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According to traditional Ayurvedic medicine , chewing betel leaf is a remedy against bad breath halitosis ,  but it can possibly lead to oral cancer.
An elaborate betel chew or paan would contain fragrant spices and rose preserves with chopped areca nuts. It is a tradition in South India and nearby regions to give two Betel leaves, areca nut pieces or whole and Coconut to the guests both male and female at any auspicious occasion.
Even on a regular day it is the tradition to give a married woman, who visits the house, two Betel leaves, areca nut and coconut or some fruits along with a string of threaded flowers.
This is referred to as tambolam. Betel leaf used to make paan is produced in different parts of India.
In West Bengal two types of betel leaves are produced. Mitha patta is produced in places such as Midnapur and South 24 Parganas. The skilled paan maker is known as a paanwala in North India.
In other parts, paanwalas are also known as panwaris or panwadis. At North India, there is a tradition to chew paan after Deepawali puja for blessings.
Furthermore, the use of paan is also prevalent in the Punjab. So much so that shops selling paan legally have sprung up in western cities such as Toronto, London, and Vancouver to name a few due to the large number of people of Punjabi descent living in those regions.
In the Indian state of Maharashtra the paan culture is widely criticised due to the cleanliness problems created by people who spit in public places.
In Mumbai, there have been attempts to put pictures of Hindu gods in places where people commonly tend to spit, in the hope that this would discourage spitting, but success has been limited.
One of the great Marathi artists P L Deshpande wrote a comic story on the subject of paanwala paan vendor , and performed a televised reading session on Doordarshan during the s in his unique style.
Paan is losing its appeal to farmers because of falling demand. Consumers prefer chewing tobacco formulations such as gutka over paan.
Higher costs, water scarcity and unpredictable weather have made betel gardens less lucrative. In Assam , betel nut are traditionally offered as a mark of respect and auspicious beginnings.
It is a tradition to offer pan-tamul betel leaves and raw areca nut to guests, after tea or meals, served in a brass plate with stands called bota.
Among the Assamese, the areca nut also has a variety of uses during religious and marriage ceremonies, where it has the role of a fertility symbol.
When showing respect to elders, people, especially newly weds place a pair of paan Tamul on a xorai , places it in front of the elder a plate like utensil with a stand and bows in front of it to show respect or while asking for forgiveness.
A tradition from Assam is to invite guests to wedding receptions by offering a few areca nuts with betel leaves. During Bihu , the husori players are offered areca nuts and betel leaves by each household while their blessings are solicited.
A customary Paan-Tamul Betel nut leaf- Betel nut is offered to guests after the end of every Bhoj[feast]. This is usually the Paan-Tamul-Soon Slacked lime with cardamom pods in it to freshen the breath.
Bersirih , nyirih or menginang is a Malay - Indonesian tradition of chewing materials such as nut , betel , gambier , tobacco , clove and limestone.
In the Malay archipelago , the menginang or betel nut chewing has become a revered activity in local tradition; being a ceremoniously conducted gesture to honour guests.
A complete and elaborate set of sirih pinang equipment is called Tepak Sirih , pekinangan or cerana. The set is usually made of wooden lacquerware, brass or silverwares; and it consists of the combol containers , bekas sirih leaf container , kacip press-knife to cut areca nut , gobek small pestle and mortar , and ketur spit container.
The Sirih Pinang has become a symbol of Malay culture,  with the Malay oral tradition having phrases such as "The betel opens the door to the home " or "the betel opens the door to the heart".
Paan has been part of the indigenous culture in the Philippines. Nowadays, it is mostly popular among the inhabitants of the Cordilleras, among the Lumads of Mindanao, and among lowland barrio folks elsewhere in the Philippines.
Betel chewing has very long tradition in Burma, having been practised since before the beginning of recorded history.
Spittoons, therefore, are still ubiquitous, and signs saying "No paan-spitting" are commonplace, as it makes a messy red splodge on floors and walls; many people display betel-stained teeth from the habit.
Paan stalls and kiosks used to be run mainly by people of Indian origin in towns and cities. Smokers who want to kick the habit would also use betel nut to wean themselves off tobacco.
Taungoo in Lower Burma is where the best areca palms are grown indicated by the popular expression "like a betel lover taken to Taungoo".
Kun, hsay, lahpet paan, tobacco and pickled tea are deemed essential items to offer monks and elders particularly in the old days.
Young maidens traditionally carry ornamental betel boxes on a stand called kundaung and gilded flowers pandaung in a shinbyu novitiation procession.
Burmese history also mentions an ancient custom of a condemned enemy asking for "a paan and a drink of water" before being executed.
Since the s, betel chewing has been actively discouraged by successive governments, from the State Law and Order Restoration Council SLORC onward, on the grounds of health and tidiness.
The consumption of paan has long been a very popular cultural tradition throughout Pakistan , especially in Muhajir households, where numerous paans were consumed throughout the day.
Pakistan grows a large variety of betel leaf, specifically in the coastal areas of Sindh ,  although paan is imported in large quantities from India , Bangladesh , Sri Lanka and, recently, Thailand.
The paan business is famously handled and run by muhajir traders, who migrated from western India to Pakistan after the independence in also cite pg 60, of Pakistan, By Samuel Willard Crompton, Charles F.
The culture of chewing paan has also spread in Punjab where a paan shop can be found in almost every street and market. In the famous Anarkali Bazar in Lahore a street called paan gali is dedicated for paan and its ingredients together with other Pakistani products.
