WHY TO VISIT SINGAPORE
City-state of Asia, Singapore counts more than four and a half million inhabitants. The city has a great ethnic and cultural diversity, and an astonishing economic dynamism.
You will be able to discover several aspects of Asian civilization there by strolling around various city districts such as Chinatown, Little India, Arab Street or the colonial district with its British monuments.
You may also explore the modern side of the city at Orchard Road, with its shopping centres and its restaurants. The Peranakan Showhouse Museum is also here, created in a collection of old houses.
Many events will probably take place during your stay, notable events worth watching out for include: Chinese New Year's day, the festival of Arts devoted to the theatre and the dance, which takes place every two years, the Kusu Island pilgrimage which is dedicated to the god of prosperity, or Deepavali, in November, in the district of Little India.
You will certainly enjoy the Leisure Park at East Coast Park, where you will be able to enjoy various sports, and you may wish to visit the Singapore Crocodilarium, unless you prefer relaxing on the beach.
WHEN TO GO TO SINGAPORE
Best period to visit Singapore is from March to July.
An archipelago of just about 682 km² located at the level of the equator, Singapore benefits from a hot and wet tropical climate throughout the year with temperatures varying between 20°C and 30°C.
The highest levels of rainfall are reached in November and January while the dry season extends between the months of May and July.
Following a list of typical festival and celebrations of Singapore.
- M1 Singapore Fringe Festival: This is a 12-day annual festival of theatre, performing arts, film, dance, visual art, mixed media, music and forum, created and presented by both Singaporean and international artists. Held around the end of January, the festival centres around a different theme each year and it aims to bring the best of contemporary, cutting-edge and socially engaged works to the Singapore audience.
- Pongal: This traditional Tamil harvest festival honours the Sun God Surya. During the four-day period, Little India stirs with ethnic dances and performances, a street-side mini village with cultural souvenirs, a mass cooking competition and a mesmerising festive light-up.
- Thaipusam (31st of January): Overly squeamish folks might shy away from this Hindu festival. In Little India, along Serangoon Road and Tank Road, the large procession sees some brave devotees carry spiked kavadis (portable altars) that pierce through their torsos as a tribute to Lord Subramaniam, the protector. To prepare for such a gruelling feat, they pray and fast up to 48 days before. On the less extreme end, devotees can also be seen carrying simple wooden kavadis or pots of milk.
- Chinese New Year (February ): The Lunar New Year is the most important period on the Chinese calendar. To welcome the New Year, Chinese families banish bad luck by spring-cleaning, and welcome good fortune with red and gold decorations and brand new clothes. Throughout the 14 days of festivities, families visit friends and relatives to eat dinner (steamboat is a popular choice), exchange oranges for prosperity and give kids red packets (hong bao). From 30 January to 19 March, Chinatown will also be bustling with folks buying traditional snacks, decorations and more. Celebrations not to be missed included the Chingay Parade and the 8th International Lion Dance Competition.
- Singapore Fashion Festival: The annual two-week long festival, held between March-April, aims to make Singapore the fashion capital of the Southeast Asian region. The Festival highlights include showcasing international and local designers’ collections, fashion shows, exhibitions and related fashion fringe events.
- Singapore International Arts Festival: An island-wide national celebration of the arts, the Festival offers high quality, free and ticketed outdoor performances in theatre arts, dance, music and visual art. Besides local participants, approximately 70% of the events are put up by international artists. It is usually held in the months of May – June.
- Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF)- The largest film event in Singapore and one of Asia’s premier film festivals, the SIFF is held in April every year. The Festival screens over 200 international films of all genres, with a focus on ground-breaking Asian cinema. Apart from film screenings, the festival also features workshops, seminars and exhibitions on film-making.
- Vesak Day (29th of May): Traditional chanting, tranquil candlelight processions and offerings of joss sticks, flowers and candles all take place at shrines and temples during Vesak Day, as Buddhists celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. During this day of self-reflection, many Buddhists also opt to do good deeds like giving out cash and food to the needy, or setting free caged birds.
