Historian William Hornaday described Singapore ‘like a big desk, full of drawers and pigeonholes, where everything has its place, and can always be found in it’. But Singapore is no flat pack furnishing. Home to a futuristic skyline of high-tech high rises and supersonic trees, sultry speakeasies and lavish rooftop infinity pools, Singapore is where old-age glamour and modern minimalism marry in stylish matrimony. But beneath its Michelin stars, museums and perfectly preened botanic gardens, you’ll find a wealth of kitschy quirks that debunk all rumours that Singapore is soulless. From its Chinese mythology theme park (which promises to be unlike any theme park you’ve been to before) and vintage camera museum to its vibrant Muslim quarter and hearty Hawker centres, we know exactly how to deliver a crash course in the ‘Garden City’. Read on for more.


Chopstick etiquette is widely practised. For example, chopsticks should never be rested vertically, and a small amount of food should be left on the plate to indicate your satisfaction with the meal. To empty your plate entirely suggests the host did not provide enough food. Tipping is not customary in Singapore either.

Food and drink

You can find food gems in just about any neighborhood in Singapore. If it’s melting pots of western, Japanese and Korean cuisine, head to one of the city’s many Hawker centres. The best stalls often have the longest lines but don’t let that deter you, they are worth the wait. Get in line for hokkien mee (think prawn noodles with crunchy bean sprouts and squid), nasi lemak (creamy rice with a plethora of side dishes) and satay, which you’ll find yourself practically salivating over on its hot grill. Singapore has plenty of fine dining options too, all of which are worth the splurge.


Singapore is a stickler for rules so prepare yourself for its laws and customs. Group gatherings and excessive noise past 10pm is considered illegal as is drinking alcohol in a public place (besides restaurants, bars and licenced entertainment venues) between 10.30pm and 7am. Like in the UK, smoking is banned in public spaces. However, certain premises will have designated areas.


Singapore’s MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and bus systems are considered some of the best in the world. Running the length and width of the city, they can get you from the suburbs to the city centre in less than 30 minutes. That being said, it is important to let go of your London underground etiquette and remember that in Singapore it is all about standing on the left (rather than the right).


Singapore is one of the safest cities in Asia. It is known for its squeaky-clean streets and spick and span public toilets – thanks to its ban on chewing gum. The city’s crime rate is also very low.


Singapore offers a masterclass in melding old and new. From extraordinary gardens and impressive architecture to rainbow-coloured shopping streets and historic homes, Singapore is certainly up there when it comes to interesting cities. Two must-sees are The Intan, a private home that houses one of Singapore’s most impressive collections of Peranakan artifacts, and Thian Hock Keng, the city’s oldest Buddhist temple. Extravagant in a completely different way to the likes of Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands, it is feast for the eyes (but strictly not a camera’s).

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