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Taipei Taiwan Travel Guide – Deals

Quick Links:

A – Overview

B – City information

C – Attractions & Things To Do

D – Family Fun Attractions

E – Events & Entertainments

F – Taipei Travel Deals

A – Overview

Taipei, capital of Taiwan, is a city of high rise office buildings, modern condominiums, and department stores.  It is also a city of beauty, culture, tradition, and sophistication.  It holds 1,000 years of priceless Chinese history in its hillside vaults.

 taipei overview

The historical treasures of mainland China were transported piece by piece to caves to preserve them during wartime.  620,000 of these pieces are now exhibited in the National Palace Museum on a rotating basis, with the others remaining in storage.   Most of the porcelain, jade, lacquer, bronze, and other remarkable objects were once part of the Chinese imperial collection.  The National Palace Museum is considered one of the world’s four best museums.

 

The Lungshan Temple is a center of worship for deities from several faiths. The front court is devoted to the Buddhist goddess of mercy, the rear court to the Taoist goddess of the sea, and niches throughout the temple to many others. Nearby Hsiyuan Road is filled with stalls selling religious images and goods.

 

The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is an impressive sight.  The gracefully designed building is bordered by extensive gardens, areas for rest and contemplation, and fish ponds.  It is a gathering place for walks and for kite flying.

 

The nightlife of Taipei is vibrant and entertaining. Don’t miss the Night Market with its myriad stalls offering everything imaginable.  Fine restaurants, classical music performances, modern art, traditional Beijing opera, and lively nightclubs all operate in harmony.  As for the cuisine, it is superb.  Visitors can enjoy regional specialties from all parts of China.

 

Outside the city there are several day trips that are of interest.  Yangmingshan is a mountain range at the north end of the city, and a great place for hiking and a visit to a hot springs resort. On the opposite side of town, to the south, is the Sungshan Nature Reserve. Its mountain hiking trails extend into lush forest.   Thirty minutes outside Taipei is the seaside resort of Jio Fun. The shore is lined with teahouses, each offering the world’s best view along the coast.

 

Taiwan’s culture is a blend of its distinctive Chinese heritage and Western influences. Fine arts, folk traditions, and popular culture embody traditional and modern Asian, and Western motifs. The beautiful temples are the setting for colorful folk festivals.

 

Taipei is a source of fascination and excitement in every aspect.  A day in Taipei will be treasured forever.

B – City information

Population:  2.63 million

Time Zone: GMT + 8

Telephone: Country Code: +886;  Area Code: 2

Language:  Mandarin Chinese is the official language in Taiwan, though other dialects are also spoken. Many people can speak some English, but most taxi drivers do not speak English.

 

Average Temperatures:

 

 Month  

   High

 Low

January  

   66F  

  54F

February

   65F

  53F

March  

   70F  

  57F

April  

   77F

  63F  

May  

   83F

  69F  

June  

   89F

  73F 

July  

   92F

  76F  

August  

   91F  

  75F

September  

   88F

  73F

October  

   81F

  67F

November  

   75F

  62F

December  

   69F

  57F

 

When to Visit:  Taipei experiences the tropical monsoon climate of the southern Chinese mainland.   More rain falls from May-September than at other times of the year.  From July-September typhoons are experienced over the South China Sea.  The summer heat is accompanied by high humidity.  Winter and Spring are usually very pleasant.  Sunshine averages 6 hours per day in winter, and of course longer in summer.

Holidays:

Founding Day                                       Jan. 1-3

Chinese New Year* (date varies)             Late January/early Feb.

Youth Day                                            March 29

Tomb Sweeping Day                             April 5

Dragon Boat Festival*                           June 13

Mid-Autumn Festival*                             Sept. 20

Teachers’ Day                                       Sept. 28

National Day                                         Oct. 10

Taiwan Retrocession Day                       Oct. 25

Chiang Kai-shek’s Birthday                     Oct. 31

Sun Yat-sen’s Birthday                          Nov. 12

Constitution Day                                   Dec. 25

* Date varies based on Chinese lunar calendar

Currency:  Taiwan dollar (yuan).

Business Hours:  Monday-Friday, 9:00AM-5:00PM; Saturday:  9:00AM – Noon

Post Office:  Ai I Road

Shopping Specialties:  jewelry, carved stones, electronics.

Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz; two-pin plugs are standard

Internet:  At the end of 2005, half of Taipei had access to Wi-Fly, the city’s public wireless Internet service; coverage is expected to be 90 percent by the end of 2006. Wi-Fly costs 100 Taiwan dollars a day. Zaka cafe, 37 Lane 177, Dunhua South Road, Section 1, (886-2) 2773-7009 will supply you with both internet café and coffee. 

 

Getting There:

By Air

Planes arrive and depart from Chiang Kai-shek International Airport just outside Taipei. 

Taipei‘s International Airport is well-served by international flights. All Asian countries have flights to Taipei, with many inter-continental flights available as well. It is customary for international airlines to reconfigure their names in Taipei to avoid offending the Chinese.   British Airways becomes British Asia Airways, etc.  

 

By Cruise Ship: 

Large cruise ships dock at the Port of Keelung in northern Taiwan, on the east China Sea.  This is about 40 minutes from Taipei.

 

Getting Around:  The Taipei Metro covers virtually the whole city and runs from 6 a.m. to midnight. Fares depend on how far you’re going, and an all-day pass is a bargain.

 

By Taxi

Taxis are plentiful and fairly cheap.

 

By Bus and Train:  Taipei has an extensive city and regional bus service, and four major bus terminals.  There is excellent service to other parts of Taiwan. The bus and train networks are both extensive.   With frequent departures and arrivals and on-time service.

C – Attractions & Things To Do

taipei attractions

National Palace Museum

221 Chihshan Rd Section 2

Open  9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 365 days a year. .

Directions:

Take bus 213, 255, or 304. Each bus passes the museum.

National Palace Museum is home to the largest collection of Chinese artifacts, approximately 720,000 in total. Only 15,000 can be displayed at a given time due to space limitations; however, the exhibits are rotated every three months. The collection was previously exhibited in Beijing’s Forbidden City before being shipped to Keelong, Taiwan by the KMT in 1949. At that time, the KMT were being defeated in China,  and they feared the collection would be destroyed. The collection was stored in hillside caves for protection.

 

Lungshan Temple

Built in 1740, Lungshan Temple serves as both a religious and community center for local residents. Several different deities are worshipped at the Temple, and there are many festivals held there during the course of the year which are particularly lively occasions. 

 

Peace Park

Huaining St

The Peace Park commemorates the anti- Kuomintang protesters and innocent bystanders killed in 1947. The park is now a tranquil spot for relaxation with a lake, a pagoda, a pavilion, and shady trees.

 

National Theatre

21-1 Zhong-shan South Road, Chung Cheng District, Taipei

Tel: +886 2 3393 9888

The National Theatre is one of two buildings that compose the National Chiang Kai-shek Cultural Centre. Demonstrating the artistic concepts of classical Chinese architecture, the National Theatre is based on the beautiful Ta-ho Hall. The dazzling theatre offers celebrated opera and theatre performances year-round.

 

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

21 Zhong-shan South Road, Chung Cheng District, Taipei

Tel: +886 2 2343 1100 | Fax: +886 2 2393 2740

The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is constructed of white marble, with a red cypress ceiling, light red granite floor and a large, blue-tiled roof. The memorial is surrounded by an extensive, 25-hectare garden.

 

National Museum of History

49 Nan-hai Road, Taipei

Tel: +886 2 2361 0270 | Fax: +886 2 2331 1086

A fine collection of artefacts and art is displayed in this museum, which is within the splendid Botanical Gardens of Taipei. The museum offers a variety of exhibits that provide an understanding of the culture and history of China.

 

Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall

505 Jen-ai Road, Section 4, Taipei

Tel: +886 2 2758 8008 | Fax: +886 2 2758 4847

The Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall is an interesting place for history buffs as it is stocked with many photographs taken during the early part of the 20th century in mainland China.

 

Taipei Fine Arts Museum

181 Zhong-shan North Road, Section 3, Taipei

Tel: +886 2 2595 7656 | Fax: Fax: +886 2 2594 4104

The museum specialises in Taiwanese works of art, along with works by overseas Chinese and those who represent important trends in 20th- and 21st-century art. It also mounts exhibitions of modern and contemporary art from Taiwan and abroad.

 

Postal Museum

45 Chongqing S Rd, Sec 2

Tel: 03 2394 5185 (info)

Hours: Tue-Sun 9:00am-5:00pm

This museum showcases around 80,000 stamps from over 120 countries, postal uniforms, hardware and signage from 30 countries, along with models of Taiwanese mail-delivery methods (such as a buffalo-skin raft).  There are six floors.

 

Shihlin Night Market

Chung Shan North Road, Section 4

Nearest Train Station Chientan & Shihlin Stations

Neighborhood Shih Lin District

Opening Hours Afternoon to early morning daily.   Credit Cards not Accepted

This lively night market is just minutes away from the downtown area. The market is the largest and oldest in Taipei.

It has carnival games and a great selection of shops selling clothing, shoes, jewelry, tourist gifts, tools, pets, and much more.

 

Taipei Municipal Stadium

Downtown sports facility

10, Nan Jing East Road, Section 4

Taipei 104

+886 (0)2 2570 2330

Nearest Train Station Nanking Fuhsing Station

Neighborhood Chung Shan District

Opening Hours 6am-11pm daily (main stadium); times for other facilities vary

Taipei’s biggest stadium is located in the vast sporting complex that also houses Taipei Baseball Stadium, indoor and outdoor basketball facilities, flood-lit tennis courts, a swimming pool and the Taipei Physical Education Institute.

The main stadium offers a recently refitted athletic track, which is open to the public seven days a week. Call ahead for information.

 

The Martyrs’ Shrine

139 Bei-An Road

(886-2) 2885-4162

This Ming Dynasty style shrine honors Taiwan’s fallen heroes, and attracts crowds hourly for the changing of the guard.

 

Taiwan Storyland

50 Zhongxiao Road, Section 1

(886-2) 2388-7158

 Recreation of a typical small Taiwanese town circa 1965 is displayed  in the basement of the technology-focused K Mall. This is the “Made in Taiwan” era of yesteryear, with a doctor’s office, a classroom, a camera store, a general store, a cinema, a Black Cat bar, and  several restaurants.