The rate of Oral cancer have grown substantially in Pakistan due to chewing of Paan. The chewing of the product is part of the culture of Cambodia , Laos and Thailand.
Cultivation of areca nut palm and betel leaves is common in rural areas of these countries, being a traditional cash crop , and the utensils used for preparation are often treasured.
Now, many young people have given up the habit, especially in urban areas, but many, especially older people, still keep to the tradition.
Therefore, the leaves and juices are used ceremonially in Vietnamese weddings. In Bangladesh , paan is chewed throughout the country by all classes and is an important element of Bangladeshi culture.
As it is chewed, the peppery taste is savoured, along with the warm feeling and alertness it gives similar to drinking a fresh cup of coffee.
Paan-shupari shupari being Bengali for areca nut is a veritable Bangladeshi archetypal imagery, employed in wide-ranging contexts.
Prior to British rule, it was chewed without tobacco and it is still rarely chewed with tobacco. Betel leaves are arranged aesthetically on a decorated plate called paandani and it is offered to the elderly people, particularly women, when they engage in leisure time gossip with their friends and relatives.
During the zamindari age, paan preparation and the style of garnishing it on a plate paandani was indeed a recognised folk art. In Bangladesh paan is traditionally chewed not only as a habit but also as an item of rituals, etiquette and manners.
On formal occasions offering paan symbolized the time for departure. In festivals and dinners, in pujas and punyas paan is an indispensable item.
Hindus make use of paans as offerings in worship. Dhakai Khilipan, a ready pack of betel leaf processed in Dhaka is famous in the sub-continent.
Old Dhakaites have a rich heritage of creating the best khili paan with many complex, colourful, aromatic and mouth-watering ingredients.
Paan Supari is perhaps the first such brand, which offers a wide range of khili paan. They also offer a khili paan for diabetic patients called the "paan afsana".
The sweet paan of the Khasi tribe is famous for its special quality. Paan is also used in Hindu puja and wedding festivals and to visit relatives.
It has become a ritual, tradition and culture of Bangladeshi society. Adult women gather with paandani  along with friends and relatives in leisure time.
Total cultivated area under the crop in Bangladesh is about 14, ha and the total annual production is about 72, tons.
The average yield per acre is 2. There are usually three crops during the twelve months and they are locally called by the name of the respective months in which they are harvested.
Paan leaf is usually plucked in Kartik, Phalgun and Ashad. The Kartik paan is considered by consumers to be the best and Ashad paan the worst. When plucking, it is a rule to leave at least sixteen leaves on the vine.
Different varieties of betel leaf are grown and the quality differs in shape, bleaching quality, softness, pungency and aroma of leaf. Tamakh paan, a betel leaf bended with tobacco and spices.
Supari paan, another variety of white leaf, Mitha paan, a sweet variety, and Sanchi paan are common varieties of betel leaves.
Almost every paan-producing district has its own special variety of betel leaf of which consumers are well acquainted. In the past, the best quality of elegant camphor-scented betel leaf named Kafuri paan was produced in the sonargaon area of Narayangonj district.
It was exported to Calcutta and Middle Eastern countries. The next best is the Sanchi paan grown in Chittagong hill tracts. This variety is not very popular among Bangali people.
It is exported to Pakistan for the consumers of Karachi. Bangla paan, is also known as Mitha paan, Jhal paan or paan of Rajshahi.
At present, this variety is becoming extinct, due to emergence of more profitable and lucrative fast-growing varieties of paan crops.
Normally, betel leaves are consumed with chun, seed cinnamon, cardamoms and other flavored elements. Paan is chewed mainly by Madheshis , although migrants in Terai have also taken up chewing paan in recent times.
Throughout Terai, paan is as common as anywhere in northern India. There is some local production, generally not commercial, but most leaves are imported from India.
Although not as ubiquitous as in the Terai, most residents of Kathmandu occasionally enjoy paan. A sweet version of paan called meetha paan is popular amongst many who do not like the strong taste of plain sada paan.
Some parents allow their children to consume meetha in special occasion because it is tobacco-free. It is a controversial business, with critics questioning entrapment, exploitation, health, class and culture.
A recent study found that areca-nut paan with and without tobacco increased oral cancer risk by 9. When asking for help or directions, it should be noted that due to an influx of foreign workers and immigrants in recent years, there is a chance you might be asking somebody who has not been in Singapore for all that long.
In extreme cases, one might even encounter a person who barely speaks any English or is downright unfriendly. Unfortunately it is difficult to determine at a glance who you should or should not ask for directions, but do not be afraid to try asking another person if the first answer you get is not satisfactory.
A guaranteed way of finding someone willing to help would be to ask a teenager. As a result of compulsory English education, all teenagers speak English and will definitely be able to help.
Rest assured that most bona fide Singaporeans would also be more than happy to help. Western television shows and films are shown in their original language with occasional subtitles into Mandarin.
Television programmes and films that originate in other parts of Asia however, are dubbed into the language of the channel they will be shown at. This especially applies to programmes and films originally in the Hong Kong Cantonese language and Taiwanese Minnan language, in which case government policy mandates them to be dubbed into Mandarin English subtitles are shown during primetime hours.
Carry around with you a copy of the train network so you know how to get to places without having to go to the train station or look online.
The train network is quite complicated and there can be a number of different routes to get to 1 place. Singapore is notoriously expensive for hotel accommodation.
Backpacker options are affordable and clean. For water sports in particular, the busy shipping lanes and sheer population pressure mean that the sea around Singapore is murky, and most locals head up to Tioman Malaysia or Bintan Indonesia instead.
