Have you ever noticed the country of Singapore on the world map you keep nicely on your bookshelves? Or you may have heard a lot how large it is from a news report on television. It is undeniable that Singapore looks like a small dot. But this tiny island is one of the richest countries in the world.

Overview

Singapore is a small country on the Asian continent located on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Meeting the people, you may first guess that they just come from China. In fact, Singapore is a multi-culture country, a combination of Asian and European. This melting pot influences its society. Completed with the fast development in economy and technology, Singapore becomes one of the must-visit countries in Southeast Asia, whether it is for business or leisure.

Wish to know more before taking a direct flight to Singapore? Let’s see if you can find your best reasons for the visit from the following list of things to know about Singapore.

Activities

There are many things to do in Singapore. If you take a day or two of the itinerary, you may be able to spend the time in town. In fact, you have the abundance of experiences waiting, especially when you visit this country with kids.

  • Universal Studios

There is no need to go to Hollywood just to visit the famous Universal Studios. Singapore has one with seven themed sections set at Resort World Sentosa. Spend quality time with the whole family to enjoy numerous rides and shows related to major hit films in the world. This amusement venue can be visited within 10 am until 20 pm. Who knows, maybe your kids want to spend the whole day here.

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  • Night Safari

Do all wild animals sleep at night? Well, they can be just awake and enjoying the peaceful nightlife under the light of stars. Night Safari in Singapore is a spacious conservation area where thousands of animals live. This entertaining conservation makes Singapore known as one of the family friendly tourist destinations in Asia. Take kids to get on the walking rails and trams to see the exotic creatures coming for 8 geographical regions. The top opens every day from 19:30 until 24:00.

  • Marina Bay Sands Casino

Need a recommendation for when you visit Singapore without your kids? Make sure you book a room in the Marina Bay Sands Hotel because it has a grand casino hosting a lot of options for the newest games and gaming machines. It’s time to challenge your skills in making correct predictions at one of the top entertainment destination in Southeast Asia. There is no need to wait for the sunset to play as the casino opens 24 hours a day.

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  • Reverse Bungee Jumping

Are you wondering how bungee jumping feels like or is it one of your favourite activities? Let G-Max Reverse Bungee become your host in Singapore. They have opened the same adrenaline-inducing activity in 6 other countries in the world.

You can find one at Clarke Quay, a popular nightlife hub in Singapore. Not only will you enjoy the moment when the capsule takes you high and down up to 20 mph of speed, you will also receive a T-shirt and DVD recording of you and your fellows in action.

  • Lau Pa Sat Festival Market

Do not have time to wander around for culinary vacation? If you want to know how the local dishes tastes like, you can just come to Lau Pa Sat. it is a well-known food market situated in the city where you can try a plenty of delicious foods under one roof with other travellers. The night can just get more romantic with the smell of satay coming from the food stalls.

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  • Sunday Brunch at the Fullerton Hotel

Are you too lazy to wake up in the early morning on Sunday? Well you better make sure you are in one of Fullerton Hotel’s rooms! It offers a number of fantastic brunches where you can choose among of Japanese, Italian, Mediterranean and local cuisines.

  • Spa Treatment at Spa Botanica

Have “Me Time” by enjoying the spa treatment offered by the pioneer of garden destination spa which is the only one having mud pools, Spa Botanica. You can choose the room, be it indoor or outdoor. If you wish for personal space, simply just book the exclusive ladies-only spa garden.

  • Tree-top Walk at McRitchie Reservoir

Love to see the scenery from the higher spot? Enjoy the relaxing walk on a wooden walkway bridge at McRitchie Reservoir which stands 25 meters high and 250 meters long. It is a great spot to get the stunning view of the forest and also numerous animals living in there.

See: Surprisingly Free Things You Can Do at Changi Airport Singapore

  • Cruise and Boat Rides

Another romantic side of Singapore is on the water. You enjoy the trip crossing the ocean on one of the cruises which are built in different shapes. Some of the popular ones are Morning Glory Cruise, High Tea Cruise and Dinner Cruise.