 

Taipei 101

7 Xinyi Road, Section 5

(886-2) 8101-8898

This is currently the world’s tallest building, a 1,671-foot giant.  A trip to the 89th floor costs a little less than one to the 91st-floor observation deck.  There is an upscale mall on the lower deck.

D – Family Fun Attractions

Taiwan Storyland

50 Zhongxiao Road, Section 1

(886-2) 2388-7158

 Recreation of a typical small Taiwanese town circa 1965 is displayed  in the basement of the technology-focused K Mall. This is the “Made in Taiwan” era of yesteryear, with a doctor’s office, a classroom, a camera store, a general store, a cinema, a Black Cat bar, and  several restaurants.

 

The Taipei Municipal Children’s Recreation Center

(02) 2593- 2211 Ext. 211

No. 66, Sec. 3, ChungShan N. Rd

Taipei  104

Nearest Train Station Yuanshan

Neighborhood Chung Shan District

Opening Hours 9-5 Daily  Admission charged.  Credit cards not accepted.

The Center is built on the combined site of the former Yuanshan Zoo and Children’s Amusement Park. Its name was changed to The Taipei Municipal Children’s Recreation Center in 1984. In recent years there has been a complete overhaul and renovation of the park. 

It is a recreational center that provides education and amusement.  The layout is amazing with much attention to detail. 

The Center is divided into three theme areas with different characters: “World of Yesterday”, “Amusement World” and ” World of Tomorrow”.

 

The World of Yesterday offers visitors the life experience of the ancestors. It was officially opened to the public in January 1st 1991. It is sub-divided into:  The Mythical World; a children’s play area, a folk art/handicrafts area, a folk arts culture area, and the Yuanshan Archeological Site Exhibition room.

 

Amusement World focuses mainly on the recreational activities of children and teenagers and has a number of amusement park rides that appeal to these age groups.

 

The World of Tomorrow emphasizes the introduction of updated scientific knowledge. The Space Theatre was opened to the public in August 1992. The area contains:  the space theatre; a  parent and children’s fun area, a children’s science exhibition floor, and a “take a break” rest area.   

 

These three areas present different styles and features of “folklore”, “amusement” and “science”.

E – Events & Entertainments

Late January/or early February

Taipei Lantern Festival

On the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar, a second “New Year” celebration takes place throughout the city. Children carry lanterns illustrated with legendary heroes, birds and beasts to Taipei’s temples. It is a competition, of sorts, for favor from the “God of Heaven,” whose birth this Lantern Festival, Shang Yuan, commemorates. The largest gathering of lanterns is at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, an event so popular that the city fathers have extended it with various Lantern Exhibitions running through the following week.

 

taiwan lantern festival

The event combines traditional arts with modern technology, using light and music effects to display the lanterns to best advantage. Thousands of  lanterns are strung along the length of Jenai Road, lighting up Taipei City at night.

 

Mid March

Lao Tse’s Birthday

Every year; the 15th day of the 2nd month in the Chinese lunar calendar, the birthday of the founding sage of Taoism, Lao Tse, is celebrated by Taoist practitioners throughout the world.

The date of Lao Tse’s birthday is calculated according to the Chinese lunar calendar. The dates change from year to year.

 

Mid April

Parade of the God of Medicine

This celebration  takes place four days before the God of Medicine’s actual birthday on the 15th day of the third lunar month.  It is one of the most visually stunning and vibrant parades in Taiwan, if not the whole of the Far East. The center of the celebrations, which are spread throughout the more than 160 temples of the god in Taiwan, are the temples of Pao Sheng in Taipei and the Temple of Ching Tzu in Hseuhchia.

The incredible procession at Ching Tzu Temple is more than 3km (2 miles) long and is composed of a huge number of dancing troupes, priests, pilgrims and costumed musicians. There are around 21 traditional floats decorated with flowers, each containing a figure from legend or story, as well as a number of huge statues of the medicine god himself, carried on sedan chairs on the shoulders of pilgrims. The highlight of the parade is always the performance put up by the various theatrical and dancing troupes, the Chen Tou, of which up to 78 participate at one time, showing off their talents in a suitably flamboyant manner.

The parade is headed by a group called the Centipedes and as the procession gets underway worshippers throw themselves on the ground in front of them to be trampled, in order to exorcise evil spirits and demons.

+886 (0) 2 2349 1500

 

Late July-Late Aug

Ghost Month Festival and Quianggu

in Taiwan, believers claim that spirits of the dead return, demanding sacrifice, entertainment and appeasement from the living, for an entire month.

 

From the first day of the Ghost Month, the living set up lavish feasts and opera performances to entertain the dead, burning paper money (more than 220,000 tons of paper money are burned in Taiwan every year for the festival!) to keep them happy. 

The festivities peak  on the 15th day of the month, when there are huge feasts in temples throughout Taiwan and the priests chant prayers for the dead to enable them to transcend their present condition. The festival is dedicated in part to those dead who do not have families to pray for and look after them, to enable them too to transcend to higher levels of the afterlife through sacrifice and prayer..

It is traditional in Taiwan to sacrifice a pig and a sheep for these feasts and offer them up to the invisible dead in attendance. During the feasts the cityscapes of Taiwan, particularly the temple courtyards, are transformed by tall lights set up on bamboo poles, lit to light the way for the dead. Hundreds and thousands of little floating lights are also set adrift on rivers and bodies of water, to appease the spirits of the drowned, who might otherwise return to claim new victims.

Keelung hosts the most important of the Ghost Month celebrations, with parades and elaborate feasts at Tsu Pu Tan Temple in Chung Cheng Park. The largest festivals in Taiwan are held in this area on the seventh day of the month and again at the end of the month.

+886 (0) 2 2349 1500.

 

Mid September

Moon Festival

The Taiwanese celebrate the year’s finest moon with cakes and contemplation.

For years the lunar calendar was reflected in the cycles of the soil, while the autumn moon marked the end of the agricultural year; a time to celebrate and reflect.

The Moon festival is the occasion for consumption of the famous moon cakes. Traditionally filled with red bean paste, these are presented to friends and family to mark the occasion. When darkness comes, the parks around Taipei fill with families and couples seeking to enjoy the full moon.

+886 (0) 2 2349 1500.

 

Ceremonies In Commemoration of Confucius at the Confucius Temple

The sage Confucius was China’s greatest teacher. The anniversary of his birthday is celebrated on September 28 each year. Solemn ceremonies are held at the Confucius Temple; schoolchildren perform a ritual dance in honor of Confucius on the platform outside the Ta Ch’eng Hall. 

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Singapore Travel Guide – Deals

Quick Links:

A – Overview

B – City information

C – Attractions & Things To Do

D – Family Fun Attractions

E – Events & Entertainments

F – Singapore Travel Deals

Overview

 
 Though physically small, Singapore is an economic giant. It has been Southeast Asia’s most modern city for over a century. The city blends Malay, Chinese, Arab, Indian and English cultures and religions. Its unique ethnic tapestry affords visitors a wide array of sightseeing and culinary opportunities from which to choose. A full calendar of traditional festivals and holidays celebrated throughout the year adds to its cultural appeal. In addition, Singapore offers luxury hotels, delectable cuisine and great shopping! 

singapore green complex

The island nation of the Republic of Singapore lies one degree north of the Equator in Southern Asia. The country includes the island of Singapore and 58 or so smaller islands. Because of its efficient and determined government, Singapore has become a flourishing country that excels in trade and tourism and is a model to developing nations. The capital city, also called Singapore, covers about a third of the area of the main island. 

Located at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, Singapore’s tropical climate welcomes both leisure and business travelers year round. The island republic’s excellent infrastructure enables visitors to enjoy its many sites and attractions in a safe, clean and green environment. Award winning Changi Airport provides airlinks to major cities around the world. The train and subway systems are clean, fast and efficient. In addition, its state-of-the-art cruise terminal has established Singapore as one of the premier cruising centers of South East Asia and an exciting port of call on any Asian cruise itinerary.

In the city, there is no need for a car. Public transportation is excellent and walking is a good way to explore the city . All major attractions are also accessible by tour bus. Since the city is only 60 miles (100k) from the equator, the tropical temperatures do not vary much. Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed through the year. No matter when you choose to visit, warm weather will be abundantly available. The visitor is struck immediately by Singapore’s abundance of parks, nature reserves, and lush, tropical greenery.

Singapore’s progress over the past three decades has been remarkable, yet the island has not been overwhelmed by development. Visitors will discover a wealth of historical treasures from the past, in the beauty of older buildings, values and traditions that have survived in the face of profound social and geographical change.

Lacking any noteworthy natural resources, Singapore’s early prosperity was based on a vigorous free trade policy, put in place in 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles first established it as a British trading post. Later, mass industrialization bolstered the economy, and today the state boasts the world’s second busiest port after Rotterdam, minimal unemployment, and a super efficient infrastructure. Almost the entire population lives in upscale new apartments, and the average per capita income is over US$12,000. Singapore is a clean, safe place to visit, its amenities are second to none and its public places are smoke-free and hygienic.

Forming the core of downtown Singapore is the Colonial District. Each surrounding enclave has its own distinct flavor, from the aromatic spice stores of Little India, to the tumbledown backstreets of Chinatown, where it is still possible to find calligraphers and fortune tellers, or the Arab Quarter, whose cluttered stores sell fine cloths and silks.

North of the city, are two nature preserves, Bukit Timah and the Central Catchment Area, along with the splendid Singapore Zoological Gardens. The east coast features good seafood restaurants set on long stretches of sandy beach. In addition there are over fifty islands and islets within Singaporean waters, all of which can be reached with varying degrees of ease. Day trips are popular to Sentosa, the island amusement arcade which is linked to the south coast by a short causeway and cable car. Music, theater, nightlife: all are abundant in this remarkable city. Singapore used to be considered a “stop over” on the way to larger Asian cities. This is no longer true! Visitors seek out Singapore for business and finance and also for a fascinating and satisfying vacation for the whole family.

  

B – City information

Population:
2,700,000

Area:
238.6 square miles (618.1sq. km)

Time Zone:
Greenwich Mean Time plus eight hours; Time in Singapore is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in New York. (13 hours ahead of central time in Chicago, etc.)

International Dialing Code:
International Access Code: 106 for Malaysia (before the country code), 104 for other countries in the area. Country Code 65 City Codes not required.

Emergency Numbers:
Ambulance: 995
Fire: 995
Police: 999

Passports:
Valid passport or internationally recognized travel document and an onward/return ticket are required of all visitors.

