Singapore, commonly known as the Little Red Dot, is an island-city state off the southern peninsula of Malaysia. It is a melting pot of culture and history and has far more to offer than is first thought. Delve beneath the usual city highlights and discover off the beaten track walks and adventures, local neighbourhoods, cooking classes and cultural highlights
When To GoSingapore has two seasons, hot and humid, or very hot and humid. It really doesn't matter when you go, be prepared to feel hot and sticky. But don't let this deter you. All shopping centres, taxis, indoor sites and accommodation are very well air conditioned (think, carry a light jacket with you as it gets very cold indoors!). It is rare that you will get all day rain in Singapore; storms can be very heavy but they usually pass quickly. Carry a fold up umbrella in your back pack and you will be right to go. Being in the northern hemisphere, 3 deg N of the equator, summer is June - August and winter (if you can call it that) is December to February.
Electricity For Singapore there are three associated plug types C, G and M. Plug type C is the plug which has two round pins, plug type G has three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern and type M is the plug that has three round pins. Singapore operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz.
Weights and Measures Singapore uses the metric system
Insurance Make sure you have your travel insurance up to date as medical expenses can be exorbitant if you are ill or injured in Singapore. Better to be safe than sorry. Medical care is world class. My suggestion for general medical issues while traveling in Singapore is the International Medical Clinic Katong (IMC). Ask to see Dr Maria Tang or any of the other Doctors at the clinic. For emergency or hospital care, Farrer Park Hospital is my choice. All hospitals in Singapore are great, but this is by far my favourite (yes sadly I've had many hospital visits in Singapore!).
ATM's ATM's are widely available throughout Singapore. Some international Banks can be found in Singapore such as HSBC, ANZ and Standard Chartered, and most ATM's accept international cards.
Shopping Visa, Mastercard and American Express are widely accepted throughout Singapore. Larger department stores will allow you to choose to pay in most countries currencies. For road side stalls, hawker centres and markets, cash (Singapore Dollar) will be required. Money changers can be found in most shopping centres, and Chinatown usually has particularly good rates.
Gardens By The Bay is a nature park covering 101 hectares located across the road from Marina Bay Sands. Apart from strolling through the beautiful gardens, taking in the abundant flora and sculptures, you must visit the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest and the new Floral Fantasy. There is also a Children's Garden where the kids can cool off and refresh. Make sure you don't miss the incredible Garden Rhapsody sound and light show at the Supertrees, a definite highlight of things to do in Singapore
City Sightseeing Bus One of the best ways to get around town is to buy a ticket on the City Sightseeing Bus. There are a number of routes you can choose (I'd suggest doing them all) that will take you through the city as well as the cultural areas of Singapore. You can get a 24 or 48 hour pass, allowing more time to see all of the main sights. hop on and off at each stop to explore the area. Commentary is provided on each bus and this is a great way to get a snapshot of the beautiful city
Cultural Areas Singapore is a city with diverse cultural influences, and this is seen in areas such as Chinatown, Little India and the Arab Quarter.
In Chinatown, visit the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre and then stroll through the markets. See the Sri Mariamman Temple and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Stroll across New Bridge Road and find yourself in Club Street. Venture to one of the rooftop bars for a relaxing drink, especially beautiful at night overlooking the city lights
In Little India, awaken the senses with the beautiful aromas of spices. Visit temples, markets and enjoy a traditional Indian meal. There are no shortages of restaurants to choose from. My suggestion is the Delhi Restaurant on Race Course Road. Enjoy wandering through the side lanes and see what you can discover
The Arab Quarter is the go to place for material, rugs and all things with a middle eastern influence. It is also the home to the largest mosque in Singapore, Masjid Sultan. Walk to the mosque from Muscat Street and you will have a great view towards the Mosque, perfect photo opportunity. Explore the boutique shops in the area and sample middle eastern food at any of the many restaurants here. Visit the Malay Heritage Centre while you are in the area
Cooking Classes It's always great to join a cooking class when travelling, to be able to take home and reproduce some of the amazing food you loved. My top picks of places to learn new cooking skills are Brettschneider's Baking and Cooking School and Commune Kitchen. Having done a number of classes at both of these cooking schools I can highly recommend them. Read our blog on Chef Jenna from Baking and Cooking School and Chef Payal from Commune Kitchen
To view other Cooking Classes try here
Walks There are many great areas out of town to enjoy a walk or run. There is much more to Singapore than just the city, so if you have time, explore the 'countryside' of Singapore.
