Singapore

Singapore

Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is an island country off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, 137 kilometres (85 mi) north of the equator, in Southeast Asia. It is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north, and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the Singapore Strait to its south. Singapore is the world's fourth leading financial centre and a cosmopolitan world city, playing a key role in international trade and finance. The port of Singapore is one of the five busiest ports in the world

Moving Around

In the civic district, you must not miss the fine collections of colonial buildings around the old padang. Admire the Raffles Hotel, the Empress Place, the Victoria Theatre, the old Post Office, Sir Stanford Raffles' statue and the imposing colonnade of the Supreme Court. Many of these buildings breathed a new life after being converted. The Post Office is now the luxurious Fullerton Hotel; the Empress Place hosts the beautiful Museum of Asian Civilisations; the Saint Joseph School is the Singapore Art Museum.

Today, it is possible to take a boat and cruise along the Singapore River. Pass under the old bridges and along Boat Quay and Clark Quay and notice the pre-war shop houses mainly converted into bars and pubs.

Singapore has preserved the old districts well. Kampong Glam, near Arab Street, is the first Malay and Arab settlement in town. The majestic 100 year-old Sultan Mosque dominates the area. The King's previous palace is currently under renovation and will be converted into a museum. Chinatown around Tanjung Pagar/Mosque Street is now home to street hawkers; handicrafts are not uncommon in the area. Old facades have been repainted in fresh colours and trendy coffee shops as well as elegant antique structures settle near the old houses. In Telok Ayer Street, discover one of the oldest Hokkien Temples - the Thian Hock Kieng temple.

Along Serangoon Road, the air is filled with the scent of jasmine flowers and curry. This is an area popular with Indian emigrants. Little India offers a fascinating covered market.

Singapore - the metropolis - is evident everywhere. The old civic district hosts glittering towers and luxurious shopping complexes, while hotels line Orchard Road, what Singaporean' term as the Paris Champs-Ely sees! But the most striking modern structure is the "Esplanade," a complex of theatres, concert halls, studios and other cultural institutions. The metallic roof is of tiles that allow sunlight through the building. Because they look like thorns, the Esplanade has been nicknamed the "durian!"

Dining

Restaurants abound and Chinese, Javanese and western food is predominant. The city is famous for its Lesehan food. By nightfall, the tempting odours of spicy fresh chicken and fish waft through the air. Such delights as Nasi Gudeg (jackfruit cooked in coconut milk and served with boiled rice and chicken), and Burung Darah (pigeon, highly spiced) will tempt you.

Attraction

As a first-timer, it is difficult to avoid the famous landmarks of Singapore. The Merlion, of course, tops the list. This mythical half-lion and half-mermaid, is truly Singapore! It has recently been relocated close to the new Esplanade.

Shopping

You will find everything you have ever dreamt of on Orchard Road! Takashimaya's food department in Ngee Ann City has a wide selection of luxury food brands from all over Europe, London's Harrods, and Paris' Fauchon.

Shoppers who favour trendy fashion can visit the funky shops of Heeren, while interior design lovers can salivate at Tanglin Shopping Centre that boasts furniture and home accessories. Electronics are generally still cheaper in Malaysia. Both Funan Centre and Sim Lim Square cater for any kind of electronics and IT appliances.

Antiques are largely available in different aged shops along Temple Street in Chinatown.

Night Life

Tourists can frequent pubs and discos located along the trendy night entertainment street - the Mohamed Sultan Road. Having existed for more than a decade, Zouk remains one of the most popular clubs in town as it hosts several of the best DJs from around the world. Centro at the Fullertonis another popular venue with a dramatic view of the city skyline and the sea. Families will prefer Sentosa Island and the Night Safari - fun and enjoyment is assured.