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Singapore Travel Guide

Singapore is a kidney bean shaped island approx. 30 miles from east to west and approx. 26 miles north to south dangling a little precariously by a causeway and a bridge below the main Malaysian peninsula.

The climate is sticky.

Temperatures vary little all year between 24 and 34 degrees celsius and the humidity is very high. Winter, if you can call it that, is a little more comfortable and occurs between December and March when monsoon rain laden clouds provide shade for much of the day.

However, unpredictable sudden torrential downpours or the sun breaking through the clouds make it advisable to carry a substantial umbrella in one hand and sunglasses in the other if out and about.

Food is one of the greatest attractions.

Various chinese, malay, indonesian and indian cuisines abound. Outdoor coffee-shops and congregations of small food stalls called Hawker centres provide cheap, fast food asian style.

Indoor food courts provide similar (though usually not as tasty) fare in an air-conditioned area (normally the basement of a shopping centre or mall). A plethora of cafes, bars and restuarants throughout the island provide more expensive meals.

Seafood restuarants with their chilli and pepper crabs, barbecued stingray, garlic prawns, steamed fish and scallops are a huge favourite. In the tourist centres or close to popular ex-patriate areas, western style pubs and Italian restuarants compete with gourmet coffee and icecream outlets.

Having said all this, MacDonalds, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Deli France franchises can be found everywhere and are never empty. No matter what time of day or night multitudes can be seen out eating something somewhere.

After eating the next favourite past-time is shopping.

Large air-conditioned shopping centres provide welcome relief from the heat, a large area to roam and a large variety of items to browse through from designer fashions to local crafts, from cheap hi tech electronics shops to well stocked bookstores.

There is always someone advertising a sale with bargains to be hunted down.

Despite its small size, there is a surprising amount to see.

The zoo and Night Safari are excellent, as is the underwater world on the tourist trap island of Sentosa, a five minute ferry or cable car ride from mainland. The bird park in the west of the island is also very popular spots.

On the way there, the formal Chinese and Japanese Gardens used to provide a respite from the crowds and skyscrapers of the city but they have now disappeared under new developments.

On a lighter note, there is the oustanding beauty of the orchids in the botanical gardens and the exquisite carpets and basket work in the Arab Street district. The science centre, art gallery and national museum provide more intellectual destinations.

Day trips into Malaysia provide a contrast to the chinese dominated Singaporean culture as does a visit to Geylang, a small area with heavy Malay influence. Serangoon Road is influenced mainly by the Indian community and all things Indian can be found there.

Close to the Central Business District is the Victoria Theatre, the venue for western style cultural events including classical music, ballet and dance. The stadium complex at Kallang provides a 60,000 outdoor stadium for important sporting and musical events.

The 12,000 seat indoor stadium is used for pop concerts and indoor sports tournaments. The Kallang Theatre hosts the big musicals that come to town. And of course the Kallang Leisure dome next door provides shopping, food and ten pin bowling.

However, the best pop concerts are those held in the less formal setting of the Harbour Pavilion exhibition hall at the World Trade Centre. The WTC doubles as the departure point for ferries, buses and cable car to Sentosa and ferries to the nearby Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan.

The cable car also travels inland to the top of a small hill pretensiously called Mount Faber that has just enough elevation to provide a view over the city.

Two other outstanding views can be seen from the restuarants at the top of the UOB Plaza One tower and top of the Westin Hotel.

For those who cannot afford the extortionate prices of the food, the view is still impressive from the elevator staging area on the 37th floor of the UOB Plaza One tower where UOB also puts on small art exhibitions from time to time.

The most famous hotel in Singapore is the Raffles Hotel where one can take afternoon tea or partake of a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar. Afternoon tea can also be had on a junk as it sails its way up the Singapore river or around some of the small islands.

The Raffles Hotel is named after the Sir Stamford Raffles who founded England's trading post in Singapore. His statue can be found just outside the refurbished parliment buildings at the point on the Singapore River where hs is said to have come ashore.

If you are flying via Singapore, especially on a long trip, it is well worth stopping over for a night or two to explore the different parts of this modern but still-asian city state ...

And if you do, look for Samy's curry house (curry served on a banana leaf) at the old civil service club on Dempsey Road (my personal favourite), the seafood restaurants at the UDMC centre on the East Coast (chili or pepper crab is another must), or for a snack, Selmore in the heart of Little India.

Content Source: Bukisa - - Singapore

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