  • Watching Bird at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Bird watching is such an interesting experience to get close to nature. Although Singapore is famous for its business hub, you can still find great spaces for relaxing away from the busy towns. You can simply go to Sungei Buloh Natura Park to see various birds including the night heros and white-breasted water hen. You will also be able to find prawn and fish farming in the park, very suitable for aquaculture enthusiasts.

Natural Attractions

Nature lovers can also find many great spots in Singapore. This capital city itself is also known as A City in A Garden. There are many well maintained natural biodiversities. It means you will find a perfect combination of modern and nature just like exploring a big country.  Importantly, the natural attractions are always welcome visitors with kids.

  • Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the bay is a nature park sit on 250 across of land with 3 gardens, i.e. Bay Central Garden, Bay South Garden and Bay East Garden. There are also two conservatories. The first one is called Flower Dome which is known as the biggest column less glasshouse in the globe.

Here, you will be able to see Mediterranean plants and plants from other side-arid tropical regions. The second one is named Cloud Forest. It has the look of tropical environment mountain and has a Cloud Mountain of 138 feet of height. It is a man-made. Other visual interesting features are the Supertrees. The trees themselves are actually vertical gardens, standing on different height, 82 ft to 160 ft.

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  • Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Registered as an ASEAN Heritage Park in 2003, this nature reserve is the stopover point of migrated birds. There are many types of them including Chinese egrets, greater crested terns, Mongolian Plover, milky stork, whimbrel and lesser whistling-duck. Mostly, they come from Southeast Asia.

  • Pulau Ubin

In the northeast of Singapore, you can also find Pulau Ubin. There are only about a hundred people living there which work as granite miners. Besides finding many flora and fauna, the island also becomes a part of the Ubin-Khattab Bird Area. It also supports the significant number of resident and migratory birds including many threatened species. If you like bird watching, it is the best place to go.

  • Jurong Bird Park

This park is one of the biggest attractions in Singapore. There are over 600 birds flying free which are included in more than 50 species. Take for example turacos, hoopoe and the golden-breasted starling.

It is not only a great place for bird watching. There are many other interesting features in this park including the Lory Loft, the World of Darkness, the Penguin Coast and the Pelican Cove. You can also take time to watch some bird shows with the kids. Like High FLyiers Show, the Kings of the Skies Show and Lunch with the Parrots. Is not it the fun way to introduce the avians to the kids?

See: Green Spaces in Singapore; The Perfect place to Visit with Kids

  • Singapore Botanical Garden

This tropical garden has a long history. It was built by an Agri-horticultural society in 1859. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Botanic Garden plays an essential role for researches, especially for orchids which are available in the National Orchid Garden.

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  • River Safari

There are more options to spend the family time during your visit to Singapore. Closed to the Singapore Zoo, the first of its kind river safari in Asia offers special natural highlights. This river-themed zoo is featured with riverboat rides and fresh water attractions which have invited about 820,000 visitors every year.

  • Singapore Zoo

Visiting a zoo is the best way to introduce various animals to children. Opened since June 27th 1973, the Mandai Zoo or also known as the Singapore Zoo hosts about 315 specials of animals including the threatened ones. Every year, the number of visitors is at the average of 1.7 million. So, why do not you add the amount to your visiting with the whole family?

Shopping

Are you ready to shop ‘til you drop? Singapore is the right place to go. There are hundreds of shopping centres waiting for your money. If you are budget conscious, so the following list will be your best recommendation:

  • Mustafa Centre

Whenever you want to buy something, you can go there because it opens 24/7. People love buying stuff here at the extremely big number to get more affordable prices.

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  • Bugis Street

For fashionistas, Bugis Street is the best place to shop. There are over 600 shops offering many fashion products like clothing, shoes and accessories. Do not worry. All prices are wallet-friendly. You can even get a watch for around S$5 and a casual wear for s$10.

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  • Lucky Plaza

Are you wondering where to buy cheap stuff at a modern type shopping centre? Instead of spending time on Orchard road, you can go to Lucky Plaza. It is where you will find friendly budget products. Clothing, accessories, sweets, souvenirs, books and perfumes are available at one place and no need to rip your wallet.

