Singapore is probably best known for being one of the world’s global centres for trade and finance, but just recently tourists have begun to rediscover the beauty of this unique city.
Where/what is it?
Located almost imperceptibly at the bottom of the Malaysian peninsula, Singapore is the world’s only island city-state. Once a British colony and a commercial hub for the East India Trading Company, Singapore gained its independence in 1965. In the time since, it has reinvented itself again and again to become one of the highest ranking cities in the world in terms of standards of living.
Why should I go there?
When Singapore was faced with the choice between being ecological and efficient, or greedy and environmentally short-sighted, they chose the former. The result was that Singapore became a “garden city” and it now boasts some beautiful, out-of-this-world gardens and parks, including the famous “Garden by the Bay” (pictured above). Architecture and ecology seem married into the framework of Singapore in a way that makes the entire city feel naturalistic, yet futuristic.
How do I get there?
You can fly directly from Heathrow, but it’s a 14 hour flight that feels even longer on the way back (most airlines do compensate for the length with free alcohol though, so it isn’t all bad). Another option, if you have the time, is to put Singapore on a list of destinations around the Indochina peninsula and go exploring. Flights connecting Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh and Jakarta are all very cheap, so you can make it your business to city-hop if you have a few weeks to spare. What language do they speak? The official languages are English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. If you fancy trying your hand at the latter three, you may earn some warm, pitying smiles from the locals, but for those without a Mandarin phrasebook, no worries, everyone you’re likely to meet speaks English (it’s a global city after all).
What’s the currency?
The Singapore Dollar, worth approximately 65 cent.
Is it expensive?
People will try to put you off by talking about how expensive Singapore is. Relative to its surrounding countries, it is. But compared to your average European city, Singapore is about level, sometimes cheaper. And, as with any city in the world, there’s ways to do it on a budget and still get to truly experience Singapore.
Where can I get a drink?
Singapore can be tough to negotiate when it comes to getting a good drink. Most of the bars you’re likely to see in the main shopping districts and tourist areas are knock-off European pubs catering to expats and serving murky imported beers. For an authentic taste of Singapore, try out some of the Japanese style bars found on Club Street like IZY Bar, or some of the local favourites like The Library – a password-protected old-school speakeasy that is genuinely located behind a bookshelf (you can get the password on their Facebook). But for a really authentic taste, book a room at one of the dingy karaoke bars, pay $20-$30 and get served drink all night while you sing your heart out and learn why it’s such a craze in Asia.
How do I get around?
Singapore has one of the most cost-effective transport systems in the world due to a government initiative to ween people off private transport to decrease population (seriously, the Singaporeans have their act together like nobody’s business). You can get where you want to go with any number of public buses or Metro lines which interconnect conveniently throughout the city. Taxis are popular and fares are less expensive than in other cities. There’s also the Singapore Tourist Pass which allows you all-day transport for $8 (approximately €5) per day.
What should I eat?
With food being considered a national pastime and the city being a melting pot for other cultures, there’s no end to the amount of good food available. It’s worth checking out the hawker centres for authentic Singaporean food. These foodcourt-style venues are a mish-mash of street hawkers operating in a hygienic environment. You get can get cheap, tasty noodle or rice dishes from any number of stalls, but chief amongst these is Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle, one of the first street stalls in the world to be awarded a star on the Michelin Guide.
What are the main attractions?
Top of your list should be Sentosa Island, especially if you’re travelling with kids. The island features a dozen hotels, two golf courses, a sheltered beach, and a Universal Studios Theme Park. If you’re looking more for the cultural side, the island also hosts ‘Fort Silico’, a military museum where you can learn about Singapore’s illustrious history as a naval port. It’s a bit of a tourist trap, sure, but it’s still worth spending at least an afternoon there. Get a guide and check out the whole range of activities on offer on the island – there’s a huge variety and you’re likely to find something that will suit your tastes. Another item on the agenda should be going to see Marina Bay Sands (pictured above). This three-pronged futuristic hotel is a hub for conferences and conventions for businesses all over the world. It’s topped by a “SkyPark”, which is available to the public and offers spectacular views of the entire city.
On a budget?
