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  You are here : Home | World | Asia Pacific | Singapore
 
 

Do

While you can find a place to practice nearly any sport in Singapore — golfing, surfing, scuba diving, even ice skating — due to the country's small size your options are rather limited and prices are relatively high. For watersports in particular, the busy shipping lanes and sheer population pressure mean that the sea around Singapore is murky, and most locals head up to Tioman (Malaysia) or Bintan (Indonesia) instead. See also Habitatnews and WildSingapore for news and updates about free tours and events.

Golf

Despite its small size, Singapore has a surprisingly large number of golf courses, but most of the best ones are run by private clubs and open to members and their guests only. The main exceptions are the Sentosa Golf Club , the famously challenging home of the Barclays Singapore Open, and the Marina Bay Golf Course , the only 18-hole public course. See the Singapore Golf Association for the full list; alternatively, head to the nearby Indonesian islands of Batam or Bintan or up north to the Malaysian town of Malacca for cheaper rounds.

Spas

Singapore has recently been experiencing a spa boom, and there is now plenty of choice for everything from holistic Ayurveda to green tea hydrotherapy. However, prices aren't as rock-bottom as in neighbors Indonesia and Thailand, and you'll generally be looking at upwards of $70 even for a plain one-hour massage. Good spas can be found in most five-star hotels and on Orchard, and Sentosa's Spa Botanica also has a good reputation. There are also numerous shops offering traditional Chinese massage, which are mostly legit, and "health centres", which are mostly not.

 

Of course non-alcoholic drinks are also widely available in bars and other establishments. Don't miss:

  • 'Calamansi Juice' - lemon juice made from small, local lemons called calamansi
  • 'Fresh Buko Juice'- juice extracted from young coconuts
  • 'Sago't Gulaman - a sweet drink of molasses, tapioca pearls and seaweed gelatin
  • 'Green mango shake- a fruit shake made of green or unripened mangoes, sugar, milk and ice(one of the best native drinks in the Philippines)
  • Taho - a sweet, warm soya snack usually served in the morning, with tapioca balls, soft tofu and caramelized syrup

Stay safe

Don't flash around valuables like mp3 players, jewelry, and cellphones because they pose a pickpocketing threat. Pickpockets are really common in the big cities of the Philippines. On the other hand, Manila is one of the safest cities in the Southeast Asian region. Manila is not a place for violent robbery, but the attivan scam is common practice. Innocent looking persons, that befriend you put a drug in your drink that knocks you out right away. They can drag you to a waiting car, saying that you have drunk too much and strip or rape you or even take your kidneys and dump you.It will take 10 hours to wake up and you can be dizzy and short of memory for 3 days. Don't expect any reprisal from police. They have their own scam and will be waiting for foreign currency.

 

Singapore

Singapore is an island-state in Southeast Asia, connected by bridges to Malaysia. Founded as a British trading colony in 1819, since independence it has become one of the world's most prosperous countries, sporting the world's busiest port. Combining the skyscrapers and subways of a modern, affluent city with a medley of Chinese, Indian and Malay influences and a lush tropical climate, with tasty food, good shopping and a vibrant nightlife scene, this Garden City makes a great stopover or springboard into the region.

 

 


Districts


Singapore is a small country on a small island, but with over four million people it's a fairly crowded city. The center of the city — consisting roughly of Orchard, the Riverside and a chunk of Chinatown — is known in acronym-loving Singapore as the CBD (Central Business District).

  • Riverside — (also known as Civil District); Museums, statues and theaters, not to mention restaurants, bars and clubs.
  • Orchard Road — Miles and miles of shopping malls.
  • Bugis and Kampong Glam — Bugis and Kampong Glam are Singapore's old Malay district, now largely taken over by mall-shopping, although Arab Street in the Kampong Glam area is well worth a visit for its eclectic mix of unique shops and restaurants.
  • Chinatown — The area originally designated for Chinese settlement by Stamford Raffles. Now a Cantonese enclave in predominantly Hokkien Singapore.
  • Little India — A piece of India to the north of the city core.
  • Balestier, Newton, Novena and Toa Payoh — Budget accommodations and Burmese temples within striking distance of the center.
  • North and West — The northern and western parts of the island, also known as Woodlands and Jurong respectively, form Singapore's residential and industrial hinterlands.
  • East Coast — The largely residential eastern part of the island contains Changi Airport and many famous eateries. Katong is located in the East Coast and is famous for its Peranakan food, such as laksa. Joo Chiat has some well-restored Peranakan houses with characteristic intricate architecture. Also consists of Geylang Serai, the true home of Singapore's Malays.
  • Sentosa — A separate island developed into a resort, Sentosa is the closest that Singapore gets to Disneyland.

