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156: Singapore (Revisited)

Tips For Travellers

Release Date: 09/29/2014

Gary Bembridge of TipsForTravellers.com shares observations, tips and advice for visitors to Singapore.

This show covers among other topics:

General Observations

  • Country and city in one - there are actually 63 islands but one main one which has been constantly expanded through land reclaimation.
  • One of wealthiest countries in the world and one of most expensive to live in.
  • Singapore means "lion city" - also known as "Garden City of Asi"
  • Many see it as too sterile and lacking warmth - been many times and I like the efficiency, cleanliness and order and  mixture of cultures.
  • Strict and regimented state - authoritarian democracy - bit of "nanny state" with lots of rules and fines.
  • Although trying to promote arts and culture constant struggle against state censorship with strict rules on anything seen as pornographic, promoting homosexuality etc.
  • Economy very export and services focused - one of worlds busiest harbours - lots of head offices for Asia region based here.
  • About 4,5 population - 75% Chinese - multi cultural though - lots expats - Buddhist is main religion.
  • For visitors is easy as English spoken all over and very well

History
1819 Sir Thomas Raffles wanted to protect British trade routes for British East India company in Asia and landed in singapore to establish a base as was along the shortest route between India and China. Free port was established and he encouraged migrants to come and settle and boomed from there- he is very fondly regarded even despite some policies like Raffles plan which segregated ethnic groups. 1963 joined union with Malay States but did not work as rest were suspicious about the Chinese so broke away 2 years later to become independent state.

Best time to go
High humidity all year round - but pretty constant weather too. Rains most of the year but usually in short bursts.

Great to visit when  big events like Singapore F1, Fashion Week and Big Singapore Sale are on.

Getting there
Changi airport is a major hub - only about 25-30 minutes into centre
Cruise ship - big modern cruise terminal in Marina bay development opened in 2013 - public transport accessible

Getting around

  • Good transport and not too bad traffic as strong disincentives to private ownership of cars.
  • Metro (mass rapid transport ) easy to use and cheap - also the stops usually named by the tourist feature there so Chinatown is at Chinatown MR.
  • Taxis use meters and inexpensive - lots of them.
  • Trishaws - expensive but good for sight seeing.
  • Pedestrian friendly with lots if walkways over roads.
  • Hop-on Hop-off bus has many options and routes and brands - very frequent - CitySightseeing has 3 routes with a cross-over station for all routes at Suntec mall.
  • Duck Tour also available - leave from singapore flier

General tips

  • Know and watch out for the rules and fines - compliance is important.
  • Drug laws very draconian and mandatory death sentence
  • Tipping not expected or encouraged ! Though never had anyone turn it down.
  • Pick up the brochures at the airport arrivals or tourist information centre - excellent ones focused by topics like Chinatown and little India , shopping, river walks

Tips on must-do things to see and do

  • Chinatown
  • Little India
  • Kampon Glam Area
  • Raffles Hotel
  • Merlion Fountain and Marina Bay Hotel / Development
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Singapore Zoo and Night and River Safari
  • Singapore Flyer
  • Shopping
  • Sentosa Island