SINGAPORE CITY

Introduction

Info Singapore City

introduction

Singapore officially the Republic of Singapore, and often referred to as the Lion City, the Garden City, and the Red Dot, is a global city in Southeast Asia and the world's only island city-state.

Founded as a British trading colony in 1819, since independence it has become one of the world's most prosperous countries and boasts one of the world's busiest ports.

The food is legendary, with bustling hawker centres and 24-hour coffee shops offering affordable food from all parts of Asia. Combining the skyscrapers and subways of a modern, affluent city with a medley of Chinese, Malay and Indian influences and a tropical climate, with tasty food, good shopping and a vibrant nightlife scene, this Garden City makes a great stopover or springboard into the region.

The country has a partly deserved reputation for sterile predictability that has earned it descriptions like William Gibson's "Disneyland with the death penalty" or the "world's only shopping mall with a seat in the United Nations". Nevertheless, the Switzerland of Asia is for many a welcome respite from the poverty, dirt and corruption of much of the Asian mainland. If you scratch below the squeaky clean surface and get away from the tourist trail you'll soon find more than meets the eye.

info
POPULATION : City: 5,535,000  
FOUNDED :  1299
TIME ZONE : SST (UTC+8)  
LANGUAGE : Mandarin , English , Malay , Tamil
RELIGION : Buddhist 42.5%, Muslim 14.9%, Taoist 8.5%, Hindu 4%, Catholic 4.8%, other Christian 9.8%, other 0.7%, none 14.8%
AREA : 719.1 km2 (278 sq mi)
ELEVATION :
COORDINATES : 1°17′N 103°50′E
SEX RATIO : Male: 49.35%  
 Female: 50.65%
ETHNIC : Chinese 74.1%, Malay 13.4%, Indian 9.2%, Others 3.3%
AREA CODE :
POSTAL CODE :
DIALING CODE : +65
WEBSITE :

Tourism

While you can find a place to practice nearly any sport in Singapore — golfing, surfing, scuba diving, even ice skating and snow skiing — due to the country's small size your options are rather limited and prices are relatively high. For watersports in particular, the busy shipping lanes and sheer population pressure mean that the sea around Singapore is murky, and most locals head up to Tioman (Malaysia) or Bintan (Indonesia) instead. On the upside, there is an abundance of dive shops in Singapore, and they often arrange weekend trips to good dive sites off the East Coast of Malaysia, so they are a good option for accessing some of Malaysia's not-so touristy dive sites.


Culture

On the cultural side of things, Singapore has been trying to shake off its boring, buttoned-down reputation and attract more artists and performances, with mixed success. The star in Singapore's cultural sky is the Esplanade theatre in Marina Bay, a world-class facility for performing arts and a frequent stage for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Pop culture options are more limited and Singapore's home-grown arts scene remains rather moribund, although local starlets Stefanie Sun and JJ Lin have had some success in the Chinese pop scene. On the upside, any bands and DJs touring Asia are pretty much guaranteed to perform in Singapore.

Going to the movies is a popular Singaporean pastime, but look for "R21" ratings (age 21 and above only) if you like your movies with fewer cuts. The big three theatre chains are Cathay, Golden Village and Shaw Brothers. Censorship continues to throttle the local film scene, but Jack Neo's popular comedies showcase the foibles of Singaporean life.


Gambling

Singapore has two massive casinos, always referred to with the euphemism "integrated resort", which pull in nearly as much revenue as the entirety of Las Vegas. Marina Bay Sands at Marina Bay is the larger and swankier of the two, while Resorts World Sentosa at Sentosa aims for a more family-friendly experience (but offers No Limit Holdem from $5/$10). While locals (citizens and permanent residents) have to pay $100/day to get in, foreign visitors can enter for free after presenting their passport.

Besides the casino, there are other forms of legalised betting which are more accessible to the locals. This includes horse racing, which is run by the Singapore Turf Club on weekends, as well as football (soccer) betting and several lotteries run by the Singapore Pools.


Golf

Despite its small size, Singapore has a surprisingly large number of golf courses, but most of the best ones are run by private clubs and open to members and their guests only. The main exceptions are the Sentosa Golf Club, the famously challenging home of the Barclays Singapore Open, and the Marina Bay Golf Course, the only 18-hole public course.


Races

The inaugural Singapore Formula One Grand Prix was held at night in September 2008, and the organisers have confirmed that the night race will be a fixture until 2017. Held on a street circuit in the heart of Singapore and raced at night, all but race fans will probably wish to avoid this time, as hotel prices especially room with view of the F1 tracks are through the roof. Tickets start from $150 but the thrilling experience of night race is definitely unforgettable for all F1 fans and photo buffs. Besides being a uniquely night race, the carnival atmosphere and pop concert held around the race ground as well as the convenience of hotels and restaurants round the corner, distinguish the race from other F1 races held in remote spots away from urban centres.


