Hostelworld Guide for Singapore

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A city, island and country, Singapore has a reputation for many different things. Some consider it the most important financial centre in South-East Asia, while others think of it as a sterile city where everything runs like clockwork. Both these assumptions aren't that far away from the truth. This may not paint the most colourful picture in the world though. But don't fret - there is a lot to see. Singapore has a beach to bask on, stores to shop in, sights to snap at, and some of Asia's most fascinating neighbourhoods. Whether your trip is part of a journey around South-East Asia, or as a stop-over to or from Australia, you're bound to enjoy your stay.






 

 

In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop






 The Essentials


 Climate


Getting There

By plane: Changi Airport is 20km from the city centre. The cheapest, quickest way to the city centre is on the MRT (light rail). The journey takes 27 minutes and costs S$2.70.

By train: Singapore's railway station is south-west of the city centre. Not connected to the city via MRT, the best way to get there from the station is by taxi.

By bus: If you travel to Singapore by bus, your bus will reach its final destination on Beach Rd or at the Kallang Bahru Complex on Lavender Street.

Getting Around

On foot: Some parts of Singapore are within walking distance of each other, such as Boat Quay and Chinatown, but you'll have to use public transport more than once to see all its main sights.

By MRT (Mass Rapid Transit): Singapore's rail system, which operates both over and underground, is extremely efficient and easy to use.

There are three lines in operation and a single journey costs S$2, with S$1 refundable when you bring your ticket back to machines in stations.

By bus: Singapore's bus service is just as efficient as its MRT.

 Singapore facts

Name: The country of Singapore is officially known as the Republic of Singapore, while the city itself is sometimes called the 'Lion City'.

Population: Around five million people live in Singapore.

Location: The island off Singapore is located off the Malay Peninsula's southern tip.

Area: Singapore covers an area of over 710 kilometres squared.

Founded: The city of Singapore was founded in 1918.


Unlike other Asian cities, Singapore doesn't have 'hot, hotter and hottest' months. It simply has 'hot, hot and hot' - the average temperature year round is 28C. It rains considerably every month, but the wettest months are during the monsoon season which is November to January.

climate

 Good to know...

Language: Mandarin, English, Malay, Hokkien, 'Singlish' (mix of English, Malay and Hokkien)
Currency: Singapore Dollar (SGD)
Electricity: 220 Volts, 50 cycles
Country Code: +65
Emergency Codes: Ambulance 995 / Fire 995 / Police 999
Time Zone: UTC/GMT + 8
Central Post Offices: 391 Orchard Road (although there are offices throughout the city)
Main Tourist Offices: 1 Orchard Spring Lane

Embassies / High Commissions

USA: +(65) 6476 9100
UK: +(65) 6424 4200
Canada: +(65) 6854 5900
Australia: +(65) 6836 4100
South Africa: +(65) 6339 3319
Ireland: +(65) 6238 7616
Germany: +(65) 6533 6002
Spain: + (65) 6333 3035
Italy: +(65) 6250 6022
New Zealand: +(65) 6235 9966
France: +(65) 6880 7800

 
Hostelworld Guide for Singapore www.hostelworld.com

 Cheap Eats


 After Dark


Yum Cha, 20 Trengganu St, Chinatown Okay, so the prices in this, one of Chinatown's favourite restaurants, may be a bit steeper than others in the area, but that's only because the food is better than its competitors. Stick with rice or noodle dishes and your bill won't be that big. And the cheaper portions of dim sum are also a good option. Open Mon-Fri from 9am-11pm.

 Decisions, decisions...

Hawker Centres Dotted all over Singapore are 'hawker centres', or food centres, where a large number of stalls sell extremely inexpensive food. The city's best known one is Newton Food Centre (Newton Circus; open 24 hours) not far from Newton MRT station. If you're looking for one more central try Victoria Street Food Centre (143 Victoria St; open 24 hours).

Sakunthala's Food Palace, 151 Dunlop St, Little India Of all the places to eat along Little India's electric Dunlop St, this restaurant, which claims to be the first to serve Indian-Chinese fusion cuisine in Singapore, is the busiest. Choose a separate dish or a set meal which includes meat, vegetables, rice, potatoes and more, all presented on a banana leaf. Open daily from 9.30am-11pm.

