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As a thriving hub in the heart of Southeast Asia, Singapore is a bustling, cosmopolitan city filled with skyscrapers framed by gardens. Although having only gained its independence in 1965, and relatively young compared to other countries, it offers a myriad of interesting sights and sounds that is bound to excite the global traveller.

Geography

Singapore is an island of 718km2, about the size of Chicago, with a 193km coastline. Perched south of the Malayan Peninsula, it is separated from Indonesia by the Singapore Strait, and from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor. Located at one of the crossroads of the world, its strategic position has helped it grow into a major centre for trade, finance, communication and tourism. Although close to 90 per cent of the population live in high-rise apartments among an ever-changing skyline of monumental buildings, Singapore is still a green city with a wealth of flora and fauna along its streets, parks and forests.

Time zone

Singapore is eight hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Climate

Singapore has a tropical climate with no distinctive seasons and uniform temperature (ranging from 23 to 32°C, with April to June being the hottest months); high humidity (ranging between 73 to 79 per cent); and abundant rainfall (the monsoon season is from November to January).

Culture

Economists describe Singapore as a modern miracle because it has built its success on only one resource: its people. Lacking natural resources, Singapore's strength is its educated, hardworking, adaptable, goal-oriented, and resilient population. Approximately five million people reside here, comprising of various ethnic groups, among which the Chinese are the biggest, followed by the Malays, Indians, and people of other descent.

Singapore's indigenous people were the Malays, but after the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles and the establishment of a British trading post, the country became a magnet that drew thousands of migrants and merchants. Today, it is a country where the three main ethnic groups (Chinese, Malay, and Indian) complement and supplement each other.

Tipping

Tipping is not a way of life in Singapore. It is prohibited at the airport and discouraged at hotels and restaurants, where a 10 per cent service charge is included in the bill. A tip should only be given when the bill does not include a service charge.

Language

English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil are the official languages.

Currency and exchange

The official currency of Singapore is the Singapore Dollar (SGD).

Credit cards

Major credit cards are widely accepted in Singapore. Hotels, retailers, restaurants, travel agents and even taxi companies readily accept international credit cards. Automated Teller Machines providing cash in local currency are widely available throughout Singapore.

Religion

Singapore is also a mixture of religions. Its skyline boasts the distinctive minarets of mosques, spires of gothic cathedrals, intricate figurines of Hindu temples, and distinctive roof architecture of Chinese temples. The main religions are Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Zoroastrians.

Driving

Driving is on the left hand side of the roads and the speed limit is from 40 to 60 km/h. A valid international driving license is required for any car rental.

Public transport

Reliable air-conditioned taxis, scheduled bus services and a subway network are readily available in Singapore.

Health

Singapore is free from hazardous tropical diseases. Water from the tap is safe for drinking and bottled water is available. The healthcare system in Singapore is of very high quality, generally regarded as one of the best in the world. Food hygiene is generally good, particularly now that most individual street stalls have been closed down in favour of hawker centres. The risk of catching malaria in Singapore is extremely low as the government maintains strict mosquito control. However this control does not extend into the island's nature reserves, so if you're planning on hiking, bring along mosquito repellent. An in-house doctor is always available for medical problems and can be contacted through the Raffles Butler, the Front Office, or Duty Manager.

Raffles Medical Clinic
252 North Bridge Road
#02-17 Raffles City Shopping Centre
Singapore 179103
Tel: +65 6339 6911
Monday - Friday: 7.30am to 1.00pm and 2.00pm to 5.30pm
Saturday: 7.30am to 1.00pm

Raffles Hospital (Bugis)
585 North Bridge Road
Level 1 Raffles Hospital
Singapore 188770
Tel: +65 6311 2233
GP Services: Open daily from 8.00am to 10.00pm

Electricity

Electrical sockets (outlets) in Singapore are standard UK three-point square-pin plugs. If the appliance's plug does not match the shape of these sockets, a travel plug adapter will be necessary.

For any further information please contact the concierge on Concierge.RafflesHotel@raffles.com or phone +65 6412 1171

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Raffles. Legendary service since 1887.