Visas:
Visas are not required for most nationals of non-communist countries for social visits of under 14 days. Visitors arriving as tourists are given a 14-day social visit pass on arrival. As regulations may change from time to time, international visitors are encouraged to check with the nearest Singapore overseas mission before departure.

Currency:
The currency unit is the Singapore dollar (S$). Coins are in denominations of: 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of: $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 and $10,000. Brunei notes are interchangeable with Singapore notes and are quite common. The best exchange rate can be obtained at banks, or at bank ATM machines through credit cards. Just as in the US, it is best to use an ATM outside or inside a bank (in case the ATM card should be retained for any reason by the machine).

Tipping:
Tipping is not usual in Singapore. The staff at large international hotels may, however, expect tips.

Bargaining:
It is wise to become acquainted with prices so that you can bargain effectively at small shops that do not have fixed prices. Some merchants add only a small mark up over their cost; others add on a greater percentage

Customs Regulations:
Contact Head, Terminal Section Airports Branch Customs & Excise Department, Singapore Changi Airport Changi Airport P.O. Box 5 Singapore 9181 Tel: 5459122 or 5427058 for information Or The Customs Officer Singapore Changi Airport Tel: 5412572 or your nearest Singapore Overseas Mission.

Average Temperatures:

    F  
    High Low
Jan. – March   88 73
April – June   90 75
July – Sept.   88 73
Oct. – Dec.   88 73

The climate in Singapore is tropical, with an average daytime temperature around 80ºF. Evening temperatures are only slightly lower. Rainstorms occur on about 40% of all days in Singapore. Rainstorms are usually short and intense, and because of the tropical air temperatures, the rain is warm.

Useful measurements:
1 cm 0.39 inches 1 meter 3.28 feet / 1.09 yards
1 km 0.62 miles
1 liter 0.26 gallons
1 inch 2.54 cm
1 foot 0.39 meters
1 yard 0.91 meters
1 mile 1.60 km
1 gallon 3.78 liters

National Holidays:
January 1 – New Year’s Day 
Two days: Jan. or Feb. – Lunar(Chinese) New Year 
January (date varies each year) – Hari Raya Puasa 
March (date varies) – Hari Raya Haji
April (date varies according to date of (Easter – Good Friday)
April or May Wesak Day
May 1 – Labor Day 
August 9 – National Day
November (date varies) – Deepavali 
December 25 – Christmas Day

Electricity:
Singapore has 230 voltage:
To use a 110/120 volt appliance (U.S. appliance) where there is only 220/240 power available, you must use a step down or combination converter. Your appliance’s wattage and circuitry will dictate the converter you need to purchase. 
Dual Voltage Appliances are recommended. They are designed to work with both 110/120 or 220/240 volt electricity and tend to work better than using a converter with an existing appliance.

Modem/Phone Adapter Plugs for Singapore:
Singapore has the following telephone jack(s): RJ11, TUK Non-RJ11 jacks require an outlet adapter for use with the U.S. RJ11 phone plug. Phone adapter plugs can be used in reverse to adapt the Singapore phone plug to the RJ11 outlet.

Visitors with disabilities:
Please contact:
Handicaps Welfare Association, 
16 Whampoa Drive, (behind Block 102),
Singapore 327725. 
Tel : (65) 254 3006

How to get around:

Cars:
a car is not necessary in Singapore as there is an excellent public transportation system. If you decide on using a car, rentals can be obtained from any of the international firms, or from local car hire firms. You will need both a national and international license. The law requires driving on the left side of the road and wearing a seat belt. Parking is expensive in the city.

Taxis:
Taxis can be hailed from the street or, for an additional cost, called on the telephone. Taxi drivers are not given tips.

Trains:
Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system is a new, clean and easy way to travel. The train consists of two main lines that run north-south and east-west. Coin-operated ticket-dispensing machines are located inside the main doors at each station. Money-changing machines for changing paper money to coins are located opposite the ticket machines. Enter the platform through the gates marked with green arrows. There the ticket is inserted, arrow first (and facing up). The machine will open the gate and return the ticket. The same procedure is followed at the destination, except that the ticket will not be returned.

Buses:
There are two types of buses in Singapore: the Singapore Bus Service and the Trans-Island Bus Service. You can purchase a Singapore Explorer ticket that will allow you to travel anywhere for up to three days. The ticket comes with a useful map with details on major tourist destinations and whcih service to use to get there. For more information. pick up the “See Singapore by Bus” pamphlet from the STPB (Singapore Tourist Promotion Board) in Raffles City.

Ships and Ferries:
Ferry and water taxi services depart from Cliff Pier, Jardine Steps and the World Trade Centre for travel to Singapore’s outlying islands.

Bukit-Panjang LRT (SLRT):
This automated elevated people mover line started operation on 6 Nov 1999 and connects the MRT station at Choa-Chu-Kang with the new town of Bukit Panjang. Service is provided on a double track loop line every 6 minutes (2-4 minutes during rush hours) from 5:00 to 1:00. The lines are operated by SMRT (Subway operator).

Apart from station names shown in English, stations are also numbered. Between City Hall (C2) and Raffles Place (C1) there are four tracks, both stations allow comfortable transfer between lines on the same platform, City Hall in direction north/east and Raffles Place south/west. Trains operate 5:30am – 12:30am

Airport:
Changi Airport in Singapore is 10 miles (6km) from the city center and is accessible by shuttle, bus and taxi.
Its two terminals, connected by the Skytrain monorail, are modern, efficient and air-conditioned. The airport boasts a 24-hr post office and telephone service, hotel reservations counters, day rooms, saunas, and business and internet centres. There’s also a McDonald’s, a Swenson’s ice cream parlour and, in Terminal One’s basement, a food court. 
However, there isn’t usually enough time to take advantage of these many amenities. Baggage comes through so quickly at Changi that you can be on a bus or in a taxi within fifteen minutes of arrival. Be sure to pick up one of the free maps and weekly “What’s On” guides that the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board (STPB) leaves at the airport.

Bus departure points in the basements of both terminals are well marked, but make sure you have got the right change before you leave the concourse, as Singapore bus drivers don’t give change Take the #16 bus(every 10min, 6am-midnight). 
If you arrive in the early evening, you could also take advantage of the faster #16e (every 12min, 5-8pm: 
A private company, Airbus, runs a shuttle into town (every 20min, 7am-midnight). Its air-conditioned buses traveling straight into the city centre before circuiting each of the three hotel enclaves
Taxis from the airport levy a surcharge on top of the fare. Again, pick-up points are well marked: a trip into downtown Singapore takes twenty minutes There are also car rental agencies at the airport, though you’d be advised not to travel around Singapore by car.

 

C – Attractions & Things To Do

 

singapore attractions

City Hall 
St. Andrew’s Road near the Padang
This is where Lord Louis Mountbatten accepted the Japanese surrender in 1945, and where Lee Kuan Yew declared Singapore’s independence from Britain in 1959.

CN West Leisure Park
9 Japanese Garden Road
Tel 261-4771 
Water slides, bumper boats and other amusement attractions.

Guiness World of Records
World Trade Center
Facts and feats displayed in exhibits.

Haw Par Villa Dragon World
262 Pasir Panjang Road
Tel 774-0300 
9am-6pm daily
MRT to Buina Vista station and bus 200 to Haw Par Villa
A Chinese mythological theme park featuring age-old silent statues, exhilarating rides, live performances and theatre shows. A roller coaster ride is very popular, but the main attractions are the telling and reenacting of the myths and the famous statues.

Jurong Bird Park
Jurong Hill
Jurong Town
Tel 265-0022 
9am-6pm Mon-Fri. 8am-6pm weekends.
MRT to Boon Lay station and special loop bus 194 to No.251

This park features more than 5,000 birds from all over the world in a lush parkland setting.

Jurong Crocodile Paradise
Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim 
Jurong Town 
9am-6pm daily
Same transport as to Jurong Bird Park
A crocodile farm featuring underwater viewing areas and crocodile wrestling shows daily.

 

Tang Dynasty City
Yuan Ching Road and Jalan Ahmad Ibrihim
MRT to the Lakeside station and then bus 154 or 240
9:30am-6:30pm
Admission charged
This multimillion dollar theme park is a recreation of the Tang Dynasty capital which was the center of China’s golden age from the 6th to 8th centuries. Behind the high walls the main street features a courthouse, geisha house, shops, temples, restaurants and theaters. Camel rides, craft demonstrations, antique displays are all part of the experience. The park has shops selling refreshments, antiques, a wax museum of Chinese notables, kung fu demonstrations and other street performances.

Kusu Island
Kusu is located 7 km (4.5 miles) south of Singapore
Take the ferry from the World Trade Center.
A small island that, according to legend, was a turtle and transformed itself into land to save drowning sailors.

Little India
Serangoon Road
An area full of stores, restaurants and antique dealers specializing in Indian goods

Sentosa Island
Ferries running from World Trade Center in daily 7:30am – 10pm
A former military base, this island is now devoted to entertaining its guests. Within the island are museums, gardens, a butterfly park, swimming lagoons, golf courses, a large roller skating rink and various rides.

Underwater World at
Sentosa Island
Tel 275-0030 
Asia’s largest tropical oceanarium.

Botanic Gardens
Intersection of Holland Road and Napier Street World-famous tropical gardens where you can enjoy lush greenery and a beautiful orchid garden..

Chinese Garden and Japanese Garden
Yuan Ching Road
MRT to Chinese Garden station
Jurong 
Mon-Sat. 9am-7pm Sunday 8:30am-7pm
Over 35 acres (14 hectares) of beautiful scenery. Stone gardens, bonsai display, goldfish ponds, stone lanterns and small pagodas. Very colorful, pavilions, bridge, beautiful setting.

Mandai Orchid Gardens
Mandai Lake Road
A lush tropical orchid garden created in an area usually not particularly suited to orchid plants.

Chinaman Scholars Gallery
14B Trengannu St. 
Chinatown 
Tel 222-9554 
Daily 9am-4pm
Admission charged
this living museum is designed to look like a Cantonese home of the 1930’s. It includes authentic clothing, furnishings, artifacts, photographs and musical instruments.

National Museum
Stamford Road 
Tel 337-7355 
This museum has extensive collections focusing on regional history, cultures and crafts. Exhibits include archaeological finds from the Asian region, articles relating to Chinese settlement and trade, Malaysian and Indonesian arts and crafts. It also has superb examples of jade including the 380 piece Haw Par jade collection.