Singapore may be a young country but it has a constantly evolving artistic landscape that draws its influences from its unique heritage of East and Southeast Asian culture, with a good mix of western touch.
The Renaissance City Project was initiated in by the Singaporean Government to establish Singapore as a regional city of the arts to cultivate artistic interest and culture.
Today, Singapore sees itself flourishing in the third phase of the renaissance city project with new museums, international galleries and art fairs entering the local artistic landscape.
And in , fourteen international galleries arrived at the shore of Singapore housed at The Gillman Barracks, a new artistic area. The National Art Gallery opened in , and housed in two national monuments - the former Supreme Court Building and City Hall, is the largest visual arts institution in Singapore and also one of the largest regionally, focusing on modern Southeast Asian art through its collections.
On the cultural side of things, Singapore has been trying to shake off its boring, buttoned-up reputation and attract more artists and performances.
Any bands and DJs touring Asia are also pretty much guaranteed to perform in Singapore. Going to the movies is a popular Singaporean pastime, but look for "R21" ratings 21 and up only if you like your movies with fewer cuts.
For an up-do-date guide on alternative events happening around Singapore from concerts, festivals etc, visit City Nomads Singapore. Singapore has two integrated resorts with casinos.
A driver license from your home country will not work. Besides the casino, there are other forms of legalised betting which are more accessible to the locals.
This includes horse racing, which is run by the Singapore Turf Club  on weekends, as well as football soccer betting and several lotteries run by the Singapore Pools.
Mahjong is also a popular pastime in Singapore. The version played in Singapore is similar to the Cantonese version, but it also has extra "animal tiles" not present in the original Cantonese version.
However, this remains pretty much a family and friends affair, and there are no mahjong parlours. Despite its small size, Singapore has a surprisingly large number of golf courses, but most of the best ones are run by private clubs and open to members and their guests only.
See the Singapore Golf Association for the full list; alternatively, head to the nearby Indonesian islands of Batam or Bintan or up north to the Malaysian town of Malacca for cheaper rounds.
The inaugural F1 Singapore Grand Prix  was held at night in September , and is a fixture on the local calendar. The F1 Organizers have confirmed that the night race will be extended till Held on a street circuit in the heart of Singapore and raced at night, all but race fans will probably wish to avoid this time, as hotel prices especially room with view of the F1 tracks are through the roof.
Besides being a uniquely night race, the carnival atmosphere and pop concert held around the race ground as well as the convenience of hotels and restaurants round the corner, distinguish the race from other F1 races held remotely away from urban centres.
The Singapore Turf Club  in Kranji hosts horse races most Fridays, including a number of international cups, and is popular with local gamblers.
The Singapore Polo Club  near Balestier is also open to the public on competition days. There are also numerous shops offering traditional Chinese massage, which are mostly legitimate.
The less legitimate "health centres" have been shut down. Traditional asian-style public baths are non-existent. When looking for beauty salons on Orchard Road, try out the ones on the fourth floor of Lucky Plaza.
They offer most salon services like manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing and hair services. A favorite of flight crew and repeat tourists due to the lower costs as compared to the sky high prices of other salons along the shopping belt.
Shop around for prices, some of the better looking ones actually charge less. When in the Bugis or Kampong Glam walking belt, a good stop to rest weary feet would be at one of the many nail parlours in the area.
Manicures or pedicures are very affordable in Singapore and most salons maintain a high level of hygiene.
Forget your tiny hotel pool if you are into competitive or recreational swimming: Singapore is paradise for swimmers with arguably the highest density of public pools in the world.
They just come from nearby housing complexes for a few hours to chill out, read and relax in the sun. Most are open daily from Just imagine swimming your lanes in the tropical night with lit up palm trees surrounding the pool.
It opens all day Check their website for lane availability. The East Coast Park has a scenic coastline that stretches over 15km.
Sentosa island also has three white, sandy beaches - Siloso Beach, Palawan Beach and Tanjong Beach - each with its own distinct characteristics, and also very popular with locals.
Canoeing and dragon-boating are popular water-sports in Singapore, and there are many beautiful reservoirs and rivers where one can partake in such physical activity.
Besides these more regular water sports, Singapore also offers water sports fans trendy activities such as cable-Skiing and wave surfing in specially created environments.
While obviously not the best place on Earth for skiing, sunny Singapore still has a permanent indoor snow centre — Snow City offers visitors to the region a chance to experience winter.
Visitors can escape from the hot and humid tropical weather to play with snow or even learn to ski and snowboard with internationally certified professional instructors.
There are several enjoyable things that not even many locals know about. If you are in the mood of doing sport, consider the MacRitchie Reservoir, featuring 11km of jungle running trails with monkeys, reptiles and turtles.
The sport of prawn fishing has grown tremendously in recent years across South East Asia and can also be found in Singapore. Goods and services tax GST , where applicable, is required by law to be included in the listed price of goods except for major hotels and some restaurants.
When you see NETT, it means it includes all taxes and service charges. The GST is refundable only in the departure area of the main Changi airport.
The actual terms and documentation requirements are long and include a large fee and that you must remain outside of Singapore for a full year.
Check here before the big spluge and allow time before your departure flight. Travellers cheques are generally not accepted by retailers, but can be cashed at most exchange booths.
Currency exchange booths can be found in every shopping mall and usually offer better rates, better opening hours and much faster service than banks.
