Travel Guide

Singapore City Travel Guide

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Travel Guide

Singapore is a vibrant, dynamic city of multiple cultures, many attractions and exciting shopping and entertainment options. It is an intriguing mosaic of European, Malaysian and South and East Asian cultures. These cultures combine to create a harmonious tapestry of sights, sounds and experiences that’s uniquely Singapore.  Residents speak a common language called Singlish, short for Singaporean English. This tongue is a delightful mixture of Malay, English, Cantonese, Tamil and Hokkien words.  

The city is also a major foodie haunt, with 1000s of restaurants, pubs, eateries and food stalls offering dishes from different cuisines.  One can enjoy delicacies from India, China, Arab countries, Malaysia, Europe and other nations. 

Singapore is heavily dotted with beautifully designed colonial churches, ancient Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries and temples and mosques. Pagoda Street in Chinatown proudly sports the oldest Hindu place of worship, the Sri Mariamman Temple, and the Jamae Mosque. The city is dotted with aesthetically-satisfying architecture and delightful sculptures Singapore delights the senses with its beauty, symmetry, culture, neatness and tourist-friendly atmosphere. 

Multiple cultural celebrations occur during the same time period. For example, the Chinese New Year is celebrated during February along with thaipusam, a Hindu festival. 

There are celebrity restaurants, trendy eateries and ethnic food stalls in heritage districts. All of these add to the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic gastronomic ambience of the city. 

Each retail spot is a treasure trove of multicultural goods.  One can treat oneself to jewelry, antiques and knick-knacks from different cultures, without traveling to those other countries. 

The official currency of Singapore is the Singapore Dollar (SGD), which is valued at 0.70 US dollars (approximately).  Singapore’s currency is available in paper and polymer (plastic) notes.  Available currency denominations: S$2, S$5, S$10, S$50, S$100, S$1,000 and S$10,000. Available coin denominations: 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and S$1. The largest note available in ATMs is $50. 
Singapore can be expensive. A basic dormitory stay can cost from S$9 to S22-25 per night. Night safaris cost S$15, while zoo tickets cost S$10 each. Trips to Sentosa and the Birdpark cost S$5 and S$12 respectively. Add in local transportation costs and you’ll need a daily budget of S$30 to S$50. 
Singapore is a one-party democratic city-state, ruled by the People’s Action Party (PAP). PAP restricts civil liberties such as freedom of speech and assembly, while encouraging liberal economy and foreign trade.  Singapore has a stable political and legal environment, the reason behind the city’s dynamic economy. Singapore’s low tolerance for corruption enables a strong judicial framework, where the rule of law is respected by all.
The city encourages entrepreneurship with offers of loans and support. The city also encourages global trade, while maintaining a vibrant indigenous commercial activity. The private sector is highly competitive and successful. Foreign investors are encouraged to invest in Singapore.
Singapore has come a long way from the mere trading port it was in the 12th century, when the city was known as Temasek, or Sea Town.  It was during this time that Singapore saw the very first settlements on its shores.  

A prince from Palembang came across a lion (Singa in Sanskrit) while hunting and name the city as Singa Pura, or the Lion City in the 14th century. Rest assured, there are no lions crouching amidst Singapore’s high risers, waiting to pounce on you. The lion is still Singapore’s proud emblem; you’ll see it carved in granites and marbles throughout the city.  

For the next several centuries, the island was ruled by 5 different rulers for a long time. The city flourished as a natural trading post, being fortuitously placed at the meeting point of sea routes. Boats, dhows and battleships from Arabia, China, Brazil and other countries would regularly dock at Singapore. The fast-growing trading hub attracted immigrants and Singapore grew.

The Singapore that we know today was founded by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles in the 19th century. Raffles recognized the fly-infested swampy island’s value and the British occupied the city. 

Singapore was attacked by the Japanese during WWII. Britain surrendered to Japan, who promptly renamed the city as Syonan-to (Light of the South Island). Singapore became British property again after the Japanese surrendered in 1945. 

The British remained in power until Singapore became independent in 1969. The Republic of Singapore was formed on 9th August 1969 to much fanfare. Since then, Singapore has become an enviable tourist destination. Singapore’s strong judicial system and open attitude to trade and entrepreneurship has transformed it into a very successful and self-contained city. 

