16 Facts You Didn’t Know About Singapore

Singapore is a fascinating island city, to say the least. Known for its high safety and lifestyle standards, amazing cuisine (chilli crab, anyone?), late night shopping, happening nightlife, and overall fun vibe, Singapore is THE place to be! Don’t believe us? Check out these fun facts.

  1. Singapore is actually made up of 63 islands, although most are either uninhabited or used for industrial or military purposes.
  2. There are three surviving city-states in the world today, of which Singapore is one. The other two are Monaco and the Vatican City.
  3. The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in Singapore has more species of trees than the whole of North America.
  4. Can’t sleep? Head to the world’s first nocturnal zoo called “The Night Safari” in Singapore for a unique wildlife adventure.
  5. Grab a couple of drinks at 1-Altitude bar on the top floor of One Raffles Place. It is the highest rooftop bar in the world at 282 metres. Now that’s what we call a heavenly experience!
  6. For $2, you can try the world’s most affordable Michelin-star meal at Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle hawker stall in Singapore. Yum!
  7. Singapore’s Changi Airport is truly extraordinary and has won the “World’s Best Airport” award five consecutive times since 2013 and the “Best Airport in Asia” award for 28 consecutive years since 1987!
  8. Let’s break down the national flag of Singapore: the red symbolizes universal brotherhood and equality, the white symbolizes purity, the crescent moon stands for a young rising nation and the five stars stand for peace, progress, democracy, justice, and equality.
  9. If you’re feeling extra affectionate, give the “Hug-Me” Coca-Cola machine at the National University of Singapore a big hug and get a bottle of Coke in return. Aww!
  10. The National Stadium in Singapore has a retractable roof that can keep both rain and sun out and it even doubles up as a projector screen. Wow!
  11. Singapore has changed its time zone six times since 1905. The last change was when they went from UTC + 07.30 to UTC + 8.00 in 1982. Make up your mind Singapore.
  12. With a total area of only 682.7 square kilometres, Singapore is among the 20 smallest countries in the world. The United States of America is about 15,000 times bigger than Singapore!
  13. National Tree Planting Day in Singapore is on November 7th every year. Everyone from the Prime Minister to government officials to ordinary citizens plant trees on this day. What a beautiful tradition.
  14. Singaporeans are supposedly the fastest pedestrians in the world with a speed of 6.1km per hour. Try to keep up!
  15. If you ever get your hands on the $1000 note, turn it over to see the national anthem in micro-text at the back. Pretty cool huh?
  16. Singapore isn’t called the “fine city” for nothing. Forget to flush a public toilet and you could get fined up to $150. Feed pigeons and you could get slapped with a fine of $500. Walk naked in your own home with open curtains and you could get a fine of $2000 or imprisonment for 3 months or both!

10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Prague

The charming Czech capital of Prague is what European travel dreams are made of. With cobblestone streets, beautiful castles, stunning architecture, delicious goulash, and more beer than you can handle, Prague will make you believe in love at first sight. Check out these fun facts about this quintessential European city.

  1. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest castle in the world is located right here in Prague. The Prague Castle, which dates back to the 9th century, covers over 18 acres and consists of palaces, cathedrals, and buildings of different architectural styles. It really is the stuff of fairytales.
  2. The “John Lennon Wall” is a famous wall in a quiet corner near the Charles Bridge which is covered in Lennon-inspired graffiti and The Beatles’ lyrics. What started off as a single image after his murder quickly grew into an entire wall of dedications. Even repeated coats of whitewash couldn’t stop this symbol of free speech. Though Lennon never visited Prague in his lifetime, he was a symbol of hope for many of Prague’s residents.
  3. With no dearth of pubs and watering holes, Prague is a beer lover’s dream. Many even call its beer the best in the world! In fact, the locals drink more beer per capita than anywhere else. Almost 150 litres of beer are consumed here every year and close to 97% of it is Pilsner. You can’t really blame them considering beer is more affordable than water at most places.
  4. Marathon runners would love to participate in the Prague International Marathon which takes place in April/May. The stunning route will take you from the medieval Old Town Square and along the Vltava River. You’ll forget your exhaustion as you pass through the entirety of this gorgeous city.
  5. Prague’s Dancing House was inspired by iconic dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. This modern building is a departure from Prague’s ancient castles and cobblestones but is stunning nonetheless. Built as a collaboration between Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić and Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, it symbolizes yin and yang and the blending of communism into democracy. Foodies could also visit the “Ginger and Fred” restaurant on the top floor for food with a view.
  6. The narrowest street in Prague, the Vinárna Čertovka, is about 50 cm (20 inches) wide. Believe it or not, it actually has a traffic light to ensure that pedestrians from opposite sides don’t get stuck in the middle. That sounds like a tight fit!
  7. Apparently, the Rolling Stones are the reason why the Prague Castle is beautifully lit at night. The members fell in love with the building and thought that lights would add to its beauty at night. When they shared their idea with then-Czech president Václav Havel, they were told that the country had more serious problems to worry about. So, they paid for the night lighting themselves and lo and behold, it’s still in use today!
  8. Prague’s Astronomical Clock is the third oldest in the world of its kind. When the clock strikes the hour, you will be able to see the procession of Twelve Apostles, followed by the Angel of Death, and a crowing golden rooster.
  9. The first stone of the famous Charles Bridge was laid by Charles IV on July 9th, 1357 at 5:31 am. The king was extremely superstitious and believed in astrology and numerology to such an extent that he chose this date and time because it’s written as 1-3-5-7-9-5-3-1.
  10. While some find it creepy, others argue that the crawling babies of Prague’s TV tower are perfectly unique. Designed by David Cerny, who is known for his modern art and sense of humor, you can get a closer look at these babies on the castle side of the Vltava River. If you’re a fan of Cerny’s bizarre style, don’t forget to check out the upside-down horse inside Lucerna Palace and the statues of the two men peeing outside the Kafka Museum.