Go to the Garden by the Bay and see the “supertrees” up close. Then take a walk through the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest and experience the wide range of flora hosted in the massive conservatory. Any number of Singapore’s well-trimmed, expansive gardens are good to visit to clear your head the morning after a karaoke-fuelled drinking binge where you’ve haemorrhaged money and need to save your cents.
What’s my challenge?
Don’t get sunburn or heat exhaustion. Seriously, Singapore averages at 31 degrees daily, humidity is high, and the climate rarely changes all year round. Your pale, pasty Irish skin won’t be used to it. Slap on suntan lotion and pray.
What souvenir should I take away?
Get yourself a bottle of Singapore Sling to bring home. The gin-based cocktail drink is made up of cherry brandy, lime, orange and pineapple juice and tastes as sweet as it sounds. The recipe can vary depending on where you buy it and it’s served best at one of the city’s extensive cocktail bars, but you can pick up a bottled version of the drink at any number of souvenir shops around the city.
Any last advice?
Have a look on AirBnB before you book anything and see what’s on offer. From experience, the Singaporeans are lovely, warm people who are always happy to help and point you in the right direction with anything you need, so if you can get a local person to accommodate you, then you’re sure to get the best out of your stay.
The hip-hop artist released a new video yesterday for his latest single.Read More
The '80s synth pop duo are hitting the road again to support their 17th studio album, World Be Gone.Read More
The American singer has added a second Olympia Theatre for his Irish tour this September.Read More
SEO LINN take to the stage at Vicar St for their first ever headline show.Read More
Brian Wilson will perform live both Dublin and Galway this summer.Read More
Honorees included Zachary Quinto, Ruth Negga, Glen Hansard, and Caitriona Balfe.Read More
The first LP from the Cabra indie-rock four-piece hits the shelves as of today, February 24.Read More
Part two of the hip-hop drama will air on the Netflix streaming service in April.Read More
Filmmaker Louis Theroux has revealed that he is now planning to make a documentary exploring Donald Trump's path to power.Read More
To celebrate the album's 30th anniversary, the new deluxe edition will be released on 31 March and includes newly remastered sound, unreleased recordings, rare tracks, music videos and more.Read More
Scottish singer Paolo Nutini has been arrested in his home town for alleged road traffic offences.Read More
The 22-year-old jazz singer-songwriter has added another date of performances due to demand.Read More
How I Met Your Mother Star Jason Segel gave praise to Irish singer Glen Hansard at an event to support The Ireland Funds in America.Read More
Laura Cantrell, the Nashville singer-songwriter, is heading Dublin this April.Read More
Today FM duo takes to the roads of Ireland with hilarious new comedy show.Read More
Comedian Louis C.K. will debut two new stand-up comedy specials exclusively on Netflix. The first of the specials, titled 2017, was filmed in Washington DC, and will premiere on 4 April.Read More
Music Generation Laois, in conjunction with Laois School of Music, has just announced its inaugural 'Brass Evening', which will take place next Monday (27 February) at 5pm in the Laois School of Music, Portlaoise.Read More
The list of 13 Irish acts set to perform at this year’s South By Southwest (SXSW) Music Conference in Austin, Texas has just been announced.Read More
David Bowie was posthumously honoured with the Best British Solo Artist and Best British Album for ‘Blackstar’ at last night’s BRIT Awards. While other big winners on the night included Adele who scooped the Global Success Award, Beyonce deservedly took home the gong for Best International Female and Drake was named the Best International Male artist.Read More
The 30-year-old actress said she was “racially profiled” recently at the Heathrow Airport in London, because she covered her hair with a headscarf.Read More
The American singer-songwriter will headline a show at Dublin’s Whelan’s this May.Read More
The 2017 Brit Award will take place tonight, February 22.Read More
Sziget Festival, the 7 day festival on an island north of Budapest, has announced the first 22 acts for its 2017 event.Read More
After topping the Irish Charts with his debut album Human Rag’n’Bone Man takes us behind the scenes in the latest instalment of the Beats by Dr. Dre's Beat x Beat series.Read More
Body & Soul music festival have revealed the first acts who will be heading to Ballinlough Castle, Westmeath, this summer.Read More
