Top events in Singapore

November
13

The Hindu ‘Festival of Lights’ celebrates the victory of Lord Krishna over King Narakasura, symbolic of the victory of good over evil, and gets...

December
01

Operated by the long-running and hugely popular Zouk nightclub, this annual event sees top DJs playing on the beach to hordes of partygoers. The...

January
27

One of the year’s most spectacular religious festivals, in which Hindu participants walk 4.5km from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to Sri...

Singapore cityscape
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Singapore cityscape

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Singapore Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

697 sq km (269 sq miles).

Population

5.5 million (2013).

Population density

7,834 per sq km.

Capital

Singapore.

Government

Republic. Gained full independence in 1965.

Head of state

President Tony Tan since 2011.

Head of government

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong since 2004.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. British-style square three-pin plugs are in use. Many hotels have 110-volt outlets.

Cultural melting pot and dazzling example of the region's economic successes, wealthy and dynamic Singapore assails the senses of the first time visitor.

The former British trading post and colony has carved a unique niche for itself over the past couple of centuries, nowadays offering a vivid combination of ultra-modern skyscrapers, remnants of tropical rainforest, ambitious tourist developments, occasional reminders of the colonial era, and an assortment of colourful ethnic urban areas such as Little India, each with a character very much of its own.

One of the most noticeable features of this tiny but bustling city-state is its cleanliness - indeed, it is sometimes criticised for its many seemingly petty regulations, such as the banning of chewing gum - but levels of serious crime are very low, and it is one of the world's safest places to visit. Despite its rather sanitised reputation, though, Singapore is in fact anything but dull. The visitor is spoilt for choice when it comes to things to see and do: it boasts museums and river tours, plentiful green spaces, a vibrant nightlife, a rich cultural mix, and a whole planet's worth of culinary experiences.

All this means that the city offers a veritable feast for the senses, a heady mixture of the familiar and the exotic. Although accommodation remains pricey when compared to other countries in the region, as a whole the city suits most budgets and presents a happy collision of opposites. When it comes to food, for example, even wealthy Singaporeans are as likely to champion fantastic noodles in a food market as they are to rave over fine dining in a leading hotel restaurant.

Recent years have seen the city really pushing for recognition as an international tourist destination in its own right, rather than as a place for a short stopover and a little shopping. There has been very significant investment in tourist facilities such as two huge casinos, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World, which have catapulted Singapore into the big league of gambling destinations. Although there were moral objections to the construction, in true Singaporean style these were waved aside in the name of economic growth.

These new developments are not only about poker and blackjack, however, but are aimed more broadly at developing tourism in a country which lacks the natural attractions of its neighbours. Resorts World is just one aspect of the development on Sentosa island, which also includes a theme park and museums; Marina Bay Sands is part of a reclamation project which incorporates grand boulevards, bars and restaurants – plus it links up to a new botanic garden. Singapore’s skyline is continually being reinvented and added to, helping to give the place a dynamism which rewards repeat visits.

This zeal for building new attractions has been mirrored by the city’s success in hosting international events, the most notable of which is the Formula One motor racing. Closing down many central streets for the first night race to be included in the calendar, Singapore celebrates the annual event in style with (among other things) performances by international music stars. It might be small, but this is not a city which is content to do things by halves.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 23 October 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind. Possession of even very small quantities can lead to imprisonment, corporal punishment or the death penalty.

There is an underlying threat from terrorism.

The offence of ‘outrage of modesty’ (molestation) can result in a fine, jail or corporal punishment. Scams involving false claims of molest are thought to exist. 

There is a risk from Dengue fever.

Around 450,000 British tourists visit Singapore every year. Most visits are trouble-free.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

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