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Singapore Basics


Singapore’s rise to the world stage has been meteoric. What was a humble fishing village just two centuries ago is now a world-class city with one of the world’s strongest economies, as well as a remarkable array of opportunities for travelers of all tastes.

Singapore is a collage of cultures and a patchwork of distinct neighborhoods. Singaporeans are proud and respectful of their multiculturalism—it is indeed a part of their heritage as a great trading post of Asia. Today Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians live and work together, sharing their traditions with one another, and celebrating each other’s festivals.

In the dazzling Singapore cityscape there is as much evidence of historical preservation as there is contemporary vision. Colorful prewar shophouses line the streets of Chinatown while the triple-towered Marina Bay Sands hotel glitters in the distance, its submarine-shaped skydeck seemingly dreamed up by a sci-fi novelist. Singapore is always buzzing with new construction—a new skyscraper, a new park, a new plan that will inevitably change the contour of the city.

For many years, Singapore’s reputation was that of a so-called nanny state, with stiff regulations designed to impose an efficient infrastructure and pristine living conditions. The truth is, yes, Singapore is incredibly clean and its infrastructure is state-of-the-art. But there’s no evident presence of a heavy-handed government. Singaporeans are proud of their city and treat it with pride.

Singapore is a perfect introduction to Southeast Asia—compact and easy to navigate, with an English-speaking population and an orderly society. But even for veteran travelers Singapore offers a richness that’s hard to find in one Southeast Asian city, from fine dining to top-notch entertainment, a thriving nightlife and an inspiring artistic scene.

This is a city on the move—one that works hard and plays hard—and has earned its place alongside Hong Kong, Tokyo and Bangkok. That is to say, Singapore has become a true world capital.

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