The huge 24 hr operation at Mustafa in Little India accepts almost any currency at very good rates, as do the fiercely competitive small shops at the aptly named Change Alley next to Raffles Place MRT.
For large amounts, ask for a quote, as it will often get you a better rate than displayed on the board. Rates at the airport are not as good as in the city, and while many department stores accept major foreign currencies, their rates are often terrible.
Singapore is expensive by Asian standards but affordable compared with some industrialised countries: Compare room prices in Johor Bahru, just across the border and consider seeing Singapore from your base in Johor.
Read wikitravel, Johor Bahru: By Bus, There and back again, a day trip to Singapore. Budget travellers should note that Singapore is much more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia and should budget accordingly if planning to spend time in Singapore.
In general, prices in Singapore are about twice as high as in Malaysia and Thailand and times as high as in Indonesia and the Philippines.
Except in off the beat markets, haggling is not common in Singapore and is frowned upon but asking about discounts is ok.
While at a smaller shack haggle away. Ripped off by a shop? The Small Claims Tribunal at 1 Havelock Sq also has a special expedited process for tourists that can solve simple cases within 24 hours.
Shopping is second only to eating as a national pastime, which means that Singapore has an abundance of shopping malls, and low taxes and tariffs on imports coupled with huge volume mean that prices are usually very competitive.
Most shops are open 7 days a week from 10AMPM, although smaller operations particularly those outside shopping malls close earlier — 7PM is common — and perhaps on Sundays as well.
Mustafa in Little India is open 24 hours a day, days a year. Keep an eye out for the Great Singapore Sale  , usually held in June-July, when shopping centres pull out all stops to attract punters.
Many shops along Orchard Road and Scotts Road now offer late night shopping on the last Friday of every month with over retailers staying open till midnight.
Even with her young age, Singapore has a wide range of souvenirs available for tourists due to the rich multi-cultural history.
Grab the mini Singapore sling cocktail set at Raffles Hotel and Changi Airport for the true heritage flavour. Kaya is a savoury coconut milk, eggs, and sugar, usually spread on toast where locals consume for their breakfast.
Ya Kun Kaya is readily available in their nationwide outlets and Changi Airport. Speaking about Tea, Singapore also has her own luxury tea collection from TWG which offers an impressive selection of over teas, specially harvested from all around the world.
Most of these souvenirs can be found in their own store outlets, Changi Airport or Singapore Souvenir curator - SG Style, who does same-day delivery to your hotel.
At the shop you need to ask for a tax refund cheque. Before checking in at the airport, present this cheque together with the items purchased and your passport at the GST customs counter.
Get the receipt stamped there. Then proceed with check-in and go through security. On the air side, bring the stamped cheque to the refund counter to cash it in or get the GST back on your credit card.
See Singapore Customs  for the full scoop. Singapore is a melting pot of cuisines from around the world, and many Singaporeans are obsessive gourmands who love to makan "eat" in Malay.
Eating habits run the gamut, but most foods are eaten by fork and spoon: Noodles and Chinese dishes typically come with chopsticks, while Malay and Indian food can be eaten by hand, but nobody will blink an eye if you ask for a fork and spoon instead.
If eating by hand, always use your right hand to pick your food, as Malays and Indians traditionally use their left hand to handle dirty things.
Take note of the usual traditional Chinese etiquette when using chopsticks, and most importantly, do not stick your chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice.
Keep an eye out for the Singapore Food Festival  , held every year in July. During the last three festivals, all visitors to Singapore smart enough to ask for them at any tourist information desk received coupons for free chilli crab , no strings attached!
Singapore is justly famous for its food, a unique mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and Western elements. The following is only a brief sampler of the most popular dishes.
Culinary borrowings Many regional terms and the odd euphemism tend to crop up in notionally English menus. A few of the more common ones:.
The most identifiable cuisine in the region is Peranakan or Nonya cuisine, born from the mixed Malay and Chinese communities of what were once the British colonies of the Straits Settlements modern-day Singapore , Penang and Malacca.
Besides these dishes, the Peranakans are also known for their kueh or snacks, which are somewhat different from the Malay versions due to stronger Chinese influences.
Characterized by heavy use of spices, most Malay dishes are curries, stews or dips of one kind or another and nasi padang restaurants, offering a wide variety of these to ladle onto your rice, are very popular.
Malay desserts, especially the sweet pastries and jellies kuih or kueh made largely from coconut and palm sugar gula melaka , bear a distinct resemblance to those of Thailand.
But in the sweltering tropical heat, try one of many concoctions made with ice instead:. Chinese food as eaten in Singapore commonly originates from southern China , particularly Fujian and Guangdong.
Delicious and authentic Indian food can be had at Little India, including south Indian typical meals such as dosa thosai crepes, idli lentil-rice cakes and sambar soup, as well as north Indian meals including various curries, naan bread, tandoori chicken and more.
In addition, however, a number of Indian dishes have been "Singaporeanized" and adopted by the entire population, including:. Social welfare Singapore style One thing notably absent from Singaporean hawker centres and food courts is any form of napkins or tissues.
These folks believe in self reliance instead of depending on government welfare funds. Do give them your respectful support.
The cheapest and most popular places to eat in Singapore are hawker centres , essentially former pushcart vendors directed into giant complexes by government fiat.
The lack of air-conditioning may seem somewhat unbearable to foreigners, but a visit to a hawker centre remains a must when in Singapore.
Touting for business is illegal, and occasionally a reminder of this can result in people backing off a bit. To order, first chope reserve a table by either parking a friend by the table or, in the more Singaporean way, dumping a pack of tissue onto the tabletop.
