Singapore is notoriously safe but a small bit of common sense will go a long way. In most sections of the country, if you can’t sleep at 3 am you can take a walk-about with out being significantly concerned with your safety. Yes there a lot of rules so be on your best big boy or girl behavior, you are representative of where you come from. Don’t litter! Singapore is clean and it’s their claim to fame, don’t mess it up for them literally or figuratively. Oh yeah, and that sign about the death penalty for drugs – they take that VERY seriously.
Getting around Singapore is easy. The MRT, Singapore’s subway, is clean safe and efficient. Cards to gain access can be purchased from vending machines in the approach to the train stations or at the manned kiosks and a hint – don’t put them away where you will have to dig for them, you swipe in and out of the train platforms which is how the fare is calculated. Taxi’s are cheap, clean, easy and take credit cards, cab drivers speak English but may have trouble understanding your accent so speak clearly. Taxi drivers love to talk politics. Once again Singapore is a one-party democracy where speaking disparagingly of the government is illegal but that seldom slows them down unless a Singapore national is with you. Like all Singaporeans they love talking food with most cab drivers you can jump in and ask to be taken to the best place for chili crab and you will get an earful about the history of chili crab.
Singapore has lots of areas to explore on foot from the green spaces of Griffith Park, once a British military stronghold, to canopy trails, Fort Canning in the middle of the city with it’s old cemetery and spice gardens, and over to include the geographically well-named East Coast Park (where waterside restaurants serve some of the best chili crab). It is an island but don’t expect sweeping views of the ocean or even extensive beaches. This is an island in the middle of busy shipping lanes. East Coast Park has water sports but the popular swimming beaches are over on Sentosa Island, at the southern tip of the island. Universal Studios Singapore is located here as well, but did you really travel this far to go to a theme park?
For the urban tourist, the rich colors and smells of Little India is a great introduction to the Hindu culture. Shopping and eating are the highlights of Little India, but it should be avoided on Sundays as the migrant worker population usually has this day off and will flood the streets. It is not particularly dangerous but the stares of thousands of young men far from home can make a single woman feel uncomfortable.
Chinatown should be seen but is a bit over-rated and the food is not as good as most of the rest of the island, but there are some fun restaurant supply stores and tea-pot shops worth having a wander in.
Billed as the World’s Best Rainforest Zoo, the Singapore Zoo is a new world zoo, where the enclosures are more natural and take on the feeling of a game preserve with a free-ranging orang utan habitat (who, by the way are available for breakfast by making reservations). A popular attraction is the night safari. As most creatures are not as active during the day, the night safari gives a unique view of the nocturnal animals and day animals in their last activity before turning in for the relative cool of the night. The Botanical Gardens is quite impressive if you have an interest in plants and tropical landscapes, the lush gardens are home to an array of orchids for which Singapore is famous.
The Asian Civilizations Museum is a quick crash course in the history and cultures of southeast Asia, only lightly covered at best in western schools and is a nice air conditioned break from the equatorial sun. Expelled in 1965 from it’s two year association with Malaysia, Singapore has a tumultuous history of establishment, abandonment for nearly two centuries, and emergence from obscurity with the establishment of a trade headquarters for the British East India Company in 1819.
While Singapore may have only about 200 years of modern settlement, it’s roots are in ancient cultures. Housed in a restored British colonial period building on the Singapore River, the museum truly captures a big picture understanding of pan-Asian culture and the varied ethnic origins that contributed to Singapore’s diverse population.