New Ming Village and Pewter Museum
49A Duxton Road 
Tel 221-4436
MRT to Clementi Road and then bus 78 to Pandan Road
Free admission.
8:30am-5:30pm
Examples of both old and modern works are on display here. Reproductions of porcelain from the Ming and Qing dynasties are crafted here. Watch craftsmen at work. there is also a small pewter museum.

Chettiar Hindu Temple
Tank and River Valley Roads. 
Open daily 8-noon and 5:30-8:30. 
This structure housing the image of Lord Subramaniam is a recent (1984) replacement of the original, built in the 19th century. The 21-meter-high gopuram (pyramidal gateway tower), with its colorful sculptures of godly manifestations, is astounding. The chandelier-lit interior is lavishly decorated; 48 painted-glass panels are inset in the ceiling and angled to reflect the sunrise and sunset.

Raffles Hotel
1 Beach Rd., Colonial Singapore
(dress standards apply)
Admission charged.
In 1896, the Armenian Sarkies brothers took over a “tiffin house,” or tearoom, and greatly expanded it, transforming it into one of the grandest hotels in Asia. Though rarely under British management, the hotel was long viewed as a bastion of colonialism. The hotel is no longer open for tours, but visitors can stroll around the lobby, and can visit the museum of Raffles memorabilia on the third floor; attend the multimedia show on the hotel’s history at the Jubilee Hall playhouse (show times are at 10,11,12:30 and 1. ) It is also possible to take refreshment in a reproduction of the Long Bar, where the famous Singapore sling was created in 1903 by the bartender Ngiam Tong Boon High tea is served daily in the Tiffin Room.

St. Andrew’s Cathedral
Coleman St. and St. Andrew’s St., Colonial Singapore.
The first church on this site was built in 1834; struck twice by lightning, it was demolished in 1855. Indian convicts were brought in to construct a new cathedral in 12th-century English Gothic style. Completed in 1862, the structure includes bells cast by the same firm that made Big Ben.

Cathedral Of the Good Shepherd
Queen Street
A solid neoclassical building constructed from 1843-1846, this is the Catholic Cathedral.

Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Race Course Rd., Little India. 
This is popularly known as the Temple of 1,000 Lights because, for a small donation, you can pull a switch that lights countless bulbs around a 15-meter (50-ft) Buddha. The entire temple, as well as the Buddha statue, was built by the Thai monk Vutthisasala, who also procured relics for the temple: a mother-of-pearl-inlaid cast of the Buddha’s footprint and a piece of bark from the bodhi tree under which he received Enlightenment.

Sri Mariamman Temple
South Bridge Rd. and Temple St., Chinatown
In the center of Chinatown, this is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. Its pagoda-like entrance is topped by one of the most ornate gopurams (pyramidal gateway towers) you are ever likely to see. Hundreds of brightly colored statues of deities and mythical animals line the tiers of this towering porch; glazed cement cows sit, seemingly in great contentment, atop the surrounding walls.

Sultan Mosque
North Bridge Rd., Arab District.
5am-8:30pm
Built in 1928 by the same architects who designed the Victoria Memorial Hall, the Sultan Mosque is a dramatic building with golden domes and minarets that glisten in the sunlight. The walls of the vast prayer hall are adorned with green and gold mosaic tiles on which passages from the Qur’an are written in decorative Arab script. It is the largest mosque in Singapore.

Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness)
Telok Ayer St., Chinatown 
Completed in 1841, this Chinese temple is one of Singapore’s oldest and largest. Thian Hock Keng is richly decorated with gilded carvings, sculptures, tiled roofs, and fine carved stone pillars. Outside, on either side of the entrance, are two stone lions: the female holding a cup, symbolizing fertility, and the male holding a ball, a symbol of wealth. Inside, a statue of a maternal Ma Chu P’oh, surrounded by masses of burning incense and candles, dominates the room. While the main temple is Taoist, the temple at the back is Buddhist and dedicated to Kuan Yin, the goddess of mercy.

Armenian Church
Armenian St., Colonial Singapore. 
Officially the Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator and the oldest surviving church in the republic, this church was built in 1835 but is no longer used for services. The Armenians are another minority group who came to Singapore in search of fortune; a dozen wealthy families supplied the funds for George Coleman, Irish architect of many early Singapore buildings, to design this church.

Botanic Gardens
Corner of Napier and Cluny Rds.
tel. 471-9955 or 471-9937 (Ranger’s office)
Admission free
Open weekdays 5 am-12 midnight. These beautifully maintained 127 year old gardens cover some 74 acres, with a large lake, masses of shrubs and flowers, and examples of many species of trees, including 30-meter-high fan palms. An extensive orchid bed boasts 250 varieties, some of them very rare.

Sunday Bird Singing
Tiong and Seng Poh Roads, next to the Havelock Road Hotel
MRT to Tiong Bahru station and walk east 500 meters
or bus 123 from Orchard Road
Sunday mornings 8-11
Songbird owners bring their caged birds to the gathering and hang the cages on wires strung between the trees. Birds are grouped according to the timbre of their voices. Owners and visitors then gather at tables, sip coffee, and listen to the concert!

Changi Prison
Upper Changi Rd., East Coast,
543-0893
Chapel and museum open Mon.-Sat. 10 am-5 pm (Closed Sunday). 
Built in 1927 by the British, and used by the Japanese in World War II to inter some 70,000 prisoners of war; today it is still a prison. A few organized tours can take you into a part of the prison on weekdays and possibly through the old British barracks areas to the former RAF camp at Changi. The walls of the Changi Prison Chapel hold poignant memorial plaques to the regiments and individuals imprisoned here during the war. Next door is the Chapel Prison Museum, with drawings, sketches, and photographs by the POWs depicting their wartime experiences. One of their murals is especially poignant, conveying a spirit of hope in the midst of despair.

Empress Place
1 Empress Pl., Colonial Singapore
Tel. 336-7633
Admission charged.
Open daily 9:30-9:30.
Constructed in the 1860s as the new courthouse, this huge Victorian building has had four major additions and housed nearly every government body. Now, after a S$22 million renovation, Empress Place is a cultural exhibition center. Most of the major exhibits are art collections from China.

Kuan Yin Temple
Waterloo St., Arab District
This is one of the most popular Chinese temples in Singapore, as evidenced by the incense-filled interior, its altars heaped with hundreds of small icons. According to legend, Kuan Yin was about to enter nirvana when she heard a plaintive cry from Earth. Touched with compassion, she gave up her place in Paradise to devote herself to alleviating the pain of those on Earth.

Arab Street
This is the Muslim center of Singapore. Attractions include the gold-domed Sultan Mosque and a variety of shops.

Chinatown
South Bridge and New Bridge area A maze of streets with shops that sell almost everything.

Little India
The area most representative of Singapore’s past. It remains largely untouched by renovation and modernization.

Singapore River
The heart of the city lined with one of Singapore’s most successful redevelopment projects. Boat Quay and Clark Quay. Boat Quay is Singapore’s premier nightspot. Clarke Quay is a family oriented area of restaurants and shops.

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
An expanse of rainforest outside the city.

Orchard Road
A dazzling strip of luxury hotels, shopping centers, restaurants and nightspots, this is Singapore’s main tourist area.

Singapore Art Museum
Stamford Rd., Colonial Singapore
tel. 332-3222
Admission charged.
Open Tues.-Sun. 9-5:30P\
M. Housed in a grand colonial building topped by a giant silver dome. Included in its collection are 20 dioramas depicting the republic’s past; the Revere Bell, donated to the original St. Andrew’s Church in 1843 by the daughter of American patriot Paul Revere. Exhibits rotate among Singapore’s museums
 

D – Family Fun Attractions

Sentosa Island
Tel 275-0030
Ferries running from World Trade Center in daily 7:30am – 10pm A former military base, this island is now devoted to entertaining its guests. Within the island are museums, gardens, a butterfly park, swimming lagoons, gold courses, a large roller skating rink and various rides.

singapore sentosa

Underwater World
at Sentosa Island
9am-9pm daily
Admission charged
. Asia’s largest tropical oceanarium. Displays include the turtle pool, moray eel enclosure, reef enclosures with live coral, and a touch pool where visitors can reach in and touch the sealife.

Haw Par Villa Dragon World
262 Pasir Panjang Road
Tel 774-0300 
9am-6pm daily
MRT to Buina Vista station and bus 200 to Haw Par Villa
A Chinese mythological theme park featuring age-old silent statues, exhilarating rides, live performances and theatre shows. A roller coaster ride is very popular, but the main attractions are the telling and reenacting of the myths and the famous statues.

Jurong Bird Park
Jurong Hill
Jurong Town
Tel 265-0022 
9am-6pm dMon-Fri. 8am-6pm weekends.
MRT to Boon Lay station and special loop bus 194 to No.251
This park features more than 5,000 birds from all over the world in a lush parkland setting.

Jurong Crocodile Paradise
Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim 
Jurong Town 
9am-6pm daily
Same transport as to Jurong Bird Park
A crocodile farm featuring underwater viewing areas and crocodile wrestling shows daily.

Tang Dynasty City
Yuan Ching Road and Jalan Ahmad Ibrihim
MRT to the Lakeside station and then bus 154 or 240
9:30am-6:30pm
Admission charged
This multimillion dollar theme park is a recreation of the Tang Dynasty capital which was the center of China’s golden age from the 6th to 8th centuries. Behind the high walls the main street features a courthouse, geisha house, shops, temples, restaurants and theaters. Camel rides, craft demonstrations, antique displays are all part of the experience. The park has shops selling refreshments, antiques, a wax museum of Chinese notables, kungfu and other street performances.

The Science Centre
Science Center Road
MRT to the Jurong east station and bus 66 or 335
10am-6pm Tues.-Sun.
Admission charged.
Countless opportunities for interaction with exhibits are provided as a means of encouraging a love of science in children. The theater next to the center features IMAX style films coveing topics such as space flight and journeys inside the atom. there is also a planetarium.

Singapore Zoological Gardens
80 Mandai Lake Rd.
Take MRT to Ang Mo Kio station
tel. 269-3411.
Admission: S$9 adults, S$4 children under 16.
Open daily 8:30-6. 
Animals live in natural-habitat settings, there are no fences, only moats, giving the impression that the animals are vacationing at a resort! In numerous mini parks reproducing different environments giraffes, Celebese apes, bearded pigs, tigers, lions, and 160 other species enjoy the freedom and security of the park. There is, at an additional charge, a breakfast program at 9am and high tea at 4pm where visitors are joined by one of the orangutans. Elephant rides and performances are also on the schedule.