MacRitchie Reservoiris Singapore's oldest reservoir and is a popular spot for nature lovers and exercise enthusiasts. With hiking trails, kayaks and canoes for rent, it is also a great place for recreational activities. The treetop walk and the walk around the reservoir are my suggestions
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve has an extensive mangrove forest filled with rich biodiversity. Trek through this ecological jewel’s many trails and discover its native inhabitants such as mudskippers, crabs, shellfish, water snakes, birds, spiders, monitor lizards and otters. Admire the beauty of resident birds such as herons, kingfishers and sunbirds.
East Coast Park spans the east coast of Singapore to Changi to the city. The perfect place for a walk, run or hire bikes from the many bike rental shops along the way. With many parks and eateries along the way, it is a great way to spend some outdoor time cheaply with a family.
NUS Baba House If you are interested in the Peranakan history and culture, then a visit to the NUS Baba House is well worth it. Built around 1895, 157 Neil Road is a three-storey townhouse located in Singapore’s historic district of Blair Plain. Once the ancestral home of a Peranakan Chinese family, namely the Wee family, the property was acquired by the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2006 with funds donated by Ms Agnes Tan in memory of her late father Tun Tan Cheng Lock, a Malaysian businessman and community leader.
In 2007, a project was undertaken to restore 157 Neil Road for presentation as a heritage house which contextualises Peranakan Chinese material culture and aesthetics within a domestic setting. The interior setting takes visitors on an experiential trip into a Peranakan Chinese family home of the early 20th century.
Singapore Shophouses A walk through the Joo Chiat, Katong or Geylang areas of Singapore will reveal authentic buildings known as shophouses. Explore these shophouse filled streets bursting with historic, architectural charm. Grab a copy of the book 'Singapore Shophouse Walks' to take along on your journey
The Changi Museum This is a must place to visit for so many reasons, honouring the spirit and commitment of those who rose from the depths of adversity during the Second World War and reminds us of the battle not only the prisoners of war faced, but also the local people. A very moving experience. Make sure you get the audio guide to gain the full experience and all of the information. The Changi Museum was closed in 2019 for a renovation and is set to re open in 2020, so please check the website for updated information.
Fatty's Wing Seong Fatty's Restaurant is one of those places you must try to taste delicious Chinese food in Singapore. For many years it was the local favourite for Qantas staff passing through, and while living in Singapore was our go to restaurant to take all visitors. The food is simply amazing, you won't be disappointed. Our standard order included Spring Rolls (a must!), Beef with Ginger, Dao Miao (pronounced dow meow), Black Pepper Prawns, Seafood Fried Rice, Sweet and Sour Pork, and a specialty, not on the menu but so delicious Indonesian Chicken Clay Pot Curry. Just thinking about the menu is making me homesick!
Chilli Crab Arguably one of Singapore's National Dishes, Chilli Crab, as well as Black Pepper Crab are dish tourists love. If you get past the difficulty of eating crab, picking into every nook and cranny to get all of the succulent juicy meat out, you will love these dishes. A must is to pair them with mantou (buns), either fried or steamed, to soak up all of the delicious sauce. Our favourite place to enjoy this delicacy is Jumbo Seafood. With 6 locations on the island you are sure to find one not too far away. One of the locations is in The Jewel Changi Airport, so you can always grab some while waiting for your departing flight
Satay Sold at any Hawker Centre on the island, satay is a snack you really should try. Meat skewers, with satay sauce, served with cucumber and compressed glutinous rice. Delicious! For a great setting and great food, try Satay by the Bay, located within Gardens by the Bay.
There is a vast range of accommodation available in Singapore to suit any budget.
