Singapore celebrates its bicentenary this year. 2019 marks the 200th year since Englishman Sir Stamford Raffles arrived on its shores. To commemorate the island’s founding, the Singapore Bicentennial Office decides to look beyond 1819, because Singapore obviously existed well before that. Instead of hosting a commemorative parade at Raffles Place with Raffles flags and Raffles figurines, the organisers have decided to inject a bit of Singaporean culture and heritage beginning 1299 into events scattered all through AD 2019.

What’s On?

From Asia’s largest sustainable light art festival to exclusive museum exhibitions, the bicentennial year is without a doubt one of the best times to visit Singapore ever. Get ready for days of cultural immersion while exploring the world-class attractions Singapore has to offer.

i Light Singapore 2019

Date: 28 Jan to 24 Feb
Venue: Marina Bay, Civic District, Singapore River, Raffles Terrace at Fort Canning Park


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i Light Singapore is Asia’s largest sustainable light art festival. Get handsy at over 30 interactive installations by artists from around the world. All pieces are made with sustainable light sources and eco-friendly materials. Join in with the energy conservation efforts by turning up your air-conditioning and switching off your appliances when not in use. Be sure to charge up your phones and/or cameras for some spectacular night shots of Downtown Singapore!

Light to Night Festival 2019

Date: 28 Jan to 24 Feb
Venue: Civic District


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Complementing i Light Singapore is the country’s annual urban art event, the Light to Night Festival. The Bicentennial Edition takes a nostalgic look at Singapore’s history through fresh perspectives. Reminisce about the good ol’ days without getting too schmaltzy. Enjoy a façade light show at the Civic District, attend a pitch dark concert, and get your funny bone tickled by Singaporean stand-up comedians for a trip to remember.

River Hongbao

Date: 3 Feb to 10 Feb
Venue: The Float @ Marina Bay


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Celebrate Chinese New Year by the river with light installations and dynamic fireworks displays. Bond with your friends and family at the carnival with more than 20 rides and games, and indulge in delectable Singaporean cuisine at the food stalls. Learn about Singapore’s rise as a trading port in a junkboat replica where an exhibition titled “A Harbour and Home: The Singapore River Through Time” will be held.




1299   Sang Nila Utama establishes Temasek port
1400s   European ships make their way to Asia
1500s   Singapore becomes port to Johor Sultanate
1600s   Portuguese raiders burn down a town at the mouth of the Singapore River
1819   A British party, including Raffles and Farquhar, arrives in Singapore; Singapore becomes a British colony and trading post
1942   WWII: The British surrender Singapore to the Japanese
1945   WWII: The Japanese surrender Singapore to the British
1959   The British convert Singapore from colony to self-governing state
1965   Singapore achieves independence
2019   Singapore is a leading global finance capital


Pongal Festival


Singapore Art Week

14-17 Jan   19-27 Jan
Little India   Civic District
Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated as a thanksgiving towards the Sun God. “Pongal” means to overflow, and households would boil a pot of rice till it bubbles over to signify prosperity and abundance.   Singapore Art Week is an annual celebration of the visual arts. It seeks to promote art appreciation by offering up plenty of immersive and exciting events for Singaporeans and visitors alike.

i Light Singapore


River Hongbao

28 Jan-24 Feb   3-10 Feb
Downtown Singapore   Marina Bay
i Light Singapore is Asia’s leading sustainable light art festival showcasing light art created by artists from around the world. The art pieces are designed with sustainable materials to encourage the general public to adopt sustainable lifestyle habits.   River Hongbao is a cacophony of sights and sounds celebrating the Chinese culture. Displays of figures from Chinese lore and mythology grace the Marina bayfront while a specially choreographed fireworks display light up the night.

Chinese Lunar New Year


Chingay Parade

5-6 Feb   15-16 Feb
Islandwide   F1 Pit Building
Chinese New Year celebrates the turn of the year on the lunar calendar. Families get together for a reunion dinner on the eve of the festival and fireworks are set off (legally) to scare away the Nian monster.   The Chingay Parade is held every year as part of Singapore’s Chinese New Year celebrations. Colourful floats are commissioned and performers from all over the world gather to put on a vibrant display of culture and friendship.

HSBC Women’s World Championship


Singapore Festival of Fun

8 Feb-3 Mar   8-18 Mar
Sentosa Golf Club   Clarke Quay
The HSBC Women’s World Championship is an international golf tournament celebrating the spirit of the sport and the women competing in it. Catch Ariya Jutanugarn and Michelle Wie in action this year.   Singapore Festival of Fun is an annual family-friendly event seeking to bring joy and laughter to everyone. Meet your favourite cartoon characters at the Nikelodeon Fiesta, marvel at amazing street performances, and save your laughter for the Comedy Festival featuring some of the world’s funniest people.


