Despite Singapore’s small size (just 50 by 26 kilometers), this is a country packed with history and personality. Singapore is one of world’s major commercial hubs, the fourth-largest financial center in the world and one of the five busiest ports. I recently came across an article about the 10 things that Singapore does better than anybody else. While I don’t necessarily agree that Singapore does things “better” than everybody else, I do think that they are an exceptional country, with plenty to offer. Here are some of Singapore’s highlights, as mentioned in the article:
1. High Net Worth: Singapore has the highest number of millionaires per capita in Asia, with 1 in 10 households containing a millionaire. In addition, Singapore’s gross domestic product per person is $61,577, the highest in the world. Thanks to low taxes and low crime rates, the country serves as a “safe harbor” for wealthy people around the world to keep their money.
2. Flamboyant Car Parking: Thanks to the country’s intense concentration of wealth, there’s a unique approach to parking cars. At the famed Hamilton Scotts apartment block, residents can drive their cars into an elevator and straight out into their condo.
3. Celebrations: Thanks to Singapore’s cultural and religious diversity, there always seems to be some sort of public holiday occurring. Popular holidays include the Chinese New Year, Vesak Day, Hari Raya Puasa, Deepvali, Thaipusam and the Hungry Ghost and mid-Autumn Festivals.
4. Colonial Architecture: A former British colony, the people of Singapore have done an exceptional job at preserving their colonial architecture. The island is dotted with large white buildings, such as hotels, Parliament Houses, schools, theaters and concert halls, left over from the 19th century. Unlike other former colonies in the region, many of the vestiges of the area’s colonial past have been perfectly maintained since the government began protecting heritage sites in 1971.
5. Striking Swimming Pools: While this might be a matter of opinion, many people believe that Singapore is home to the world’s most impressive swimming pool, sitting on top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Perched on the 57th floor of the building, this infinity pool is the world’s largest at this height, and at 495 feet, it’s over 3 times the length of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. While only hotel guests can swim in it, anybody can buy a ticket to look at it.
6. “Lah”: This unique interjection can be, and often is, added to the end of any sentence in Singapore. Thanks to its lack of a clear definition, its meaning can change depending on the sentence, being used to emphasize a point, soften a command or save words. It’s one of the most commonly used words in Singlish: a mixture of English, Cantonese, Hokkein, Malay and Tamil. Although some Singaporeans view this language, as well as “lah”, as an embarrassing crime against grammar, others recognize it as a colorful expression of the island nation’s multicultural nature.
7. Nighttime Grand Prix: Singapore hosts the only Formula One night race in the world, an event that consumes the entire island of Singapore for several weeks. Top international musicians are flown in to perform, and the race itself takes place on the last night of a circuit that goes through the heart of the city.
8. Street Food: Even though Singapore is filled with celebrity chef restaurants, there’s plenty of cheap food as well, and the Singaporeans have an extremely orderly approach to street food. Instead of random street stalls, vendors are grouped together in organized outdoor hawker centers, and each stall is rated according to hygiene.
9. Man-Made Gardens: The lavish Gardens by the Bay took a staggering four years and $1 billion to create. There are over 500,000 plants and flowers from everywhere around the world in the sprawling park, partially thanks to two massive domed conservatories made to mimic different climates.
10. Neatness: Thanks to strict laws about littering and graffiti, as well as notorious bans on chewing gum and spitting, Singapore is unique in being a grime-free city. Even its public transport train is clean.