Singapore has its share of high rises, museums and fast-moving traffic. Being a tourist destination, one might be forgiven for thinking that the city is a fully developed, sprawling metropolis. However, the fact remains that Singapore is still blessedly green and vibrant clad by nature. 50% off the city of Singapore is mostly forests, gardens, lawns and woods, which offer a much-needed breath of fresh air to the crowded city. 
  • The 164-meter tall Bukit Timah Hill is Singapore’s highest natural point, offering lovely views of the city all around. There are more tree species on this hill than there are in the entire North American continent.
  • Singapore has 4 wooded natural reserves, 17 water reservoirs and more than 1.3 million trees. 
  • Singapore’s national anthem is printed in tiny characters on the back of the $1000 note. 
  • Singapore does not have a capital city, as it is a city and a state on its own. Singapore stands alongside the Vatican City and Monaco in this regard.
  • Singapore is a collection of one large island plus 63 small uninhabited islands. 
  • Singapore’s government has banned chewing gum except for medical uses. 
  • Singapore imports fresh water and sand from Malaysia.
  • Singaporeans race toy ducks on the Singapore River during the Great Singapore Duck Race every year, to raise money for charity. 
  • The world’s tallest waterfall (35 meters) is located in the Gardens by the Bay.
Singapore’s climate is typically that of a tropical rainforest – warm and pleasant throughout the year. The temperature oscillates between 22 to 35 °C (72 to 95 °F). April and May are very hot and humid, though the gardens of Singapore do help keep some parts cooler. The rains pelt down between November to January, so you’ll need to be armed with a raincoat or an umbrella. 

Pressure and temperature remain uniform throughout the year. The humidity remains steadily high, at 79% in the morning and 73% in the afternoon throughout the year.  Bush fires occur in neighboring Indonesia, which cause a haze over Singapore, during the months of July to October. Evenings, though humid, are pleasanter. Singapore has many tours and excursions for people during the evenings and nights, to take advantage of the pleasanter atmosphere.

Humidity levels can be as high as 90 degrees plus during the summer. Throughout the year, the humidity remains steadily high, mornings at 90 plus and around 60 in the afternoon. There’s usually a light wind coming in from the ocean during the summer, which helps mitigate the effects of the at-times unbearable heat and humidity. 

Monsoon occurs twice a year. The first is the Northeast Monsoon, occurring from mid-November to early March. Rain can be moderate to heavy during this period. Heavy rain can go on for 3 days at a stretch, without a break.  The month of February is drier than December and January, during the monsoon season. Winds blow at speeds of 30 to 50 km/h (19 to 31 mph) during January and February, making it impossible to walk on the streets. December and January, especially, can be very cloudy with frequent afternoon showers.  

The second, Southwest Monsoon occurs from June to September; though it rains sufficiently during this period, the rains are not as severe as during the Northeast Monsoon. In between monsoon seasons the rain volume is low and sporadic. 

Strangely, it rains more towards Singapore’s western side than towards the eastern side. This is because the Bukit Timah Hill breaks the clouds, keeping the eastern side sunny and the western side wet with rain. Though this doesn’t make a great deal of difference to travelers, those who are comfortable in drier temperatures might prefer to stay on the eastern side. 

By Air: Singapore is a major travel hub; travel by air is possible from every spot on earth. An airport departure tax of S$15 is always added to your ticket. 
By Land: Singapore is connected to Malaysia and Thailand by land. You can travel to Singapore from Malaysia or Thailand via bus or via train. 
By Sea: If you’re in one of the following countries, you can reach Singapore by sea: 
  • Indonesia: Travel by boat from Medan to Penang or Dumai to Melaka. Look up the Indonesian ferry travel guides for more information. 
  • Malaysia: Cross to Singapore by ferry from Malaysia. Ferries are available between Changi Village and Tanjung Belungkor, east of Johor Bahru. There’s also a high speed ferry available to Tioman Island that operates daily except during the rains. 

If you intend to visit Singapore for a short leisure travel, you need to obtain a tourist visa.  You cannot use the tourist visa to perform any business activity while in Singapore.

