Most people find themselves in Singapore as a stopping point on their way to other countries. But don’t dismiss this country so fast. A flight to Singapore sends travellers back in time, when feng shui was a way of life and not a modern fad, and Asian dinners consisted of formal tea ceremonies and history lessons. While embracing its ancient culture, Singapore also takes a step in the modern direction. Travellers will be greeted by glass skyscrapers and fancy restaurants lining pristine streets, but the locals hold the Chinese, Malay and Indian roots near.
Take time after your Singapore flight and walk through the Historic District. Explore the sights of Chinatown and indulge in an authentic Chinese dinner. Thanks to the money you saved on a cheap flight to Singapore, spend a few hours shopping in the massive Yue Hwa shopping centre or visit the shops on the famous Orchard Road. There’s much to do and see in Singapore - take time and explore all this country has to offer. And if you have a few days to spare, take a ferry ride to some of the islands surrounding it including Kusu Island, St. John's Island and Palau Ubin.
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Singapore is hot and very humid. Daytime temperatures range from 26 to 30 degrees but nights are cooler. Short, heavy rainstorms provide welcome breaks from near-constant humidity.
When to fly to Singapore
Lying just north of the equator, Singapore has a climate dominated by high temperatures, high humidity and lots of rain. It is a green and lush land. There are two main seasons when travellers book flights to Singapore, the northeast monsoon (December to March) and the southwest monsoon (June to September).
It is drier between February and early March. The Chinese New Year is in February and is marked by colour, good wishes and frenzied preparations.
The two days following the New Year is very quiet as islanders stay with family and the last part of the celebrations is a parade – Chingay – down Orchard Road in late February.
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Getting around Singapore
MaxiCab airport shuttle offers a scheduled service (every 30 minutes between 6am and midnight) to nearly all of the hotels in the city. There are airport shuttle counters in the Arrival Halls of Terminals 1, 2 and the Budget Terminal of Singapore Changi International Airport.
The MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) is world class; Modern, air-conditioned, regular (operating at intervals of two-and-a-half minutes to eight minutes between 5.30am and 12.30am) and inexpensive.
The public bus system is also very good, running from 6am to midnight. Air-conditioned buses cost marginally more – about 10 cents more – than non-air-conditioned buses.
Taxis are an inexpensive way to get around. The air-conditioned cabs can be flagged down 24 hours a day on most roads. There are well-marked stands outside most hotels and shopping centres.
A ride in a trishaw is part of the tourist experience. Trishaws are three-wheeled bicycle taxis seating two people. Agree on the fare in advance.
Another tourist must-do is a bumboat tour down the Singapore River past government buildings, old shop houses and the water-spouting Merlion, one of Singapore’s best-known landmarks.
Singapore insider information
- The Night Safari at Singapore Zoo is the world’s first nocturnal zoo. It is an open-air zoo in a humid-tropical forest. There are eight geographical zones that can be explored on foot through walking trails or by tram. More than 1,000 nocturnal animals of 100 species can be observed at the zoo.
- Jurong Bird Park is enormous, the largest bird park in the Asia Pacific. There are more than 8,000 birds from more than 600 species. It has the world’s largest walk-in aviary and the tallest man-made waterfall.
- Beaches suitable for families include Changi and Sentosa Island in the south. Sentosa is reachable via cable cars from Mount Faber.
- The National Orchid Garden has a collection of more than 3,000 types of orchids.
- Orchard Road is a popular tourist attraction for its shops and restaurants. See it at Christmas when the brightly coloured lights bring the street to life.
- The Sri Mariamman Temple is the largest Hindu temple in Singapore. Naraina Pillay, a government clerk, erected a hut on the site, in 1827. In 1843, the present temple was built and dedicated to Mariamman, the goddess worshipped for her power to fight disease.
- Remember this: Singapore is described as a “fine city” because so many activities carry a hefty fine. Some of these are selling or importing chewing gum, dropping chewing gum on the street, dancing in public, smoking in most public places, vandalism, public speaking without a permit, and skateboarding.
- Follow the sights associated with Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore. There is a statue in the business district and several hotels, educational institutions, sports clubs and even a Raffles lighthouse in the Straits of Singapore. At the world-famous Raffles Hotel, a Singapore Sling, the gin and brandy cocktail will set you back about £12.