Maggie Thai, 1 Liang Seah St Just off Beach Road, this restaurant is the perfect place for lunch or dinner in downtown Singapore. The menu is comprised of both Chinese and Thai fare so you're bound to find something to suit. Open daily from 11am-10.45pm.

Forum Seafood Village, 42-44 Boat Quay If you're adamant on eating on the rather touristy Boat Quay, try this restaurant which is the best value on the strip. Granted, the lobster and crab dishes might not suit the budget of a backpacker, but the beef and chicken dishes arguably will. Open daily from 11am-11.30pm.


The Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Road Birthplace of the 'Singapore Sling', no trip to Singapore is complete without sipping on one of the famous cocktails in 'The Long Bar'. There's live music on most nights, but we're not sure which is more fun - dancing the night away or throwing monkey-nut shells on the floor...it's the only place in Singapore where you're allowed litter! Open daily from 11am-12.30am/1.30am (Fri & Sat).

'Sahara' & 'Bumble Beez', both on Boat Quay As there are so many bars on Boat Quay, this paragraph will do its utmost to pack in two reviews. The first is an Arabian-themed bar perfect for chilling while you smoke on shisha pipes. The second is a far more livelier affair and where to go to really let your hair down. Open daily from 6pm-1am/3am (Fri & Sat).

 Gay / Lesbian Singapore

Even though homosexuality is still illegal in Singapore, there are a number of gay venues, most of which are concentrated around the Chinatown area. Backstage Bar (13A Trengganu St) is a quiet, gay-owned bar popular among tourists and expats. Why Not? (56 Tras St) is one of the city's most energetic gay clubs while The Oso Bar (145 Telok Ayer St) is oh, so popular (apologies - couldn't help it) due to its spectacular setting across from Thiam Hock Kheng Temple.

Karaoke-bar hopping on Circular Road Wander down Circular Road and you'll soon realise you can't hear yourself think due to the squawking coming out of the various karaoke bars. Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Just some of the bars here include Versus, Chrome and Clouds. Those of you wishing not to strain your vocal chords might want to relax over a beer in Restroom.

1 Nite Stand Bar & Comedy Club, 3 River Valley Road, Clarke Quay 1 Nite Stand suits all tastes. It's ideal for watching life go by on Clarke Quay, it's just the ticket if you want to go and boogie for the night, and if you're in Singapore in the last week of the month, it's the place to be for live comedy. Open daily from 12 noon-3am.

Phunk Bar, 11 Mohamed Sultan Road One of the newer clubs on one of Singapore's livelier strips, Phunk Bar attracts the city's avid clubbers. Welcomingly unpretentious, hip hop music blares from speakers more often than dance music. Open daily from 12 noon-3am.


 Don't Miss


 Mark Your Calendar


Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Road Arguably Singapore's best-known attraction, the world-famous Raffles Hotel was opened in 1887 and named after Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore. You can visit the on-site museum, browse in the shopping mall or treat yourself to 'high tea' if you wish. Shoulders and knees must be covered to gain entry.

Sentosa Island/Mt Faber Unashamedly geared towards tourists, Sentosa Island should still be high up on everyone's 'things to do' list. Here you'll find beaches, walks and attractions like 'Images of Singapore' and 'Underwater World'. Mt Faber, Singapore's second highest peak, offers great views of the city. Access is via the Sentosa Express light rail from VivoCity & operating every 5-8 minutes from 7am to 11.45pm; admission S$3.

Asian Civilisations Museum, 1 Empress Place Singapore's ACM presents a broad perspective of pan-Asian cultures and civilisations. Housed in an imposing palace, it is Singapore's most fascinating museum. Open Tues-Sun from 9am-7pm (till 9pm Fri), Mon 1pm-7pm; admission S$8.

Merlion, Marina Bay If you ever see a collage of images from Singapore, it is guaranteed to include a picture of the Merlion, the half-lion, half-fish emblem of the Singapore Tourism Board. Built in 1972, it's only minutes walk from 'Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay'.