Night Safari
Open nightly from 7:30pm – midnight, in a forested area next to the zoo, this experience offers an opportunity for a guided tour viewing the nocturnal animals and their habitats. There is a charge for admission and for the tram that takes visitors on the tour.

E – Events & Entertainments

 

January

Mid-Late January:  Huayi:  Chinese Festival of Arts. This 12-day festival welcomes the Chinese New Year with outdoor cultural events and carnivals, including an 88-member lion dance and electronic, rock, punk and pop concerts by Chinese bands. Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, 1 Esplanade Drive. For information and tickets, call 6348-5555. Continues through early February 

Mid-Late January:  Thaipusam. In this dramatic Hindu festival, penitents with kavadis (semicircular steel frames) pierced to their bodies with spikes, hooks and skewers lead a procession from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to Sri Thandayuthapani Temple. 

Late January:  Chingay Parade of Dreams. Floats, marching bands, more than 4,000 performers, and lion and dragon dances in one of the grandest, multicultural street parades to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The route follows Orchard Road. For information, call 6736-6622.  Continues through mid February 

Late January:  Singapore River Hong Bao. The Marina Promenade is home to this carnival by the river. Festivities include an elaborate fireworks show, Chinese arts and crafts, food, carnival rides and live entertainment. For information, call 6736-6622. Continues through early February

 

February


Early-Mid February:  Chingay Parade of Dreams. Floats, marching bands, more than 4,000 performers, and lion and dragon dances in one of the grandest, multicultural street parades to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The route follows Orchard Road. For information, call 6736-6622. Concludes mid February 
< Early February:  Huayi:  Chinese Festival of Arts. This 12-day festival welcomes the Chinese New Year with outdoor cultural events and carnivals, including an 88-member lion dance and electronic, rock, punk and pop concerts by Chinese bands. Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, 1 Esplanade Drive. For information and tickets, call 6348-5555.  

Early February:  Singapore River Hong Bao. The Marina Promenade is home to this carnival by the river. Festivities include an elaborate fireworks show, Chinese arts and crafts, food, carnival rides and live entertainment. For information, call 6736-6622.  Concludes early February

 

March

Early-Late March:  Birthday of Lao Zi Celebrations. Taoists celebrate the birthday of the philosopher and author of the Tao Te Ching with prayers, rituals and musical performances. Sago Lane and Chinatown Complex. For information, call 841-3691. 

Early-Late March:  Singapore International Festival For Children. Internationally acclaimed companies from around the world perform a repertoire of music, puppetry, drama, storytelling and plays for young audiences. Various venues. For information, call 6735-9986. For tickets, call 6348-5555.

Mid-Late March:  Singapore International Comedy Festival. Top comedians, troupes and cabaret acts from around the world perform at venues including Jubilee Hall and Raffles Hotel. For information, call 6250-3347. For tickets, call 348-5555. Continues through early April 

Mid-Late March:  Golf. One of the richest golf tournaments in Asia brings world-class golfers to compete for US$900,000. Laguna National Golf and Country Club. For information, call 6720-1540. For tickets, call 6348-5555.

 

April


Early-Mid April:  ARTSingapore, The Contemporary Asian Art Fair. More than 40 art galleries from Asia and throughout the Pacific exhibit contemporary paintings, sculptures, ceramics and other works by established artists and new talent. Suntec Singapore. For information, call 6235-4113.


Early-Mid April:  Qing Ming Festival. Chinese equivalent of All Souls Day celebrations. Food and incense are offered to ancestors at cemeteries and temples, and families go to grave sites to clean them and pray. A good place to observe these ceremonies is Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Temple on Sin Ming Road. 

Mid-Late April:  World Gourmet Summit. Asia’s leading gastronomical event features two weeks of dinners, master classes, shows and other events served up by master chefs, winemakers and international guest cooks. Various venues. For information and booking, call 6270-1254. 

Mid-Late April:  Singapore International Film Festival. Screenings of approximately 330 feature-length films, documentaries and shorts from more than 45 countries. Venues include Golden Village Grand Cinemas and the Alliance Francaise Auditorium. For information, call 6738-7578. For tickets, call 6296-2929. 

May


Mid May:  Horse Races. One of the world’s richest horse races, the Singapore International Airelines Cup takes place at the Turf Club, Kranji Course. For information, call 6879-1350. 

Mid-Late May:  Vesak Day. Public holiday. Lord Buddha’s entry into Nirvana is commemorated with chants by monks and the release of captive birds at temples. Good places to watch the ceremonies include Buddhist Lodge on River Valley Road; Thai Buddhist Temple, Jalan Buakit Merah; and Lian Shan Shuang Lin Temple, Jalan Toa Payoh. Continues through early June 

Throughout May:  Concert. The Singapore Chinese Orchestra performs frequent concerts of traditional Chinese music. Singapore Conference Hall, 7 Shenton Way. For information, call 6440-3839. For tickets, call 6348-5555.Concludes late May 

Late May:  Great Singapore Sale. An annual six-week shopping frenzy during which major stores and some designer boutiques cut prices by as much as 70% on clothing, electronics, jewelry and other items. For information, call 6223-6221 or 1900-777-7777.

 

June


Early June:  Vesak Day. Public holiday. Lord Buddha’s entry into Nirvana is commemorated with chants by monks and the release of captive birds at temples. Good places to watch the ceremonies include Buddhist Lodge on River Valley Road; Thai Buddhist Temple, Jalan Buakit Merah; and Lian Shan Shuang Lin Temple, Jalan Toa Payoh.

Mid June:  Dragon Boat Festival. In Marina Bay, boldly decorated dragon boats race to the sound of gongs and drums in this ancient Chinese watersport. The races and other festivities attract thousands. For information, call the Singapore Dragon Boat Association at 440-9763.
 

July


Late July:  Concert. The Singapore Chinese Orchestra performs frequent concerts of traditional Chinese music. Singapore Conference Hall, 7 Shenton Way. For information, call 6440-3839. For tickets, call 6348-5555. Continues through late May 2006

Throughout July:  Concert. The Singapore Symphony Orchestra performs frequently at the Esplanade Concert Hall, 01 Esplanade Drive. For information, call 6338-1230. For tickets, call 6348-5555.  Continues through late December 

Throughout July:  Great Singapore Sale. An annual six-week shopping frenzy during which major stores and some designer boutiques cut prices by as much as 70% on clothing, electronics, jewelry and other items. For information, call 6223-6221 or 1900-777-7777.  Concludes late July

 

August


Early August:   Billed as the largest gay and lesbian pride celebration in Asia, this annual event features three nights of parties, theatrical performances and art exhibits. Musical Fountain Garden, Sentosa, and other venues. 

9 August:  National Day. Public holiday. Military demonstrations, a parachute freefall, a parade and a fireworks display take place at National Stadium, 15 Stadium Road. 

Mid-August:  Hungry Ghost Festival. Spirits, some of them testy and vengeful, wander the earth and require appeasement by sumptuous banquets, street operas, candles and the burning of currency. Continues through 13 Sep 

Late August:  WOMAD. This annual international festival showcases world music, arts and dance groups performing throughout downtown Fort Canning Park. For information, call 734-5910. 

Throughout August:  Concert. The Singapore Chinese Orchestra performs frequent concerts of traditional Chinese music. Singapore Conference Hall, 7 Shenton Way. For information, call 6440-3839. For tickets, call 6348-5555. Continues through late May.

Throughout August:  Concert. The Singapore Symphony Orchestra performs frequently at the Esplanade Concert Hall, 01 Esplanade Drive. For information, call 6338-1230. For tickets, call 6348-5555. Continues through late December 

Throughout August:  Art ExhibitJu Ming Exhibition. The internationally acclaimed Taiwanese sculptor presents a collection of 70 new, never-before-seen sculptures. Fullerton Singapore Hotel, 1 Fullerton. Phone 6339-0678.

 

September


Early-Late September:  SeptFest. Singapore’s first contemporary arts center hosts cutting-edge theater and dance performances by international companies, art exhibits, concerts and other activities. The Substation, 45 Armenian St. For information, call 337-7535. Continues through early October 

Early SeptemberHungry Ghost Festival. Spirits, some of them testy and vengeful, wander the earth and require appeasement by sumptuous banquets, street operas, candles and the burning of currency. ]

Late September:  Mid-Autumn Festival. Chinese celebration of the mid-autumn harvest. Revelers feast on mooncakes, tropical fruits and other sweets sold at food stalls throughout Chinatown, which is decorated with numerous lanterns. 

Throughout September:  Concert. The Singapore Chinese Orchestra performs frequent concerts of traditional Chinese music. Singapore Conference Hall, 7 Shenton Way. For information, call 6440-3839. For tickets, call 6348-5555 Continues through late May 2005

Throughout September:  Concert. The Singapore Symphony Orchestra performs frequently at the Esplanade Concert Hall, 01 Esplanade Drive. For information, call 6338-1230. For tickets, call 6348-5555.  Continues through late December

 

October
Early October:  SeptFest. Singapore’s first contemporary arts center hosts cutting-edge theater and dance performances by international companies, art exhibits, concerts and other activities. The Substation, 45 Armenian St. For information, call 337-7535.  

Mid-Late October:  Theemidhi Festival. The highlight of this Hindu festival is watching devotees walk barefoot across a pit of hot embers. Daylong festivities. Sri Mariamman Temple, 244 S. Bridge Road. 

8-31 October:  Hari Raya Puasa Light-up. Muslim festival of lights held in the streets of the Geylang Serai district, known for its large and culturally active Malay community. 

Mid-late Oct:  Ramadan. Muslims observe a month of daylight fasting, and prayers are offered at mosques each evening. 

Late October:  Deepavali Light-Up. Celebrations of the Hindu Festival of Light, with fairy lights, garlands and illuminated arches, take place along Serangoon Road and at temples (including Sri Veerama Kaliamman, Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman and Sri Srinivasa Perumal). Special foods and delicacies are for sale at the Deepavali Festival Village on Campbell Lane in Little India. Continues through late November 

Throughout October:  Concert. The Singapore Symphony Orchestra performs frequently at the Esplanade Concert Hall, 01 Esplanade Drive. For information, call 6338-1230. For tickets, call 6348-5555. 

Throughout October:  Concert. The Singapore Chinese Orchestra performs frequent concerts of traditional Chinese music. Singapore Conference Hall, 7 Shenton Way. For information, call 6440-3839. For tickets, call 6348-5555.

