Singapore Overview - Travel Information and Tour Guide
Lying almost on the equator, Singapore is a thriving city-state that has overcome its dearth of natural resources to become one of the juggernaut economies of Asia. In the crowded streets of Chinatown, fortune tellers, calligraphers and temple worshippers are still a part of everyday life. In Little India, you can buy the best sari material, freshly ground spices or a picture of your favourite Hindu god. In the small shops of Arab Street, the cry of the imam can be heard from the nearby Sultan Mosque.
It is a vibrant metropolis where close on 3 million Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians live and work side-by-side. It has a thriving business and financial centre, is the world's busiest port and its airport serves more than 60 major airlines, including the country's own international carrier, Singapore Airlines, daily. Communications and transport, including its hi-tech Mass Rapid Transit system and taxis make getting around and doing business simple and convenient.
Singapore has an astonishing mix of old ethnic areas, modern offices and shopping complexes. It has over 70 world-class hotels, 18 lush golf courses, and a host of tourist attractions. From classical symphonies to Chinese operas, jazz to ballet, rock to Hollywood's latest hits, Singapore offers unlimited entertainment.
There is so much to do whether you are a sport enthusiast or interested in leisurely activities. Hire a sailboard at the East Coast Parkway, or bike along the 8 km track. Swim at a sandy beach, feast on seafood at a clutch of nearby restaurants, or try your hand at kite flying. Catch a ferry to the outlying islands of St John's and Kusu, where swimming lagoons and cool, shady groves combine to make for a relaxing day out of the city. Drop into the Bukit Timah Turf Club for a day of horse racing at one of Asia's most beautiful courses, or watch a polo match at the Singapore Polo Club. You can play a round of golf, or brush up on your tennis at the hotel courts or nearby public facilities. All in all Singapore offers a world of attractions.
Two causeway bridges link Malaysia, which is just north of Singapore. The key islands of the Riau Archipelago of Indonesia are also just a quick ferry trip away, whereas Thailand and the Philippines are a short plane journey away. Singapore, with an airport served by more than 69 airlines, is very much the gateway to Southeast Asia
Singapore's climate is warm and humid, with temperatures ranging from 23 degree Celsius to 31 degree Celsius. This makes it ideal for those who enjoy sunbathing, swimming, sailing, and other water sports. For those who do not enjoy the tropical climate, Singapore is sheltered from the worst effects of the sun with air-conditioning in almost all of its buildings, including restaurants. Rain falls throughout the year with more consistent rain during the monsoon season from November to January. Showers are usually sudden and heavy, but brief and refreshing.
Singapore is 8 hours ahead from GMT.
Singapore's population of approximately 3,612,000 (June 1996) comprises 77.3% Chinese, 14.1% Malays, 7.3% Indians, and 1.3% people of other descent. Singapore's indigenous people were the Malays, but after the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles and the establishment of a British trading post, Singapore became a magnet that drew thousands of migrants and merchants. It still retains its special multiracial quality acquired from its early days when Arabs, Chinese, Europeans, Indians, and Straits-born Chinese (or Peranakan) came to live side by side with the indigenous Malays. Though inter-marriages have taken place over the years, each racial group within Singapore has retained its own cultural identity while developing as an integral part of the Singapore community. It is a country where the three main races (Chinese, Malay, and Indian) complement and supplement each other.
There are four official languages in Singapore: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, and English. The working language is English and it is widely spoken and understood. Most Singaporeans are bilingual, speaking both their mother tongue and English.
With this mixture of people, Singapore is also a mixture of religions.
Its skyline boasts the distinctive minarets of mosques, spires of gothic
cathedrals, intricate figurines of Hindu temples, and distinctive roof
architecture of Chinese temples. The main religions are Islam, Buddhism,
Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, and Zoroastrians.
Singapore is the busiest port in the world with over 600 shipping lines sending super tankers, container ships, and passenger liners to share the busy waters with coastal fishing vessels and wooden lighters.
One of the world's major oil refining and distribution centers, Singapore
is also a major supplier of electronic components and a leader in shipbuilding
and repairing. It has also become one of the most important financial
centers of Asia with more than 130 banks. Business dealings are facilitated
by Singapore's superb communications network, which links the Republic
to the rest of the world via satellite, 24-hour telegraph, and telephone
systems. Singapore's strategic location, excellent facilities, fascinating
cultural contrasts, and tourist attractions contribute to its success
as a leading destination for both business and pleasure.
Rain falls throughout the year, with more consistent rain coming during
the monsoon season from November to January. Showers are usually sudden
and heavy, but also brief and refreshing.
Coins are in denominations of: 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 cents.
Notes are in denominations of: $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 and $10,000.
Brunei notes are interchangeable with Singapore notes and are quite common.
Things to Know
Flag: Two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and white (bottom); on the hoist side of the red band is a white crescent that is partially surrounding a circle of five white, pointed stars.
Shop Hours: Shop hours vary, although Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm are the most common. Some department stores, Chinese Emporiums, and stores that cater solely to tourists stay open as late as 9pm seven days a week.
Bank Hours: Generally10am to 3pm, Mondays to Fridays and 11am to 4:30pm, Saturdays.
January 1 - New Year's Day