The National Opera House, Vicar Street, Mike The Pies and Boyle’s of Slane were also among the winners on the night...Read More
Katy Perry takes viewers to Oblivia in official video for 'Chained to the Rhythm'.Read More
J COLE has announced a 3Arena Dublin date as part of The 4 Your Eyez Only tour.Read More
The Los Angeles-based trio will release the single, originally from PJ Harvey's 1995 album To Bring You My Love, this Friday, February 24.Read More
Stormzy, who is nominated for British Breakthrough Act at the upcoming Brits which takes place next week, releases his new album 'Gang Sings & Prayer' on Friday, 24 February.Read More
The second season of Chelsea Handler's talk show Chelsea will return to the Netflix streaming service this Friday (14 April) at 8am Irish time.Read More
Cork musician Talos (aka Eoin French) has just dropped his new single, 'Odyssey'. It's taken from his debut album 'Wild Alee', which will be released in April.Read More
Game of Two Halves from Former Green on Red ManRead More
The co-founder of the progressive rock band said that "musicians have an absolute right, a duty, to open their mouths to speak out."Read More
The U2 frontman thanked the Vice President for defending PEPFAR - the US Government initative to prevent AIDS/HIV - on the White House floor.Read More
Tower Records (Dublin), Music Zone (Cork) and OMG@Zhivago (Galway) to open at midnight on Thursday, March 2 ahead of official release this Friday.Read More
Hollywood star Matt Damon has revealed that he has such a strong grá for Ireland that he dreams about one day splashing out on a lighthouse somewhere along the rugged Wild Atlantic Way.Read More
Grammy ® award-nominated rapper, singer, producer, and artist Jidenna has just unleashed his anxiously awaited full-length debut album, 'The Chief' on Wondaland Records/Epic Records.Read More
Sonya Kelly's award-winning play 'How to Keep an Alien' has already received the stamp of approval from audiences in Ireland, Australia, London, Edinburgh, New York and Paris…and now it’s heading to New Zealand. But Irish theatre fans will have one last chance to see the play before it goes on tour Down Under when it's staged in Drogheda on 9 March.Read More
Lana Del Ray has just released the first single 'Love' from her eagerly anticipated new album, which will be released later this year.Read More
IFTA will host renowned filmmaker Martin Scorsese for a Masterclass in Film, as well as the John Ford Award presentation, in Dublin next weekendRead More
Pickups, which is directed by Jamie Thraves, will be screened at the Irish Film Institute at 20.15pm, Saturday 18, with a Q&A after the show.Read More
The British singer-songwriter keeps defending his place on top of the charts.Read More
The glorious debut album from British soul star shoots straight for the top spot on its first week.Read More
The British comedian will be bringing his 'Humanity' stand-up show to the 3Arena this summer.Read More
Breathtakingly emotional coming-of-age film examines sexuality, race, and identity.Read More
Brian Wilson will perform live this summer in Dublin.Read More
Irish international footballer Anthony Stokes has been ordered to pay €230,000 in damages to an Elvis Presley impersonator he headbutted and seriously injured in a Dublin nightclub.Read More
The critically-acclaimed singer will be returning to Ireland for three dates in September, following the release of his sixteenth studio album, Prisoner, which is on sale today.Read More
The live version of 'How Would You Feel (Paean)' was released this morning.Read More
Castle of Song and Turning Pirate are getting ready to put on two intimate evenings of song and storytelling in Galway and Dublin, with Ronan O’Snodaigh, Roesy and Ye Vagabonds giving performances.Read More
Linkin Park fans will be excited to learn that the band have announced that their eagerly anticipated new album, entitled 'One More Light' will be released on 19 May.Read More
Community groups throughout Dublin City will be taking centre stage at national theatres, galleries, museums and performance venues across the capital over the coming weeks to perform and display artworks developed with artists through "Dublin’s Culture Connects: The National Neighbourhood programme."Read More
Michael Jackson's album 'Thriller' has just become the first album in RIAA Gold & Platinum Program history to be certified 33x Diamond for United States sales and streams.Read More
The trailer for Sandy Wexler – a new Adam Sandler comedy that will air exclusively on Netflix from 14 April – has just been uploaded on social media.Read More
The country singer will be making his way to Dublin this March.Read More