Spas

Singapore has recently been experiencing a 'spa boom', and there is now plenty of choice for everything from holistic Ayurveda to green tea hydrotherapy. However, prices aren't as rock-bottom as in neighbours Indonesia and Thailand, and you'll generally be looking at upwards of $50 even for a plain one-hour massage. Premium spas can be found in most 5 star hotels and on Orchard, and Sentosa's Spa Botanica also has a good reputation. There are also numerous shops offering traditional Chinese massage, which are mostly legitimate. The less legitimate "health centres" have been shut down. Traditional Asian-style public baths are non-existent.

When looking for beauty salons on Orchard Road, try out the ones on the fourth floor of Lucky Plaza. They offer most salon services like manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing and hair services. A favourite of flight crews and repeat tourists due to the lower costs as compared to the sky high prices of other salons along the shopping belt. Shop around for prices, some of the better looking ones actually charge less.


Swimming

Forget your tiny hotel pool if you are into competitive or recreational swimming: Singapore is paradise for swimmers with arguably the highest density of public pools in the world. They are all open-air 50 m pools (some facilities even feature up to three 50 m pools), accessible for an entrance fee of $1–1.50. Some of the visitors don't swim at all. They just come from nearby housing complexes for a few hours to chill out, read and relax in the sun. Most are open daily 08:00-21:00 and all feature a small cafe. Just imagine swimming your lanes in the tropical night with lit up palm trees surrounding the pool.


Water/Snow sports

Besides more regular water sports such as water skiing, wake boarding, windsurfing and canoeing, Singapore also offers water sports fans trendy activities such as cable-skiing and wave surfing in specially created environments.

While obviously not the best place on earth for skiing, sunny Singapore still has a permanent indoor snow centre. Snow City offers visitors a chance to experience winter. Visitors can escape from the hot and humid tropical weather to play in snow or even learn to ski and snowboard with certified professional instructors.


Shopping

Shopping is second only to eating as a national pastime, which means that Singapore has an abundance of shopping malls, and low taxes and tariffs on imports coupled with huge volume mean that prices are usually very competitive. While you won't find any bazaars with dirt-cheap local handicrafts (in fact, virtually everything sold in Singapore is made elsewhere), goods are generally of reasonably good quality and shopkeepers are generally quite honest due to strong consumer protection laws. Most stores are open daily 10:00-22:00, although smaller operations (particularly those outside shopping malls) close earlier — 19:00 is common — and perhaps on Sundays as well.

History

Temasek ('Sea Town' in the Malay language), an outpost of the Sumatran Srivijaya empire, is the earliest written record on Singapore. In the 13th century, the Kingdom of Singapura was established on the island and it became a trading port city. It was, however, invaded by two major foreign invasions before being destroyed by the Majapahit in 1398.In 1613, Portuguese raiders burned down the settlement, which was part of the Johor Sultanate and the island sank into obscurity for the next two centuries. Nominally, it belonged to the Johor Sultanate during this period, while the maritime region and trade was under Dutch control.

In 1819, Thomas Stamford Raffles arrived and signed a treaty with Sultan Hussein Shah of Johor, on behalf of the British East India Company, to develop the southern part of Singapore as a British trading post. In 1824, the entire island became a British possession under a further treaty with the Sultan, as well as the Temenggong. In 1826, Singapore became part of the Straits Settlements, under the jurisdiction of British India, becoming the regional capital in 1836.

Singapore conquered by the Japanese in early 1942 during World War II.

During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army invaded British Malaya, culminating in the Battle of Singapore. The British surrendered on 15 February 1942. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the defeat "the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history".

From November 1944 to May 1945, the Allies conducted an intensive bombing of Singapore. The Japanese occupied Singapore until the British repossessed it in September 1945, after the Surrender of Japan.

During the May 1959 elections, the People's Action Party won a landslide victory. Singapore became an internally self-governing state within the Commonwealth and Lee Kuan Yew became the country's first Prime Minister. During the 1950s, Chinese Communists with strong ties to the trade unions and Chinese schools carried out an armed uprising against the government, leading to the Malayan Emergency and later, the Communist Insurgency War. The 1954 National Service Riots, Chinese middle schools riots, and Hock Lee bus riots in Singapore were all linked to these events.

As a result of the 1962 Merger Referendum, on 31 August 1963 Singapore joined with the Federation of Malaya, the Crown Colony of Sarawak and the Crown Colony of North Borneo to form the new federation of Malaysia under the terms of the Malaysia Agreement.However, shortly after the merger, the Singapore state government and the Malaysian central government disagreed on many political and economic issues, and communal strife culminated in the 1964 race riots in Singapore. After many heated ideological conflicts between the two governments, on 9 August 1965, the Malaysian Parliament voted 126 to 0 to expel Singapore from Malaysia with Singaporean delegates not present.

