Singapore may be a small country but it’s definitely worth a visit. From modern urban cities to beautiful natural wonders; from varied and delicious culinary traditions to booming nightlife, there is something to be found for everyone.
An island nation located in Southeast Asia, Singapore is a melting pot of different cultures, languages, and experiences. With four official languages and a population that is over one third foreign nationals, it certainly is a unique and diverse place. In fact, there are many experiences and sights that you’ll only encounter here.
Sure it’s known for being super clean and the notorious chewing gum ban, but there is so much more to it. Among other things, Singapore boasts year-round warm weather, incredible street food, and green parks in the middle of bustling cities.
Singaporeans are proud of their country, their culture, and their traditions, and they truly have to be experienced to be understood. Here are some of the things that you can only find in the beautiful and one-of-a-kind country of Singapore.
An ice cream sandwich – made with bread
We’ve had ice cream sandwiches before, but they sure didn’t look like this! The ice cream sandwiches we’re used to usually consist of vanilla ice cream between two chocolate cookies, or, if we’re really in the mood for a treat, we’ll put our favorite ice cream flavor between two freshly baked cookies.
However, in Singapore, the iconic ice cream sandwich is made from a brick of ice cream wrapped in an actual slice of bread! You can choose your ice cream flavor, and some vendors even wrap it in a lightly sweetened rainbow colored piece of bread.
Anything goes on the subway
Have you ever been on public transportation and struggled to stay awake so you don’t miss your stop? This woman has the perfect solution for this common problem. She decided to trust the other subway passengers to wake her up when the train arrived at her stop.
She gave into her sleepiness and held up a sign asking the kind people on her train to please wake her up. In Singapore, the mass rapid transit, or MRT, is an extensive network of train lines that is one of the best ways to get around. Nearly every destination is within walking distance of an MRT station, so it’s the choice form of transportation for locals and tourists alike.
Spotting wildlife in a busy city is always exciting, and Singapore offers the chance to see a unique animal – otters! There are several families of wild otters living in the city of Singapore, and they are a popular attraction for both tourists and locals.
There are actually two types of otters in Singapore – the smooth-coated otter and the small-clawed otter. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, otters in the region were believed to be extinct, but in the past few decades their numbers have increased and a number of them made their homes in Singapore. Otter fans have set up Facebook pages to share videos and updates about the famous otters, too.
Tissue packets on tables
It can be quite a challenge to find a seat in Singapore’s crowded hawker centers, where up to 200 street food stalls sell their tasty cuisine. Luckily, Singaporeans have come up with a solution. They have a system of calling “dibs” on empty tables and chairs called “chope”.
When someone spots an open table, they place a cheap item on the table in order to save their spot. This is frequently a tissue packet but sometimes people will use a pen, umbrella, or anything else they have in their bag. Unlike many other cultures, people here respect the indication that the table is reserved, and your seat will be safe when you return with your food.
Since there are four official languages in Singapore, it’s common to hear a special mix of dialects and ways of speaking there. Most people are bilingual, speaking English and whatever language their parents speak at home, but there is a third dialect that is commonly heard – “Singlish.”
Singlish is a special combination of English and the other common languages spoken in Singapore. Singlish is not an official language, and it’s not advised to speak it in formal situations, but it is a very important part of Singaporean culture. It’s not an easy dialect for foreigners to understand, but it can be a lot of fun to learn some of the slang terms while you’re visiting.
Coffee in plastic bags
Coffee is something you can find almost everywhere in the world, but it’s often served in different ways. In Singapore, coffee is called “kopi,” and if you want a true Singaporean experience, try drinking it from a plastic bag.
Usually served with sweetened condensed milk, you hold the bag by its handles and drink your coffee with a straw. Don’t worry though – if drinking coffee from a plastic bag is not for you, you can get it in a cup.
An airport where people like to hang out
Singapore’s airport is not just the gateway into the country – it’s also a destination on its own! Jewel Changi Airport is known as the best airport in the world, and after extensive renovations it’s easy to see why.
It contains the world’s largest indoor waterfall, over 280 food and shopping stands, and sprawling green gardens. The impressive space links between terminals, and you do not need a boarding pass to enter, making it a popular spot for people who aren’t flying anywhere, too.
Signs like this one
There are plenty of strange and funny signs in Singapore that you aren’t likely to see anywhere else in the world. Take this one, for example, that is telling people not to wear sunglasses at night.
We agree wholeheartedly that there is no reason for most people to shield their eyes from the sun when it’s dark out, but it’s definitely a bizarre thing to put on a sign at the beach. To top it off, they added the words “don’t act cool” to the sign.
These Pringle flavors
Popular snacks often vary from country to country in order to fit with the tastes of people around the world. When you’re traveling, keep an eye out for your favorite snacks in flavors you never imagined – you might be surprised by what you find!
In Singapore, for example, you can find some pretty unique Pringles flavors. These include flavors such as soft-shelled crab, seaweed, and garlic shrimp. That sounds quite a bit different than the Pringles we see on the shelves in American supermarkets!
This shop with a sense of humor
Singapore is all about their puns. You can find shops, restaurants, and signs all over the country that make you smile with their silly play on words. This bakery is one of those.
It’s called Bread Pitt, a joke on the name of the famous actor. By adding just one “e” to Brad Pitt’s name, you get a clever name for a bakery. So, now the question is: would you like to try Bread Pitt’s freshly baked buns?
