A cultural melting pot famed for its dynamism, vibrance and the iconic Singapore Sling cocktail, Singapore is a fascinating country with much to offer. Architecturally striking, meticulously clean and gastronomically exciting this tiny but larger than life country has it all from towering skyscrapers to leafy rainforests, miles of lavish shopping malls on Orchard Road to the quaint antique shops of Chinatown, from the extravagance of top-notch restaurants to the mouth-watering delights of the dirt-cheap hawker centres, from the buzz of the Grand Prix to the tranquility of the night safari. A trip to this Southeast Asian gem is bound to be truly memorable.
The climate in Singapore is generally hot and humid with temperatures never lower than 20°C/68°F. Average temperatures are 30°C/86°F during the day and 23°C/74°F at night, all year round. Rainfall and humidity are steady throughout the year with November to January generally the wettest and May to July the driest. Rainfall is heavy but short-lived with torrential downpours quickly replaced with glorious sunshine.
Due to its vast multicultural population, Singapore observes a number of Chinese, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian holidays including:
1st January - New Year's Day
Chinese New Year
Vesak Day (Birth of the Buddha)
1st May - Labour Day
9th August - National Day
Hari Raya Puasa - End of Ramadan
Hari Raya Haji - Feast of the Sacrifice
25th December - Christmas Day
Not all Muslim festivals are national holidays but normal business patterns may be interrupted with many restaurants closing during the day. There may also be restrictions of smoking and drinking.
The main airport in Singapore is Changi International Airport (SIN) which is approximately 20km (12 miles)east of the city and serves a wide range of destinations.
Due to the size of the country, domestic flights do not operate. Sightseeing flights can be arranged through the Republic of Singapore Flying Club.
Trains run to and from Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Malacca (Malaysia) and on to Bangkok. Services operate daily between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur with some cars offering air conditioning and over night sleepers available. The Eastern and Oriental Express offers luxurious travel between Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
Singapore boasts one of the most advanced metro systems in the world with the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) system. Cheap, efficient and extremely reliable, the MRT is the best way to get around the island.
Singapore is linked by two major land crossings to Peninsular Malaysia. One crosses the Johar Strait and the other links Singapore with Tanjing Kupang in the Johar State.
Foreign visitors are required to pay a Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) and a toll charge upon entering and departing Singapore.
Roads in Singapore are in excellent condition and all motorists driving into the city and on some major roads are required to pay the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP).
Traffic drives on the left and speed restrictions apply - 90kph (56mph) on expressways and 50kph (31mph) on all other roads. All passengers must wear a seatbelt at all times and using a mobile phone whilst driving is banned. Drink-driving is not tolerated and heavy fines and penalties are enforced. Speed cameras are everywhere and roadblocks are set up at night to catch offenders.
Singapore port is the busiest in the world and is served by a growing number of cruise lines. Harbour cruises and ferry services to the Singapore islands, Malaysia and the Indonesian Riau islands operate from the ferry terminal at the World Trade Centre the Tanah Merah terminal at Chagni.
A number of languages are spoken in Singapore namely Mandarin Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil with most Singaporeans being bilingual. Malay is the official language for historical reasons but English is the main language used with most, if not all, of the population speaking English and signs, literature and education all primarily in English.
The currency in Singapore is the Singapore Dollar or SGD which divides into 100 cents.
The domestic electricity voltage is 220/240 volts AC 50Hz with three-pin square type plugs used.
The international dialling code is +65.
In case of an emergency dial the following numbers:
Police - 999
Ambulance - 995
Fire - 995
A visa or a Social Visit Pass may be required. Check with your local embassy before travelling.
Tipping is not generally practised in Singapore and is officially frowned upon by the government.
There are strict laws relating to jaywalking, littering and chewing gum which are heavily enforced, particularly in urban areas.
Smoking is widely discouraged and is illegal in enclosed public areas. Dropping a cigarette in the street or smoking illegally can lead to an immediate fine.
Handshaking is the usual form of greeting with social courtesies remaining fairly formal.
Shoes must be removed when entering a private home, temple or mosque.
Dress is generally informal but a smarter appearance is expected in top restaurants and for business meetings.
ATM's are everywhere and major credit cards are widely accepted.