On 5 and 6 February this year, Singapore will commemorate the Year of the Pig. The event marks the start of a new year on the traditional Chinese (lunar) calendar. For regions with significant Chinese populations, the first day of the lunar new year is celebrated with a certain degree of pomp. Streets are lined with lanterns, and colourful processions lend the city a festive cheer. In multicultural Singapore, everyone is welcome to participate in and to experience the unique blend of traditional and contemporary festivities on offer.

Cultural Significance


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Chinese New Year is the time for a fresh start. In the days leading up to the event, families conduct spring-cleaning to purge their homes of bad luck. Red becomes the colour du jour as it signifies prosperity and happiness. On the first day of the festivities, new clothes are worn and red packets containing money are handed out to children and unmarried relatives.

Year of the Pig

The Chinese zodiac is based on a twelve-year cycle, and each year is associated with an animal sign. 2019 is the Year of the Pig. According to mythology, the Jade Emperor, the ruler of all gods, hosted a race for animals to win a place in the zodiac calendar. Contrary to popular belief, the pig was a swift-moving animal. However, it fell asleep after a big meal and only trottered its way to the finish line after the rest of the party had arrived. Hence, the pig is the last animal in the Chinese zodiac.


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We’re approaching the end of a 12-year cycle in 2019, and a flotilla of piggies have taken over the streets of Chinatown. Be sure to take a picture with them when you visit!

Chinese New Year Events in Singapore


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Chinese New Year is without a doubt one of the biggest events on Singapore’s annual calendar. Each year, a Light-Up and Opening Ceremony will be held at Chinatown to officially kickstart the celebrations. Events such as walking trails and lion dance competitions are organised to accompany the main festivities. Join in the cheer at the annual River Hongbao running from 3-10 February and take in the spectacular fireworks display choreographed by artists from China, the USA, Italy and Australia!


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The annual Chingay Parade will add a burst of colour and energy to the streets of Singapore. The parade has evolved into a celebration of global culture in recent years, with international groups invited to showcase their unique arts and performance cultures. This year’s event is even more special, as 2019 ties in with Singapore’s Bicentennial celebrations. Expect exclusively choreographed performances and displays to light up the night.

Our first feature will bring you several places endorsed by Singaporeans themselves. Hey, what better way to know a country than through its locals, right?

The Food Place

Ask any Singaporean to list down their favourite breakfast and/or supper dishes and you’ll inevitably hear the word “prata”. A South Indian import, roti prata literally means flatbread. It’s usually served with a delicious side of fish/mutton/dhal curry, and you can choose between them. Like pizza crusts, prata dough needs to be stretched. Since most prata griddles are in the open, you can watch the prata-man expertly whirling and twirling the dough. You’ll find at least one prata shop in every neighbourhoodthat’s how much Singaporeans love it.


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Check out Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata, where rumour has it you have to wait 90 minutes for a slab of crispy, fluffy goodness after 9am on weekends. One new entry into your Singapore Traveller Rule Book: If there’s a queue, it’s probably something good.

Opening hours: Thu-Mon 6.30am to 1pm; Tue 6.30am to 11.30am; closed on Wed (we advise arriving before 9am)
Address: Tin Yeang Coffee Shop, 300 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 429356
Nearest MRT: Eunos/Paya Lebar; alternatively, take bus 16 towards Bedok from Orchard

The Hipster Place

Like any other city in the world, Singapore has a burgeoning hipster community. While the original meaning of the word has long been lost, being hip in Singapore generally entails doing stuff that are not mainstream, and coffee, lots of coffee. We find it apt to begin our hipster feature with a café, specifically one located in Singapore’s widely-acknowledged hipster neighbourhoodTiong Bahru.


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Forty Hands has been fuelling the denizens of Tiong Bahru since October 2010. Its founders were one of the pioneers of bringing in the Third Wave Coffee scene to Singapore. Now, that’s what hipsters do. Its cosy vibe, coupled with its dedication to serving quality specialty coffee, has made its brand sought after amongst the caffeine-dependent masses, so much so that they recently set up a second shop at East Coast. Skip breakfast and drop by for a hearty brunch.

Opening hours: Mon – Wed 7am – 7pm; Thur – Fri 7am – 10pm; Sat – Sun 7.30am – 7pm
Address: 78 Yong Siak Street, #01-12, Singapore 163078
Nearest MRT: Tiong Bahru (10- to 15-minute walk)

The Medical Place

Did you know that Singapore is famed across the world (paywall) for its first-rate but affordable healthcare? Its new hospitals are also very aesthetically pleasing, more so than its public housing.


this hospital is surprisingly photogenic

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Sengkang General Hospital is the newest kid on the block. Opening its doors in August 2018, the public hospital serves communities in the north-eastern parts of Singapore.

Address: 110 Sengkang East Way, Singapore 544886
Nearest MRT: Sengkang

The Market Place

Markets are an integral part of Singapore living. While Singapore doesn’t have much land for to grow its own produce, its citizens are never short of fresh produce. Every day, crates of fruits and vegetables are flown in or driven down to one of the wholesale centres and auctioned off to market stallholders.