- Dragon Boat Festival (18th June): Crowds munching on sticky rice dumplings (zongzi) will be streaming to this exciting event that originated in China over two thousand years ago and now takes place in Chinese communities all over the globe. A festival of many names, it’s also known as Duanwu, Tuen Ng and Double Fifth Festival (falling on the fifth day of the fifth month). Head to Bedok Reservoir for the prestigious Dragon Boat Racing Festival, where competing teams will paddle furiously to the finish line in time with the intense beat of drums.
- Hari Raya Puasa (25th of June): At the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, Muslim families celebrate by wearing eye-catching new baju kurungs (tradititonal malay clothing) and visiting their families for a huge home-cooked feast. Non-observers can visit the nightly bazaar at Geylang Serai, which runs throughout the fasting month. The countless stalls there sell all kinds of sweet and savoury snacks, ethnic clothes, jewellery and more.
- Singapore Food Festival: Held annually in July, the Singapore Food Festival is a celebration of local food. Festival highlights include, food carnivals, trails, workshops, as well as joint food-oriented promotions.
- The Great Singapore Sale: One of the most popular and much awaited annual events, held every June – July, the Great Singapore Sale is an absolute shopping extravaganza with retailers providing discounts of up to 70% off the usual prices island wide.
- Singapore Heritage Fest: This festival is an initiative to get to know more about the various cultures in Singapore and their traditions, food, costumes, music, art etc. through a series of exhibitions, heritage tours, culinary events and cultural performances. This is an annual event held in the month of July.
- National Day (9 August): As Singapore celebrates their 50th year of independence, the Float at Marina Bay will host the sensational National Day Parade with dazzling bursts of fireworks, amazing choreographed dance routines, floats and lots of cutting-edge surprises all through the night.
- Hari Raya Haji (1st September): This festival of sacrifice is celebrated exactly how it sounds. Following prayers from male volunteers at mosques around Singapore, worshippers sacrifice sheep, cow and goats to symbolise Prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice. The meat is then carved up and given out to family and friends of the person who offered the animal, with a third of it traditionally distributed to the needy.
- Mid-Autumn Festival (aka Lantern Festival) (4th of October): Celebrated on the day the moon is at its brightest, this light-hearted festival sees local Chinese families coming together in parks and gardens to feast on traditional mooncakes, pomelos and Chinese tea. For kids, the best part of this festival is playing with colourful lanterns – from traditional ones lit by wax candles to plastic or cellophane types in the shape of cartoon characters, animals and more. Chinatown’s streets also come alive with lion dances, dragon dances, night markets, traditional percussions and more.
- Deepavali (18th of October): Little India will be overflowing with vibrant lights, kaleidoscopic arches, busy bazaars and Indian delicacies during this “festival of lights”, which commemorates the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. Join in the joyous atmosphere and take the chance to shop for intricately sewn saris, heady Ayurvedic massage oils and more.
HOW TO REACH AND TRAVEL THROUGH SINGAPORE
The city is served by the international airport of Changi, located around twenty kilometres away on the East coast of the island and the centre of the air traffic communications, and you can move around very easily in the city thanks to the varied and very effective forms of public transport; subway, buses and taxis. Air-conditioned buses as well as ferries have regular services from Singapore to Malaysia and some Indonesian islands. Once in the town centre, it is better to use the very well known MRT (Mas Rapid Transit), an ultramodern subway which covers practically all the districts including the commercial zone of Orchard Road. And finally, for short distance travel in or around the city, use the train which will guarantee your comfort and safety.