Singapore gained independence as the Republic of Singapore (remaining within the Commonwealth of Nations) on 9 August 1965.

Climate

Singapore has a tropical rainforest climate with no distinctive seasons, uniform temperature and pressure, high humidity, and abundant rainfall.

Temperatures usually range from 22 to 35 °C (72 to 95 °F). Relative humidity averages around 79% in the morning and 73% in the afternoon.

April and May are the hottest months, with the wetter monsoon season from November to January.

Geography

Singapore consists of 63 islands, including the main island.There are two man-made connections to Johor, Malaysia: the Johor–Singapore Causeway in the north and the Tuas Second Link in the west. Jurong Island, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin and Sentosa are the largest of Singapore's smaller islands. The highest natural point is Bukit Timah Hill at 163.63 m (537 ft).

Ongoing land reclamation projects have increased Singapore's land area from 581.5 km2 (224.5 sq mi) in the 1960s to 719.1 km2 (277.6 sq mi) in 2015, an increase of some 23% (130 km2). The country is projected to grow by another 100 km2 (40 sq mi) by 2030. Some projects involve merging smaller islands through land reclamation to form larger, more functional islands, as has been done with Jurong Island.

Nearly 10% of Singapore's land has been set aside for parks and nature reserves. The network of nature reserves, parks, park connectors, nature ways, tree-lined roads and other natural areas have enhanced the sense of green space in the city.

Economy

Before independence in 1965, Singapore was the capital of the British Straits Settlements, a Crown Colony. Because it held the main British naval base in East Asia and the largest dry dock of its time, Singapore was commonly described in the press as the 'Gibraltar of the East'. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 led to a major increase in trade between Europe and Asia, helping Singapore become a major world trade centre, and the Port of Singapore became the largest and busiest ports in the world from the 1990s.

Singapore has a highly developed market economy, based historically on extended entrepôt trade. Along with Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan, Singapore is one of the original Four Asian Tigers, but has surpassed its peers in terms of GDP per capita. The Singaporean economy is known as one of the freest, most innovative, most competitive, most dynamic and most business-friendly.

For the past decade, Singapore has been the only Asian country to receive the top-tier AAA sovereign ratings from all major credit rating agencies, including Standard & Poor's, Moody's, Fitch. Globally, it is one of only nine countries with AAA rating from the Big Three (credit rating agencies).

Singapore attracts a large amount of foreign investment as a result of its location, corruption-free environment, skilled workforce, low tax rates and advanced infrastructure. There are more than 7,000 multinational corporations from the United States, Japan, and Europe in Singapore. There are also approximately 1,500 companies from China and a similar number from India. Foreign firms are found in almost all sectors of the country's economy. Singapore is also the second-largest foreign investor in India.

Singapore is considered a barometer of global economic health, especially within Asia, owing to its high dependence on external trade. Its foreign trade and capital flows is 407.9% of its GDP, making it the most trade dependent country in the world. It is the 14th largest exporter and the 15th largest importer in the world.

Subdivisions

City centre

Riverside (Civic District)
Singapore's colonial core, with museums, statues and theatres, not to mention restaurants, bars and clubs, centred along the banks of the Singapore River at Boat Quay and Clarke Quay.

Orchard Road
Miles and miles of shopping malls in air-conditioned comfort. At the eastern end, the Bras Basah District is an arts and culture project in progress.

Marina Bay
Dominated by the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort (hotel, casino, shopping mall, convention centre and museum), the Marina Barrage and the Gardens by the Bay. Along with the Singapore Flyer and the Esplanade Theatres, Marina Bay makes up the new iconic skyline of Singapore.

Bugis and Kampong Glam
Bugis and Kampong Glam are Singapore's old Malay district, good for shopping in the day but especially comes to life at night.

Chinatown
The area originally designated for Chinese settlement by Raffles, is now a Chinese heritage area popular with tourists. Restored shophouses make for trendy hangouts for locals and expats alike.

Little India
A piece of India to the north of the city core.


Outer Singapore

There's more to see outside the main city centre of Singapore, from the HDB heartlands where hawker food is king, to the Singapore Zoo. Or chill out in the parks and beaches of the East Coast and Sentosa.

Balestier, Newton, Novena and Toa Payoh
Budget accommodations and Burmese temples within striking distance of Central Singapore. Toa Payoh, one of Singapore's first planned neighbourhoods, is an easy way to wander around a local housing estate and experience the town centre design unique to Singapore.

North and West
The northern and western parts of the island, known as Woodlands and Jurong respectively, form Singapore's residential and industrial hinterlands. The Mandai area is home to the Singapore Zoo, the River Safari and the Night Safari.

