As an American visiting Singapore, I was struck by how western it seemed to be. Of course, I was coming into Singapore after having visited Malaysia for a few weeks, so there are definite contrasts.
You might think that with the large number of people all fitting into a relatively small island, it would feel crowded, but everything is organized so efficiently that I didn’t feel any more crowded than in any other large metropolitan area. In many ways, it seemed like one of the more comfortable large cities for a small-town person to visit.
One thing that is noticeably different from many cities is how clean Singapore is. Of course, visitors have to be careful to follow the laws that help to achieve this cleanliness, so be aware that it is illegal to chew gum or litter. There are even fines for neglecting to flush the toilet in public restrooms! For me personally, it was worth it to be able to enjoy the cleanliness everywhere, as I generally make sure to pick up after myself even where the law does not demand it.
What to expect when entering Singapore:
Most overseas visitors will enter Singapore from the airport. It’s a very nice airport and a friendly place. The security guards checking our passports even gave our kids candy! There was a nice selection of restaurants and shopping while we waited at the airport. Changi airport even has a wonderful kinetic rain display which is absolutely mesmerizing to watch. See it in action on their YouTube post.
There are a variety of public transportation options available.
If you are driving to Singapore from Malaysia, be sure to allow plenty of time, as there can be traffic jams and delays at the border. I found this to be the less-friendly way to enter the country.
Singapore is a very business-like place. It is a financial capital in Asia, and a good place to meet to have international business meetings.
You will encounter a variety of cultures in Singapore. The majority of the population is Chinese, and there are also quite a few Malays (Singapore was originally part of Malaysia) and Indians. In addition to that cross-section of Asia, I was surprised to find some of the best French pastries and also authentic Italian food that I have ever had the pleasure to try. As a business hub for Asia, people come from all over the world. I felt like the European influence when it came to restaurants was something totally unexpected. It is truly a place where you can feel like the whole world is meeting up to do business.
Singapore is a former British colony. It was an important port for the British for years. Coming under Japanese control during World War II, and was then was again a British colony before briefly becoming part of Malaysia. Finally, in 1965, it became the Republic of Singapore. Many British colonial era buildings remain, which is architecturally interesting when juxtaposed with the modern skyscrapers.