Singapore Travel Guide

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Travel Guide

Singapore is the nearest we Indians can experience utopia. The city-state is a mindboggling melting pot of cultures and ethnicities that have helped Singapore travel become the foremost aspirational destination for travellers from around the globe.

Introduction

Although Singapore is a favourite among luxury travel fans for long, it’s in the recent years that the charming place is making some serious inroads into budget travellers’ itineraries. The credit for this should go to a deliberate approach by the Singapore government to develop affordable attractions and accommodations that appeal to a large percentage of common people like us.

That Singapore is a melting pot is no secret; the actual surprise is the zest of the Singaporeans to imaginatively preserve their individual heritage and customs. So you have well-defined colourful neighbourhoods- Little India, Chinatown, Arab Street, and Kampong glam - named after their ancestries, with each of them proudly promoting their origins. The icing on the cake is the astonishing diversity and authenticity of traditional foods they serve in each of these milieus - more on that later, in the cuisine section.

The traditions are well respected but Singapore is no rookie when it comes to embracing modernity. The impressive Marina Bay Sands, Supertree Grove and most of the other new structures are not just shining steel and glass - they represent the ambitions of a nation that is moving forward dynamically and yet, is not afraid to reveal its traditional roots with utmost affection. This balance of modernity while appreciating culture makes Singapore an intriguing destination.

The small size of the city is further diminished by the remarkable efficiency of Singapore’s transport system. With well-situated stations near every neighbourhood, the scintillating MRT can take you from one Singapore attraction to another without a worry. Cheers your heart, right? Well, it should as you can plan your breakfast of sumptuous hot idlis in Little India, go Merlion watching and shopping in Marina Bay, rush to Chinatown or Arab Street for a filling lunch and return to the Marina for an extended evening and a night stroll along the pretty durian-shaped Esplanade.

Super Tree Grove at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore.

While in Singapore, you’ll be fascinated by the green skyscrapers, as if the city decided to relocate all its business to a forest. That exactly is the dream! The City in a Garden initiative of Singapore is not only transforming the façade of Singapore buildings towards a sustainable cohabitation, it is fervently directing the small nation towards becoming a green heaven of tranquillity. Singapore’s green jewel - The UNESCO World Heritage listed stunning Botanic Gardens - is the perfect foil for plenty of experiential green walking trails and the 6 km long fabulous treetop walk.

This abundance of green areas acts as the lungs of the world’s second most densely populated country, Singapore.

Finally, shopping in Singapore is one activity you’ll find yourself doing more often. The climate being warm and humid, it makes for good common sense to dwell inside a swanky mall or a high-street brand’s store for some good old retail therapy while cooling off the sweat in the air-conditioned environs. Orchard Road remains the first choice of residents as well as travellers for the widest possible choice of brands and indie stores.

But if you’re looking for an authentic local experience, head to one of the lively neighbourhood markets where you can rub shoulders with bargain hunters and connoisseurs alike in search of good- but-inexpensive things like a Persian carpet, a sari designed in Singapore, Chinese herbal concoctions and if it’s your lucky day, a piece of art at throwaway prices. The behemoth Mustafa Center in Little India is one such paradise for bargain hunters.

New York is known as the city that never sleeps. Trust me; Singapore is catching up with the Big Apple fast. You can wine, dine, shop and even find a place to fish around the clock. Discover the city-state with my guarantee that you’ll be back soon.

Best time to visit Singapore

The best time to travel to Singapore is any day! Even though it’s hot and humid the year around, you can plan to spend a few days here anytime of the year. The average temperature is never more than 25-27 °C, comfortable for most people. The added plus is the fact that all buildings, malls and shops are air-conditioned.

You can plan to visit outdoor areas in the morning and early afternoon, leaving the museums, galleries and shopping for the time when the sun is more furious. Once the sun sets down, the city- state turns into an altogether different, barely recognizable entity.

In terms of months, June to August is the driest time of the year in Singapore. You can plan a visit around this time if rains are a concern. If you’re one like us and love shopping and venturing out for delectable food while travelling; July is the month to hit the Singaporean malls and bazaars. The throbbing city turns more vivacious with both the Great Singapore Sale (Jun 21 - Jul 28, 2019) and the Singapore Food Festival (Jul 12 - Jul 28, 2019) being held at that time.