by plane, main airports are:
GENERAL INFORMATION ON SINGAPORE
country entry requirements: passport + visa (check your visa requirements)
health tips & vaccination:
local currency: Singapore Dollar
local time zone: GMT+8
electricity: type C, G and M (230 V, 50 Hz)
mobile phone operators:
WHAT TO DO IN SINGAPORE
typical food in Singapore
- Chichen rice: Singapore's 'national' dish. This delectable dish can be found at almost every dining spot, from humble hawker centres to high-end restaurants
- Chilli Crab: Chilli crab hits all the right spots with tangy gravy that seeps into the succulent flesh of the stir-fried crab
- Fish Head Curry: This spicy dish is a scintillating stew of curry cooked with vegetables and of course, the whole head of a fish
- Fried Carrot Cake: Contrary to its name, there's nary a tinge of orange in the local fried carrot cake, a flavourful dish that comes in the monochrome colours of black or white
- Hokkien Prawn Mee: This simple dish of stir-fried noodles boasts a rich prawn stock that keeps fans coming back for more
- Kaya Toast: This simple dish is the ultimate comfort food for those with a sweet tooth, offering the right mix of crunch and sugar rush
- Laksa: The laksa broth offers the right balance of spice and coconut milk, a distinctive noodle soup that will tickle the tastebuds
- Nasi Lemak: It's the savoury and creamy rice that carries this dish, with spicy sambal to give it that extra zing
- Rojak: Dark and sticky, the salad may not look very appealing at first; but tuck into this culinary marvel and you’ll be amazed by the delicious mix of sweet and savoury
- Roti Prata: This Indian specialty is pleasing to the palate and the eye. Watch the prata-maker stretch the dough by slapping and swinging it in one skilful motion
- Bak Kut Teh: a pork rib dish cooked in broth
- Wanton Mee: noodle dish served in a hot broth, garnished with leafy vegetables, and wonton dumplings
- Dim Sum: small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on small plates
- Bak Chor Mee: noodle dish with minced pork, liver, meat balls/fish balls, fish cake slices and vinegar braised sauce
- Oyster Omelette (Orh Luak): an omelette with a filling primarily composed of small oysters. Starch is usually mixed into the egg batter, giving the resulting egg wrap a thicker consistency
- Satay: skewered, Turmeric marinated meat that is grilled on an open fire
- Tau Huay (Douhua): snack made with very soft tofu. It is also referred to as tofu pudding and soybean pudding
- Ice Kacang: bright colored shaved ice and red beans, decorated with different fruit cocktails and dressings
- Chwee Kway: steamed bowl-like rice cakes topped with chai poh (diced preserved radish) and served with chilli sauce
- Durian: large fruit with a thorn-covered husk, the flesh is buttery and sweet with a strong odour
- Biryani: fried rice dish with chicken, beef or fish
- Nasi Lemak: rice steamed with coconut milk, served with dried anchovies, sambal, peanuts and eggs, the national dish
- Rojak: a mixture of of You tiao (dough fritters), bean sprouts, tau pok (beancurd puffs), radish, pineapple, cucumber and roast peanuts. It is then all mixed together with a black, fermented prawn paste sauce.
- Char Kway Teow: noodle dish made with flat rice noodles with egg, pork lard, Chinese sausages and fish cake in a sweet dark sauce
- Mee Siam: vermicelli soaked in a sweet and spicy gravy flavoured by Tamarind (assam), dried shrimp and Tau Cheo (fermented bean paste). It usually comes with a boiled egg, bean sprouts, tau pok (beancurd puff) and is garnished with chives
- Mee Rebus: vermicelli soaked in a thick, viscous gravy made from potatoes (starch makes it thicker), curry powder, peanuts, dried shrimp and salted soy beans
- Popiah: soft, thin paper-like crepe or pancake made from wheat flour, filled with small prawns, boiled eggs, Chinese sausage, lettuce, bean sprouts and majority filled with cooked carrot and turnip strips
souvenirs from Singapore
- jade carvings
- Risis Orchid
- bronze Buddha statues
- tiffin tins
- tea set
- hanging artworks
- vases and pottery
- Tiger Balm ointment
- handcrafted goods: pewter, bamboo, crystal ware, porcelain, paper umbrellas and kites, calligraphy and beaded slippers
- Chinese props and costumes from the Chinese Opera
- Singapore Sling, the popular Singapore's cocktail
- Bak kwa, dried BBQ meat
- Ya Kun Kaya, traditional jam made from coconut and eggs
- Peranakan, a fusion of Chinese, Malaysian and European art forms combined to decorate a wide range of items, including brooches, card holders, plates and cups and tea sets
Goodbye: Selamat tinggal
How are you?: Apa khabar?
Thank you: Terima kasih
What is your name?: Apa nama awak?
How much is it?: Berapa banyaknya?