An essential guide to Singapore, including advice on the best hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and attractions.
Because Singapore is celebrating its 50 year of independence with parties and openings aplenty (singapore50.sg).
Come Q3-Q4, the six-starred Patina Capitol Singapore – with architecture by Pritzker Prize Laureate Richard Meier and interior by Jaya Ibrahim – will debut in two restored heritage buildings in the Civic District.
And in November, the National Gallery will open on the grounds of the city’s most iconic buildings – the former Supreme Court and City Hall; with a combined floor area of 60,000 sqm, it will house the largest collection of South-east Asian art in the world.
Discover for yourself what life is like in one of the world’s most affluent cities. While S$500 a pop meals are not hard to find, it’s completely possible to eat like a king without spending more than S$5 to S$10 per head.
Witness how the locals make the most of their lives in a city known for its draconian laws and apparently “unhappy” citizens. It will change the way you view the little red dot.
Weather-wise, there is no “best time” to visit Singapore. Known for its year-round warm and humid weather, the city’s temperature hovers between 24C in the mornings and evenings and about 31C in the daytime. From November to January, the temperature dips slightly with the onset of the wet monsoon season during which it’s wise to pack a brolly.
Singapore hosts the world’s only Formula 1 night race, and come September the city revs up for the event (September 18 – 20, 2015). Last-minute hotel reservations can be challenging at this time, especially if you want to stay in a hotel sited along the Grand Prix track, but advance planning will stand you in good stead.
Where to go
To see the real Singapore, veer off the beaten path to the newly gentrified Tiong Bahru. Start with local breakfast of mee pok (flat egg noodles) at 70-year-old stall, Hua Bee. Then, proceed to Tiong Bahru market to observe how Singaporeans procure groceries in the morning. Break for coffee at 40 Hands, peruse some books at hipster bookstore, Books Actually, and when hunger strikes, head back to the market for wallet-friendly hawker fare. If you’re in the vicinity in the evening and want to splash on a good meal, head back to Hua Bee. By night, the coffee shop morphs into Bincho, a modern yakitori joint.
Local laws and etiquette
Singapore is known as a fine city and for good reason – you can be fined, and even caned or jailed – for breaking seemingly draconian laws that the locals have learnt to live with.
Since 1992, when a vandal stuck a piece of chewing gum on an MRT door sensor that resulted in the disruption of train services, the sale and import of chewing gum has been banned in Singapore. You can still chew gum, but be careful to dispose of it properly.
Smoking is banned in restaurants, cinemas and all indoor public spaces. Since mid-2013, the ban has been extended to include public spaces such as overhead bridges and outdoor hospital compounds.
Vandalism is also a punishable offence and so are littering, spitting, jaywalking and failure to flush the lavatory.
Foreigners holding travel documents from certain countries require a visa to enter Singapore. See the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority website (ica.gov.sg).