Raffles Hotel The iconic Raffles Hotel has been newly renovated to restore it to it's original splendour, with comfort! Opened in 1887, Raffles Singapore is one of the few remaining great 19th century hotels in the world. No visit to Singapore is complete without a stay at Raffles; tradition demands it. If you can't stay though, you must still visit. Afternoon Tea in the Grand Lobby is an experience you shouldn't miss
Marina Bay Sands If you would like to splurge on your accommodation in Singapore, then Marina Bay Sands is definitely on the list. With it's amazing pool spanning the three towers of the hotel, offering stunning views over Singapore, you can't go wrong. Even if you can't stay at the hotel, their buffet lunch in Rise is great value with amazing food and great setting.
Park Avenue Robertson For a more budget friendly alternative, Park Avenue Robertson is located a 1 minute walk from Robertson Quay. Within walking distance to the MRT station and an abundance of restauarants, it is a great location providing serviced apartment facilities.
Lonely Planet Singapore Filled with information on Singapore, it is the ultimate travelers guide
Living The Singapore Story. Celebrating our 50 years | 1965-2015. National Library Board. This book is about Singapore, all 50 years of it as independent nation. But it is not a history book, or about its politics or its national leaders. It is about the people of Singapore and the stories they have to tell, in their own words
Lee's Legacy Edited by Fiona Chan. Compiled for the first time in Lee's Legacy, this selection of incisive viewpoints displays a wide range of perspectives on Mr Lee's contributions to Singapore and beyond, spanning the sustainability and applicability of the "Singapore model" to Mr Lee's influence on the policies of foreign countries. The result is a thought-provoking anthology that presents a balanced overview of the complex and far-reaching legacy of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Book highlights Interspersed with poignant photographs of a nation mourning as one, with scenes of the cortege as Mr Lee Kuan Yew makes his final journey around Singapore. Set against a backdrop of Singapore's modern infrastructure, these pictures are testament to Mr Lee's contributions to the nation-state.
Singapore Shophouse Walks by Tatyana Kildisheva Take a stroll through the pages of this photobook to some of Singapore's most iconic neighbourhoods. Explore the shophouse-filled streets bursting with historic, architectural charm and discover the wonderful stories hidden between their colourfully adorned walls. The stunning photos and references celebrate the Peranakan heritage and, with clear maps included, you could even bring the book to life by walking the five foot ways yourself.
Singapore: A Portrait in Diversity by Tom Soper. Singapore is a melting pot of nations: people from all over the world come to this small island to live and work. Tom Soper captures 50 stunning portraits of people form 50 different countries, where they and Soper share their thoughts and feelings about Singapore, their home countries, photography and portraiture. A beautiful gift to take with you from Singapore
Tanamera by Noel Barber. Opulence. Invasion. Terror. And forbidden passion in 1930s Singapore. 'They were the golden days, when Singapore was as rich as its climate was steamy, its future as assured as it was busy. And those days were made even better when, as was inevitable, I fell in love with the Chinese beauty of Julie Soong and, against all unwritten canons of Singapore life, we became lovers.' A great read!
The Thorn of Lion City. A Memoir by Lucy Lum. This evocative memoir of a little girl's upbringing in an immigrant Chinese family in Singapore in the 1940s illuminates life during the Japanese occupation and the powerful relationship between a father and daughter. Lucy Lum was the third of seven children, born in Singapore in 1933 into a Chinese immigrant family ruled with an iron hand by Popo, her fearsome and superstitious grandmother. Popo is a firm believer in the old ways, in stomach-churning herbalist remedies, in the dubious fortune-telling of mystics, and in mischievous little girls like Lucy knowing their place. She is forever dispensing her own wicked brand of justice, much to the despair of her adopted family. This is Singapore in the 1940s, a former British colony now living under the specter of the invading Japanese--the hungry worms crawling down from the north, as Lucy knows them--and fear floods the streets. Lucy's father, a kind-hearted and talented linguist, finds himself being used by the occupiers as a translator, and brings back terrifying stories of his merciless employers, which he confides to his daughter under the heavy teak table they use as a make-shift air raid shelter in the bedroom. With a fresh and powerful voice, The Thorn of Lion City breaks the long silence of the Singaporean Chinese. Heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant, it speaks of the softly-spoken, redemptive love between a father and daughter.