Some stalls will deliver to your table, in which case you pay when you get your food. Although, if it is quiet and you are sitting nearby, they will usually deliver anyway.
Once you are finished, look around: This is part of a government initiative that has been pushed out in recent years encouraging diners to return their own plates so as to reduce the burden on the cleaners.
If there are no signs, you can leave your dishes on your table, where a cleaner will come by to pick them up. Every district in Singapore has its own hawker centres and prices decrease as you move out into the boondocks.
For tourists, centrally located Newton Circus Newton MRT , Gluttons Bay and Lau Pa Sat near the River , are the most popular options — but this does not make them the cheapest or the tastiest, and the demanding gourmand would do well to head to Chinatown or the heartlands instead.
Many of the best food stalls are located in residential districts away from the tourist trail and do not advertise in the media, so the best way to find them is to ask locals for their recommendations.
And if you miss western food, Botak Jones  in several hawker centres offers reasonably authentic and generously sized American-restaurant style meals at hawker prices.
Coffee, see, and tea, oh! If you order just kopi the Malay word for "coffee" or teh Hokkien for "tea" in Singapore, it will definitely be served with a heaped spoonful of sugar, and more often than not with a squirt of sweet condensed milk.
To get rid of the sugar, you need to ask for it kosong "plain" , but if you want a plain black cup of joe, you need to ask for kopi-O kosong!
If you want your drink cold, just add a peng to the end of the drink name, eg. Despite the name, coffee shops or kopitiam sell much more than coffee — they are effectively mini-hawker centres with perhaps only half a dozen stalls one of which will, however, sell coffee and other drinks.
The Singaporean equivalent of pubs, this is where folks come for the canonical Singaporean breakfast of kopi strong, sugary coffee , some kaya egg-coconut jam toast and runny eggs, and this is also where they come to down a beer or two and chat away in the evenings.
More discerning coffee drinkers may consider visiting the local cafes that serve coffee brewed with greater skill and care than these international coffee chains.
Found in the basement or top floor of nearly every shopping mall, food courts are the gentrified, air-conditioned version of hawker centres.
Such restaurants are self-service and clearing your table after your meal is strongly recommended. In addition to the usual suspects, look out for these uniquely Singaporean brands:.
Kee-ping up with the Lims Ever wonder why every other Chinese hawker stall and restaurant in Singapore has a name that ends in Kee? The answer is simple: A name like Yan Kee thus means "run by the Yan family", and should not be taken as a political statement!
Singapore offers a wide variety of full-service restaurants as well, catering to every taste and budget. As with Chinese restaurants anywhere, food is eaten with chopsticks and served with Chinese tea.
Depending on where you go and what you order, prices can vary greatly. Being a maritime city, one common specialty is seafood restaurants , offering Chinese-influenced Singaporean classics like chilli crabs.
These are much more fun to go to in a group, but be careful what you order: Singapore also has its share of good Western restaurants, with British and American influenced food being a clear favourite among locals.
French, Italian, Japanese and Korean food is also readily available, though prices tend to be on the expensive side, while Thai and Indonesian restaurants tend to be more affordable.
One British import much beloved by Singaporeans is high tea. In the classical form, as served up by finer hotels across the island, this is a light afternoon meal consisting of tea and a wide array of British-style savoury snacks and sweet pastries like finger sandwiches and scones.
However, the term is increasingly used for afternoon buffets of any kind, and Chinese dim sum and various Singaporean dishes are common additions.
Note that many restaurants only serve high tea on weekends, and hours may be very limited: Singaporeans are big on buffets , especially international buffets offering a wide variety of dishes including Western, Chinese and Japanese as well as some local dishes at a fixed price.
Popular chains include Sakura  , Pariss  , Vienna  and Todai . Most hotels also offer lunch and dinner buffets. Prices are generally what you would expect for eating at a fine dining restaurant in the West.
Pop up dining options or supper clubs are normally dinner events hosted by local chefs. While a relatively new concept in Singapore, it is gaining popularity with more and more local chefs opening up their homes to guests.
Authentic food and dining in the company of new friends is a new trend that is catching up in Singapore. BonAppetour is a great place to discover such dining options.
Singapore is an easy place to eat for almost everybody. Many Indians and a few Chinese Buddhists are strictly vegetarian , so Indian stalls may have a number of veggie options and some hawker centres will have a Chinese vegetarian stall or two, often serving up amazing meat imitations made from gluten.
Chinese vegetarian food traditionally does not use eggs or dairy products and is thus almost always vegan ; Indian vegetarian food, however, often employs cheese and other milk products.
Be on your guard in ordinary Chinese restaurants though, as even dishes that appear vegetarian on the menu may contain seafood products such as oyster sauce or salted fish — check with the waiter if in doubt.
Some restaurants can be found that use "no garlic, no onions". This is found at practically every Malay stall and many Indian Muslim operations too, but more rarely on outlets run by the Chinese, few of whom are Muslims.
That said, the popular Banquet  chain of food courts is entirely halal and an excellent choice for safely sampling halal Chinese food.
Many, if not all, of the Western fast-food chains in Singapore use halal meat: Jews, on the other hand, will have a harder time as kosher food is nearly unknown in Singapore.
A few exceptions to this include Cedele  and Barracks House . Some clubs have 24 hr licenses and few places close before 3AM.
Gay bars are mostly found around Chinatown. Drinking age is 18, and while this is surprisingly loosely enforced, some clubs have higher age limits.