 

November


Early-Mid November:  Singapore Triatholon. Part of the Asia Cup series, this world-class, grueling athletic event requires competitors to swim 1 mi/1.5 km in the open sea, bike 25 mi/40 km and run 6.5 mi/10 km. Also other events geared toward different levels of ability. For information, call 6340-9631. 

Mid November:  Ramadan. Muslims observe a month of daylight fasting, and prayers are offered at mosques each evening. 

1-21 November:  Hari Raya Puasa Light-up. Muslim festival of lights held in the streets of the Geylang Serai district.  

11 November :  Deepavali. Public holiday. Little India celebrates with lights, decorations and cultural performances along Serangoon Road and Campbell Lane. 

14 November :  Hari Raya Puasa. Public holiday. This major Muslim holiday marks the end of Ramadan. 

Mid November :  Cheers Badminton Open. This World Grand Prix tournament circuit event draws top badminton players from more than 20 countries to compete for US$170,000. Singapore Indoor Stadium. For information, call 6344-1773. 

Late November :  Singapore River Regatta. More than 100 local dragon-boat teams compete in this race on the Singapore River. For information, call the Singapore Dragon Boat Association at 6440-9763. 

Mid-Late November:  Singapore River Buskers’ Festival. More than 800 shows by local and international street performers, as well as a buskers’ parade on the opening night of the festival. See actors, comedians, contortionists, magicians, mimes, sword swallowers, jugglers, escape artists and acrobats along the Singapore River Promenade, Orchard Road and Marina Bay. For information, call 6250-7977.


Mid-Late November:  Christmas Light-Up. The Orchard Road shopping district is transformed into a fairyland of lights. Hotels and shops vie for Best Decorated Building honors. For information, call 6736-6622. Continues through early January

Throughout November:  Deepavali Light-Up. Celebrations of the Hindu Festival of Light, with fairy lights, garlands and illuminated arches, take place along Serangoon Road and at temples (including Sri Veerama Kaliamman, Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman and Sri Srinivasa Perumal). Special foods and delicacies are for sale at the Deepavali Festival Village on Campbell Lane in Little India. Concludes late November.

Throughout November:  Concert. The Singapore Chinese Orchestra performs frequent concerts of traditional Chinese music. Singapore Conference Hall, 7 Shenton Way. For information, call 6440-3839. For tickets, call 6348-5555

Throughout November:  Concert. The Singapore Symphony Orchestra performs frequently at the Esplanade Concert Hall, 01 Esplanade Drive. For information, call 6338-1230. For tickets, call 6348-5555.  Continues through late December

 

December


Early December :  Singapore International Marathon. This annual event features a full marathon, half-marathon, 10K run and minimarathon. The full marathon route begins at the National Stadium, 15 Stadium Road, and ends at the Padang. For information, call 6340 9609.

Throughout December:  Christmas Light-Up. The Orchard Road shopping district is transformed with lights. Hotels and shops vie for Best Decorated Building honors. For information, call 6736-6622. Continues through early January

 

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Osaka Travel Guide – Deals

Quick Links:

A – Overview

B – City information

C – Attractions & Things To Do

D – Family Fun Attractions

E – Events & Entertainments

F – Osaka Travel Deals

A – Overview
It is said that the standard greeting between Osakans is:  moukarimakka?, “Are you making money?”  Osaka is the second largest city in Japan and has always had the reputation as a center for financial success.  Osaka is located in Kansai region on the main island of Honshu. It  is Japan’s second largest city and is a major industrial, port, and economic center.

 osaka-overview

Osaka is famous in Japan for shopping .  Midosuji Dori, a wide boulevard lined with gingko trees running north and south in the heart of the city, is the center for name-brand boutiques. Just to the east is Shinsaibashi-suji, a covered promenade with many shops, some dating back to the Edo Period. On the other side of Midosuji Dori is America-Mura, where young Japanese shop for T-shirts, Hawaiian shirts, ripped jeans, and other American fashions.   Teens also patronize HEP FIVE, a huge shopping complex near Umeda with a Joypolis amusement arcade and a Ferris wheel on top. Universal CityWalk, near Universal Studios, sells everything from Hello Kitty merchandise to Italian imports.

 

Osaka has many underground shopping arcades. Enter in Umeda (where the JR, Hanshin, subway, and Hankyu train lines intersect) and you can shop for miles!   Crysta Nagahori, connecting Nagahoribashi Station to Yotsubashi-suji, has a glass atrium ceiling, flowing streams of water, and 100 shops, making it one of the largest shopping malls in Japan. Nearby are Namba Walk, Nan-nan Town, and Namba City, all interconnected by underground passageways.

 

The City of Osaka has two main areas:  Kita (North) and Minami (South).  Extensive building is also taking place in the Bay Area. The Kita is the district around JR Osaka Station and Umeda Station on the subway, Hanshin and Hankyu Lines, with a concentration of department stores and commercial centers forming a huge underground shopping area. The Shin-Umeda City to the east features a “Floating Garden” Observatory, which commands panoramic views of Osaka.

 

The Minami district is in the vicinity of Namba Station on the subway, Nankai and Kintetsu lines. While Kita has a sophisticated image, Minami is a bustling town of ordinary people. In this area, visitors will find the Shin Kabukiza Theater, the National Bunraku Theater, and the Museum of Kamigata Performing Arts displaying exhibits describing Osaka’s performing arts.

 

The Bay Area, is home to Universal Studios Japan, with its focus on Hollywood movies and TV programs. Also located in the area are the Kaiyukan (Osaka Aquarium),  the WTC (World Trade Center), the tallest building in western Japan, and the Osaka Dome.  The Dome combines a ball park and an amusement center.

 

Of the other major landmarks in Osaka, Osaka Castle is best known. The park surrounding the castle is the site of cherry and plum blossom viewing in season. Also within the castle grounds are Peace Osaka (Osaka International Peace Center), and Osaka City Museum. The castle stands in contrast to the high-rise buildings of the neighboring Osaka Business Park.

 

Other highlights are the Tennoji area, with Shitennoji Temple-Japan’s oldest official temple, and Tennoji Zoo, along with Tsurumi Ryokuchi-an urban oasis; and Nagai Park. River cruises are a  favorite way to enjoy Osaka, which is known as the “city of water”.

 

Osaka is also known as the food capital of Japan.  One of the most fascinating aspects of the city is Osaka has its food theme parks.  These are elaborately designed and constructed.  They contain numerous restaurants and food stalls that specialize in one kind of cooking, for example,  noodles or dumplings. Persons wanting to try that food gravitate to these areas to sample the wide variety of different flavors and styles available.

 

Another type of food theme park in Osaka is the kind where a street or part of the city from the past is re-created, and all the restaurants serve dishes from that Period. An example is Naniwa Kuishimbo Yokocho.  Located inside the Tempozan Marketplace, Naniwa Kuishimbo Yokocho is the first theme park of Osaka cuisine in Japan. Inside, it re-creates a sample of a Naniwa gastronomy alley near the railway station circa 1965, just before the city hosted Expo ’70.

 

Instead of focusing on a single food, Naniwa Kuishimbo Yokocho brings together 20 restaurants that are popular in and around Osaka and that serve special delicacies of the area.  The result:  inexpensive and tasty food in just the right ambience.

 

The theme of Dotombori Gokuraku Shopping Street is an Osaka streetscape from  the late Taisho Period to the early Showa Period. Interesting buildings, shops, and unique eating places recapture the mood of those early days.

 

Osaka is a friendly city offering an eclectic blend of the old and the new and a myriad of interesting activities throughout the year.

B – City information

Population:  Osaka Prefecture:  8,815,757   City of Osaka:  2.6 million.

Time Zone:  The time is 13 hours ahead of EST time in New York City.  Daylight Saving Time is not observed.  

Telephone:  International country code: + 81 (Japan);  Area code: 6

 

Average Temperatures:

 

 Month  

   High

 Low

January  

   53F  

  40F

February

   53F

  40F

March  

   59F  

  45F

April  

   66F

  54F  

May  

   72F

  62F  

June  

   76F

  67F 

July  

   83F

  75F  

August  

   85F  

  77F

September  

   82F

  72F

October  

   73F

  63F

November  

   66F

  54F

December  

   58F

  45F

 

Local Seasons: Osaka has a relatively mild climate with four distinct seasons. The average daily temperature, which varies from 42 F in the winter to 86 F in the summer, is 61.3 F. Average precipitation peaks during the rainy season, which is usually between late June and late July, and in September during typhoon season.

 

Holidays

January 1 – New Year’s Day (Ganjitsu)

The second Monday in January – Adult’s Day (Seijin-no hi)

February 11 – National Founding Day (Kenkoku Kinen-no hi)

March 20 or 21 – Vernal Equinox (Shunbun-no hi)

April 29 – Greenery Day (Midori-no hi)

May 3 – Constitution Memorial Day (Kenpou Kinenbi)

May 4 – National People’s Day (Kokumin-no Kyuujitsu)

May 5 – Children’s Day (Kodomo-no hi)

July 20 – Marine Day (Umi-no hi)

September 15 – Respect-for-the-Aged Day (Keirou-no hi)

September 23 or 24 – Autumnal Equinox (Shuubun-no hi)

The second Monday in October – Health/Sports Day (Taiiku-no hi)

November 3 – Culture Day (Bunka-no hi)

November 23 – Labor Thanksgiving Day (Kinrou Kansha-no hi)

December 23 – Emperor’s Birthday (Tennou Tanjoubi)

 

Getting There

By Air

Osaka‘s Kansai International Airport (KIX; tel. 0724/ 55-2500) receives both domestic and international flights.

 

Getting Around

From Kansai Airport

Visitor Information: (At the Airport) The Kansai Tourist Information Center (tel. 0724/56-6025; open daily 9am-9pm) is near the south end of the International Arrivals Lobby. The multilingual staff can help with general travel information about Japan and brochures and maps.

 

Arriving at KIX :  Constructed on a huge synthetic island  3 miles off the mainland in Osaka Bay and connected to the city by a six-lane highway and two-rail line bridge, this 24-hour airport boasts the latest in technology.   Glass elevators carry passengers to the four floors of the complex in an atrium setting, touch screens provide information in many languages, and if you arrive on an international flight, you’ll board the driverless, computer-controlled Wing Shuttle to get to the central terminal. Signs are clear and abundant, and facilities include restaurants, shops, a post office (2nd floor south, near JAL counter; open daily 8am-7pm), ATMs that accept foreign credit cards, a children’s playroom in the international departure area (free of charge), the Kanku Lounge with Internet access (2nd floor north; (open daily 9am-9pm), and dental and medical clinics.