As for other months of the year, Feb-May and Sept-Oct are comparatively drier than the months of Nov-Jan, the time for monsoon in Singapore. Walking in the rains is as romantic as it can get for couples on honeymoon in Singapore, but other families with small kids need to be a tad extra careful. Luckily, rains in Singapore mostly occur in spurts so you can take shelter in the nearest mall when it pours. Trust me, Singapore travel in rains is a different, captivating experience.

Visit Any time of the Year

Visa Requirement to Visit Singapore

You’ll need a tourist visa in the form of ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization).

Indian Passport Holders are eligible to apply for a multiple entry visa to Singapore, which is granted for a maximum stay of 30 days and is valid for 2 years. This means you can holiday in Singapore every alternate month without reapplying for the visa for 2 years.

A tourist visa in the form of ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) is given to people who want to visit Singapore for tourism purposes. The process is fast and easy if you follow all the instructions carefully.

Visa to Singapore regulations keep changing, we would advise you to check the latest regulations with Holxo Holidays.

  1. Fill the Singapore Visa form completely and carefully.
  2. Ensure your passport has at least 6 months of validity from the date of arrival in Singapore.
  3. A confirmed return air-ticket and tour itinerary with your address to stay in Singapore is necessary.
  4. Write a covering letter mentioning the reason of travel and dates of travel; addressing it to ‘The Embassy of Singapore /The Consulate General of Singapore’.
  5. For a first time traveller to Singapore, you need to attach income tax papers of last 3 years along with bank statements of last 3 months.
  6. Photographs: Two recent coloured passport size photographs to be placed along the visa form (35mm X 45mm, 80% face close up, matte finish, white background only).

The Visa for Singapore Travel is easier than any most of the other countries. If you need any help, we are just a phone call away at +91 9870599122.

Must Visit Places in Singapore

The Bicentennial Experience
Singapore Zoo
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Jurong Bird Park
Singapore River Safari
Chinatown
Sentosa Island and Universal Studios
Singapore Night Safari
Clarke Quay

Singapore has determinedly transformed itself into a tourism paradise, with a wide range of attractions and restaurants that appeal to tourists of every age and budget. Here are our top recommendations:

1. The Bicentennial Experience

It was in 1819 that Sir Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore and thus began the transformation of Singapore from a small fishing village into the magnificent metropolis that it is now. The city nation is commemorating that occasion with the Singapore Bicentennial delving into the nation-city’s rich 700-year past, and the founding of modern Singapore 200 years ago.

The jewel in the crown of Singapore bicentennial celebrations shall be the multimedia sensory experience - From Singapore to Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience at the Fort Canning Center from June 1- Sept 15, 2019.

The one-of-a-kind showpiece event is set to transport you back in time to behold key moments in Singapore’s transformation from as far back as 1299. It’s a Free Event but you need to book your tickets in advance. Such a monumental event happens once in a lifetime, heck not just lifetime, but once in many generations’ timeline!

You won’t like me to repeat the obvious: Book The Bicentennial Experience today before it goes away forever! The tickets for the next month are released on the 7th of previous month, so if you plan to visit Singapore in August, book your tickets from July 7 onwards. The tickets are going fast, be the Quick Gun Murugan before another one does!

2. Singapore Zoo

Surprised by a zoo right at top of our suggestion? Singapore Zoo is different. Voted the 5th best zoo in the world, the Singapore zoo captivates you with its impressive standards of caring for the captive animals. The zoo follows an ‘Open zoo Policy,’ wherein the animals are never caged and are allowed to live in their natural habitats. Citizens of the animal kingdom you can expect to see there include Cheetah, Rhino, Zebra, Meerkats, Leopard, Giraffe, Iguana, Gila Monster, Komodo Dragon, Orangutan, Elephants and even Penguins.

If you are in the mood for some creepy fun, grab a panther and click a photo while it tries to squeeze your body for his lunch! Costs SGD 10.

There’s lots more that Singapore offers for kids and we have thoughtfully captured the top 5 family-friendly things to do in Singapore.