Friday is generally the biggest night of the week for going out, with Saturday a close second. Most clubs are closed on Monday and Tuesday, while bars generally stay open but tend to be very quiet.
For a night out Singapore style, gather a group of friends and head for the nearest karaoke box — major chains include K-Box  and Party World. Beware that the non-chain, glitzy or dodgy looking, neon-covered KTV lounges may charge much higher rates and the short-skirted hostesses may offer more services than just pouring your drinks.
In Singapore, the pronunciation of karaoke follows the Japanese " karah-oh-kay " instead of the English " carry-oh-key ". You can bring in up to one litre of liquor and two litres of wine and beer if you arrive from countries other than Malaysia.
Alcohol is haram forbidden to Muslims, and most Muslim Singaporeans duly avoid it. While most non-Muslim Singaporeans are not puritanical and enjoy a drink every now and then, do not expect to find the binge-drinking culture that you will find in most Western countries.
Unlike in most Western countries, public drunkenness in socially frowned upon in Singapore, and misbehaving yourself under the influence of alcohol will certainly not gain you any respect from Singaporean friends.
Do not allow any confrontations to escalate into fights, as the police will be called in, and you will face jail time and possibly caning.
Prices when eating out vary. On the upside, happy hours and two-for-one promotions are common, and the entry price for clubs usually includes several drink tickets.
Tourists flock to the Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel to sample the original Singapore Sling , a sickly sweet pink mix of pineapple juice, gin and more, but locals almost never touch the stuff.
There are also many online alcohol stores that offer great value and convenience with doorstep delivery such as Cellarbration Singapore, Alcohol Delivery, Winelah and Cornerstonewines for you to shop from if you are looking for an affordable nightcap or as a gift for your host in Singapore.
Tobacco is heavily taxed, and you are not allowed to bring more than one opened pack not carton, but a single pack! This is particularly strictly enforced on the land borders with Malaysia.
Many public places including hawker centres have restrictions on smoking, and it is prohibited in public transport as well. There is a total ban on smoking in all air-conditioned places including pubs and discos , and strict limitations on where you can smoke outside as well e.
The designated zone should be marked with a yellow outline, and may have a sign reading "smoking zone". Prostitution is tolerated in six designated districts, most notably Geylang , which — not coincidentally — also offers some of the cheapest lodging and best food in the city.
The industry maintains a low profile no go-go bars here and is not a tourist attraction by any stretch of the word. Legally practising commercial sex workers are required to register with the authorities and attend special clinics for regular sexually transmitted disease screening.
However, please be prudent and practice safe sex--although most sex workers will insist on it anyway. Orchard Towers, on Orchard Road , has been famously summarized as "four floors of whores" and, despite occasional crackdowns by the authorities, continues to live up to its name.
Beware that the prostitutes working here are usually not registered, so the risk of theft and STDs is significantly higher. Some transgender women work at this establishment because the State does not allow them to obtain a license for sex work.
Because they are considered illegal workers, they are subjected to constant raids, harassment, intimidation, imprisonment and other forms of degrading treatment and criminalization.
They also face entrapment where police officers pretend to be customers. Accommodation in Singapore is expensive by South-East Asian standards.
Lower-end hotels and hostels, though, remain affordable and available throughout the year. You can expect to hear loud piling from sites such as the new Downtown MRT Line tunnels late into the night or early morning.
Keep this in mind and check for any construction work near any hotel you choose as the work will be unlikely to stop when you want to sleep!
Cheap hotels are clustered in the Geylang , Balestier and Little India districts, where they service mostly the type of customer who rents rooms by the hour.
Rooms are generally small and not fancy, but are still clean and provide basic facilities like a bathroom and television.
A good number of these value for money hotels conveniently linked by local transport are on Balestier Road. Some of these hotels along Balestier Road are love hotels whose prices skyrocket Friday thru Sunday.
Read the Costs section above for additional money saving tips. Singapore has a wide selection of luxury accommodation, including the famed Raffles Hotel.
Hotel rates fluctuate quite a bit: The largest hotel clusters can be found at Marina Bay good for sightseeing and around Orchard Road good for shopping.
Housing in Singapore is expensive, as the high population density and sheer scarcity of land drives real estate prices through the roof.
As a result, you would generally be looking at rentals on par with the likes of New York and London. Apartment hotels in Singapore have prices competitive with hotels but are quite expensive compared to apartments.
Renting an apartment in Singapore will generally require a working visa. Most condos have facilities like pools, gyms, tennis court, car park and 24 hr security.
As the supply of studio and one-bedroom apartments is very limited, most people on a budget share an apartment with friends or colleagues, or just sublet a single room.
Leases are usually for two years, with a "diplomatic clause" that allows you to terminate after 1 year. Singapore Expats  is the largest real estate agency geared for expatriates and their free classified ads are a popular choice for hunting for rooms or apartment-mates.
You might also want to check the classified ads in the local newspapers. A number of foreign universities, business schools and specialised institutes have also setup their Asian campuses in Singapore.
Casual work is nearly impossible to come by, as you must have a work permit WP or employment pass EP to work in Singapore. In practice, receiving either requires that you have a firm job offer and the sponsoring company applies on your behalf.
There is also a Working Holiday Programme  for recent university grads who want to live in Singapore for up to 6 months.
Work permits are mostly intended for menial, low-skilled labourers. If your employment is terminated, you will get a social visit pass a visitors visa with no employment rights which allows you to stay for no longer than 14 days.
