A vibrant, multi-cultural, cosmopolitan and sophisticated city-state, Singapore expresses the essence of today's New Asia. Its many names describe its attributes: City of Diverse Cultures, The Garden City, The Fun City and City for the Arts - these are characteristics that best describe Singapore. The diversity of things to do and see is unrivalled.
People, Language, Culture
One of the most remarkable aspects of Singapore is the truly diverse nature of her population. Established by Thomas Stamford Raffles as a trading post on 29 January 1819, the small sea town of Singapore soon attracted many migrants and merchants and they brought with them their own cultures, languages, customs and festivals. Though intermarriage and integration, Singapore is now a multi-faceted society with a vibrant and diverse cultural heritage, with major ethnic groups being the Chinese, Malays, Indians, Peranakans and Eurasians. Singapore is also home to many expatriates from countries all around the globe.
As a reflection of its collage of cultures, Singapore has adopted English as the representative language for the four major ethnic groups. However, in recognition of the status of the Malay people as the indigenous community in Singapore, the national language of the country is Bahasa Melayu, or the Malay Language.
Singapore's weather is hot and humid, with little variation throughout the year. The average daytime temperature is 31℃ (88℉), dropping to around 24℃ (75℉) in the evenings. The monsoon season can bear down pretty heavily on our tropical weather from November onwards, so be prepared for rain on a daily basis during this period.
The local currency is the Singapore dollar (S$). The current exchange rate against the US dollar is USD 1 = SGD 1.3 approx. Money changing services can be found at many shopping centres and hotels around the island, and the ATMs accept most main credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) operates an extensive network of trains serving stations all across the island. It is a fast and cost-effective way of getting around Singapore. There are currently four main lines, the North-South Line (Red), East-West Line (Green), North-East Line (Purple), and Circle Line (Orange), with plans for future expansion on the existing MRT system. Some MRT Stations are linked to several bus interchange stations, making it even more convenient to continue your journey to areas in Singapore not covered but the MRT.
For the MRT Network Map, click here
Also conveniently available are Singapore's public bus services. There are currently more than 300 bus services which run daily from 5.30 to midnight, even covering destinations that are less available. The two main bus service providers in Singapore are SBS Transit and SMRT Buses.
Taxis ply the island round the clock, bringing you wherever you want, anytime you want. However, do note that peak-hour, city area and ERP gantry surcharges apply. There are numerous taxi stands available island-wide, as well as in hotels and shopping centres.
Here are the hotlines for various taxi services in Singapore, which will come in handy if you end up in a more obscure part of the island where the traffic is sparse, or if you are unable to find a taxi during peak hours or any other reason. If you're coming from an entertainment or dining venue, most concierge services will also be happy to call a taxi for you.
The city's major cab companies are:
Comfort Transportation Pte Ltd / CityCab Pte Ltd: (65) 6552 1111
Premier Taxis Pte Ltd: (65) 6476 8880
Maxi Cab: (65) 6535 3534
SMRT Taxis: (65) 6555 8888
For more travellers' essential information, click here