Located on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia, Singapore is one degree (137 km or 85 miles) north of the equator. It is one of only three city-states in the world, and it is a major economic and military power.
Despite being so small, Singapore has many imposing buildings and an interesting mix of cultures. The city’s core is situated along the Singapore River, where Sir Stamford Raffles landed in 1822 to settle the East India Trading Company. He developed a Town Plan that allocated neighborhoods to each race who settled in the city.
Chinese, Malays and Indians all lived together in clustered houses known as kampongs; the term is Malay for “villages.” These villages were built close to jungles on the coast, with chicken coops, kitchen gardens, backyards and land for provision shops.
Kampongs ceased to be the primary way of life for most Singaporeans in the 1960s. In the 1970s, new towns were created in places where village life was no longer desirable. The new towns are now a major part of the island’s economy, with a variety of industries.
Bukit Timah Hill is the highest point on the island, 165 m (538 ft) above sea level. The hills are made of igneous and sedimentary rock, while the rest of the island is mainly sandy soil.
In the northwest, a series of low-lying mountains rise gradually from the sea and form a natural barrier. This is a very popular recreational area, with an extensive network of hiking trails and outdoor sports facilities.
Nature reserves and parks are also very popular in the area. The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is a large park with a number of habitats, including coastal forests and grasslands. Coney Island Park is another popular spot, with a wide range of flora and fauna.
Geylang — Just beyond Katong, Geyland is still a predominantly Malay district, but today it’s lined with a mix of old shophouses and modern developments. You’ll find antiques and housewares shops here, as well as a wide variety of restaurants serving halal foods in accordance with Islamic laws.
Changi Village, at the eastern end of the island, is a quaint and quiet place to visit. This former military base is now a residential district, but you can also pick up ferries to Pulau Ubin, a secluded beach resort.
The neighborhood is a good place to see some of Singapore’s oldest art-deco buildings. You’ll also find a variety of Chinese-themed restaurants and bars here, as well as a good seafood market.
Tiong Bahru — A little to the west of Chinatown and Tanjong Pagar is the neighborhood of Tiong Bahru, where most of the original Chinese residents still live. Here you’ll find a few interesting museums and shopping centers.
A short stroll will take you past several beautiful art-deco buildings, and it’s an ideal place to see Singapore’s oldest public housing estate. You can also check out the famous Singapore Cricket Club, which is based here.the hill one north