Singapore

Singapore is a city-state that is steeped in mystery. Although Singapore was mentioned several times in ancient Chinese writings as early as the third century, little was known about it until the eleventh century. This was when the East Indian Trading Company first visited this island nation. By 1824, Britain had successfully purchased Singapore and by 1826 it was a thriving port. In 1869, the Suez Canal was opened. This historic event, combined with the newly invented steamship technology, propelled Singapore into an era of prosperity that was previously unknown to the city. The affluence continued to grow as trade between the countries of the West and Asia began to flourish. Then in the early part of the twentieth century, the ever increasing demand for rubber from Southeast Asia, need by the automobile industry for tire production, made Singapore one of the most important ports in the world.

The prosperity of Singapore continued to rise throughout the 1920’s as the British built a naval and airforce base, taking advantage of its unique geographical location. The military installations would eventually come under the control of Japan, as did the entire city, when it was invaded in 1942. After many years of struggle, Britain eventually returned and regained control of the city-state by 1946. After many years of being a possession of the British Crown, Singapore became an independent self governing body in 1959.

Singapore has many attractions to keep the world traveler very busy. There are museums, zoos, themed parks and historic monuments. In fact, there is such a diversity in the activities that can be found here, the average could make several trips here and not visit the same places twice. One of the most important landmarks of Singapore, and one that is very popular among tourist is the Raffles Hotel. This beautiful and elegant colonial style hotel was originally erected in 1887. This hotel features over a hundred suites and eighteen restaurants. It also features an arcade and over forty high end boutiques. This luxurious hotel has seen many famous celebrities over it’s long history including Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Queen Elizabeth II.

Another tourist hot spot is Chijmes. This is a large complex of building that offers visitors the best in fine dining, trendy boutiques and other shopping venues. It’s built in the gothic style and was formerly a covenant school. During the day, many visitors walk the complex looking for deals and at night, the complex becomes a upbeat nightlife venue.

When in Singapore, don’t forget to check out the Esplanada. This is a performing arts venue that is known for not only being spacious but also being an architectural work of art. It features a large theatre which seats two thousand guest, a concert hall with seating capacity for sixteen hundred and two much smaller studios. It also has two outdoor theatres, as well as a mall. The Esplanada is located along the promenade and features aluminum roofing which is supposed to resemble microphones.

If art is what your looking for, than one only has to visit Singapore’s Art House At The Old Parliament House. Inside visitors can find many art exhibits, concerts and films. Originally designed in 1827 as the Parliament House, it was refitted into an art museum and cultural center in 1999. One of it’s most prominent features is the huge bronze elephant guarding it’s entrance. It was a gift of King Rama V, the king of Thailand (Or more Siam as it was known then) to express his appreciation for Singapore after his visit in 1871.

While in Singapore don’t forget to check out the Merlion at Merlion Park. The Merlion is a mythical creature that is a cross between a lion and a fish. It is also a statue that attracts over a million visitors a year. It’s location in the park offers visitors a fantastic view of Singapore. One can see view the beautiful skyline and take in the breathtaking waterfront of Marina Bay.

Lau Pa Sat, otherwise known as Telok Ayer Market, is another popular Singapore attraction. Located in Singapore’s business district, this market was built in 1894. It’s almost always crammed full of vendors selling food, drinks and alcoholic beverages.

If you love animals than don’t forget to check out the Singapore Night Safari. It features various events and offers visitors the chance to see first hand tropical animals such as the Sambar, gir lions, striped hyenas and Asian elephants. This collection features over a thousand animals from over one hundred and twenty species. In the same vein is the Singapore Zoo. This is a natural habitat zoo where the animals are allowed to roam free in condition that are replicas of the environments they came from. This zoo has almost three thousand animals from over three hundred different species. Some of the animals that can be seen at the Singapore Zoo include rhinos, hippos, lemur, elephants, kangaroo and even polar bears. For those interested in only reptiles then the Jurong Reptile Park may be right down your alley. This park features over 50 reptiles from all over the world. Some examples include snakes, komodo dragons, turtles and crocodiles. It’s considered to be one of the largest reptile parks in all of Asia.

Before departing Singapore don’t forget to check out the Thian Hock Keng Temple. The name of this temple translates as “The Temple Of Heavenly Happiness”. This temple was built in 1820 in dedication of the Ma Zu Po. This temple has beautiful architecture featuring gold leaf panels and incredibly painted entrance ways. And don’t forget to check out the Temple Of 1000 Lights. This temple is actually named the Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple, but is called Temple Of 1000 Lights because of the hundreds of lights surrounding the forty-five foot tall Buddha that resides in the temples center.