An ex-British colony, Singapore is an island city/nation located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, south of the Malaysian border. It spans only 424 sq. miles(683 km2). Its small size (it’s about 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC) allows for quick and easy travel throughout the country. Due to it being a former colony and a multicultural nation (Chinese make up 77% of the population, East Indians 8%, Malays 14%), Singapore offers an amalgamation of culture, cuisine, architecture, religion, language, and art.
Subsequent to its independence, Singapore became one of the most prosperous nations with strong international trading ties. For example, its GDP is on par with prosperous European nations.
Although medical care is more expensive than India and Thailand (it is still more than 50% cheaper than the U.S.), Singapore draws medical tourists with its world-class and familiar medical infrastructure, cleanliness, order, and English speaking medical staff. Also, Singapore´s outside environment is in stark contrast with the poverty and lack of development in India, and the pollution and chaos of Bangkok, which in turn mitigates foreigners´ feelings of culture shock.
The Joint Commission International has accredited 15 hospitals and medical centers in Singapore, which offer a variety of services from dental, orthopedics, urology, dermatology, cardiology, sports medicine, ophthalmology, endocrinology, and cosmetic procedures to alternative medicines such as traditional Chinese medicine that includes acupuncture and herbal remedies.
Singapore has many official languages: English, Malay, Tamil, and Chinese (Mandarin).
Singapore's official language of business is English.
Singapore is only 1 degree north of the equator and thus its climate is tropical. The weather is hot and humid all year round. The high daytime temperature is usually 86oF (30oC) with humidity above 75%. Singapore has two monsoon seasons: the South Western season from June to September and the North Eastern season from December to March. The rainy season occurs in November and December.
U.S. and Canadian citizens must have a valid passport (good for at least 6 months from the date of entry) and return ticket, but no visa is required if staying for less than 30 days (can be extended to 90 days).
Changi International Airport (airport code: SIN) is considered one of the best airports in the world with a handling capacity of over 70 million passengers per year. It is served by over 80 airlines that go to 180 cities and over 50 countries.
The following airlines have flights to Singapore:
For budget travelers Singapore offers an array of hostels and guesthouses that range in price from $11 to $45 USD per person per night for a private room with most in the $20-$30 range. For those seeking mid-priced, 3 star dwellings; those range from $96 to $150 USD per night. Last but not least, for travelers with more luxurious taste, five star hotels cost $165-$650 per night. Since Singapore has 193 km of coastline it also offer beach hotels, resorts and spas that costs $150 or more per night.
The currency of Singapore is the Singapore dollar (SGD). The exchange rate of U.S. dollars to Singapore dollars is $1 USD to S$1.46 SGD (exchange rate subject to change).
Singapore has been described as a tourist´s mecca which was made possible by the enterprising skills of its inhabitants, and despite its lack of size, there are many different sightseeing activities to choose from. Suntec City has the biggest man-made fountain, and the world´s tallest man-made waterfall is located in Jurong Bird Park. Night Safari boasts its designation as the first nighttime zoo. Like Malaysia, Singapore has a vibrant Chinatown and Little India, and for those interested in modern architecture Orchard Road is a must see.
Aside from its urban splendor Singapore, which is referred to as the garden city, has many areas of greenery. The Singapore Zoological Gardens, the Botanic Gardens, the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, and the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve are popular destinations. If you are not scared of heights and want to have a good view of the city, ride the Singapore Flyer, which is an enormous ferris wheel with stunning panoramic views of the skyline.
Orchard Road offers modern hotels and malls that house international department stores, boutiques, spas, salons etc., which during Christmas time are decorated with dazzling lights and ornaments; while Chinatown, Arab Street, and Little India offer an ethnic flair. During the middle of the year, shopping venues throughout Singapore offer significant discounts during the Great Singapore Sale. Even during the rest of the year certain stores have comparatively lower prices such as those found in Lucky Plaza, Sim Lim Square, and Far East Plaza.
If you are leaving Singapore by air and spend more than $100 on one receipt then you can get a refund on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) at Global Refund Singapore Pte Ltd and Premier Tax Free (Singapore) Pte Ltd.
Singapore offers and array of nighttime entertaining including Jazz bars, hip-hop clubs, and European style discos that play house and techno music with some clubs featuring guest appearances by international artists. Orchard Road which is home to modern architecture and shopping plazas is also home to a sea of dance clubs and bars. For a more laid back scene, go to Mohammed Sultan Road. Female travelers who have an affinity towards partying and nightlife will be pleasantly surprised in Singapore because Wednesdays is ladies’ night at most bars, but even if you are not female drinks are generally inexpensive.
For those who shy away from the hustle & bustle of discotheques will be pleasantly satisfied with Singapore´s cultural venues. The country has an impressive collection of museum and theaters. The Singapore Art Museum specializes in 20th century South East Asian art and the Singapore Science Center houses an Omni Theater and even an indoor snow center that hosts organized snow-ball fights and has facilities for snowboarding and skiing. For a great opera performing head to the Esplanade Theater and for musical performances check out the Victoria Theater.