HAVING FUN IN THE ISLAND CITY-STATE THAT’S SMALL IN SIZE YET BIG ON LIFE
Often described as a tiny yet mighty red dot on the world map, what Singapore lacks in land mass, it makes up for it by being consistently ranked as one of the world’s best places to live, work and play. Topping Mercer’s 2018 survey as Asia’s most liveable city, the country’s compactness is in fact one of its biggest plus points. Right after landing at Changi Airport – the world’s No. 1 airport for 6 consecutive years – visitors quickly discover just how easy and safe it is to get around using the many affordable transportation options available. For instance, bus and MRT train fares start from $0.77 and never cost more than $3.00. Tip: If you’re planning to travel around mostly by bus and MRT, it also makes sense to get an Adult Stored Value Card from any TransitLink Ticket Office. You’ll enjoy cheaper fares and greater convenience!
So what can you do in Singapore that’s fun and different? Let’s find out!
Soak in the colours and characters of different cultures
In Singapore, it’s not uncommon to see places of worship like churches, temples, mosques and even synagogues co-existing side by side in perfect harmony. Quaint cultural enclaves carved out by early settlers nestle comfortably amid sleek and modern precincts. To see why Singapore is regarded as one of the world’s most multicultural cities, head down to these traditional neighbourhoods to take in the sights and sounds:
Once a cattle trading hotspot, this very colourful district charms with a bohemian vibe. Take your time to explore the flower-garland stalls, traditional Indian eateries, goldsmith shops, public art installations and the hugely popular 24-hour Mustafa Centre selling everything from electronics to groceries.
Getting there by MRT: Take the North-East Line or Downtown Line and alight at Little India Station (NE7/DT12)
Originally a bustling port town and home to Malay, Arab and Bugis communities, you’ll find an eclectic blend of history, culture and hip lifestyle scene in Singapore’s oldest quarter. Highlights include the iconic Sultan Mosque, traditional Malay cuisine, Persian carpet stores, handcrafted perfumes and quirky shopping at Haji Lane.
Getting there by MRT: Take the East-West Line or Downtown Line and alight at Bugis Station (EW12/DT14)
Traditionally an enclave for Chinese immigrants, Chinatown has evolved into a bustling neighbourhood where old and new contrast with perfect ease. From century-old temples, mosques and traditional medicinal halls to chic new bars and trendy eateries, diverse offerings abound for culture lovers and intrepid foodies.
Getting there by MRT: Take the North-East Line or Downtown Line and alight at Chinatown Station (NE4/DT19)
Go museum hopping for art, history and dinosaurs
Indoor activities in Singapore need not be limited to shopping malls and cinemas. From the more-than-usual to the out-of-ordinary, the island’s delightfully diverse selection of museums promises something for everyone.
Art lovers can while away hours easily at the National Gallery Singapore, featuring the largest display of modern Southeast Asian art and highly acclaimed international exhibitions. Other great places to check out are the Art Science Museum with its iconic architecture and exhibitions fusing art and science, as well as the Singapore Art Museum which specialises in smaller showcases with its hidden gallery spaces.
Did you know that you could get up close with dinosaur fossils in Singapore? Specifically three 150-million-year-old dinosaur fossils housed at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia.
Discover Singapore’s extreme range of experiences
Adrenaline-pumping action seekers shouldn’t miss the chance to catch the Singapore Grand Prix – the world’s first Formula One night race – along with its glitzy festivities, fringe events and after-parties. Don’t miss the upcoming race, from 14 to 16 September 2018, if you are in Singapore!
“Singapore F1 night race 2012 city skyline” by chensiyuan
Feel like getting out of the city, yet not venture too far? Pop over to Sentosa island where Universal Studios, sandy white beaches and other fun-filled attractions await. Or hop onto a 10-minute bumboat ride and travel back in time to experience what Singapore was like in the 1960s on Pulau Ubin, a rustic island sitting just off the northeastern corner of mainland Singapore.
For a nature escape that’s closer to town, get away to Gardens by the Bay, a 101-hectare horticultural park with two conservatories featuring the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, Mediterranean plants and a Flower Field where displays change regularly.
Feast on amazing dishes you can’t find at home
It’s no secret that Singaporeans love to eat and will gladly travel any distance – in, across and even out of country – to satiate their appetites. Feeding this national phenomenon is an incredibly varied and vibrant food scene, with restaurants, local coffee shops and hawker centres serving up a smorgasbord of cuisines from every culture for every budget and palate preference.
But for Singaporeans and international visitors alike, the true culinary stars here are the local dishes. Fusing traditions and influences brought over by early immigrants from Malaysia, Indonesia, China, India and others, these deliciously reflect Singapore’s unique multi-culturalism. While everyone has their personal list of favourites, here are some distinctively Singaporean dishes no visitor should ever leave the country without tasting them first:
Roti Prata: A stretched and pan-fried South-Indian flat bread that’s crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Savour it plain or with an egg, dipped or doused in fish or mutton curry.Recommendation: Al-Azhar Eating Restaurant
Ayam Penyet: Literally meaning “smashed” or “flattened” chicken, the star of this dish is first marinated overnight in spices before deep frying over very low heat to a golden crisp. Best enjoyed with sambal chilli. Recommendation: Ayam Penyet Ria
Bak Kut Teh : A hearty, peppery broth of pork bones, meat and spices which some say was originally invented as a tonic to reinvigorate hard labouring Chinese coolies in the early 20th century. Recommendation: Song Fa Bak Kut Teh
Fish Head Curry: It might take some getting used to the idea of eating an entire head of fish (usually snapper, garoupa or bream) stewed in curry and vegetables – but oh so delicious and satisfying. Recommendation: The Banana Leaf Apolo
Explore life-changing career and learning opportunities
Some people fall in love with the island nation so much that they choose to make Singapore their new home. It’s easy to see why, especially with jobs aplenty and industry sectors such as financial and insurance seeing an increase in employment. Just stroll through the Central Business District (CBD) at the Raffles Place and City Hall areas on any given afternoon, and you’ll get an idea on how dynamic and enriching things could be. That’s on top of being Asia’s leading financial hub, with over 30,000 international companies establishing their headquarters locally, including 7,000 multinational corporations (MNCs).
And when it comes to education, Singapore more than pulls its weight, winning several international accolades over the years, such as being ranked top for best performing students in international education (PISA rankings), as well as having the world’s best students in mathematics and science (TIMSS). With a stellar reputation as an education hub, droves of international students regularly make their way to its shores to pursue further studies, at one of the many esteemed institutions of learning – including the increasingly popular Singapore Institute of Management (SIM).
As Singapore’s largest provider of private tertiary education and professional training, SIM also offers the SIM Global Education (SIM GE) programme, with an annual enrolment of 19,000 students, 20% of which are full-time international students from more than 40 countries. That means a chance to immerse yourself amongst different cultures and experiences, for true adventure in a home away from home!
Entertaining the thought of embarking on a uniquely Singaporean learning journey? Visit SIM to find out more!