Singapore Pictures Guide

Marina Bay evening light show, Singapore, Asia

Marina Bay waterfront and the largest light and water spectacular in Southeast Asia, Wonder Full.

This is a free twice daily event, about 8.30pm and 9.30pm depending on the day. It is wonderful, and wonderful from many angles, near and far. In the photo on the right is the Science Museum, in the centre Marina Bay Sands hotel and shopping centre, on the left is the fascinating double-helix bridge.

Prior to the light show an exotic drink by the bay, Singapore, Asia

Prior to the light show an exotic drink by Marina Bay, with an exotic view.

Singapore is a tiny city state, just 20×30 kms (13×19 miles) in size but wielding huge ambition and a dynamic, mixed population composed mainly of Chinese, Malays and Indians, numbering about 5 million.

Singapore and its 60 or so islands is located at the far south end of the Malay peninsula, connected to its large northern neighbour Malaysia by two causeways, so entry is possible by bus, train, car or bicycle (the Japanese army introduced that last idea quite dramatically in 1942). To the south is Indonesia.

In Malay language this is called Singapura, Lion City, even though lions never lived here. Tigers did and still do, albeit in the fantastic city zoo.

Love it or hate it, if you’re travelling in Southeast Asia you’ll almost certainly pass through Singapore at some point. A few years ago government surveys showed that most visitors were only staying a couple of days on layovers, so a policy was established to attract visitors for longer. It worked for us. We spent 5 days there and loved it. Paradise found! Albeit expensive.
Travellers taking a Singapore holiday should be ready for an immaculate, organised but sterile metropolis,  Asia without the poor: no beggars, stray dogs, aggressive touts, dirty streets, stinky buzzy motorcycles or biting insects, but with drinkable tap water, delicious food that doesn’t give you the runs, air-conditioning, wide roads, manicured green spaces and clear, logical road signs.

This city state has many attractive features for travellers not least of which are that it’s a great hub for flights, its sheer efficiency and reliability, spectacular buildings, beautiful landscaping, handful of appealing tourist attractions and the ease of communication for both English and Chinese speakers. And this is not Public Relations talking!  I’m writing this in Bali and thinking, how could Singapore get it so right and Bali get it so wrong?

The answer of course is/was  smart, authoritarian, uncorruptible, forward-looking  leadership, starting with the foundation of Singapore in 1819 by British national Stamford Raffles and accelerated by Lee Kuan Yew (who was a star law student at Cambridge University), Singapore’s first Prime Minister. Lee is the founding father of modern Singapore,  taking it “from the third world to the first world in a single generation”.

Lee Kuan Yew’s son, Lee Hsien Loong is now the Prime Minister of the city state.

Sentosa island, Silosa beach, Singapore

Sentosa island, Silosa beach, Singapore

Singapore Weather

Hot and humid year-round; average temperatures range from about 30C (86F) during the day down to 23C (74F) at night, with highs up around 34C (93F). The slightly hotter months are May and June, while August-October months often get hazy from bush fires in Indonesia to the south. Very best season? We’d say February – May but there’s not a lot in it.

The wet season is from November to January, though the rain tends to fall torrentially for a short time. Humidity on most mornings is an energy-sapping 90%, with afternoons falling to around 60% unless it rains.

We spent five days wandering everywhere in shorts and T shirts without any form of mosquito repellent and neither of us saw a mosquito or were bitten by any insect. In our experience of the tropics, that is a first.  Total eradication complete, in the city at least. Which is not a completely good thing, of course, because there are creatures that live off mosquitoes and chopping out part of the food chain can have unexpected consequences…just a thought.


Zika virus infections in Singapore
On 28 August 2016, MOH confirmed 41 cases of locally transmitted Zika virus infection in Singapore. Of these cases, 36 were identified through active testing of potentially infected persons.

All the cases are residents or workers in the Aljunied Crescent/ Sims Drive area.  They are not known to have travelled to Zika-affected areas recently, and are thus likely to have been infected in Singapore. This confirms that local transmission of Zika virus infection has taken place.  At this point, the community transmission appears to be localised within the Aljunied Crescent/ Sims Drive cluster.
Given that the Zika virus is spread by the Aedes mosquito vector, MOH cannot rule out further community transmission in Singapore, since some of those tested positive also live or work in other parts of Singapore. At this point, these other areas of concern include Khatib Camp, Sembawang Drive and places where the construction workers live (Kranji Road, Joo Chiat Place, Senoko South Road, Toh Guan Road East and Lor 101 Changi).

More on Zika from Singapore Ministry of Health

Mosquito avoidance tips from bugbog

Sands hotel lasers and Marina Bay, Singapore

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel and shopping centre, the city’s $6. 3 billion icon.


Americans, Canadians, British, Australians and citizens of the EU will receive a Social Visit Pass on arrival, providing their passport has more than 6 months validity and they hold sufficient funds for their holiday, a confirmed return air ticket (or bus ticket if coming by land from Malaysia! ) and entry permit for their next destination.