 

Getting from KIX to Osaka:  Taxis are very expensive. Easiest, especially if you have luggage, is the Kansai Airport Transportation Enterprise (tel. 0724/61-1374), which provides bus service to major stations and hotels in Osaka. Tickets can be purchased at counters in the arrival lobby. Another bus service, the OCAT Shuttle 880 (tel. 06/6635-3030), travels from KIX to the Osaka City Air Terminal (a downtown bus station for shuttle buses going to the airport

 

If you’re taking the train into Osaka (stations: Osaka, Tennoji, or Shin-Osaka) or even farther to Kyoto,  walk through KIX’s second-floor connecting concourse (baggage carts are designed to go on escalators and as far as train ticket gates) and board the limited express JR Haruka, which travels to Tennoji and Shin-Osaka stations before continuing to Kyoto.. Slower is the JR rapid (JR Kanku Kaisoku), which travels from the airport to Tennoji and Osaka stations before continuing to Kobe.

If you a have a Japan Rail Pass, you can ride these trains for free. Exchange your voucher at the Kansai Airport (rail) Station on the third floor (open daily 5:30am-11pm).

 

Next to the JR trains in the same station at the airport is the private Nankai Line, which has three types of trains to Namba Nankai Station. The  rapi:t a (pronounced rapito alpha) train reaches Namba in 30 minutes. There is one train an hour.  The rapi:t b (rapito beta) at the same price stops at more stations, including Sakai, and takes 35 minutes. You can also take an ordinary Nankai Express Line and reach Namba in 45 minutes.

 

Itami Airport:  The terminus of domestic flights,.( 06/6856-6781), north of the city. Buses connect to various parts of Osaka; to Osaka Station, the ride takes 25 minutes.

By Train:  Osaka is 2 3/4 hours from Tokyo by Shinkansen bullet train; tickets are ¥13,240 ($110) for an unreserved seat (the Nozomi Shinkansen is more expensive). All Shinkansen bullet trains arrive at Shin-Osaka Station at the city’s northern edge. To get from Shin-Osaka Station to Osaka Station and other points south, use the most convenient public transportation, the Midosuji Line subway; the subway stop at Osaka Station is called Umeda Station. JR trains also make runs between Shin-Osaka and Osaka stations.

 

If you haven’t turned in your voucher for your Japan Rail Pass yet, you can do so at Osaka Station’s or Shin-Osaka Station’s Green Windows (open daily 5:30am-11pm), as well as at Osaka Station’s Travel Information Satellite (TiS) on the main floor (daily 10am-7pm, to 6pm Sun and holidays) and at the Shin-Osaka Station’s TiS on the second floor (daily 7am-8pm).

 

If you’re arriving in Osaka from Kobe or Kyoto, the commuter lines, which will deliver you directly to Osaka Station in the heart of the city, are more convenient than the Shinkansen, which will deposit you at out-of-the-way Shin-Osaka Station from which you can take a taxi to the city center.

 

By Bus:   JR night buses depart from both Tokyo (Yaesu exit; tel. 03/3215-1468) and Shinjuku (new south exit; tel. 03/5379-0874) stations several times nightly, arriving at Osaka Station the next morning. The trip from Tokyo takes about 8 hours and costs ¥8,610 ($80). Cheaper yet are JR day buses from Tokyo Station to Osaka Station costing ¥6,000 ($50), and once-a-night JR buses from both Tokyo and Shinjuku stations costing only ¥5,000 ($42). Tickets can be bought at any major JR station or at a travel agency.

 

Osaka has many signs and directions in English. The exception is Osaka Station, used for JR trains, and its adjoining Umeda Station, used by subway lines and private railway lines Hankyu and Hanshin. Underground passages and shopping arcades complicate navigation, but someone you meet will speak English and will guide you in the right direction. 

 

When exploring by foot, it helps to know that most roads running east and west end in “dori,” while roads running north and south end in “suji,” which means “avenue.”

 

By Subway:   Osaka’s user-friendly subway network is easy to use because all lines are color-coded and the station names are in English (even announcements are in English on many lines). The red Midosuji Line is the most important one for visitors; it passes through Shin-Osaka Station and on to Umeda (the subway station next to Osaka Station), Shinsaibashi, Namba, and Tennoji.

 

Consider purchasing a One Day Pass which allows unlimited rides on subways and buses all day. On the 20th of each month (or on the following day if the 20th falls on a Sun or holiday) and every Friday, this pass costs less and offers slight discounts to several attractions. For trips outside Osaka, the Surutto Kansai Card (Kansai Thru Pass) allows you to ride subways and buses in Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe, with a 2-day pass.  Children pay half price.

 

By JR Train:   A Japan Railways train called the Osaka Kanjo Line, or JR Loop Line, passes through Osaka Station and makes a loop around the central part of the city (similar to the Yamanote Line in Tokyo); take it to visit Osaka Castle.

 

News for Visitors

To find out what’s going on in Osaka, pick up a copy of Kansai Time Out, a monthly magazine with information on sightseeing, festivals, restaurants, and other items of interest pertaining to Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto. It can be found at bookstores, restaurants, tourist information offices, and places frequented by English-speaking tourists, and it’s sometimes available for free at major hotels

Consulates:  Several embassies maintain consulates in Osaka, including Australia (tel. 06/6941-9271 or 06/6941-9448); Canada (tel. 06/6212-4910); Great Britain (tel. 06/6120-5600); and the United States (tel. 06/6315-5900).

 

Internet Access:  Internet access is available at two locations inside Osaka Station:   (1) Kinko’s, on the north concourse, between the east and central passages and across from JTB (tel. 06/6442-3700), is open daily 7am to 10:30pm  (2) Nearby, up a narrow flight of stairs, is the X-Time Internet cafe (tel. 06/6341-8222).

Mail:  The Central Post Office, or Osaka Chuo Yubinkyoku (tel. 06/6347-8006), a minute’s walk west of Osaka Station, is open 24 hours for mail. For postal service information in English, call 06/6944-6245 Monday to Saturday 9:30am to 4:30pm

C – Attractions & Things To Do

Neighborhoods

osaka-attractions

Osaka is divided into various wards, or ku:

 

Around Osaka Station:  Kita-ku is the area around Osaka and Umeda stations and includes many of the city’s top hotels, the city’s tallest buildings, many restaurants, and several shopping complexes, mostly underground.

 

Around Osaka Castle:  Osaka Castle, which lies to the east, is the historic center of the city. It is in Chuo-ku, the Central Ward, which stretches through the city center.

 

Minami/Namba:  Four subway stops south of Umeda Station is Namba (also referred to as Minami, or South Osaka), with a cluster of stations serving subways, JR trains, and Kintetsu and Nankai lines, all of which are connected to one another via underground passageways. Here you will  find more hotels, Osaka’s liveliest eating and entertainment district centered on a narrow street called Dotombori (also written Dotonbori), and major shopping areas such as  the enclosed pedestrian streets Shinsaibashi-Suji and America-Mura with imports from America. Farther south is Den Den Town, Osaka’s electronics district; and Dogayasuji, famous for restaurant supplies. Connecting Kita-ku with Namba is Osaka’s main street, Midosuji Dori, a wide boulevard lined with gingko trees and name-brand shops.

 

Area Around Tennoji Park:   At the south end of the JR Loop Line is Tennoji-ku, which was once a thriving temple town with Shitennoji Temple at its center. In addition to a park with a zoo, it is the site of Spa World, Japan’s most luxurious public bathhouse.

 

Osaka Bay & Port:  West of the city around Osaka Bay is Universal Studios Japan and Universal CityWalk shopping and dining complex; Tempozan Harbour Village with its aquarium, shopping complex, and Suntory Museum; and domestic and international ferry terminals.

 

Attractions

Floating Garden Observatory (Kuchu Teien Tenbodai)

1-1-88 Oyodo-naka

Umeda Sky Building, Kita-ku, Near Osaka Station

06/6440-3901

Open Daily 10am-10:30pm

Take JR Osaka or Umeda (Central North exit of JR Osaka Station, 9 min.)

This observatory 557 feet in the air looks like a space ship floating between the two towers of the Umeda Sky Building. Take the super-fast glass elevator from the East Tower building’s third floor; then take a glass-enclosed escalator that also bridges the two towers to the 39th floor. From the 39th floor you have an unparalleled view of all of Osaka, making it a popular nightspot for couples.

 

Museum of Oriental Ceramics (Toyotoji Bijutsukan)

1-1-26 Nakanoshima

Kita-ku, Near Osaka Station

06/6454-8600   

Transportation Station: Yodoyabashi or Kitahama (5 min.) 

Open Tues-Sun 9:30-5

This modern facility is about a 15-minute walk south of Osaka Station on Nakanoshima Island in the Dojima River.  Its 2,700-piece collection of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese ceramics ranks as one of the finest in the world. Built specifically for the collection, the museum dis[plays the collection  in darkened rooms that utilize natural light and computerized natural-light simulation. Korean celadon, Chinese ceramics from the Song and Ming dynasties and Arita ware from the Edo Period, are among the pieces on display.

 

Osaka Castle (Osaka-jo) 

Hours Daily 9am-5pm 

Address 1-1 Osakajo 

Chuo-ku, Around Osaka Castle 

Transportation: Osakajo-Koen on the JR Loop Line or Morinomiya (15 min.); or Temmabashi or Osaka Business Park (10 min.) 

06/6941-3044

First built in the 1580s on the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Osaka Castle was the largest castle in Japan.  The present Osaka Castle dates from 1931 and was extensively renovated in 1997. Built of ferroconcrete, it’s not as massive as the original but is still one of Japan’s most famous castles and is impressive with its massive stone walls, black and gold-leaf trim, and copper roof. The donjon (keep) museum  describes the life and times of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the history of the castle. There are displays of samurai armor and gear, a full-scale reproduction of Toyotomi’s Gold Tea Room, and a model of Osaka Castle during the Toyotomi Era.

Built in Stone, Osaka Castle is famous for its stone fortifications, made with more than 500,000 granite stones. Five of these stones weigh more than 100 tons with the largest, nicknamed the Octopus Stone.

 

Osaka International Peace Center

2-1 Osakajo

Chuo-ku, Around Osaka Castle

06/6947-7208

Station: Morinomiya (3 min.) or Osakajo-Koen (8 min.)       

