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What’s the significance of Kusu Islands, and what’s with ‘chope’ culture and Singlish – or the story behind how the Merlion came to be? These are ten things that make Singapore sing.

Chinatown Buddha Tooth

Knocking on death’s door

With its colourful lanterns and excellent (plus affordable) local food, Chinatown’s a pit stop for many a tourist. But the area’s past was a far darker one: Sago Lane, in particular, was home to scores of death houses. Chinese immigrants who had settled in Chinatown but fallen terminally ill would go to a death house to quietly depart from the world. So common was this practice that Sago Lane was referred to as sei yan gei – Cantonese for ‘Dead People Street’.


Singlish, not English 

‘So boh liao’, ‘forget it, lah’ and ‘chope’ may sound foreign on your lips, but for locals, Singlish – to mean Singaporean English – is a part of their everyday lives. For a brief history and guide to Singlish, get schooled here



Not an island, but 63 islands

Apart from the heartbeat of the country – and Sentosa Island, set with beaches and plenty to do for thrill-seekers, history buffs and nature enthusiasts alike – Singapore actually comprises 63 islands, of which several are accessible by boat. These include the Southern Islands and Pulau Ubin

Singapore river

Singapore’s answer to Hercules

You may know that the Singapore River runs through the veins of the city, but was it really the site where Singapore’s so-called Hercules tossed a large rock, defeating the strongest man in India? We explore more local folklore here.

trishaw singapore

The world’s first night zoo is in Singapore

Not to brag, but other than being the site of picture-perfect buildings and one heck of an efficient transport system, the world’s first night zoo – Singapore Night Safari – was established in Singapore. Next door is the Singapore Zoo for some daytime fun with the little ones. Or try the River Singapore Safari, where you’ll spot manatees, pandas and red-bellied piranhas.


cable cars

By cable car

Enjoy a view of Singapore with a difference when you hop on a cable car from Mount Faber to Sentosa Island. Soak in aerial views of the South China Sea, spot the city’s tallest Merlion statue and admire stretches of the island's best, nestled among verdant greenery. Or opt for the discounted Evening Rider (available daily from 6pm) cable ride to admire the harbour’s twinkling lights come dusk. Make a day of it with our top things to do on Sentosa Island.


Singapore River Cruise

By boat

Fun fact: Singapore’s home to over 60 islands, apart from the heartbeat of it all – our city-state, of course. Second to that is Sentosa Island, of which we’ve rounded up the top things to do there, but yet other islands are easily accessible by boat: Pulau Ubin, St. John’s, Lazarus Island and Kusu Island.

Alternatively, hop on a water taxi that covers the stretch of the Singapore River or try the Singapore River Cruise for a scenic ride past the Merlion Park, Esplanade and Singapore Flyer. Better yet, opt for a boat ride that takes you past Marina Bay Sands’ free nightly light-and-water spectacular, Spectra
Ready for more? Check out more essential tips before coming to Singapore, or consider spending a day exploring the colourful streets of Chinatown – the latter's only a five-minute ride by train from Marina Bay Sands. And our Book Direct offer means you're always guaranteed the lowest prices.