 Things that go bump in the night

Night Safari, 180 Mandai Lake Road Claiming to be a world's first, Singapore's award-winning Night Safari is unmissable. Spread out over 100 acres, animals from South America, Africa and other continents can be seen wandering through man-made habitats on various walks or from a 45-minute tram ride around the park. Open nightly from 7.30pm-midnight; admission S$32 (children S$21).


January - Thaipusam One of the world's most unique festivals, for this Hindu festival in honour of Lord Subrahmanya devotees pierce themselves with metal hooks and spikes for the procession.

January/February - Chinese New Year One of the highlights of the year, Singapore's Chinese New Year celebrations are huge. The main event over the month is the 'Chingay Parade' in which over 2,000 performers take part.

April - Singapore International Film Festival The Singapore International Film Festival began in 1986 and today celebrates the best in groundbreaking Asian cinema. Each year over 200 films are screened during the festival.

April - Qing Ming Festival Temples throughout Singapore are packed with local worshippers for 'All Soul's Day'. Praying for deceased loved ones, they also burn incense sticks to pay their respects.

May/June - Singapore Street Festival The city's famous Orchard Road is where to be for this annual street festival. Aimed at Singapore's youth, the festival showcases skateboarding, grafitti and more.

June/July - Dragon Boat Festival Held either in late June or early July, decorated boats raced by teams from both home and abroad race against each other across Marina Bay.

August - Singapore National Day Singapore celebrates its national holiday on August 9th with a huge parade. Less than two weeks later they commemorate the occasion again with a huge fireworks display.

November - Singapore River Regatta Over 100 teams and 2,000 athletes from all around the world compete against one another in Singapore's annual River Regatta which lights up the Singapore River every November.

November - Deepavali Signifying the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil, Deepavali is the year's largest Hindu Festival. Little India is where to be for the event as the neighbourhood's streets are lit up for the month to commemorate the festival.

December - ZoukOut Hosted by Singapore's top dance nightclub 'Zouk', this one-day festival is the biggest dance music festival in South-East Asia. Staged at Tanjong Beach on Sentosa Island, it's also its largest beach party.

 
Hostelworld Guide for Singapore www.hostelworld.com

 Neighbourhood Watch


 Retail Therapy


Geylang Originally home for the 'Orange Laut' (sea people and Malays) Geylang is one of Singapore's biggest Malay districts. Mainly a residential area and home to 150,000 Singaporeans, it is where you will find the 'Malay Village', an attraction where you can see how the Malays lived in the 50s and 60s. Unfortunately it is also home to Singapore's red light district and seldom visited by tourists.

Little India By far Singapore's most enthralling neighbourhood, Little India is an entirely different world from the rest of the city. Walk down Dunlop St, its main thoroughfare, and you will discover shops, bars, stalls and restaurants. The most fascinating time to visit is on Sunday evening when tens of thousands of local men congregate on every lane, street and park to enjoy their day off.

Changi When you're sick of the hustle and bustle of downtown Singapore, Changi is where to go. Located on the island's east coast, this is the closest thing to old Singapore there is. Its main attraction is the nearby island of Pulau Ubin. Like Sentosa, it also has walks, but it isn't as commercialised.

 Temples, tailors, restaurants...

Chinatown Pagoda St, Mosque St, Temple St and Trengganu St, the main streets of Singapore's Chinatown district, are awash with clothes shops, people offering massages, tailors, discount camera stores and innumerable restaurants. It's slightly tacky, but aside from the people trying to sell you things you will find some of the city's best known temples, in particular Sri Mariamman Temple.

Raffles Place Singapore's most visited neighbourhood due to a very famous hotel, Raffles Place is the heart of downtown Singapore and the city's financial hub. Named after Sir Stamford Raffles, here you will find some of its best known attractions and highest skyscrapers.


Vivo City, Ayer Rajah Expressway Singapore's 'largest retail and lifestyle destination', Vivo City was named after the word 'vivacity'. A unique mix of retail and entertainment concepts, it is an extremely bright and airy complex making shopping there a pleasant experience. The building itself is one of the city's more unique, evoking images of waves and the sea. Open daily from 10am-10pm.

