Visiting Singapore is like stepping into the future. It’s a Malaysian island-city bubbling with innovation. In harmony with its modernity though, is a fascinating mosaic fabric of multi-cultural life giving a unique character to each area of the city. Spend February exploring each one, and enjoying the irresistible cuisine as you go.
Singapore is a lively, modern, and wonderfully multi-cultural city. With monsoon season over, February is a time to visit before the crowds flock in. There is an unmistakable prosperity in the cityscape; a legacy from its designation as a tax-free port by Sir Stamford Raffles, who set up a British trading post in Singapore in the early 19th Century. The island has the energy of a business and financial hub, but is also rapidly becoming more and more popular with tourists. Despite lacking in the historic personality other places in Asia possess, its multi-cultural population, a mixture of Chinese, Malay and Indian, create a fascinating culture. Different pockets of the city have such individual cultural influences that it feels as though you are crossing country borders when you’re exploring.
Little India, north of the Singapore River, is jammed with curry houses, spice stalls, and pretty Hindu temples. Also north of the river is the Colonial District, Britain’s footprint on the city. The grand neoclassical buildings are eye-catching. There’s a national museum here that showcases Singapore’s history and culture in a range of exhibitions. Travel only a short distance, crossing the river, and you’ll be transported to China. Chinatown has some grand shrines, tempting cuisine and a restored Chinese Mansion named the Baba House. Both areas cover the old quarters and the architecture is fascinating here, filled with the iconic shophouses.
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Moving away from the old quarters, to the newest part of town, Marina Bay, and you’ll really get a sense of modern life in Singapore. The area is built around a man-made reservoir, filled with the water from the Singapore River. This is a hub of activity for events, nightlife, shopping and grand hotels. Dominating the sky line is the gigantic Marina Bay Sands, a three-towered casino resort and convention centre. Nearby is another outstanding example of the contemporary urban architecture in Singapore – The Esplanade. The Esplanade is a performing arts centre and is covered in durian-like spikes. Singapore’s theatre scene has experience a boom in the recent decade and the Esplanade hosts a range of unique international performances to catch. They currently have a range of family activities like Origami Puppy making and The Chinese Zodiac puppet play. As well as hosting the Huayi Chinese festival of arts with a range of theatre and music events.
Perhaps the most unique sight in Marina Bay is the Gardens by the Bay. The Gardens by the Bay are Singapore’s 21st-century botanic gardens and cover 101-hectares. They cost a whopping $1 billion to make. The area is futuristic with space-age bio-domes, high-tech supertrees and whimsical sculptures. There’s a stunning flower dome, mirroring the dry Mediterranean climates of the world, as well as a tropical Cloud Forest with a waterfall. Joining the two Supertrees is the OCBC Skyway. Take a walk over it for fantastic and unique views of the gardens, city and sea. The area is filled with sculptures, art installations, a kids adventure playground, a treehouse and nightly light shows.
As well as being alive with culture and events, Singapore is also a fantastic place to go shopping. Save some spending money and hit the ginormous shopping malls, bustling markets, galleries, and hidden independent boutiques for some great buys. As you work your way through the city, shopping and sight-seeing, take advantage of the different cuisines on offer. Singapore proudly offers unforgettable food. Whether your grabbing a quick bite from a street-stall, wandering the market eyeing up all the interesting delicacies, or dressing up and dining in a Michelin-starred restaurant, you’re in for a treat. After dinner, take advantage of the buzzing nightlife. There are upmarket business bars, laid-back student spots, root top bars serving exotic cocktails and nightclubs busy til the early hours.
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Outside of the city, linked to the main island by causeway and cable car, is Southeast Asia’s only Universal Studios theme park. They have rides, shows and attractions all based on best-loved film and tv. Current attractions are: the Puss in Boot’s Giant Journey; Battlestar Galactica: Human vs. Cylon; Transformers The Ride: The Ultimate 3D Battle; and a Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure. To celebrate the Lunar New Year, from 9-25 February there will be a Lunar Year festival at Universal. There’ll be a Majestic Dragon, street dance performance inspire by martial arts movies and singing and dancing Dim Sum waitresses. Universal is an exciting place to let loose and enjoy some cheesy fun!
Kicking off on February 16th, city-wide, is the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations. Singapore is home to one of the biggest in the world, with lantern-lined streets, parades and food, food, food! A must-see is the Chingay parade, a beautiful and vibrant collection of dazzling floats, dancing dragons and stilt walkers. There will of course be outstanding fireworks displays all night, so grab a beer and a street bite and enjoy the lively city in its prime.