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At dawn, aunties with wheeled trolleys begin descending on wet markets, stocking up on produce to feed their families. Tiong Bahru Market serves both the local and expatriate crowd. Vendors peddle both regional and international produce. Seek out the Aussie and NZ beef, which are rumoured to be cheaper than those in supermarkets.

Opening hours: Early morning-1pm
Address: 30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore 168898
Nearest MRT: Tiong Bahru (10- to 15-minute walk)

Written by: Ying Hui

Singapore is a friendly city towards solo travellers. Safe and clean streets coupled with an efficient public transport system make Singapore the perfect destination to explore on your own. For the tech-savvy traveller, a mobile phone (with a data plan) is all you need. We give you a rundown of essential mobile apps to make your Singapore travel experience a breeze.

Essential Mobile Apps: Transit

Landing in Singapore is an experience itself. Upon arrival at Changi Airport, you’ll be greeted by world-class facilities, a sparkling clean transit area, and incredibly efficient clearance. It probably comes as no surprise that in 2018, Changi was voted the World’s Best Airport for the sixth consecutive year.

The icing on the cake? Changi Airport recently launched the iChangi mobile app (App Store or Google Play Store) that puts real-time flight updates right at your fingertips. Flight delay? Gate change? No need to wait nervously in front of the airport timetable anymore.

Essential Mobile Apps: Transport

After collecting your bags, it’s time for adventure! Head to town easy as Singapore’s transport options are friendly towards solo travellers. Whether you choose to call a cab or explore Singapore’s very safe public transport system, there are mobile apps available to help you decide.

Heavy baggage? Hail a taxi with the ComfortDelGro Taxi Booking App (App Store or Google Play Store). Have a chat with a ‘Taxi Uncle’ who will be more than happy to regale you with personal tales and insider tips on navigating Singapore.

Not a fan of small talk? Choose from one of the two ride-hailing services operating in Singapore. Rivals Grab (App Store or Google Play Store) and Go-Jek (App Store or Google Play Store) provide no-frills ride-hailing and ride-sharing services. With user-friendly interfaces and upfront pricing, you can save your worries for squeezing in as many attractions as you can.

Travelling on a shoestring? Fret not, for Singapore’s public transport system is one of the most affordable in the world. Arm yourself with a reloadable EZ-Link card or the Singapore Tourist Pass, and hit the MRT lines like a pro!

Singapore Tourist Pass

Essential Mobile Apps: Navigation

If you choose to explore Singapore’s public transport system, there are many mobile apps available to ensure that you get to your destination efficiently.

Singapore Maps

Download the Singapore Maps mobile app (App Store or Google Play Store) for online and offline navigation for when you run out of data. If you like to plan ahead, you’ll love the bonus features, such as shop listings for hawker centres and shopping malls.


You might be familiar with Moovit (App Store or Google Play Store), which boasts a more user-friendly interface. If you’re taking the bus, it’ll also list down all the stops along the way so you don’t end up stranded in the unforgiving heat.


The Singapore government’s MyTransport.SG (App Store or Google Play Store) mobile app allows you to receive information on bus stops or traffic information near you. You can also choose to receive notifications about MRT or road alerts so you can reroute if required.


For the data-obsessed, CityMapper (App Store or Google Play Store) is a fantastic navigation app that provides real-time info and routes that account for heat and rain. With bus and MRT arrival times accounted for, lounge about for a few more precious minutes before heading out! Track your journeys and it’ll tell you how much money you’ve saved, how many trees you’ve saved, and how many plates of nasi lemak you’ve burned—so you can have more, of course.

Singapore Visitor Helpdesks

Here to shop? Want to learn about Singapore’s unique multicultural heritage? Tree hugger? Singapore has lots to offer—if you know where to look. For the uninitiated, the Singapore Visitor Centres are here to help. Located conveniently in Downtown Singapore, these centres are staffed with friendly officers who will answer all your questions about travelling in Singapore and even assist you with the nitty-gritty stuff like ticket bookings and itinerary customisation.


1. orchardgateway, 216 Orchard Road; nearest MRT—Somerset

2. ION Orchard, Level 1 Concierge; nearest MRT—Orchard

3. Chinatown Visitor Centre @ Kereta Ayer Square, 2 Banda Street (Behind Buddha Tooth Relic Temple); nearest MRT—Chinatown

4. Kampong Glam, 55 Bussorah Street; nearest MRT—Bugis

Essential Mobile Apps: Accommodation

After a long day out, it’s time for a good night’s rest. Thankfully, there are accommodation options to suit every traveller and budget.

If you haven’t already downloaded it, (App Store or Google Play Store) has a great mobile app for all your accommodation needs. From hostels to luxury hotels, feel free to take your pick.

Admittedly, private rooms in Singapore are expensive. For solo budget travellers, hostels are a great alternative. You’ll get to meet people, and for those who desire more privacy, capsule pods are the best inventions ever. Seriously. Here are the top 3 capsule hostels in Singapore to check out.

We hope you’ll find these essential mobile apps handy during your trip to Singapore!8