  • Far East Plaza

If you are hunting for all about fashion, Far East Plaza is the place. Besides the trendy stuff, you can enjoy many top beauty services to get more of your appearance. As it is just in the between the fashion shops, you can simply walk in without the advance booking.

  • Scape Underground

Scape Underground in Orchard is the right shopping spot for students. All products are about the youthful from apparels to gifts. Everything is offered low set prices and the retailers are mostly still young.

  • IMM Outlet Mall

The offer of 80% on sale all year round is one of the main reasons why IMM is very famous. The building has five stores with over 90 outlet stores and 220 retail shops. Visitors can also enjoy the meal time at about 50 food and beverage stores. Interestingly, the discounts are offered from different outlets within the 365 days of a year.

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See: Typical Costs to Spend during a Trip to Singapore

  • City Plaza

The more adult a person, the more humble he should be. It is also what City Plaza looks like. As one of the oldest shopping malls in Singapore, this shopping centre offers various fashion products at low prices. You can even find much vintage stuff like toys and cameras which will take you to the past.

  • Anchorpoint Shopping Centre

Who can resist branded products at affordable prices? For savvy shoppers, Anchorpoint Shopping Centre offers the comfortable and pleasurable experience to buy stuff from famous brands. They even have the occasional sale about 30% to 70% off.

Culture

Although Singapore looks like a small dot on the world map, this country is a unique melting pot of multi-cultures from different ethnics, i.e. Chinese, Indian, Malay and Western. This mixture creates diversity in all aspects especially languages and beliefs. With the historical perspective as one of the British colonies until 1942, Singaporeans also speaks English as well as their national language. However, the mixed cultures have created a unique form of language known Singlish where Malay, English and Chinese become one.

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Healthcare Facilities

Singapore is known as a country with the most successful healthcare systems around the globe. It covers both financial efficiency and achieved outcomes. Of course, government regulation plays the essential role in forming the system. There are policies that regulate the supply and prices of the health care services to keep the fees in control. Even so, depending on the medical speciality and service, the government allows the private sector to make adjustments. Patients are also free to choose the healthcare providers.

Entertainment

  • Singapore Dance Theatre in Little India and Kampong Glam

This company is famous for its classic ballets and contemporary works and usually performs at Esplanade Theaters on the Bay. You can expect for the Stars season at Fort Canning Park this midyear. The detailed program can be seen from the company’s website.

  • Singapore Symphony Orchestra in Colonial District, the Quays and Marina Bay

Singapore Symphony is a well- respected orchestra which usually performs at Esplanade Theaters on the Bay in front of 1800 seats. It usually plays every week. You should check out their website to book in advance. Remember that kids under 6 years old are not allowed, while elderly can enjoy the show at the discounted price

  • Creatures of the Night in the Northern & Central Singapore

Creatures of the Night is a 25-minute show that you can watch with your kids on the northern and central Singapore. There will be some animals which are the stars of this performance including civets, binturongs and hyena. To watch them live, you do not need to book tickets in advance. Just come as early as possible to secure the best watching spot.

  • Necessary Stage in Eastern Singapore

Alvin Tan, an artistic director, has worked with Haresh Sharma to create more than 60 genuine products since the first theatre inception in 1987. They formed the Necessary Stage as an innovative, indigenous and often controversial theatre group, but still one of the best known in Singapore.

  • Timbrè @ The Substation in Colonial District, the Quays and Marina Bay

Enjoy the live music where young people are always seen waiting in life for getting a seat. You can expect for any song from pop and rock to folk, brought by the local bands and singer-songwriters. Do not let yourself starve to death because there are soups, salads, tapas and friend standbys available to fill up. There is also free flow of chosen drinks for an hour starting at 5 pm on the weekday liquid buffet.

  • Endless Summer in Sentosa Island

Gather with others under the sun at Endless Summer pool party at W Singapore hotel. Not only special beverages offered, but there are also fun games to play with the audio background provided by international DJs.