3. Singapore Botanic Gardens

Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, the Botanic Gardens is a living, breathing proof of the government’s City in a Garden initiative. Spread over an area of 60 acres, the expansive space is as much a treasure trove for outdoor enthusiasts as it is for horticulturists and botanical researchers.

Located mere meters away from the prime shopping destination of Orchard Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens is most famous for the National Orchid Garden that hosts a colossal 60,000 varieties of Orchid and other plants. Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden is another endearing spot where kids can play and learn about plant life. There are a number of restaurants within the garden so if you’re looking for a break from the city buzz, plan a picnic here. Or simply reach there in the morning and join the crowd of joggers, walkers and early risers who are out there to have a good start to the day.

4. Jurong Bird Park

Asia’s largest bird paradise, the Jurong Bird Park has almost every living species that will impress even the most au fait bird lover. With 5000 birds, you’ll be spoilt for choice as you sight rare birds like the crested guinea fowl, iridescent starling and turaco in their natural habitat, perhaps in their feeding sessions or even while taking a siesta!

The indisputable star attraction at the Jurong bird Park is the Waterfall Aviary – a walk-in aviary that is home to more than 600 birds and a 30-metre-high waterfall. The Penguin Coast is another unmissable attraction with many species of these endearing flightless birds. You can even feed penguins and other feathered friends at selected locations. Your kids will love the exciting bird shows where they try to impress you by their exciting show-stopping antics. Top-off your trip with opulent Asian buffet lunch while the gifted parrots keep you in good humour.

5. Singapore River Safari

Think of the River Safari as an aquarium and a river-themed zoo where you can bump into monkeys, manatees, pandas and the piranhas as they flock in and around the waters. The river safari is the latest in Singapore’s quest to develop sustainable and educative wildlife parks. Over 6000 animals are accommodated in various zones that reproduce the river habitats from across the world, from the Yangtze to the Amazon.

The showstopper undoubtedly is the Giant Panda park where giant Pandas Jia Jia and Kai Kai can be found clowning around with the other superstar, the groovy Singapore Red panda couple! Amazon River Quest is another fascinating, not-to-be-missed experience as it takes you deep into Amazonian rainforests where you can meet some of the world’s incredible wildlife, like jaguars, wolves and manatees in the Amazon Flooded Forest’s massive aquarium.

Expert advice: Invest in the ParkHopper Plus, a special multi park package that combines visits to the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and Singapore River Safari. Your kids will thank you for it for long!

6. Chinatown

Singapore’s Chinatown is the epitome of why Singapore is the original melting pot of cultures, religions and ethnicities. This Chinatown is like none you would’ve encountered across many other global cities. It’s livelier, it’s hipper, it’s cheaper, and it’s prettier!

A picture postcard of cultural diversity, Chinatown is a prodigious acknowledgment of Singapore’s multi-ethnic cultural practices, religions and breath-taking architecture. It happens to be the only Chinatown in the world that houses a Buddhist temple, a mosque and a Hindu temple along a single street.

Everywhere in the world, Chinatown is known for its diverse selection of sumptuous and cheap food in abundance, and Singapore’s Chinatown is no exception to that rule. In fact, it might be the only one that offers such a delectable range of cuisine- from genuinely traditional to contemporary fusion- to sate your appetite. Choose your poison from the profusion of hawkers or Michelin star stalls- you’ll be spoilt for choices in Chinatown!

With its proximity to tourist hotspots, and some of the voguish neighbourhoods in Singapore, Chinatown will tantalize you to spend the entire day here.

7. Sentosa Island and Universal Studios

Easily the best thing to do in Singapore- especially for kids and the young-at-hearts, Universal Studios is 20 hectares of unadulterated fun.