For more information, contact the Ministry of Manpower . Once you have been working in Singapore for a year or so with an employment pass or S pass , applying for permanent residence PR is fairly straightforward.
If granted — and the rule of thumb is, the higher your salary, the more likely you are to get it — you can stay in Singapore indefinitely as long as you can show some income every 5 years and can change jobs freely.
As one of the most vibrant economies in South-east Asia, and supported by a highly-educated population of locals and foreign talents, Singapore is a natural choice for multi-nationals who wish to have a presence in the region.
Even the company incorporation process  is done entirely online these days and can be completed as quickly as within a day. Singapore is one of the safest major cities in the world by virtually any measure.
Most people, including single female travellers, will not face any problems walking along the streets alone at night. Police are also noticeably absent from streets.
There are neither gangs nor incidences of gang-related violence in the country since the late 80s. Though perfectly safe, local women tend to stick to the main road and avoid walking alone through the "lorongs" in Geylang, the red light district of Singapore, to stay clear of unwanted attention at night.
This is not to say they avoid the area completely. The area is, among several others, well-known for its late night local food fare.
If you are dressed conservatively to avoid being mistaken for a sex worker or look the part of a tourist, you will not be harassed. For example, jay-walking, spitting, littering, and drinking and eating on public transport are prohibited.
Avoid littering , as offenders are not only subject to fines, but also to a "Corrective Work Order", in which offenders are made to wear a bright yellow jacket and pick up rubbish in public places.
Enforcement is however sporadic at best, and it is not uncommon to see people openly litter, spit, smoke in non-smoking zones, etc. Chewing gum , famously long banned from sale consumption was never banned, contrary to popular belief , is now available at pharmacies for medical purposes eg nicotine gum if you ask for it directly, show your ID and sign the register.
While importing gum for resale is still illegal, one can usually bring in a few packs for personal consumption without any problem. For some crimes, most notably illegal entry and overstaying your visa for over 90 days , Singapore imposes caning as a punishment.
Other offences which have caning as a punishment include vandalism, robbery, molestation and rape. Do note that having sex with a girl under the age of 16 is considered to be rape under Singapore law, regardless of whether the girl consents to it and would land you a few strokes of the cane.
This is no slap on the wrist: Crimes such as murder, kidnapping, unauthorized possession of firearms and drug trafficking are punished with death.
However, tourists should be relieved that such severe punishment is only reserved for the most severe crimes such as rape, molest, murder or kidnapping and this has partly resulted in a country that has seen the lowest number of severe crimes in the world.
Whilst jaywalking is illegal, it is still a common thing and occurs quite often around the city. Beware though that if a police officer catches you, you might get a warning or end up with a fine if you persist.
Nevertheless, the police generally do not arrest people for expressing anti-government views in casual conversation and articles critical of certain government policies are sometimes published in the local newspaper forums.
Visitors need not be worried unless you plan to hold a public rally or publish political opinion pieces critical of the current leaders. Missionaries should also note that insulting other religions is a crime in Singapore, and carries fines and a prison sentence with it, so be sensitive when discussing subjects related to religion.
Although locals themselves sometimes feel frustrated and displaced by the combination of mass immigration, their liability for the two year long National Service, some institutionalized discrimination and soaring property prices, they are often patriotic and may take offense if visitors criticize any aspect of the country.
Singapore is virtually immune to natural disasters: Flooding in the November-January monsoon season is an occasional hazard, especially in low-lying parts of the East Coast, but any water usually drains off quickly, usually after a couple of hours, and life continues as normal.
Extreme air pollution, particularly from forest fires in Indonesia, have been a frequent and growing issue.
Air quality measurements have often indicated an air quality level that is hazardous. Because of rigid regulations, conscientiously enforced with large fines, traffic is less erratic than in other Asian countries and reckless driving is rare.
Tap water is safe for drinking, and sanitation standards are very high. As a tropical country, Singapore is hot and humid so drink a lot of water.
The lowest temperature ever recorded in Singapore was way back in , when it hit a low of Malaria is not an issue, but dengue fever is endemic to the region.
The standard of medical care in Singapore is uniformly excellent and Singapore is a popular destination for medical tourism and medical evacuations in the region.
Despite the lower prices, standards are often as good as those in the West at both public and private clinics, making this a good place to get your jabs and tabs if heading off into the jungle elsewhere.
There are various different types of insurance depending on what you are looking for from basic travel insurance policies to longer term health insurance policies designed more for frequent travellers from providers.
For minor ailments, head down to the nearest suburban shopping mall or HDB shopping district and look for a general practitioner GP. For larger problems, head to a hospital.
Your hospital will provide you with an estimate not an exact amount for surgeries and other procedures. Your Doctor will encourage you to overpay and say that the excess will be refunded.
However, the hospitals take three weeks to arrive at a final tally and then at that time will only give you your refund in cash, by hand, at the hospital, long after most medical tourists have left Singapore.
You can wire money in, in U. Your Doctor gets to keep whatever is leftover. Pay the minimum with bank wire or credit card then supplement with cash as needed.
Nearly all shopping centres, hotels, MRT stations, bus interchanges, and hawker centres are likely to have public toilets. Public facilities may charge 10 to 20 cents per entry, and a packet of tissue may come in handy if the toilet paper has run out.
Most toilets have bowls, but there is usually one squatting cubicle in every public toilet. Phua for business and Chu Kang or just CK to his friends.
Many have Western names, so he may also be known as Terry Phua. Mohammed bin Abdullah would usually be called Mr. Mohammed Faizal bin Mohammed Nasser so, in such a case, he would usually be addressed as Mr.