Mashed potato vending machines
It’s not uncommon to find vending machines that sell all sorts of strange things, but this mashed potato vending machine is particularly eye-catching. Found at many 7-11 stores in Singapore, the mashed potato dispenser allows you to eat mashed potatoes at the push of a button.
It even gives you a squirt of gravy on top. Sure, these potatoes-in-a-cup may not be exactly the same texture as mashed potatoes made from freshly boiled potatoes, but if you need a quick fix, this machine does the trick.
Perhaps you need to be from Singapore to truly understand what this sign is telling you to do. To us, it looks like the sign is having a conversation with itself. First it tells you to fly a kite, then says that actually you can’t do that.
Then it apologizes, although we’re not exactly certain what for. Maybe it’s saying sorry for suggesting that you do an activity that’s not actually allowed. Finally, it tells you to find something else to do, but doesn’t offer any further suggestions.
This infinity pool
The largest rooftop infinity pool in the world is located in Singapore, on the top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel. The view from 57 stories up is incredible, but you have to be a hotel guest in order to enjoy the cool water.
So, many people book rooms just to get the once in a lifetime chance to swim in what many call the best infinity pool in the world. Others try to sneak in, and are met with mixed success.
Many animals are nocturnal, meaning they are awake at night and sleep during the day. So, when you go to the zoo during the day, there are a number of creatures that are fast asleep and you never really get a chance to really see them.
Singapore has a solution to this! They built the first nocturnal zoo in the world, which allows visitors to come see their favorite nocturnal animals at night. You can see over 2,500 animals from more than 130 species at the Night Safari.
McDonald’s curry sauce
The sauce choices at McDonald’s in the United States are pretty straightforward, but when you venture overseas, you’ll find some more variation. In Singapore, the curry flavored sauce is super popular.
A few years ago, the special sauce disappeared from McDonald’s restaurants all around the island, and people were desperate to get it back. Finally, it reappeared with different packaging, and it’s still a favorite among Singaporeans. People are always looking for ways to get more of it.
In 2015, Singapore was frequently cloaked in a blanket of thick haze, that made it hard to see and hard to breathe. The Pollutant Standards Index reached hazardous levels from September to November that year, and people were advised to avoid going outside whenever possible because of serious health risks.
This year, there is a moderate risk that there will again be heavy haze in Singapore thanks to a phenomenon known as El Niño, which warms parts of the Pacific Ocean and changes global weather patterns.
What’s the point of a playground if you’re not allowed to play on it? We think someone is missing the definition of “playground” or perhaps they made a mistake when they were writing the sign.
It would be a real bummer for a child to show up at a nice playground only to find out that they have to simply sit quietly and look at it. All in all, this sign is quite confusing, and we don’t know what’s really going on here.
Real life superheroes
As a society, we seem to have something of an obsession with superheroes. So when the ID card of this man from Singapore was released online, it quickly went viral. After all, how often do you come across someone who is really named Batman?
And to top it all off, his last name is bin Suparman, which is actually a fairly common Javanese name. Batman became something of an internet celebrity, but was arrested in 2013 for robbery and sent to prison for a few years.
Drinks for the indecisive
When you ask someone what they want to drink and they answer, “Anything,” or “Whatever,” it’s not usually helpful. But if you happened to be in Singapore from 2007 to 2010, you could actually drink a can of Anything or Whatever.
Anything was a carbonated drink while Whatever was not carbonated, and both came in a variety of flavors that were not indicated on the packaging. That meant that every time you cracked open a can, the flavor was a surprise.
If you want to go to one of the most popular food stands, restaurants, stores, banks or anywhere else that attracts a lot of people in Singapore, chances are you’ll have to wait in a long line.
Singapore is famous for their lines at the top food joints and shopping centers. It’s something the locals seem to take in stride, and they wait patiently in line until their turn finally arrives. Some tourists like to judge which street food they should taste by choosing the spot with the longest line.
These famous fish cakes
When Singapore celebrated 50 years of independence in 2015, they branded everything in honor of the anniversary. Signs and banners could be found all over the country and there were special events to celebrate.
One of the most infamous things to come out of the event, however, were these fish cakes, which had the number 50 in them. Fish cakes are a popular food in Singapore, but these ones got mixed reviews due to the higher price for less food. Many people thought they were ugly, too.
We don’t know exactly what’s being sold here, but we do know that this special offer isn’t all that special. If you look closely, you can see that the store is offering a discount of a whopping ten cents.
Sure, every cent counts, but on a product this expensive, it doesn’t add up to much. It’s pretty funny to see such a big sign advertising such a small discount, but if you really need this product you’re just going to have to buy it anyway.
It’s not uncommon to see public apology notices in the classified section of the newspaper in Singapore. You can find people saying sorry to companies, men apologizing to their wives, and people asking for forgiveness from coworkers and friends.
In this particular notice, a man is apologizing for hitting a coworker in the face at a construction site. We have no way to know if the incident was intentional or accidental, but hopefully his buddy forgave him after he wrote such a graceful apology notice.
When Cheng Siew Han was a student, she had one too many unpleasant encounters on the Mass Rapid Transit system and designed this “Spike Away” vest. The vest is designed to keep people from getting too close to you on public transportation, something that happens way too often all over the world.
It’s made out of strips of plastic spikes, which were intended to protect plants from birds and cats. It’s a great idea in theory, but people are worried about the danger it could cause to innocent commuters.