This zoo is a beautifully presented zoo with large animal enclosures. You should try the night safari, which is located next to the zoo. This allows you to view the animals along jungle paths at night time.

The Jurong Bird Park is also very popular and has a huge variety of bird-life.

Singapore also has plenty of fantastic gardens, the best is the Botanic Gardens. If you would like more of a jungle experience, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is about as far away from the city as you can get.

Sentosa is Singapore's theme park island. The fun park activities are mainly for families, however, it has enough to keep adults amused.

A must see is Orchard Rd, this is the main hub of expensive shops, restaurants and bars.


Culture
Although geography has played a part in the success of Singapore, its mainstay is its people. Lacking natural resources, Singapore's strength is its hardworking, adaptable and resilient population.

There are four official languages in Singapore: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English. English is the language of business and administration, and is widely spoken and understood. Most Singaporeans are bilingual, and speak their mother tongue as well as English. Malay is the national language.

With this mixture of people, Singapore is also a mixture of religions. Singapore's skyline boasts the distinctive minarets of mosques, spires of gothic cathedrals, intricate figurines of Hindu temples gods and distinctive roof architecture of Chinese temples. The main religions are Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Zoroastrainism.

Singapore is the food capital of Asia. Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian and Western foods are all on offer, and some of the most tasty creations are those sold from the atmospheric street stalls. Nonya cooking is a local variation on Chinese and Malay food, mixing Chinese ingredients with local spices such as lemongrass and coconut cream. The popular spicy, coconut-based soup laksa is a classic Nonya dish. Singapore is a great place to discover tropical fruits. Some of the more unusual ones on offer include rambutan, mangosteen, durian, jackfruit, pomelo, starfruit, zirzat, buah duku, chiku and jeruk.

Local-Currency
The local currency is Singapore dollar (S$) and cents.

Travellers' cheques/cheques and foreign currencies may be changed at most banks and licensed money changers. Most automated teller machines (ATM) offer the PLUS, STAR or CIRRUS network systems. Major credit cards like American Express, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted. Tourists should be aware of a 3% Goods & Services Tax (GST) levied on most goods and services purchased from taxable retailers. GST will be refunded if more than S$300 is spent (receipts of S$100 or more can be pooled from shops displaying the "Tax Free Shopping" sticker) on goods not consumed in Singapore. Refunds may be done at the airport, prior to departure flights.

Transport
Taxis are available from hotels and taxi stands and may be hailed on the street if there is no stand nearby and no disruption to traffic. Other convenient forms of transport include Bus and MRT Transit which are fast and cheap.

Regular ferry services operate from the World Trade Centre to Sentosa and other islands, while luxurious junk tours can be taken around the harbour.

Rickshaws have disappeared from Singapores main streets, but can still be found operating in Chinatown and back streets; agree on a fare beforehand.

Visa_Information
Most western nationalities do not require visas. You are granted an initial two weeks on entry and a one month permit is usually not a problem if you ask for it. You can easily extend a 14 day permit for another two weeks, but extentions beyond a month become increasingly hard.

An international student card is not of much use as student discounts are almost invariably for Singaporeans only, and Singapore has no Hostelling International (HI formerly YHA) hostels in which to use a Hostelling International card.