Thousands of you made your nominations. Now we can reveal the shortlist for "The Hotties" Live Venue of the Year 2017.Read More
Ahead of their Irish tour, which kicks off tonight in Voodoo Belfast, the avant-garde rockers are back with the first single from their upcoming EP mkll (part 2).Read More
Ahead of his shows on February 19 and 20, a final batch of tickets were released for Drake's shows at the 3Arena.Read More
Luke Fitzgerald, in his new role as Ambassador for the PRO12 Final, has kicked off the 100 day countdown tothe May 27 decider at the Aviva Stadium.Read More
Some of Ireland's finest live acts will help the weekly podcasters celebrate hitting the half century mark.Read More
He might be one of the biggest sports stars on the planet, but the UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor has dismissed the notion that he's an A-list Celeb, bluntly saying: "I'm not a celebrity. I break people's faces for money and bounce!"Read More
Tinie Tempah, who has just announced that his eagerly anticipated new album will be released on 31 March, will perform his latest single this Friday night on BBC's The Graham Norton Show at 10.35pm.Read More
On top of her live show at the Button Factory with Canadian singer Austra this March, Pixx has announced the date for the release of her first album.Read More
It's awards season and we're down to our final vote off for the Hot Press Reader's Poll. Thousands of you made nominations and we've now announced the finalists so it's time to cast your votes! [the venue of the year voting will close on MONDAY 20th February as the winner will be announced at the IMRO Live Music Venue of the Year Awards] Everyone who votes (in any section) by then will have the chance to win tickets to the IMRO Live Music Venue of the Year Awards.Read More
Three-piece Limerick punk band Slow Riot are back with ' Pink December 'Read More
The poem, which was commissioned for the St. Patrick's Day Festival, is an honest, clear-sighted odyssey into Ireland as we know it today.Read More
Stiff Little Fingers will be playing at Belsonic this summer, along with The Stranglers, The Ruts DC, The Outcasts & punk legend Terri Hooley.Read More
A truly incredible line-up features Sigma, Primal Scream, The Coronas, Foy Vance and Badly Drawn Boy.Read More
Caffé Rockers, straight up burgers & tasty Belgian Blondes are all on this fortnight’s menu.Read More
'Something's Got a Hold of My Heart', the cover of Gene Pitney's '60s classic, is available to stream and download as of today.Read More
The “Catch & Release” singer will make an appearance in Dublin this spring.Read More
The Brooklynites will return to Dublin this May.Read More
'Coming of Age' is taken from Julia Jacklin's debut album Don't Let The Kids Win.Read More
Tickets for the Irish gigs go on sale this Friday.Read More
Wild Beast, Girl Band, Shit Robot, David Kitt and many more will play at the Tullamore weekender in August.Read More
August Wells, the musical project formed by Dublin native Kenneth Griffin (formerly of Rollerskate Skinny, Kid Silver and Favourite Sons) and New York pianist John Rauchenberger, have announced an Irish tour for February and March.Read More
Musician Moby has taken to social media to claim that the Russians do have enough damaging inside information that could potentially bring down Donald Trump’s controversial reign as the so-called leader of the free world.Read More
Bill Whelan's musical ‘The Train’ will travel to The Mac in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, following its run this Easter at the Abbey Theatre.Read More
Megadeth picked up the award for Best Metal Performance at the Grammys last night - but the house band accidentally played a Metallica song as they accepted the prize.Read More
Grammy award-winning country stars Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit have announced a show at The Olympia Theatre in October.Read More
You can help fund Thomas Walsh & Co.'s seventh album now.Read More
We've an in-depth preview in the new issue of Hot Press, out on Thursday.Read More
The Leeside rockers will play in Galway this Wednesday.Read More
Culture Vultures – the salon-theme pop culture event co-curated by Tony Clayton-Lea and Andrea Keogh – celebrates its 3rd birthday with an event on Monday March 6 at The Sound House.Read More
No bunnies were boiled, but otherwise it was full-on Fatal Attraction...Read More
Longtime U2 fans have launched a campaign to make a film dedicated to U2's most dedicated followers.Read More
The Irish music supergroup are coming to venue near you this April.Read More
The collaboration performance of Lady Gaga and Metallica was marred by the non-working microphone of Metallica front man James Hetfield.Read More