The length of the Pass depends on nationality. British and Irish get 30 days, others get 7 or 14 days but all can request an extension to 90 days on arrival.

The view of/from the swimming pool, Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore, Asia

This is the view of the  Sands Hotel’s swimming pool from one of the two bars. The pool is not open to non-guests, though the Sky Park is, at a price, a sky high price as it happens. Better to fork out 50 Singapore dollars for a beer in one of the top floor bars, but make it before 6pm when the smart folk and dress codes arrive and sightseeing tourists are encouraged to disappear.

View from one of the two the top floor bars of the Sands Hotel, Singapore

The Sands Sky Park is the ship’s deck thing on top of the magnificent  Sands Hotel, view as above. Visitors can enter for $25 ($14 for little kids! ! ), see the view, admire the architecture, the landscaped garden, the infinity pool (but no swimming! ). Alternatively buy a pricey drink and feel rich and comfortable for a couple of hours (before 6pm). Recommended by us!
At night they say the view is basically dark and uninteresting.

A few facts

Language: 50% of the population speak Mandarin Chinese, others Malay and Tamil but most Singaporeans are well educated and use English as a common language between each other so communication should be no problem.

Religion: 33% Buddhist, 18% Christian, 15% Moslem, and the rest Taoist, Hindu or Dudeists.

Local tap water is safe to drink.

Electricity is 220 – 240AC and sockets usually take UK style 3 pin plugs but adapters are cheap and widely available.

Smoking is banned in air conditioned areas and public transport as well as in taxis and lifts.

Tipping is not common even in taxis, though residents may round up the fare to the nearest coin.

There are strict laws against littering of any kind (chewing gum was banned in 1992 but the rules were relaxed in 2004 under the United States/Singapore Free Trade Agreement to allow the sale of chewing gum considered to have health benefits).


Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay Domes.

Singapore city is fundamentally a huge, modern metropolis that has had its exotic Asian growths surgically removed and replaced by new-millennium transplants so it’s not a place for activity freaks or lovers of exotica – apart from the Thaipusam Festival early in the year. Nor is it a place for those who like to live on the edge, get wasted, smoke or chew gum. There is zero tolerance for non-prescription drugs. Hanging is one way of keeping the streets clean and Singapur does like a pristine path.

It is however, safe, spectacular, warm and home to excellent food thanks to its mixed-race background.

Main tourist activities

Orchard Road

• shopping, which tends to be in the designer-brand category!
• visiting Sentosa Island’s broad, soft beaches, theme park, oceanarium and more.
• ambling the massive, superb open-plan, zoo, even trying a  unique Night Safari.
• wandering the Botanic Garden and especially the Orchid Garden.
• taking a walk along the Singapore River bank from Clarke’s Quay down to Marina Bay.
• spend up to a day in Gardens by the Bay wandering free of charge from themed garden to themed garden (some are a bit weak; Chinese was best we thought). Pay to enter the two biodomes –  Flower Dome and Cloud Forest Dome. There are tons of eating and drinking establishments inside the Gardens.
• losing money at casinos.
• strolling Chinatown and Little India.
• riding the Singapore Flyer, the world’s largest observation wheel even if the Marina Bay Sands Sky Park is now higher.
• taking a harbour cruise in a motorised junk (traditional Chinese ship) or a River Boat Tour along the Singapore River – tho’ we’d suggest a walk is better and not at all strenuous.

Outside the glass and concrete downtown core of the city – which is in the central-south of the main island where the river meets the sea – there are a few exotic remnants, such as Chinatown and Little India, where some ethnic culture and great food survive, the ‘bohemian enclave’ of Holland Village and even beaches around tranquil Changi fishing village or on Sentosa Island.

Clarke Quay and a riverboat on the way downstream Singapore River

Clarke Quay and a  riverboat on the way downstream Singapore River.

Clarke Quay is a famous evening drinking zone, mainly for expatriates who enjoy getting hammered and, errr, boisterous, to put it politely.

Singapore tourism’s principal downsides are the oppressive humidity, the high cost of living compared to Asian neighbours and the lack of soul, with only rare glimpses of its exotic, trading-post past. Somewhere along the line cleanliness has overtaken culture – censorship still demands that women’s breasts in major art works be covered on television, there is not a leaf out of place in the Botanic Gardens and forward planning is of Brave New World proportions.

That being said, in an increasingly unstable world of disease, terrorism and failure travellers who want safety and efficiency can’t go wrong in Singapore.

Singapore super trees at night.

Singapore’s stunning Supertrees in the Gardens by the Bay, at night. The Gardens are free to enter though the two domes cost. Don’t do drugs in Singapore, just have a drink and lie underneath the Supertrees at night. You will feel so spaced out!

Singapore Map. Zoom for more detail. North of the island (the grey line) is Malaysia.

Singapore airport gaming centre

Singapore airport free gaming centre. This must be the only airport in the world where you’d like to be delayed!

Also, apart from incredible efficiency and cleanliness  of the airport building there is an indoor tropical garden and an outdoor sunflower garden!