Singapore has a rich history, dating as far back as the third century, but modern Singapore was born in the early 1800's when Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles negotiated a treaty to establish Singapore as a British trading station. Today, Singapore is a city of sharp contrasts - old and modern, green and concrete, colonial and skyscrapers. Read on to check out the top things to see and experience in Singapore, a vibrant and young city state that became independent in 1965.
To help establish orderliness in the colony, Raffles implemented the Town Plan in 1822, which divided the city into four areas: European Town, which had mostly European traders, Eurasians and rich Asians, Chinatown (ethnic Chinese), Chulia Kampong (Little India) and Kampong Glam (Muslims, ethnic Malay and Arabs). Today, these ethnic neighborhoods still exist and are thriving, offering plenty to see and do for tourists. For a dose of authentic local culture do not miss a visit to the Heartlands residential area, where according to Singapore Tourism, approximately 80% of Singapore's residents live. Photos courtesy of Singapore Tourism: Chinatown, a Malay grocery shop and Little India's Lord Genesh,
SEE AND DO
Many cruises start or end in Singapore, thus adding pre and post stays is a perfect opportunity to explore the city. With so much to see and do, it is the humble opinion of Singapore Tourism that visits be no less than 3 days.
For those who enjoy museums, visit the National Gallery, a showcase of over 200 years of Asian art. Changi Museum was voted by Trip Advisor travelers as Singapore's top museum. For a unique, off the beaten path experience, check out Intan, a Peranakan museum in a private home. The Botanical Gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage site that includes a rainforest and the world's largest display of orchids. Gardens By The Bay, an indoor and outdoor display of gardens and futuristic bio domes is Singapore's top tourist site. Walk back in history with a visit to Raffles Hotel (enjoy the original Singapore Sling but beware, they are pricey!) and the cultural neighborhoods, including the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Sri Mariamman, Singapore's oldest Hindu temple, both located in Chinatown . For a unique guided walking tour, take a look at Original Singapore Walks by Journeys Walking Tours or Tribe Tours for an ultimate food journey. This self guided walking tour explores Singapore's wonderful architecture. Love to shop? Singapore is a shopper's paradise, with options for every budget, from flea market "steals" to premium, high end shops.
WHERE TO STAY
Singapore has plenty of choice accommodations, from unique boutique hotels to modern and beautifully converted colonial properties. For breathtaking views of the city, have a drink at the rooftop bar of the iconic Marina Sands Hotel. A stay at the hotel will give you access to the infinity pool (shown below). Two historic hotels are the Fullerton, built in 1928 and once home to Singapore's General Post Office, and the famous, full of colonial charm Raffles, built in 1887 and home to the original Singapore Sling. For a small luxury boutique experience, take a look at Naumi.
Singaporeans love their food - good food - and there is no shortage of it in the city. You will find it everywhere, from the Hawker Centers to top Michelin rated fine dining restaurants. Singapore has over 100 Hawker Centers (similar to a food court) - which offer a wide variety of good, reasonably priced meals. Over 29 restaurants in Singapore are Michelin rated (1-3 stars), including two hawker stalls! Check here for the latest list of fine dining establishments.
With it's eclectic mix of cultures, Singapore presents a wide variety of cuisines - Chinese, Malay and Indonesian, Indian, Western and Fusion.
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