Singapore is a small city-state in Southeast Asia located on an island and sandwiched in between Malaysia and Indonesia. Singapore is more often known for its authoritarian stance on drug control and cleanliness than for its tourist attractions. People have heard that gum is illegal and that it’s not a wise place to practice graffiti art, but Singapore is so much more than that. Singapore is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, an island where ancient and diverse cultures meet and have merged into a uniquely Singaporean culture. While it has a wealth of attractions for any would-be visitor, below is a list of the country’s top tourist attractions. Remember, they’re just a scratch on the surface of this fascinating metropolis.
10. The British Empire Visited Singapore and All We Got Was Singlish!
Though small, Singapore is a diverse and ethnically rich nation. A British colony since 1824 and then briefly part of the Malaysian Federation, Singapore has been an independent country since 1965. The demographic makeup of the country is 74% Chinese, 14% Malay and 9% Indian. As part of keeping social harmony and avoiding preferential treatment to one race, English is the primary language of the country, but it’s not exactly the English that’s spoken in England. Locals lightheartedly refer to Singaporean English as “Singlish” and at times the accent can be hard to understand, even for the most adept of linguists. Don’t worry though, just use the word “lah” in nonsensical locations in your sentences and you should have no trouble fitting in.
9. It’s A Zoo Out There!
Singapore may not be the best place to see wild animals, however it is an excellent place to see captive ones. The Singapore Zoo is often touted as one of the world’s nicest zoos and it is a must for any so inclined tourist. The animals are kept in large enclosures and hail from many of the world’s biologically diverse hot spots. Keeping polar bears on the equator must rack up quite the electric bill!
Next to the zoo is the Night Safari, the world’s first nocturnal zoo. This zoo houses over 100 different animal species, which because of their nocturnal nature feel more at home here than in the neighboring Singapore Zoo. The Night Safari is explored either by walking trail or by tram.
Tired of seeing terrestrial animals? The Jurong Bird Park is for you. This is the world’s largest bird park with almost 5,000 birds on over 50 acres of land. Some of the attractions include rainforest walks, waterfalls, over one thousand flamingos and a monorail offering a birds eye view of the birds no less.
Whoever thought of putting a Chinatown in a predominantly Chinese city is a genius. If Singapore doesn’t feel Chinese enough for you, stop by Chinatown for a quick cultural infusion. There’s a market, fortune tellers, Chinese food stalls, a temple and beautifully colored buildings. Not dirty enough or busy enough, Chinatown more closely resembles the Chinatowns of San Francisco or New York than anything you might see in the real China. Though that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
7. The Island Life
Sentosa is a small island just off the coast of Singapore that has been transformed into a world-class tourist attraction. The island has always had its mainstays of beaches, cafes, nightclubs and the popular music festival "Zoukout". But things have been taken to a whole new level with the addition of Resorts World Sentosa, a $6.5 billion SGD casino complex. RWS has six hotels, an oceanarium, shopping, a marine museum and a Universal Studios. All built as part of Singapore’s plan to transform itself into one of Asia’s premier holiday destinations.
The Universal Studios at RWS is the first and only Universal Studios in Southeast Asia and it was considered a key element in the quest to make Singapore a regional icon. The theme park is comprised of seven zones and debuted with several cornerstone attractions including the Battlestar Galactica dueling roller coaster and “Transformers: The Ride.” Families with small children will enjoy the zones Far Far Away, based on the movie Shrek, and Madagascar, based one the Dreamworks film of the same name.
Sentosa can be reached by road, monorail or via cable car. The cable car in particular provides stunning views of Singapore and its glistening skyscrapers. The nearest MRT station is the HarbourFront Station on the North-East Line.
Photo Credits: Resorts World Sentosa
6. Las Vegas Comes To Singapore
[Also see "Singapore Meets Las Vegas"]
Just in case you thought Resorts World Sentosa was an expensive casino at $6.5 billion SGD, Marina Bay Sands ups the ante and comes in as the world’s 2nd most expensive casino property at $8 billion SGD. To make a long story short, this is one of the world’s most impressive buildings. It is situated on the waterfront in Singapore’s central business district. Every night there is a light and water show, which delights tourists and sends laser lights flickering into the sky for miles.
The casino has over 500 tables and 1500 slot machines, while the hotel is the largest in Singapore and has 2500 rooms. There is a three-story luxury shopping mall, a multitude of bars, several celebrity chef restaurants and even a skating rink. But the true highlight of Marina Bay Sands is its SkyPark. This rooftop park is where hotel guests spend their days relaxing by the infinity pool and enjoying the amazing views of the Singapore skyline. For the public, there is an observation deck, restaurant and lounge bar.
Photo Credits: Marina Bay Sands