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  • BluJaz Café in Little India and Kampong Glam

For jazz lovers, the best place to go is the Bohemian pub Blu Jaz. There will be life regular jazz jams and also other acts from blues to rockabilly. Check out the official website to get the updated list of the events.

  • Omni-Theater in West and Southwest Singapore

Located close to the Science Centre and Snow City, the Omni Theater is where you will find the biggest dome screen in Asia which shows stunning documentary films for 45 minutes.

  • REX Cinemas in Little India and Kampong Glam

Want to watch all popular Bollywood movies? There is no better place than the Rex in Little India. This theatre has the historic value which plays the films, mostly subtitled in English on its big screens.

Religions

Once you visit Singapore, you will find out how diverse the people are. They come from different ethnics, racial and cultural backgrounds, but still can live in a peaceful manner, especially when practising their religions. This situation is the proof of enshrined freedom for worship as the top priorities of the nation.

There are 10 religions officially known in Singapore. The major ones are Buddhism or Taoism, Islam, Hinduism and Christianity. There are also other beliefs and even some people have more than one faith.

It does not affect the society’s peace. Instead, Singaporean children have been taught to participate in harmony programs to understand the customs and practices of each other.

They are encouraged to see, hear, taste and experience the value of diverse culture, said by the Principal at Praiseland Childcare and Learning Centre, Madam Adeline Tso. This understanding makes everyone look forward to the major religious festivals including Deepavali, Vesak Day, Hari Raya and Christmas.

Some etiquette when entering the worship places:

  • Put off the footwear before going inside the mosques and temples
  • Hindus clean their feet and hands with water at the entrance hall
  • There are robes and scarves for female worshippers provided by some mosques and Sikh temples. At the Hindu temples, women should wear long attire below the waist.
  • Buddhist and Hindus use flowers and fruits as the offerings for gods. They also burn incense sticks or lamps when praying.
  • Church’s visitors sit on the provided benches when praying, while those who are in temple and mosques do the prayer by sitting on the mats placed on the ground.
  • It is allowed to take pictures unless on specified moments.
  • It is usually not allowed to eat and drink at the worship places.
  • People usually devote foods for free on special moments.

Major religions

  • Buddhism

Over three-fifths of the population in Singapore are Buddhists, most prevalently following the form of Chinese Mahayana Buddhism. They practice the value of Morality, Concentration and Wisdom. There is also known Fengshui as a part of the religion which teaches the art and science of evoking positive energy. In Singapore, there are many organizations based on Buddhism that operate various services to support the society.

  • Taoism

Taoism is a belief based on Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese religious philosophy. It teaches about to respect heaven, worship the ancestors and compassionate to all under heaven. The followers regularly make the offering of food and burn joss stick or paper for the ancestors. You may have heard about the Yin Yang. It is the concept from Taoism.

  • Islam

Islam followers called Muslims to profess Allah’s teachings delivered by Prophet Muhammad as Allah’s Messenger through the scriptural revelations of the Qur’an. The messages are about the wisdom of the past suitably blended with pointers for the future.

About 60% of the population in Singapore are Muslims, mostly are Malays. There is also a supreme Islamic religious authority called The Majlis Ugama Islam Singapore (MUIS). They are in charged to look after the Muslims in Singapore in all aspects, especially the religious, social and welfare needs.

  • Christianity

Christians follow the teaching of the Son of God named Jesus. His life, message, suffering and death are recorded in the Bible.  There are many churches found in Singapore while the services are delivered in many languages to respect the diverse nationalities.

  • Hinduism

Hinduism is known as the oldest religion in the world. The followers believe that God forms in various characters, mainly, Brahma as the Creature, Vishnu as the Preserver and Shiva as the destroyer. There are even about 30 temples managed and administrated in Singapore by the Hindu Endowments Board and the Hindu Advisory Board with Sri Mariamman Temple, established in 1827 as the oldest one.

  • Others

Besides those major religions, there are also about 15,000 Sikhs and 7 Gurdwaras, as well as Jews and two synagogues followers living peacefully in Singapore.

