Most medical tourism visitors to Singapore, although impressed by the hygienic standards and international class hospitals, complain that Singapore is not “Asian” enough. What they mean is that the country lacks the exotica and culture shock that is the staple introduction to tourism in other Asian countries. This could be because Singaporeans wait until the Chinese New Year rolls around to show off their culture.
The Chinese Lunar Year falls in January or February based on the lunar cycle, and in some ways, this is the best time to visit Singapore. The country’s majority Chinese population celebrates in style with colorful decorations and the Chingpay Parade. Homes are decorated with good luck banners, and dance troupes perform the lion dance outside shops to attract good fortune. The lion dance in fact is one of Singapore’s most iconic symbols, an ancient dance performed to the banging of cymbals and traditionally staged by young men. All this makes for a cultural extravaganza, belying the complaint that Singapore is too westernized.
However, in the days leading up to the New Year, Singapore is a shopper’s nightmare. Everything is grossly marked up making freebies and bargains temporarily extinct, crowds are insane, and even simple things like haircuts will cost more than their usual prices. In fact if shopping is one of the Singapore attractions you want to indulge in on your medical tourism vacation, you should probably avoid this time altogether. For a massive dose of retail therapy, come during the Great Singapore Shopping Festival that begins in late May and continues till early June.