 Singapore's most famous address

Orchard Road Once a road adorned with trees on either side, Singapore's famous Orchard Road is now decorated with countless shopping malls and branches of the world's best-known brands. Versace, Armani, Prada and Louis Vuitton all have shops here. It is also home to some of the city's best hotels, so if you're sick of your hostel and want to upgrade to somewhere more opulent you know where to go.

Chinatown While the knock-off goods here aren't as cheap as in other Asian cities, if you're running low on t-shirts, shorts or want a new pair of sunglasses, Chinatown is where it's at. It is also particularly good for cameras with bargains galore to be found. Make sure to barter with all sales people, and don't let the pushy ones push you over.

Chinatown Square Central Fleamarket, South Bridge Road, Chinatown Established in 1996 for people who want to sell those useless things they have lying about the house, this Sunday flea market is attended by those who (for some reason) want to buy those useless things that lie about the house. Open Sundays from 9am-6pm.

Raffles City, North Bridge Road This is one of Singapore's most central shopping malls, located only minutes from Raffles Hotel. Inside you will find stores such as Timberland and Levis on its 3 floors. Open Mon-Sat from 10am-8pm, Sun 12 noon-8pm.


 Singapore For Free


 A Day in Singapore...


Visit the Singapore Art Museum when it's free Located on Singapore's Bras Basah Road, and home to the world's largest public collection of modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art, the Singapore Art Museum is free on Friday evenings between 6pm and 9pm. So if you're planning a trip go then and save yourself the S$10 admission fee.

Sunbath on Sentosa Island Singapore is a sticky 27C all year round. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it's overcast, but sometimes it's sunny. When the sun comes out to play, jump on a cable car bound for Sentosa Island with your sun lotion and towel and catch some rays on Siloso Beach, Palawan Beach or Tanjong Beach.

Embark on Sentosa's nature walk Sentosa Island isn't all about bronzing your body or going to some of Singapore's most touristy attractions. One of the island's top attractions is the 'Nature Walk and Dragon's Trail' which begins only meters from the island's famous cable car. If you decide to go on the trek, keep an eye out for the creepy crawlies!

 Different from every angle

Visit 'Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay' Located on Raffles Avenue, two of Singapore's newest buildings are its newest attractions. Free to enter and regularly holding free events, they are most fascinating from the outside. These buildings seem different from every angle and will soon become to Singapore, what the Opera House is to Sydney.

Visit Sinagpore's temples While Singapore is so westernised, two of its most fascinating buildings are traditional temples. These are Thian Hock Keng Temple (158 Telok Ayer St) and Sri Mariamman Temple (244 South Bridge Road). Both are free to enter and are definitely well worth a look.


Start the day by taking in a bird's eye view of Singapore from a cable car to either Sentosa Island or Mt. Faber. If you go to Sentosa don't leave without doing the nature walk.

Upon returning to the mainland, enjoy the air conditioning in Vivo City shopping mall before jumping on a metro bound for Chinatown.

Explore the streets around Chinatown. Treat yourself to a new pair of shorts or shades before sitting down to some lunch at one of the restaurants on Trengganu St.

Before making your way back to downtown Singapore, visit Sri Mariamman Temple on South Bridge Road, one of the city's most fascinating buildings.

Visit 'Esplanades - Theatres on the Bay' for some great photos. Then go down to another of Singapore's most photographed landmarks, the Merlion.

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Explore Singapore's most vibrant neighbourhood, Little India. Experience a different part of Singapore life before going for a quick bite somewhere.

Get to one of the pick-up points on Orchard Road for the shuttle bus to Night Safari. Once you get there enjoy a tram ride through one of the city's top attractions.

When you get back to Singapore, freshen up and go for a 'Singapore Sling' in The Long Bar, part of Singapore's famous Raffles Hotel.

Finish the night off in one of the many bars on Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, or the karaoke-bar soaked Circular Road.

 
Hostelworld Guide for Singapore www.hostelworld.com