Visa Eligibility Criteria
  • A passport that’s valid for 6 months longer than the visa duration 
  • A copy of your completed visa application (Form 14A)
  • A Letter of Introduction for Visa Application (Form V39A) from an adult Singapore citizen or permanent resident, along with a copy of their Identity Card. Alternatively, a letter of introduction from any authority to support your visa application will do.
  • Proof of return flight booking, tour itinerary and hotel reservation for the travel duration 
  • Visa copy of onward-travel countries such as Malaysia 
  • A bank statement, along with income tax filings for 2 years. 
  • A doctor’s certificate indicating good health and freedom from contagious diseases

Things to do around Singapore

Singapore is a beautiful city with plenty of lush greenery and many wonderful attractions. When you travel to Singapore, you can also travel to the following nearby countries and make the most of it. 


Malaysia is a fabulous holiday destination with beautiful beaches, vibrant and historic towns and amazing food. You can fly to Malaysia from Singapore or travel by bus, train or ferry. 

  • The city of Putrajaya hosts championships in sports, wrestling, art, music and others 
  • Johor Bahru is a great town for some local shopping and eating. 
  • Don’t miss the nightlife in Bangsar and the views from the Petronas Towers 
  • Visit Penang and Malacca for hot sands, blue waters and lush rainforests 
  • Langkawi, Perhentian and Redang islands are famous for their beaches as well.


  • Indonesia has a remarkable 17,508 islands, though only 6,000 of them are inhabited. Must-visit islands are Kalimantan, Sumatra, Irian, Sulawesi, Bali, Jaya and Java. 
  • Indonesia has many blissful beaches; hop on a ferry to visit beaches in other islands. 
  • Bali is full of historic temples, ruins, jungle walks and terraced rice paddies. 
  • Enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling in Gili Islands
  • Enjoy long blissful walks amidst the stunning scenery and volcanoes in Manado 


Thailand is full of history, amazing cultural events, inspirational beaches and very hospitable people.

  • Bangkok for exciting nightlife, amazing food, historic temples and malls galore.
  • Phuket was made for beach holidays with its amazing clean beaches
  • The breathtaking Ao Phang Nga National Park is a must-see
  • Jungle adventure at the Golden Triangle’s Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai

In Singapore, dining can be an expensive affair. However, there are several fabulous inexpensive restaurants here, as well as budget eats.  Singapore is also full of hidden foodie gems, especially in China Town, Little India and Orchard Road, so do explore them. Being a land of multiple cultures, Singapore offers every imaginable cuisine on the planet. For each cuisine type, there’ll be several posh restaurants, food stalls and little eateries by the roadside.

Melting Pot Of Foodie Cultures

Singapore is a foodie’s paradise, no doubt about it. There’s a restaurant or eatery for everyone’s budget. You needn’t worry that by not spending thousands on a meal, you’re compromising on the ingredients or quality of the meal. Not in Singapore. Singapore’s food offerings are sumptuous, hearty and well-made, no matter where you eat or how much you pay. Singapore’s food scene is heavily influenced by various cultures – Chinese, Indian, Arabic, Thai, Indonesian, Pakistani, Japanese, European, Vietnamese, Korean, Burmese and others. 

Best Way To Find The Right Eatery

The best way to find a great and cheap eatery is to head out into the city on foot. Follow your sense of smell, and you’re likely to come across hidden foodie gems tucked inside a small street somewhere. You’ll find smart cafes serving comfort food, great coffee and homemade cakes.  You’ll find BBQ buffets from Korea, offering entirely affordable, best quality meat. Sushi houses are plenty, offering simple Japanese meals made with premium ingredients. Fusion food such as fusion tapas are available in some restaurants, along with other delicacies served on conveyor belts. Fresh seafood is always available at super affordable prices. 

Drinks Galore

Singapore is famous for its great quality but cheap drinks and lovely cocktails. There are bars on every street, and in shopping malls and near beaches. Ask your hotel’s management to recommend good watering holes nearby and head there. Many bars and pubs offer special drinks and discounts during city-wide events and party nights. Ladies nights are popular, with every bar setting aside at least one evening a week for ladies-only service. Singapore doesn’t have any restriction on drinking, though the rules against drinking and driving and public misbehavior are very strict. Always drink within your limit and be respectful to the city’s laws. Be sure to enjoy yourself!