Addresses
In the centre Singapore's addressing system is fairly normal ("17 Orchard Rd" etc), but the new housing developments on the outskirts may appear more intimidating: a typical address might be "Blk 505 Jurong West St 51 #01-186". Here "Blk 505" is the housing block number, "Jurong West St 51" is the street name, and "#01-186" means floor 1, unit, stall or shop 186. Note that the first digit of both housing block and street number is the neighborhood's number (in this case 5), making it easier to narrow down the right location. There are also 6-digit postal codes, which - considering the small size of the island - generally correspond to exactly one building. For example, "Blk 9 Bedok South Ave 2" is "Singapore 460009".

A very useful tool for hunting down addresses is the free online Singapore Street Directory [1]. Most taxis carry a street directory, which can come in handy in the unlikely event that they don't know your destination. Many are now equipped with GPS navigation systems.

Understand

Bored proboscis monkey, Singapore ZooSingapore is a microcosm of Asia, populated by Chinese, Malays, Indians and a large group of workers and expatriates from all across the globe. Singapore has a partly deserved reputation for sterile predictability that has earned it snickering descriptions like William Gibson's "Disneyland with the death penalty" or the "world's only shopping mall with a seat in the United Nations". Nevertheless, the Switzerland of Asia is for many a welcome respite from the poverty, chaos, and crime of much of the Asian mainland, and if you scratch below the squeaky clean surface you'll find more than meets the eye.

Singaporean food is legendary, with bustling hawker centres and 24-hour coffee shops offering cheap food from all parts of Asia, and shoppers can bust their baggage allowances in shopping meccas like Orchard Road and Suntec City. In recent years some societal restrictions have also loosened up, and now you can bungee jump and dance on bartops all night long, although alcohol is very pricey and chewing gum can only be bought from a pharmacy. Gambling casinos will be opening up in about 2009 as part of Singapore's new Fun and Entertainment drive, the aim being to double the number of tourists visiting and increasing the length of time they stay. Watch out for more loosening up in the future.

See

Sights in Singapore are covered in more detail under the various districts. Broadly speaking:

  • Beaches and tourist traps: Head to one of the three beaches on Sentosa or its southern islands. Other beaches can be found on the East Coast.
  • Culture and cuisine: See Chinatown for Chinese treats, Little India for Indian flavors, Kampong Glam (Arab St) for a Malay/Arab experience or the East Coast for delicious seafood, including the famous chilli and black pepper crab.
  • History and museums: The Bras Basah area east of Orchard and north of the Singapore River is Singapore's colonial core, with historical buildings and museums.
  • Nature and wildlife: Popular tourist attractions Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, Jurong Bird Park and the Botanical Gardens are all in the North and West. Finding "real" nature is a little harder, but the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in the same area is Singapore's largest. Pulau Ubin, an island off the Changi Village in the east, is a flashback to the rural Singapore of yesteryear. City parks full of locals jogging or doing tai chi can be found everywhere.
  • Skyscrapers and shopping: The heaviest shopping mall concentration is in Orchard Road, while skyscrapers are clustered around the Singapore River, but also check out Bugis to see where Singaporeans shop.
  • Places of worship: Don't miss this aspect of Singapore, where Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam all exist in sizeable numbers. Religious sites can be easily visited and welcome non-followers outside of service times. Particularly worth visiting include: the vast Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery near Ang Mo Kio, the colorful Sri Mariamman Hindu temple in Chinatown, the psychedelic Burmese Buddhist Temple in Balestier and the stately Masjid Sultan in Arab Street.
 
             
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