Singapore: one city, many cultures

In Singapore
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A lot has been written about Singapore, but I think the reason why is definitively worth a visit is represented by its multicultural environment. In a nutshell, visiting Singapore is like taking a look on several cultures and religions, all in one! Not bad for a city-state, right?

Obviously, exploring Singapore is not like visiting the “original” countries, but it gives a good idea and knowledge of their cultures, at a distance of a few stops of metro. Moreover, it is possible to explore the city in total safety, which represents one of its main advantages.

 

The modern soul: Raffles Place, Marina Bay and Orchard Road

The modernity is mainly represented by Raffles Place, with its skyscrapers full of offices, and Marina Bay, which includes several points of interest. The Merlion (Singapore’s symbol), half mermaid and half lion, is one of the best points to admire the bay and the skyline.

Marina Bay Sands

This characteristic hotel located in the center of the bay is composed by three buildings and its top floor connects them imitating the shape of a ship. Moreover, the top floor hosts an infinity pool with an astonishing view of the bay. Unfortunately the pool is reserved to the hotel customers, and spending a night at Marina Bay is quite expensive (350$ approximatively). Anyway, everyone can enjoy the view from the panoramic terrace. Hint: if you want to avoid the touristic panoramic terrace, you can access the top floor also by the CuDeTa bar, but you have to respect the dress code. I really suggest you to choose this second option; in this way, you have the same view with the same price but with a cocktail! Better, right?

Every evening at 8PM a light show is performed under Marina Bay Sands. During the show images and colors are projected over the water. It’s very suggestive!

Gardens by the bay

These gardens represent a place where natural and artificial life are able to coexist together. Plants surround the Supertrees (artificial trees decorated with lights). Moreover, it’s possible to visit two domes: the flower dome and the cloud forest dome. They’re both quite artificial, but they give a good idea of the nature of South-East Asia if one cannot visit other countries of the region.

Singapore Flyer

This is the second highest flyer in world (the first one is located in Las Vegas). The flyer offers a good alternative to enjoy the view over the bay, instead of Marina Bay Sands. Moreover, it is possible to dine inside some cabs, even if it’s a very expensive option. Try this only for special occasions!

Orchard Road

This long road full of luxury shops is the best choice for shopping lovers. It’s very far from the South-East Asia mood, and very close to the western world.

 

Chinatown

This district is full of temples and shops related to the Chinese world. Near the Chinatown metro station lots of stands of Chinese delicacies offer a wide range of dishes: noodles with meat or shrimps, dumplings, soups. The shops are quite touristic but the food is delicious!

Chinatown is far away from being similar to real China: places are cleaner, all the people speak a perfect English and the buildings are quite new. Anyway, you can breathe the Chinese atmosphere in the temples.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Located on the main road of Chinatown (South Bridge Rd), this Buddhist temple hosts a tooth relic of Buddha, visible on the 4th floor. The temple also includes a prayer hall, a museum and a garden with a mantra wheel.

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Thian Hock Keng Temple

Located in Telok Ayer Street, this temple represents the oldest one in Singapore. It contains several courtyards and decorated altars.

 

Little India

This district is full of chaotic shops, mainly selling flower garlands and fruits. The atmosphere of people and colors really reminds India. Tan Teng Niah is a fascinating multicolor house, located near Little India metro station. Several temples along Serangoon Rd give a good idea of the hindu atmosphere. If you are lucky, you can also assist to a ceremony!

Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple

This temple is highly visible with its characteristic shape, decorated with hindu divinities.

Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple

This temple has a large courtyard where admiring a decorated ceiling and some statues and altars.

Hint: another hindu temple located in Chinatown is Sri Mariamman Temple.

 

Arab Street

This street reminds the Arab culture: the shops sell tons of tapestries and other textiles related to that world.

Masjid Sultan

This mosque stands near Arab Street with its golden dome. Inside the building, it’s possible to find prayer rooms and children reading the Koran. Males and females are kept divided but it is possible to have a look in almost all the rooms. This represents a good way to understand something about the Islam culture, even if filtered by the Singapore’s veil.

 

Peranakan culture

Peranakan is a term used to indicate Chinese people who came to live into the Malay archipelago. A very interesting example of Peranakan architecture can be found in Joo Chiat Road, with the characteristic 2-level colorful houses, decorated with elegant motifs.

 

Food

Without any doubt, food plays an essential role in Singapore’s culture. This city offers several kinds of food: Chinese (noodles with meat or shrimps, dumplings, soups), Indian (tandoori chicken, naan, curry), Malay (nasi lemak and nasi goreng), western food, seafood (with the famous chilly crab, which is a crab with a spicy sauce).

The real Singapore’s food can be found in hawker centers or food courts, with several stands serving food from all over the world. And I would say that food is one of the most authentic things that can be found in this city full of surprises and cultures.

Food in Singapore is often divided by districts: chinese food in Chinatown, indian food in Little India, western food in Holland village. For dinner, some good restaurants can be found in Clarke Quay, famous for the nightlife.

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