Singapore is one of the most interesting places to travel in Asia and one of the most complicated histories. Sir Stamford Raffles famously colonized Singapore in 1819 and his statue appears in many places throughout the city. The world famous Raffles hotel, home of the Singapore Sling cocktail, is still standing today and even if you can’t afford the hefty room fees, a trip to the bar to soak in the colonial experience is well worth the price tag.
Since the 1800’s Singapore has been part of a number of nations, notably, Britain, Malaysia and Japan during its occupation in World War 2. It wasn’t until 1965 that Singapore officially became an independent state. Although just a city state, its geography and natural gifts has allowed it to become an economic powerhouse in the Asian region. Recently Singapore has reclaimed land to increase its size and this is still going on into the 21st Century. What people don’t often realize is that Singapore is not just 1 main island but there are 63 other smaller islands that surround it. These are being merged and expanded to make Singapore ever larger.
One of the more famous outer islands is Sentosa Island. This has been developed into a tourist resort and is home to Universal Studios and a casino. Most people visit the island for a day but there are also big 5-star hotels to compliment the affluent lifestyle that the island espouses. On the main island a visit would not be complete without going to the Marina Bay Sands which dominates the skyline. The famous “boat” pool offers amazing views of the bay area. Another recognizable image of Singapore is the Merlion. The mythical creature with a body of a fish and the head of a lion is located near the Fullerton hotel in downtown Singapore. In keeping with other major cities around the world a Ferris wheel now offers amazing views of the city and can also be seen near the Marina Bay Sands.
Singapore has grown considerably not only geographically but economically. Singapore airlines is one of the most famous and consistently highly regarded airlines in the world. The shopping area of Orchard Road offers high end brands and high end prices. There are an abundance of shopping malls in Singapore it is difficult to go very far without finding one of another. Electronics are the cheapest commodity in Singapore but everything else is relatively expensive. Singapore is regarded as one of the most expensive cities in the world. Accommodation is notoriously expensive so renting a cheap apartment and finding work will be impossible unless you know a local. Drinking and Nightlife is also very expensive, even the local beers such as Tiger are going to set you back a lot more than it would in neighboring Asian countries. Clark Key is the main nightlife area with riverside bars and clubs that go on until the early hours.
When you are traveling in any country you must be aware of the local laws, but this is even more apparent when traveling in Singapore. Some of the laws are strict and some would say even draconian but the government argue it keeps the cities safe and clean. Any type of littering will get you a hefty fine, even jaywalking in the wrong place will see you arrested. Do take care to look for the signs around the city, most will be in at least 2 languages.
Singapore is a mix of old and new, the colonial buildings are magnificent and the new shopping malls and resorts are world class. There is a fusion in terms of food and people from India, Malaysia, China and other Asian countries that make Singapore simply unique. If you are traveling around Asia for any period of time a short trip to Singapore should be part of your itinerary.