Gaining independence in 1965, Singapore is an energetic, young city-state with a colonial past. The influence of the English Crown permeates the language and the well-heeled culture congregating in the commercial business district. Yet once you step outside its modernized core, Singapore reveals a more casual atmosphere in its colorful shophouses and boisterous street shuffle.
When to Go
Positioned just one degree north of the Equator, Singapore is consistently tropical. So it’s more a matter of when not to go. Namely: the monsoon season between November and January when the city is blanketed in regular rainfall.
Singapore commemorates its independence in an annual celebration known as National Day. Every year on August 9, the holiday is marked with animated frivolity (parades, choreographed song and dance) that extends into the evening, culminating in a massive pyrotechnics display over Marina Bay.
What to Eat
Hainanese chicken rice is considered the national dish of Singapore, as you can find it just about anywhere. If you’re looking for something a bit spicier try laksa—a coconut curry-based noodle soup.
Souvenir to Take Home
The Merlion is Singapore’s official mascot, a mythical beast with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. Many local vendors offer hand-carved figurines that fit easily into carry-on luggage and will serve as a lasting token for your time here. Anyone who’s ever visited this place instantly connects the symbol to the city.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Sustainable Travel Tip
Hawker centers are open-air food markets featuring a delightful cornucopia of street fare. Eat here as much as possible to support local business and for an authentic taste of Singaporean dining customs. While each offer their own distinct charm, Maxwell Road Hawker Centre in Chinatown is the most famous.
A photo from the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool—connecting the three towers of the Marina Bay Sands—is practically a rite of passage for tourists here. But back on ground, on the other opposite end of the water, Merlion Park affords a more iconic view of the hotel itself. Instantly recognized by its metallic surfboard-like cap, this is the picture that screams Singapore. And you don’t need to be a guest of the hotel to snap it.