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Reasons to Visit Singapore

By Khal Rasdam

Singapore is a small island nation and city-state located off the southern tip of Peninsula Malaysia. It is home to just over 5 million people cramped into an area covering 274 sq. miles (710 sq. km) and thus one of the world’s most densely populated countries. However, Singapore never seems to be crowded, being a well-planned city and a utopia of urban development – a world apart from other cities in Southeast Asia! The country is a modern and wealthy nation and a garden city with more than 50% of the country still covered in greenery. However, this modern metropolis has the image of being artificial, sanitized and boring. But Singapore is an interesting place to visit and this small nation attracts more than 10 million visitors each year.

The country’s strict laws and relatively stiff penalties on crime and even misdemeanors make Singapore a very safe place to visit. You are unlikely to experience annoying touts or even pickpockets preying on tourists and if any are extremely rare. You can easily get around Singapore using the city’s efficient public transport system of commuter buses and trains – many of the major destinations are reachable by train. Taxis are widely available but getting one during the morning or afternoon rush-hour can test your patience. Singapore is an expensive city compared to other Southeast Asian cities. As a general guide, expect to pay three-four times more than in Thailand and twice than in Malaysia for accommodation, food and entertainment.

 
 
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Central Business District, Singapore

 Singapore's Central Business District (CBD)

Singapore has a GDP per capita comparable to many Western Europe countries. Its people are affluent, influenced by Western culture and English used in both government and businesses. But Singapore still retains its Asian identity and a potpourri of cultures with the Chinese, Malays and Indians being the three major communities - each with its own language, customs and cuisine. Many Singaporeans still hold to their religious beliefs with the Chinese being predominantly Taoist or Buddhist, Malays Muslims and Indians Hindus. The architecture and interiors of the temples and mosques represent their cultural origins and many are open to visitors. For the best of Singapore’s cuisine, head to the stalls at the food centers and food courts at the shopping malls. 

Orchard Road is home to several upscale hotels, though the cheapest are the three-star accommodations. The area is a prime shopping destination with its glitzy shopping malls selling big name brands for those with fat wallets. Visitors on a tight budget can always immense themselves in window shopping or enjoy the lively atmosphere of Orchard Road. The Riverside (Colonial District) was once the administrative heart of British colonial rule. Imposing architecture left by the British here include the Victoria Concert Hall & Theatre, Old Parliament House, Empress Place Building and the Supreme Court. Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay are located nearby each other along the Singapore River. Quiet during the day but gets lively in the evenings with its plethora of indoor and outdoor restaurants, bars and clubs.

The Riverside (Singapore River)

The Riverside along Singapore River

Chinatown was once the pulse of Singapore’s Chinese community and has been redeveloped into a Chinese heritage site. It is an interesting place with its old yet colorful buildings, Chinese temples, small shops, a street market, modest restaurants and street food stalls. Little India is the heart of the Indian community with an old town atmosphere and an area full of life. Here you can find Indian businesses including restaurants, markets, and shops selling spices, garlands, clothes, jewelry and the latest from Bollywood. Kampung Glam is the old Malay district and a recognizable landmark here is the golden-domed Sultan Mosque. The area comprises of Malay-owned shops selling Malay clothing, leather goods, traditional games, carpets and handicrafts.

Marina Bay is Singapore’s newest district, built on reclaimed land at the mouth of the Singapore River. Attractions here include the SkyPark situated on top of the 55-storey Marina Bay Sands and the 541-feet (165 meters) observation wheel called the Singapore Flyer. Sentosa is the nearest thing to a resort island in Singapore but everything seems to be artificial here including the planted palm trees and leveled beaches. Nevertheless, Sentosa is a popular place featuring several resort-style hotels, a casino, theme park, aquarium and a 430-feet (131 meters) observation tower. Pulau Ubin is another small island but seems to be lost in time, being the last of Singapore’s Malay villages or kampungs. A popular activity with visitors here is biking with several trails leading through the jungle and villages.

This article is available under a Creative Commons licence.

 
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