The Red Thread by Dawn Farnham is the first in a series of four books set against the backdrop of 1830's Singapore where piracy, crime, triads, and tigers are commonplace. This historical romance follows the struggle of two lovers: Zhen, a Chinese coolie and triad member, and Charlotte, an 18-year-old Scots woman and sister of Singapore's Head of Police. Two cultures bound together by the invisible threads of fate yet separated by cultural diversity.
A Crowd of Twisted Things by Dawn Farnham. Amidst the struggles of war-torn 1950 Singapore, the chaos of the Malayan Emergency and the violence of the Maria Hertogh race riots, a journey into the past brings a chilling discovery for Eurasian Annie Collins, who returns to Singapore seeking her lost baby. This well-crafted story is a lament for the loss and damage of war, an unraveling mystery and a journey into suppressed memory and the nature of self-delusion
The River's Song by Suchen Christine Lim. Ping, an American citizen, returns to Singapore after many years and sees a country transformed by prosperity. Gone are the boatmen and hawkers who once lived along the crowded riverside and in their place rise the gleaming towers of the financial district. Her childhood growing up among the river people had been very different, and leaving her first love Weng, a musician, for America, had been devastating. Now that she is back in Singapore, can she face her former lover and reveal the secret that has separated them for many years?
My Singapore Lover by Judy Chapman. Young, Western and single, Sara arrives in Singapore on a magazine assignment to detail the long-held attraction between Western men and Asian women. She soon becomes swept up in the exotic city, mesmerized by its glitter and glamour and seduced by promises of a career, wealth and success. However, a chance encounter followed by a charged love affair with a charismatic Chinese Singaporean hotelier, who just happens to be married, draws Sara into an unexpected inward journey that forces her to confront her past and contemplate the difference between love and infatuation. Set in contemporary Singapore, the Manhattan of Asia, this rapturous book is the story of one woman’s journey of self-discovery, in which she explores her competing urges for corporate success and personal, spiritual happiness.
NUS Baba House “Baba”, “Nonya”, “Peranakan” and “Straits Chinese” are terms that refer to the descendants of Chinese traders who settled in Southeast Asia centuries ago, and assimilated aspects of indigenous Malay culture into Chinese culture. Built between 1896 and 1897, the NUS Baba House was the ancestral home of the Wee family, who are part of the Straits Chinese community in Singapore. The building is now a museum that replicates the unique experience of a visit to a 1928 Peranakan home, featuring a range of beautiful and distinctive furniture, architectural decorations, ceramics and other household objects cherished by the Straits Chinese.
NUS Baba House: Architecture and Artefacts of a Straits Chinese Home is an illustrated guide for visitors as well as a useful reference for people interested in the social history of Southeast Asia. Accompanied by detailed photography and carefully researched explanations of the symbolism behind the objects and ornamental motifs in the house, this guide is designed to provide an exclusive view into the colourful domestic lifestyle of the Straits Chinese people. Perfect accompaniment to a visit to the NUS Baba House
The Peranakan Chinese Home Discover the rarified Peranakan (native-born Chinese of Southeast Asia) aesthetics that are today highly sought-after for their beauty: distinctive furniture and ceramics, textiles and jewellery, and many other art objects. Peranakan Chinese Home displays these extraordinary objects, visible markers of a highly developed culture. The broad range of beautiful objects which the Peranakan Chinese created and enjoyed in their daily lives is astounding. Each chapter in Peranakan Chinese Home focuses on a different area and presents objects used or found in those spaces. Each piece is described in the context of their utility as household objects, as part of periodic celebrations to mark the Chinese New Year and other holidays, or in important life passage rituals relating to ancestor worship, birth, marriage, mourning and burial. The meaning of the rich symbolic and ornamental motifs found on the objects is discussed in detail and key differences are highlighted between Peranakan objects and similar ones found in China.
A fascinating mix of Chinese, European and Southeast Asian influences, the distinctly Peranakan identity of a people and their culture is beautifully portrayed through objects and archival photographs in this lovely and exotic book.
There are four official languages in Singapore; Chinese, Malay, Tamil and English. English is the language most used and you will have no trouble conversing with Singaporeans. Some of the older generation may not be as versed in English, but generally being understood is not a problem.