- China Town: Chinatown is the heart of the city’s Chinese community. There are numerous Chinese temples, colorful shops, decorated buildings and exciting activities. One of the most popular attractions is the Chinatown Night Market which attracts visitors with its wide assortment of traditional and modern merchandise. Another popular place for tourists is the Thian Hock Keng Temple, built in the early 1840s.
- Jurong Bird Park: This landscaped park features 4,600 birds of 380 species. The world’s largest walk-in aviary, the African Waterfall Aviary, features the world’s tallest man-made waterfall with a height of 30 metres. 1500 free flying birds from 50 species surround the visitor who can move around on a monorail system. This park is extremely popular with children, families and nature photographers.
- Singapore Botanic Gardens: An extremely popular attraction, the botanic garden is accessible free of charge between 5 am and 12 midnight every day of the year. Only the National Orchid Garden charges an admission fee while regular admission is free of charge.
- Singapore Zoo: This modern zoo has 315 species of animals and receives about 1.6 million visitors each year. Its concept is based on being an “Open Zoo” without traditional cages. Animals are exhibited in naturalistic environments with hidden barriers, moats and glass partitions.
It is important for foreigners to know that some special rules apply in Singapore. Throwing garbage away, for example, may result in a fine of up to 1,000 dollars. Furthermore it is prohibited to bring durians, a fruit with a very pungent odour, to public spaces. Chewing gum was long forbidden, and even importing it is technically still against the law. Homosexual contact still remains illegal with possible penalties of up to two years in prison and/or caning.
Western travelers also need to be aware that Singapore has a very strict anti-drug policy that may result in up to 10 years in jail for consumption of drugs and a mandatory death penalty for trafficking. Caning may be imposed as a punishment if visitors overstay their visa. It is strongly advised that Western tourists inform themselves of legal risks they may incur while staying in Singapore.
Singapore’s diverse cultures also express themselves in local festivals; visitors can view Chinese, Muslim, Indian, and Christian celebrations. The beginning of the year is highlighted by the Chinese New Year, which is the biggest celebration in Singapore. Deepavali is the Hindu festival of lights which is celebrated around October or November. One of the Islamic festivals, Hari Raya Puasa (also called Eid ul-Fitr), takes place on the east coast and celebrates the conclusion of Ramadan. The most popular Buddhist festival is Vesak Day which celebrates Buddha’s birthday, enlightenment and passing away. A visit to one of these festivals will reward the traveler with many unforgettable memories.
A diverse country with a mix of traditional and modern culture, Singapore will fascinate you with its many charms, its festivals and lush tropical environment. This small country is full of many exciting and delightful treasures.