Singapore

Singapore Supertrees

Singapore’s “Supertree Grove”

Singapore is a thriving city-state in Southeast Asia.

Fast Facts:

Language: English

Currency: Singaporean Dollar (SGD). As of November 2017, the exchange rate is around 1 USD = 1.36 SGD.

Getting in: US citizens can enter without a visa and stay for up to 90 days.

Getting around: Singapore is a very small country, and is almost completely urbanized. As such, you get can anywhere in the country by using either the subway system or public buses. All subway lines and buses are air conditioned and quite comfortable. Transit is frequent.

When to visit: Anytime. Singapore is located near the equator, which means that the temperature is the same year-round. The rainiest time is mid-November through mid-January.

How to visit: Singapore has its own airport, which is a hub for Southeast Asia. Using Alaska miles to fly to Singapore on Cathay Pacific will cost 60,000 round-trip. Other mileage programs will be a bit more expensive, but not unreasonably so. Purchasing a flight will generally cost at minimum $400 to $800 round-trip. Getting from the airport to anywhere in the country is easy and cheap because the subway connects to the airport.

 

Highlights of Singapore:

Singapore is on an island off the southern tip of Malaysia. Because of this, it is a bit isolated from the mainland and quite a bit wealthier and more expensive. It is a big business hub for all of Southeast Asia. Nearly everyone in the country uses English as their day-to-day language, but some of the population has a strong Singaporean accent. Most Singaporeans either have Chinese, Malay, or Indian heritage, and may speak other languages as well.

Singaporean food is cheap and good. “Hawker centres” are giant outdoor food courts, and are located everywhere in the country. Usually each large housing development has their own hawker centre, and might have a “wet market” selling food for cooking as well.

Hawker Centre

Hawker centres are a way of life in Singapore.

Singapore has plenty of unique things you may not find elsewhere in the world. You can enjoy a boat ride in the middle of a shopping mall, for instance, at the Marina Bay Sands hotel complex. The entire building itself is shaped like a boat held up by three pillars! In addition, Singapore boasts a statue of a Merlion (half mermaid, half lion) along its waterfront.

Merlion

I spy a Merlion!

Being a multicultural country, Singapore has different ethnic neighborhoods as well. Perhaps the best known are Chinatown and Little India, each with good food and large temples. Arab Street is a neighborhood with Muslim ties and a beautiful mosque.

Masjid Sultan Mosque

Masjid Sultan Mosque in the Arab Street neighborhood of Singapore.

Singapore is also known as “the garden city” because its abundance of greenery and trees among all of its tall buildings and skyscrapers. It has a great national park system as well, which includes botanic gardens and other large forested areas on the island.

Because of its proximity to Malaysia and Indonesia and the numerous low-cost airlines headquartered at the airport, Singapore makes a good base for exploring the rest of Southeast Asia. I would recommend at least taking a day trip across the bridge to Malaysia and/or a quick ferry ride to one of the nearby Indonesian islands. Both will give you a feel of the variety that the rest of southeast Asia has to offer.

Johor Bahru Alley

An alley in Johor Bahru, the Malaysian city directly across the bridge from Singapore.

Hopefully the information here has been helpful for planning a trip to Singapore. If you end up going or have been, feel free to leave a comment!

Posted in Destinations, East, Southeast, & South Asia.

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