Nathan and would addressed as Mr. The foolproof method is to ask how the person wants to be addressed. Singaporeans care little about formal politeness.
What would be decent behavior at home, wherever home might be, is unlikely to offend anyone in Singapore. In Singapore, unlike much of southeast Asia, women wearing revealing clothing or men wearing shorts and slippers are perfectly acceptable.
That said, upmarket bars and restaurants may enforce dress codes and Singaporeans tend to be more socially conservative than Westerners, meaning that public display of affection is still frowned upon and toplessness for women is not acceptable anywhere, even on the beach.
People are generally friendlier in the heartlands, and it is not uncommon to see shopkeepers and customers of multiple races bantering. However, Singaporeans, while not hostile towards foreigners, are generally not overly receptive to any overbearing friendliness from them.
Furthermore, the local dialect with its heavy Chinese influences may appear brusque or even rude, but it should not be interpreted as being hostile or offensive.
A question such as "You want beer or not? Socks are perfectly acceptable though, as long as they are not excessively soiled.
Many places of worship also require you to remove your shoes before you enter. At train stations, some forms of etiquette are a must.
Singaporeans are orderly and will usually give way to passengers getting off trains before boarding the train. It is also common for people to stand on the left of escalators to allow room for others in a rush to ascend or descend on the right.
If in doubt, simply obey the rule of "When in Rome". Beware of taboos if bringing gifts. Any products food or otherwise involving animals may cause offence and are best avoided, as are white flowers usually reserved for funerals.
Knives and clocks are also symbols of cutting ties and death, respectively, and some Chinese are superstitious about the number four. Also note that in Singapore, it is considered rude to open a gift in front of the person who gave it to you.
Instead, wait till the person has left and open it in private. Many Singaporean Muslims and some Hindus abstain from alcohol. Swastikas are commonly seen in Buddhist and Hindu temples, as well as among the possessions of Buddhists and Hindus.
It is regarded as a religious symbol and does not represent Nazism or anti-Semitism. As such, Western visitors should not feel offended on seeing a swastika in the homes of their hosts, and many locals will wonder what the fuss is all about.
Take dietary restrictions into account when inviting Singaporean friends for a meal. Many Indians and a few Chinese are vegetarian.
Most Malays, being Muslims, eat only halal food, while most Indians, being Hindu, abstain from beef. Take note that Singapore, while heavily Westernized, ultimately remains socially conservative.
As such, Westerners are strongly advised against greetings like kissing on the cheeks and should stick to the much common practice of shaking hands instead.
Singaporeans are punctual, so show up on time. The standard greeting is a firm handshake. However, conservative Muslims avoid touching the opposite sex, so a man meeting a Malay woman should let her offer her hand first and a woman meeting a Malay man should wait for him to offer his hand.
If they opt to place their hand on the heart and bow slightly instead, just follow suit. Singaporeans generally do not hug, especially if it is someone they have just met, and doing so would probably make your host feel awkward, though the other person will probably be too polite to say anything as saving face is a major Asian value.
Jackets are rarely worn because it is too hot most of the time. Women usually wear Western business attire, but a few prefer Malay-style kebaya and sarong.
Business cards are always exchanged when people meet for business for the first time: This sounds more complicated than it is.
Study the cards you receive and feel free to ask questions; when you are finished, place them on the table in front of you, not in a shirt pocket or wallet, and do not write on them or otherwise show disrespect.
Business gifts are generally frowned on as they smell of bribery. Small talk and bringing up the subject indirectly are neither necessary nor expected.
Most meetings get straight down to business. The international telephone country code for Singapore is There are three main telecommunication providers in Singapore: Mobile phones are carried by almost everyone in Singapore, including many young children, and coverage is generally excellent throughout the country.
You will need to show an international passport or Singapore ID to sign up. You may also be charged for incoming calls.
Most prepaid cards expire within 6 mth unless you top-up which can be done outside Singapore. The carriers also offer special top up cards that will give a higher number of minutes for the price at the downside of expiring more quickly.
As in many places, mobile data with on prepaid voice SIM cards can be ridiculously expensive. StarHub offers a 1GB package valid for 30 days. Data-only SIMs can be more affordable.
Public phones are an increasingly endangered species, but you can find them in most MRT stations. Phone cards are available at all post offices and from phonecard agents.
Most coin-operated pay phones are for local calls only, there are some which accept coins of larger denominations and can be used for overseas calls.
Credit card phones are usually found at the airport or in some major hotels. Recently the providers have started offering cheaper rates for calls using Internet telephony routes.
Calling cards are also available for specific international destinations and are usually cheaper. Head to Chinatown or Little India if you need get online, or check out the top floors of many suburban malls, which feature Internet cafes doubling as online gaming parlors.
See the Infocomm Development Authority website  for a current list of hotspots. Commercial alternatives include McDonalds, which offers free wifi at most outlets; StarHub, a member of the Wireless Broadband Alliance with hotspots at Coffee Bean cafes; and SingTel, which has hotspots at most Starbucks cafes.
Mobile internet access is also available from the different telecoms which offer hundreds of megabytes good for several days.
However do try using the free WiFi access if possible; not only will it save you money but also precious battery life. There are other more convenient and easy-to-use alternatives for travelers who want to stay connected in order to communicate with their relatives and share the highlights of their stay in Singapore.
Several companies such as MIOWIFI  offers internet packages at very attractive prices which allow you to connect up to 10 devices at the same time to your Wifi device.
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