Important religious occasions

  • Lunar New Year

This is an important occasion for Chinese people, regardless of their religions. The date is estimated based on the lunar-solar movements, usually starts from the first day of New Moon after English New Year and ends 15 days later or on the full moon. Everyone will exchange cards and gifts as the symbolic meanings. The common ones are mandarin oranges and hong baos (red envelope with money inside).

The eve of Lunar New Year, families also usually gather for the reunion dinner which every dish has symbolic meaning. You will find everything in red and gold during this special occasion as the symbol of prosperity and wealth.

  • Hari Raya Puasa

It is a special day at the end of Ramadan when Muslims finish doing the fasting prayer. People will attend the Geylang Serai Area to find stalls selling traditional Malay food and clothes.

  • Hari Raya Haji

It is the second important religious day for Muslims. Hari Raya Haji is celebrated on the tenth day of the Zulhijjah month to commemorate this special occasion and honour the pilgrims who have finished their Haj prayer in Mecca.

  • Vesak Day

Vesak Day is the birthday of Buddha. That is why it is very important among Buddhists. The festivals take place from the first full moon day in May, unless it is a leap year, so the festival will be held in June.

  • Deepavali

Deepavali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is to celebrate the home returning of Lord Rama after defeating the evil demon, Ravana. You will see the colourful lit and deocariaotn in the entire of Little India district. There are also bazaars offering various stuff including greeting cards, traditional foods and drinks, sparkles, statues of deities and home decoration items.

  • Christmas

It is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, taking place every December 25th every year. Also known as the day of peace, Christmas is not only celebrated by Christians, but it also embraces the spirit of giving on every Singaporean. You can also expect for having turkey for dinners, Christmas carols singing, Christmas trees completed with the beautiful decorations and special sales in most shopping malls.

Transportation

There are many options for transport, especially for tourists who want to spend the holiday in Singapore

  • MRT (Mass Rapid Transportation)

This local subway system is one of the more efficient transportation to get around the whole part of Singapore. It runs fast and is not affected by traffic jams. Compared with the cost of living, the fares are relatively cheap. By taking MRT, you can easily reach the tourist spots in the city centre. If you are going to visit more specified tourism attractions like zoos and parks, you can jump off the MRT and take another transportation mode.

source: mothership
source: mothership
  • Buses

It is easier to find bus stops. It is also the most preferred alternative to MRT since the starting points or destinations are usually nearby. If you can reach the places via MRT, you are able to switch to bus services which cover larger areas of Singapore. However, this transportation mode takes more time because it runs slower and can get affected by the traffic jam.

  • LRT (Light Rail Transit)

LRT is still connected with MRT. However, it has further reached to the suburban areas, i.e. Bukit Panjang in the northwest, Sengkang and Punggol in the northeast of Singapore. Unless you are not going to go to one of those places, you may not need to use on LRT.

  • Taxi

Taxi seems to be the most reliable transportation mode because you can hail it in many ways. You can easily find many at the airport. Or, you book the cab in advance before taking the flight to Singapore.

The fares will differ depending on the carriers, distance and estimated waiting time. But if you are not in a public area, you are able to take the advantage of the ride-hailing mobile app, i.e. Grab. Booking the taxi via application is more comfortable because you can obtain the fare estimation directly on your mobile before deciding to fix the order.

  • Bike sharing

Bike sharing is a new innovation in transportation service in Singapore. You can rent a bike from different companies, i.e. Ofo, bike and Mobile. It is almost the same with the sharing system for bikes in Paris and New York.

However, you won’t find a bike station in Singapore. The bicycle can be found anywhere instead and you are able to just leave it in a designed bike parking box or random sidewalk once finish using it. If you do not find any taxi or bus close by and wish to take alternative routes to reach such destination, hiring bike-sharing service is a great option.

Singapore is not a big country. However, its diversity seems like gathering the whole world in one place. This tiny melting pot shows whatever your ethnic, race, language or religion is, you can live in the peaceful environment. The existing of both traditional and modern cultures also adds the value of Singapore’s diversity among of the residents and visitors, making it worth to be visited whether it is for business or leisure vacation.

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