East Coast
The largely residential eastern part of the island contains Changi Airport, miles and miles of beach and many famous eateries. Also covers Geylang Serai, the true home of Singapore's Malays, and Pulau Ubin, the last remnant of a rustic Singapore.

Sentosa
A separate island once a military fort is developed into a resort, Sentosa is the closest that Singapore gets to Disneyland, now with a dash of gambling and the Universal Studios theme park thrown in. Across the water, there's Mount Faber and the Southern Ridges, an urban treetop walk with optional local monkeys.


Internet, Comunication

INTERNET

Internet cafes charging around $2/hr are scattered about the island, but are not particularly common since almost all locals have broadband Internet access at home, work, and/or school. Head to Chinatown or Little India if you need to get on-line, or check out the top floors of many suburban malls, which feature Internet cafes doubling as on-line gaming parlours. Alternatively, all public libraries offer cheap Internet access ($0.03/min or $1.80/hr), but you need to jump through registration hoops to get access.

The first phase of the nationwide free [email protected] system is now operating and visitors are free to use the system, although you must register and receive a password via e-mail or a mobile phone first. See the Infocomm Development Authority website for a current list of hotspots.

Commercial alternatives include McDonalds, which offers free Wi-Fi at most outlets; StarHub, a member of the Wireless Broadband Alliance with hotspots at Coffee Bean cafes; and SingTel, which has hotspots at most Starbucks cafes. Roaming or prepaid rates are on the order of $0.10/min.

There are several options for prepaid 3G/HSPA internet. Starhub MaxMobile has different plans from S$2/hour to S$25 for 5 days unlimited 7.2Mbit/s internet. SIM costs S$12. M1 Prepaid Broadband offers unlimited Internet access for three days/five days at S$18/S$30.

Mobile internet access is also available from the different telecoms which offer hundreds of megabytes good for several days. However do try using the free Wi-Fi access if possible; not only will it save you money but also precious battery life.

Internet censorship in Singapore is not as strict as that of the Middle East or China; foreign news sites such as the BBC and CNN, as well as a number of politically dissident sites are freely accessible from Singapore. The Media Development Authority (MDA) is responsible for enforcing laws on internet content and have banned around a hundred, mostly pornographic, sites. They've also asked bloggers to apologise or close, with others arrested and charged with defamation. In October 2014, a law called the “Remote Gambling Act” was passed to control on-line gambling.


PHONE

The international telephone country code for Singapore is 65. There are three main telecommunication providers in Singapore: SingTel, StarHub and MobileOne (M1).

Phone numbers in Singapore have the format +65 6396 0605 where "65" is the country code for Singapore. Due to the small area of Singapore, there are no area codes, with the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), Radio Network and IP Telephony all belonging to one numbering area with an 8 digit numbering format.

Mobile phones are carried by almost everyone in Singapore, including many young children, and coverage is generally excellent throughout the country. All 3 service providers have both GSM 900/1800 and 3G (W-CDMA) networks, and international roaming onto them may be possible; check with your operator before you leave to be sure. Prepaid SIM cards are sold in 7-Eleven convenience stores, phone shops and currency exchange counters, just bring your own GSM/3G phone or buy a cheap used handset in Singapore. You will need to show an international passport or Singapore ID to sign up.

A local phone call costs between $0.05-$0.25 per min, whereas each local text message (SMS) costs about $0.05, with international SMS about $0.15–$0.25 (but a few dozen local SMS are usually thrown in for free when you top up). You may also be charged for incoming calls. Most prepaid cards expire within 6 mth unless you top-up (which can be done outside Singapore). The carriers also offer special top up cards that will give a higher number of minutes for the price at the downside of expiring more quickly. As in many places, mobile data with on prepaid voice SIM cards can be ridiculously expensive. StarHub offers a 1GB package (valid for 30 days). It costs $25 and is aimed at BlackBerries but works with any phone. Using the StarHub SIM, call *122# and follow the menu to activate. Data-only SIMs can be more affordable. For short stays, StarHub has 2Mbit/s unlimited service at S$15 per week. For longer stays, bring a MicroSIM adapter and you can get StarHub's 2GB package (good for 60 days) for $37.

In northern Singapore near Malaysia (e.g. Woodlands, Sungei Buloh, Pulau Ubin), your phone may automatically switch to a Malaysian network, making a local call an international one or worse: having data charges go through the roof. Check the operating network (or switch to manual network selection) before you call or browse.

Public phones are an increasingly endangered species, but you can find them in some MRT stations. They are either coin-operated pay phones (10 cents for a three-minute local call), card phones operated by phone cards in denominations of $3, $5, $10, $20 and $50, or credit card phones. Phone cards are available at all post offices and from phonecard agents. Most coin-operated pay phones are for local calls only, there are some which accept coins of larger denominations and can be used for overseas calls. Credit card phones are usually found at the airport or in some major hotels.

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