Singapore may no longer be the rough and ready port of rickshaws, opium dens, pearl luggers and pirates, but you can still recapture the colonial era with a gin sling under the flashing ceiling fans at Raffles Hotel. Many other fine reminders of Singapore’s colonial past remain, despite the island’s relentless development.
Perhaps Singapore’s greatest treat is the variety and quality of its food. For only a few dollars you can have a bowl of steaming noodles, curry and rice, or delicious satay, all at the same food stall table. Spend a little more, or a lot more, and Singapore has hundreds of restaurants serving the best Chinese, Indian, Malay, European and other International cuisines. [Top]
Singapore is a cosmopolitan society where people live harmoniously and interaction among different races are commonly seen. The pattern of Singapore stems from the inherent cultural diversity of the island. The immigrants of the past have given the place a mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European influences, all of which have intermingled.
Behind the facade of a modern city, these ethnic races are still evident. The areas for the different races, which were designated to them by Sir Stamford Raffles, still remain although the bulk of Singaporeans do think of themselves as Singaporeans, regardless of race or culture. Each still bears its own unique character.
The old streets of Chinatown can still be seen; the Muslim characteristics are still conspicuous in Arab Street; and Little India along Serangoon Road still has its distinct ambience. Furthermore, there are marks of the British colonial influence in the Neo-Classical buildings all around the city.
Each racial group has its own distinctive religion and there are colorful festivals of special significance all year round. Although the festivals are special to certain races, it is nonetheless enjoyed by all.
In Singapore, food is also readily and widely available. There are lots of cuisines to offer. We have, Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian and Western, Italian, Peranakan, Spanish, French, Thai and even Fusion. It is very common to savour other culture's food and some of the food can be very intriguing. Indian food are relatively spicier, whereas Chinese food is less spicier and the Chinese enjoy seafood. Malay cooking uses coconut milk as their main ingredient, that makes their food very tasty. [Top]
Religion in Singapore
Most Singaporeans celebrate the major festivals associated with their respective religions. The variety of religions is a direct reflection of the diversity of races living there. The Chinese are predominantly followers of Buddhism, Taoism, Shenism, Christians, Catholics and some considered as 'free-thinkers' (Those who do not belong to any religion). Malays have the Muslims and Indians are Hindus. There is a sizeable number of Muslims and Sikhs in the Indian population.
Religious tolerance is essential in Singapore. In fact, religions often cross racial boundaries and some even merge in unusual ways in this modern country. Younger Singaporeans tend to combine a little of the mysteries of the older generation with the realistic world that they know of today.
Religion is still an integral part of the cosmopolitan Singapore. Many of its most interesting buildings are religious, be it old temples, modern churches, or exotic mosques. An understanding of these buildings do play a part in contributing to the appreciation of their art. [Top]
Like most of Southeast Asia, Singapore is generally hot and humid. It's warm and humid year round, with the temperature almost never dropping below 20°C (68°F), even at night, and usually climbing to 30°C (86°F) during the day. Recent times, it even reached till 35°C. Humidity is high, mounting over a 75% mark.
November and December is the rainy season. June-August is considered to be the best time to visit, but even then it rains often. Don't let the climate stop you from going, however. Most buildings are air-conditioned (to the point that you may want to take a sweater), and pains have been taken to make everything as comfortable as can be, all things considered. When it does rain, it's generally only for a short period.
For those who enjoy the sun and the beach, Singapore is an ideal place for beach lovers, as you get the hot hot sun throughout the year. So when you're in Singapore, just bring along your cooling apparels and hats. [Top]
The local currency is Singapore dollars and cents. Other than the Singapore dollar, the United States and Australian dollars, Japanese yen and British pound are also accepted in most shopping centres and big departmental stores.
Banks and hotels can change money and most shopping complexes have a licensed money changer. Visitors are advised not to change money with an unlicensed operator. Most banks open from 9.30 am to 3.00 pm on weekdays and 9.30 am to 11.30 am on Saturdays.
Major credit cards are widely accepted in Singapore. Hotels, retailers, restaurants, travel agents and even a taxi company readily accept international credit cards. For more information, you can contact the local office of the credit card operators at the following numbers:
American Express Tel: 6299 8133
Diners Card Tel: 6294 4222
Master Card Tel: 6533 2888
Visa Card Tel: 1-800-3451345 (Service Centre) [Top]