Singapore celebrates several key events throughout the year and people throng to attend them. Some people travel specifically to participate in food fests and other events. 

  • World Gourmet Summit, 27th March to 9th April: Celebration of fine cuisine, wines and dining 
  • Vesak Day, 10th May: A celebration of the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha.
  • Savour, 12th May to 15th May: Annual food festival; great food, cocktails and charismas goodies 
  • Dragon Boat Festival, 30th May: Delicious Chinese food along with thumping drumbeats from decorated boats on the river. 
  • Ultra-Singapore, June 2017:  Singapore’s biggest festival of electronic dance music. 
  • The Great Singapore Sale, June to Aug 2017: Not to miss deals, steals and bargains 
  • Hari Raya Aidilfitri, 25th June: Joyous Muslim festival at the end of religious fasting 
  • Singapore Food Festival, July 2017:  A celebration Singapore’s amazing chef talent 
  • ZoukOut, December: Asia’s largest beach dance music festival 
  • Thaipusam, February: Festival held in the honor of Lord Murugan
  • Chinese New Year, February: Fireworks, food, music, paper dragons and lanterns. 

Singapore offers a dynamic, vibrant and very exciting night life for people of all ages and tastes. How about a night safari at the zoo? Or a night kayak tour? No matter what your tastes are, you’ll find the nightlife thrill you seek in Singapore. 

  • Bars and Pubs: Fabulous bars and pubs in Dempsey Hill, Holland Village, Fullerton, Marina Bay, Club Street and Ann Siang Hill. Classy watering holes offering great drinks, in-house DJ music and dancing. 
  • Singapore Night Tour: Gardens By the Bay, Marina Bay Sands Skypark and a river cruise 
  • Singapore's Chinatown Trishaw Night Tour:  4-hour tour of Chinatown, ride on a riverboat and a walking tour.
  • Singapore Night Safari:  Singapore Zoo night safari, with full buffet and exotic wildlife 
  • Singapore River Safari: Boat safari on freshwater rivers to watch crocodiles 
  • Singapore Sentosa Island Tour: Night tour of Sentosa Island, including a cable car ride.  
  • Overnight Pulau Ubin Mangrove Kayak Tour: Kayak tour in Pulau Ubin’s coastal waters 
  • Tall Ship Cruise at Night: Cruise on calm port waters in a tall ship with dinner. 

Shopping in Singapore

Singapore is a great commercial utopia, filled with shopping complexes, mega malls, street-side flea markets and more. You can bargain and make lightning deals for trinkets, jewelry, souvenirs and electronic items. Here are some fabulous shopping haunts you shouldn’t miss.

  • Orchard Road: ION Orchard and Pristine shopping complexes for designer brands; Far East Asia for cheap and good fashion goods; and Lucky Plaza for bargains. 
  • Chinatown: Chinatown Street Market and Trengganu and Sago streets for Chinese silk cloth, jewelry, herbal medicines, candles, artwork and Chinese eateries. 
  • Little India: Little India – a delicious mix of ethnic colors, tastes, smells and a curious cacophony of Indian music, temple bells and varied accents. 
  • Bugis Street Market: 800 stalls of electronics, cheap clothes and eateries, under one roof 
  • VivoCity:  Singapore’s largest market for high street stores, 15 cinema screens, open-air playground, rooftop amphitheater, art gallery and plenty of bars and restaurants. 
  • Haji Lane: Vintage stores selling Arabian cloth, artworks, wall paintings, carpets and more.
  • Marina Bay Sands:  Luxury shopping mall for international goods, perfumes and clothing 
  • Clarke Quay: Colorful nightlife and shopping along Central, Riverside Point and Great World City markets for high street and local goods
  • Raffles City Shopping Centre:  Fabulous high-street brands and dining options including a cheap food court in the basement.

There’s no end of beautiful and exciting sights to see in Singapore. The best part is if the days are too hot for you, you can go sightseeing at night too!