That’s about 25 football fields, so plan your trip well in advance. It might not be possible to visit all the 7 thematic zones, but choosing the best rides and themes before you go can make up for what you may miss. Here are the best Universal Studios rides that we have chosen after an all-embracing research and discussions with our guests:

  1. Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure (Kids and Adults)
  2. TRANSFORMERS The Ride (Young adults)
  3. Battlestar Galactica: HUMAN vs. CYLON (Kids and Adults)
  4. Amber Rock Climb (Kids and Adults)
  5. Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase in New York (Little Kids)
  6. Puss In Boots’ Giant Journey in Far Far Away (Little Kids)
  7. Sesame Street ‘When I Grow Up’ in Pantages Theater (Movie for kids)
  8. Sesame Street ‘When I Grow Up’ in Pantages Theater (Movie for kids)
  9. Madagascar Boogie in Madagascar (Movie for kids)

Your kids can also meet a number of their favourite characters while strolling around. There are Meet-and-Greet timing boards at practically every intersection. Keep a watch for timings to meet The Minions, The Sesame Street Gang, The Transformers, The Madagascar characters and the puppet hero, Pinocchio.

8. Singapore Night Safari

As dusk falls, embark on a Night Safari adventure and watch as 2,500 nocturnal creatures begin their nightly rituals of grazing, hunting or simply cavorting in the open space. You can choose to explore the park on foot on its 4 walking trails or take an exciting 35 minutes tram ride with live commentary that takes you through 7 geographical zones of the world, with animals from about 130 species, including many indigenous ones who are not found anywhere else in the world- endangered Asian elephant, Malayan tapir and Malayan tiger.

Nights in Singapore are younger than the day, and the shimmering city entices you to become an insomniac for the period you’re there on your Singapore travel. Discover our top Singapore experiences that will brighten up your night.

9. Clarke Quay

Drink and Dance the night away! As the day gives way to darkness, the Lion city switches on all its LEDs and the city glitters like a brilliant star in the galaxy. Singapore’s pulsating nightlife spot, Clarke Quay transforms into the center of the party universe, with tourists jostling for space with locals along its swarm of riverside bars and restaurants.

You can pick a spot that fits in with your kind of music- EDM, Jazz, hip-hop, or even beach club; the jaunty location has something for everyone. Some of the most frequented clubs here are:

  1. Attica
  2. Zouk
  3. Altimate at 1-Altitude
  4. Altimate at 1-Altitude
  5. Tang Music Box (for Karaoke)
  6. Tang Music Box (for Karaoke)
  7. Cuba Libre (Latino paradiso)

While you are here, you can also choose to spend a few days in the nearby tourist destinations like Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia or even Thailand. All these countries are barely a few hours distance from Singapore, thus making a weekend getaway hugely enticing. Here’s a quick prologue on planning a weekend getaway from Singapore.

While you are here, you can also choose to spend a few days in the nearby tourist destinations like Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia or even Thailand. All these countries are barely a few hours distance from Singapore, thus making a weekend getaway hugely enticing. Here’s a quick prologue on planning a weekend getaway from Singapore.

A second visit is already on the mind as you unwillingly board the flight back home.

Singapore Cuisine

Food in Singapore is more of a feasting ritual! The locals here love the street hawkers as much as the Michelin star fine dining options, and are ever willing to wait agonizingly long hours for an appetising meal.

You won’t have to search for good food here in your Singapore travel; just take a look around and somewhere close by, you’ll definitely find a longish queue of patient foodies waiting for their turn. Join them with the reassurance that you’ll be treated to a scrumptious fare of cuisine. And the choice of cuisines is as varied as the city itself- Indian (North, South, Mughlai…everything is there), Chinese (again, every region of China finds representation here), Mediterranean and the exquisite local Peranakan cuisine, get your taste buds ready for a riot of virtuoso cooking and menus.

Where to Stay in Singapore?

Singapore is a traveller’s delight! Although it is not bigger than any major metropolitan city of the world, Singapore has many distinctive neighbourhoods which reveal the charming ethnic diversity of the city-nation in a glorious and unanticipated manner.

A leisurely walk across these districts can transport you to different Asian countries, albeit for a few cherished hours.

Your travel to Singapore can become a lot more relaxed if you choose a neighbourhood that goes well with your interests. We have prepared a list of hotels in the major areas of Singapore that also illuminates about those distinct areas in brief.

Here’s our research for you on where to stay in Singapore…

Singapore is an expensive city, but prudent planning while choosing a hotel can save you a good amount for shopping and savouring the city’s few famous grubs. You may like to learn more Singapore Travel Tips for a memorable excursion to the most non-Asian nation in Asia.

Holxo’s Travel Guide to Singapore is now available for download.

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