Hours Tues-Sun 9:30am-5pm 

Closed on days following national holidays and last day of each month

Located on the southern edge of Osaka Castle Park, this museum strives for global peace by educating present and future generations about the horrors of war, related by those who survived it. Unlike other museums in Japan dedicated to peace, including those in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,  this one does not shy away from Japan’s role in the Asian conflict, including its war campaign in China, the abduction of Koreans to work in dangerous areas, and massacres committed by Japanese in Singapore, Malaysia, and elsewhere.

Its main focus is on wartime death and destruction, with personal testimonies of air raid survivors (15,000 people died during World War II air raids on Osaka), displays centering on the suicide attacks by kamikaze pilots at the end of the war, graphic photographs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic bombs were dropped, and a section devoted to the horrors of the Auschwitz concentration camp

  

Shitennoji Temple

Shitennoji 1-11-18 

Tennoji-ku, Around Tennoji

06/6771-0066

Station: Shitennoji-mae Yuhigaoka (exit 4, 5 min.); or JR Tennoji (north exit, 10 min.) 

Temple grounds open 24 hr.; garden daily 10-4.

Founded 1,400 years ago as the first officially established temple in Japan, Shitennoji Temple is the spiritual heart of Osaka. It was constructed in 593 by Prince Shotoku, who is credited with introducing Buddhism to Japan. Through the centuries, the buildings have been faithfully reconstructed exactly as they were in the 6th century, with the Main Gate, the five-story Buddhist Pagoda, the Main Golden Hall, and the Lecture Hall all on a north-south axis. Prince Shotoku, remains a revered, popular figure. There is also a turtle sanctuary and a newly restored Japanese landscape garden, first laid out during the Tokugawa regime.  It has  meandering streams, and a waterfall.

 

Spa World

Daily 10am-9am 

3-2-24 Ebisu-higashi 

Naniwa-ku. Next to festivalgate, Around Tennoji

06/6631-0001

Station: Shin-Imamiya or Dobutsuenmae (2 min.). Next to festival gate 

This enormous bath house can accommodate up to 5,000 people and draws upon hot springs brought up from 2,970 feet below the earth’s surface. On its roof, is a covered swimming complex that includes a pool, a slide, a wave pool, a sunning terrace, and a wading pool (rental swim suits available). The rest of the large complex is divided into themed, geographical bathing zones, which are rotated between the sexes and include luxurious locker rooms. At the Asian Zone, for example, Middle Eastern music and tiled mosaics set the tone for the Turkish bath, while China is represented by a medicinal bath. Massage is also available.

 

Suntory Museum

1-5-10 Kaigan-dori 

Minato-ku, Osaka Bay Area 

06/6577-0001  

Station: Osakako (5 min.)

Museum Tues-Sun 10:30am-7:30pm; IMAX Tues-Sun 11am-7pm (last show)    

The Suntory Museum, which you can tour in about 30 minutes, is that fantastically modern-looking structure you see near the aquarium, designed by well-known architect Tadao Ando. It stages changing exhibitions in airy rooms against a dramatic background of the sea beyond its glass walls. Past exhibits have included posters by Toulouse-Lautrec, paintings by German expressionists, and glass by Emile Gallé; call or check the Meet Osaka quarterly for current information. There’s also a 3-D IMAX theater with scenes so real you’ll swear those fish on the screen are about to swim into your lap, a good museum shop, the Sky Lounge (perfect for taking a break), and a restaurant

D – Family Fun Attractions

Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan)

1-1-10 Kaigan-dori   

Minato-ku, Osaka Bay Area

Transportation Station: Osakako (5 min.) 

06/6576-5501 

Hours Daily 10am-8pm    (Crowded on weekends)

Closed sometimes in June and in winter  

One of the world’s largest aquariums, encompassing 286,000 square feet and containing 2.9 million gallons of water, it is  constructed around the theme “Ring of Fire,” which refers to the volcanic perimeter encircling the Pacific Ocean.

Tours begin with a video of erupting volcanoes followed by an escalator ride to the eighth floor; followed by entry to 14 different habitats ranging from arctic to tropical as you follow a spiraling corridor back to the ground floor.

The series begins with the daylight world in  a Japanese forest above the ocean’s surface, continues to and  past Antarctica, Monterey Bay, the Great Barrier Reef, and other ecosystems on the way to the depths of the ocean floor. At each point visitors view marine life of that region. 

 

Sega Amusement Theme Park (Umeda Joypolis)

HEP FIVE, Umeda Kita-ku,(8th and 9th floor)  Near Osaka Station 

06/6366-3647        

Station: JR Osaka or Umeda (5 min.) 

Open Daily 11am-11pm (you must enter by 10:15pm)   Under 16 not permitted after 7PM.

Joypolis amusement arcades are popular in Japan.  There are the usual flashing lights, bells and constant electronically produced sound effects, and crowds of enthusiastic participants. In addition to arcade games, virtual rides simulate gliding through the air or shooting the rapids of a wild river. Note: Children under the age of 16 aren’t allowed here after 7pm and that some virtuall rides that carry height restrictions.

 

Universal Studios Japan

2-1-33 Sakurajima 

Konohana, Osaka Bay Area

Station: Universal City (5 min.)   

06/4790-7000

Open daily, generally 9am-7pm (to 9pm in peak season), but hours can vary with the seasons 

Following the format of Universal’s Hollywood and Orlando theme parks, The Studio takes guests on a fantasy trip through the world of American blockbuster movies, with thrill rides, live entertainment, back-lot streets, restaurants, shops, and other attractions based on actual movies. Board a boat for a harrowing encounter with a great white straight out of Jaws, escape a T-Rex as you roller-coaster your way through a setting of Jurassic Park, watch a fantastic fire show at a Backdraft theater or a water extravaganza at WaterWorld, Take E.T. home to save his planet, and see, feel, and smell Sesame Street in 4-D.

Most of the attractions have been dubbed into Japanese. Avoid weekends and arrive early, then head straight for the Information booth and an  Express Card, which will get you in at specific times and avoid long lines.

 

Captain Cook Shuttle Boat

06/6573-8222

The fastest and most scenic way to travel between Suntory Museum/aquarium and Universal Studios is via the Captain Cook shuttle boat which departs every 30 minutes.

It is a  10-minute ride. A bonus: the boat ticket includes a discount for the aquarium.

E – Events & Entertainments

January

January 1 – 3    

The New Year’s holiday period.

People visit shrines and temples to pray for health and happiness in the new year. Shops, banks and public agencies are usually closed from December 28 through to January 3.

 

January 9 – 11     

Toka Ebisu

(at Imamiya Ebisu Shrine (in Osaka City), Ibaraki Toka Ebisu (Ibaraki City) and at Fuse Ebisu Shrine (Higashi Osaka City))

This festival, characteristic of the merchant town flavor of Osaka, is held to pray for prosperity in business.

 

February

Around February 3    

Setsubun Festival

(at Ishikiri Shrine (Higashi Osaka City), at Narita-san Fudoson Shrine (Neyagawa City), and at Mizumadera Temple (Kaizuka City))

The day falls on the eve of “Risshun”, the first day of spring or the New Year’s day in the traditional Japanese calendar. On this day, a bean-scattering ceremony is held to cast away the evils of the previous year.

 

Early February to early March    

Plum blossoms

During this period, people enjoy strolling through fragrant groves of blossoming plum trees. The main spots for plum blossom viewing are Osaka Castle Park, Expo’70 Commemorative Park, Hiraoka Shrine, and Domyoji Temmangu.

 

March

The second Sunday to the fourth Sunday of March

The Spring Sumo Tournament

(venue: Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium)

 

April

Early April    

Cherry Blossom Viewing

To celebrate the arrival of spring, people picnic outside, admiring the overhead cherry blossoms. The main spots for blossom viewing are Osaka Castle Park, Expo’70 Commemorative Park, and Satsukiyama Park.

 

Around April 29 to around May 5

This period is called Golden Week.

With several holidays occurring almost consecutively, some companies are closed for more than 10 days in a row. Because of the many tourists, accommodation charges and airfares are higher.

 

July

July 24 and 25    

Tenjin Matsuri Festival

One of the big three Japanese festivals with a history of more than 1,000 years.

 

Late July to late August

The season for fireworks displays

Displays of fireworks, among them the one in Rinku Town, PL Fireworks Art, and Kurawanka Fireworks Festival, are held at various locations around Osaka.

 

August

Around August 13 to 16   

The Bon Festival

This is the traditional festival for welcoming and then sending off the spirits of ancestors. Many companies are closed and a lot of people go traveling, so accommodations charges and airfares are higher.

 

September

September 14 and 15    

Kishiwada Danjiri Festival

The festival is famous for its danjiri floats lugged around the city by highly spirited groups of people.

 

October

second Sunday of October    

Midosuji Parade

One of the largest parades in the nation, it takes place down Osaka’s main street.

 

November

mid to late November    

Colored Leaves of Autumn

People take excursions out to spots famous for their colorful leaves to enjoy looking at them. Main sites around are the Meiji-no-Mori Minoh Quasi-National Park, Settsu-kyo (Settsu Gorge), Amanosan Kongo-ji Temple, Mt. Inunaki, etc.

 

Arts and Entertainment

 

The National Bunraku Theater

1-12-10 Nipponbashi, Chuo-ku

located east of Namba and the Dotombori entertainment district, a 1-minute walk from exit 7 of Nipponbashi Station.

06/6212-2531 for information; 06/6212-1122 for reservations

was completed in 1984 as the only theater in Japan dedicated to Japanese traditional puppet theater.

Productions are staged five times a year, running for 2 to 3 weeks at a time and held daily at 11am for Part 1 and at 4pm for Part 2. When Bunraku is not being performed, other traditional performing arts are often shown, including classical Japanese music.

Headsets are available that provide translations into English.  The acoustics are excellent.  To find out whether a performance is being held, check Meet Osaka or contact one of the visitor information centers.

 

The Osaka Shochikuza

1-9-19 Dotombori, Chuo-ku

The theater is located on Dotombori, just west of the Ebisu-bashi Bridge.

06/6214-2211)

The theater was built more than 50 years ago and was remodeled in 1997 as part of a revival of interest in Kabuki. Traditional kabuki is performed in January, July, and some other months of the year (the schedule changes yearly), and performances start usually at 11am and 4:30pm. 

Performance information is also listed in Meet Osaka.

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