  • Singapore’s Beaches: Palawan Beach, Tanjong Beach, Siloso Beach, Punggol Beach, St John's Island beach, Changi Beach, Lazarus Beach and others. 
  • Singapore Flyer: Asia’s largest observation wheel with a bird’s eye view from a glass capsule 165m above the ground. 
  • Sentosa Island: A lovely theme park offering fabulous rides, parrot show, the Underwater World, spice garden, a manmade beach and Megazip Adventure Park.
  • Architecture: The Thian Hock Keng Temple honoring a Taoist sea goddess, the Hindu Sri Mariammam Temple, Cathedrals of the Good Shepherd and St Andrews are a must-see. 
  • The Singapore Zoo: Offers safaris during the day and night to view elephants, lions, tigers, rhinos and seals. 
  • Singapore’s Gardens:  Singapore Botanic Gardens for rare orchids, the MacRitchie Reservoir Park for rich rainforests and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve for wildlife and birds. The Chinese and Japanese Gardens, Chinese Mythological Theme Park and Jurong Bird Park are must-visit too.
  • Little India: Lots of traditional temples and old architecture, along with shopping and eating.
  • Chinatown: Ancient Buddhist temples, old Chinese architecture and great little shops selling jewelry, clothing and vintage items. 
  • Arab Street: A small piece of the Middle East and Saudi Arabia, with vibrant shops selling carpets, textiles, leather, perfumes and jewelry. 
  • Changi Chapel and Museum: A museum dedicated to World War II, with paintings, personal effects and photo donated by former Prisoners of War.

It’ll take several months to enjoy Singapore’s varied range of tours and excursions. If your time is limited, sign up for tours that take you to what you want to see. Rayna Tours takes tourists to see the best of Singapore’s attractions, events and nightlife. Not only will you get the tour of your life, but you will delight in the warm hospitality of Rayna Tours. 

  • Universal Studios: Day tour of the studios to see famous movie sets and watch movies being made. Universal Theme Parks are a great treat for kids. 
  • City Sightseeing: City sightseeing tour on bus along with knowledgeable commentary. 
  • Singapore Zoo: Day safaris including breakfast with Orangutans and night safaris with buffet meals 
  • Singapore Night Sightseeing Tour: Night boat cruise, and self-guided tours during the night on bus and on foot through vibrant market streets. 
  • Singapore Round-Island Tour: A tour of the city, focusing on Kranji War Memorial, Bright Hill Temple, Changi Prison and other prominent landmarks.
  • Sentosa Island Afternoon Trip:  A relaxing trip around Sentosa Island, including Merlion Tower, Tiger Sky Tower, waterpark and beaches.
  • Hawker Center Food Tour: Guided on-foot tour of food haunts in Singapore markets. 
  • River Safari Experience: A boat tour of Singapore’s rivers with full commentary on mangrove forests, river wildlife and so on.
  • Chinatown Food Tour: A day tour of Chinatown’s vibrant food scene 
One can visit Singapore at any time of the year, if one can bear the heat and the humidity. However, since rains can be heavy and the wind blows at high speeds, it may be a good idea to avoid traveling between mid-November to early March. If you do happen to visit Singapore during this period, be sure to arm yourself with umbrellas, raingear and a good pair of waterproof boots to protect your feet. If damp conditions are not suited to your health, look for accommodation on the eastern side of the Bukit Timah Hill. Conditions here are usually drier and hotter than on the western side. 
Note that though the city is crowded and very expensive during national holidays and popular events, visiting Singapore during festivals is a great experience.  Singapore’s food, music and cultural festivals are colorful and bursting with community feeling. It’s a great feeling to participate in the parades and processions that take place during Chinese New Year and other festivals. The Great Singapore Sale takes place between July and October. You’ll find some fabulous bargains and not-to-miss deals during this time. The city does face a bit of a lull in tourist traffic during this sale, so it’s a good chance to visit Singapore then. 

Best Selling Singapore Tours

  • Singapore City Tour with Guide
  • Singapore City Tour with Flyer
  • Singapore City Tour with Half Day Sentosa Island
  • River Safari Singapore with boat ride
  • Night Safari Singapore
  • Gardens by the Bay
  • Singapore Flyer
  • Universal Studios Singapore
  • SEA Aquarium
  • Jurong Bird Park
  • Singapore Zoo with Tram Ride
  • Half Day Sentosa Island Tour
  • Full Day Sentosa Island Tour
  • River Safari with Lunch
  • Lunch with Parrot at Jurong Bird Park
  • Singapore Zoo with Jungle Breakfast

Singapore City Travelogue

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