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When’s the best time to visit Singapore? This totally depends on the type of traveller that you are. Here are Tribe’s very own favourite times of the year and why.
Not a typically hot holiday season, simply because the rest of the world is back to work. Come if you want to soak in the atmosphere during the Chinese New Year and Thaipusam. The dates are not fixed as it follows the Lunar Calendar, so do check before you come.
CHINESE NEW YEAR
One week before the first day of the lunar new year, there are many festivities where the Chinese prepare for the new year by buying flowers, tangerines and plants. They do that for auspicious reasons. In fact, Chinese (not all) do almost everything for auspicious reasons. The names of the plants or flowers usually sounds similar to other words that signify health, prosperity, smooth passage, abundance, etc. You will find families buying certain cookies and snacks that are traditional snacks bought and given as gifts during the season. An example of that is pineapple tarts. Pineapple (ong lai) which sounds like “wealth coming in”, or fortune coming your way.
So come during this period to see a side of Singapore that surfaces only during this time. Better yet, if you have friends in Singapore that are kind enough to invite you to a reunion dinner on the eve of the first day, you will experience Singapore as a true local.
Looking to be a part of a festival quite unlike anything you’ve seen before? Come during the 10th (called Thai) Tamil month (usually January or February) to witness a Hindu festival celebrated by the Tamil community where devotees seek blessings, show their gratitude and fulfill their vows to their deity, Lord Murugan by performing a task in his name.
The most extreme of these offerings is by the piercing of their own flesh with metal hooks and skewers by carrying a kavadi. This is representative of the physical burden through which devotees implore for help from Lord Murugan to avert a great calamity. For instance, if a family’s relative is suffering from a disease, a devotee would pray dedicate a kavadi to Him and ask for a pardon of the sick relative’s life.
Looking beyond the spectacle that is Thaipusam for outsiders, for believers this is a very serious test of one’s faith. The preparation is almost as (if not more) important than the actual day itself. Kavadi-bearers cleanse themselves through prayer and adhere to strict rules such as the consumption of one vegetarian meal daily, sexual abstinence and a 24-hour fast on the eve of Thaipusam.
Besides kavadi-bearers, other devotees may shave their heads and carry a pot of milk or piercing of tongue, cheeks or skin with vel skewers as they begin the 4.5 kilometre procession from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Little India to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple (Chettiar Temple). If you’re visiting Singapore during Thaipusam and would like a private photography tour (maximum 3) with an expert, contact us at email@example.com. She’s been to the past several Thaipusams and knows exactly where and how to maneuver through the massive street crowd during the procession.
Not for the squeamish…
We think August 9, Singapore’s National Day is a great time to visit. So what’s so great about a ***ing parade you ask? Isn’t it just like any mega showcase of a nation’s progress? Yes, the earlier renditions of our National Day parades may be a muscle flexing show of strength as most new kids on the block are primed to do (remember also that these were nervy times of the 1960s). But not anymore. Or rather the significance of this annual parade has shifted to one of a celebration of our independence and expressions of unity of the Singapore identity.
So in the past couple of years, a discernible shift of a stronger national identity and bond amongst its people has taken root. Patriotism or open displays of it is now more the norm than the exception as can be seen by flags hanging from homes, cars, and painted faces. So if you like grand parades, fireworks, happy people singing Singapore songs, come during August 9. Majullah Singapura!
STANDARD CHARTERED MARATHON
Not quite as famous as the NY City Marathon, London or even the Boston Marathon, but the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore is fast catching up in reputation to its more illustrious cousins. Without fail, this is held on the first Sunday every December and has now peaked at 54,000 runners in 2013 from the race’s inaugural race in 1982 where 2,832 runners participated.
Runner or not, this race is hard to miss with a carnival like atmosphere and a strong contingent of 4,000 volunteers. The Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore is also known for its charity fund raising programmes towards worthy causes. If you’re here at other times of the year, you can also join us for a more leisurely run in one of Singapore’s most scenic run routes.
Started in 2000, ZoukOut is the largest outdoor beach party in Asia. Notable biggies of House, Techno, Trance, Electro, Hip-Hop like Ferry Corsten, Steve Aoki, Gilles Peterson, Carl Cox, Above & Beyond, Paul van Dyk, Arin van Buuren, and many more have thrilled their legions of fans with their signature sounds.
Serious clubbers plan their vacation to Singapore around this date, with many repeat diehards flying in from all over the world. These past years have seen a large increase in visitors from Australia, India and Europe. In the latest December 2013 edition, a record 41,000 clubbers partied over two nights till sunrise. Read more about clubs and other nocturnal activities for the party-goer.
[Best Months to Visit] is the opinion of the team at Tribe. As far as possible, we aim to give you an honest no-holds barred piece on when and why you should visit Singapore according to locals. For those who value authentic experiences the guidebooks and official tourism sites don’t tell you about.