14 Facts You Didn’t Know About San Francisco

Vibrant, lively, and quirky, the magical city of San Francisco lures travelers from all over the world. Whether you’re there for the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, the unique cable car experience, the renowned world-class restaurants, or the bustling nightlife, this city has a little something for everyone. Not convinced yet? Check out these unique facts about San Francisco that will make you want to book tickets right away.

  1. Everyone loves a good fortune cookie with their Chinese food, but we bet you didn’t know that this magic treat was actually invented by a Japanese resident of San Fran named Makoto Hagiwara.
  2. Maiden Lane, which is currently one of the most expensive shopping streets in San Francisco, used to be called Morton Street and was the center of the city’s red light district in the 1800s. Talk about an extreme makeover.
  3. If you’re a film lover, you will love the fact that San Francisco has more than 50 film festivals every year. These include the International Film festival, Jewish Film festival, Independent Film Festival, Silent Film Festival, and Black Film Festival to name a few. It’s safe to assume that no matter what your favorite genre is, there’s a film festival for you here.
  4. The Golden Gate bridge is painted in a color called “International Orange”. Apparently, it wasn’t even a color but a primer meant to protect the steel but the architect loved it so much they left it like that.
  5. Irish coffee was introduced to the United States by the Buena Vista cafe in San Francisco. Yum!
  6. The flag of the city depicts a rising phoenix with a Spanish motto under it that translates to “Gold in Peace, Iron in War”. How very Game of Thrones!
  7. San Francisco instituted the United States’ first “ugly law” in 1867 which banned “unsightly” or “unseemly” people from public places. Thankfully, the law has since been annulled.
  8. San Francisco is home to Lombard Street, also called the “Crookedest Street in the World”. You can either walk or drive down the eight sharp hairpin turns located between Jones St. and Hyde St. Also, if you’re interested, Filbert St. between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets is the steepest. We’re feeling dizzy just thinking about it.
  9. San Francisco’s original name was “Yerba Buena” which translates to “good grass” or “good herb”. How apt is that!
  10. In case you’re wondering, it is illegal to wash your car with used underwear in San Francisco. Good to know.
  11. The earthquake of 1906 which destroyed a significant portion of the city was the first natural disaster to be documented in photographs.
  12. Denim jeans may be a fashion staple today but they were originally invented in San Francisco in 1873 by Levi Strauss for Gold Rush miners who needed comfortable, tough, and durable clothing.
  13. In 1859, Joshua Abraham Norton from San Francisco declared himself the “Emperor of the United States” and “The Protector of Mexico”. The funny part is, people just kind of went with it…
  14. Until 2012, it was perfectly legal to be nude in public in San Francisco. You now need a police-issued permit for the same. I wonder how they decide who gets a permit…

15 Facts You Didn’t Know About Sydney

Sydney is synonymous with the sun, sea, sand, and much more! With iconic landmarks, splendid weather, diverse culture, fabulous food, and friendly people, Australia’s largest and most vibrant city is one that you must tick off your travel bucket list. But before you do, check out these fun facts!

  1. Sydney was originally going to be named “Albion” until they decided to name it after the British Lord Sydney instead. There is still an Albion Street with many historic buildings that you can visit while you’re here.
  2. The Harbour Bridge is the world’s largest (but not longest) steel arch bridge and is nicknamed “The Coathanger” because of its unique shape.
  3. Back when Sydney was founded in 1788, ships from England would arrive there with convicts and leave them behind as punishment. In fact, 20% of Australians today have a “convict” ancestor.
  4. Danish architect Jørn Utzon won £5,000 for his design of the iconic Sydney Opera House. Well deserved, don’t you think? For the record, it was completed ten years behind schedule and exceeded its projected budget by more than fourteen times!
  5. During the 2000 Summer Olympics, the city actually ran out of the initial 70,000 condoms supply and had to order an extra 20,000. Since then, an order of 100,000 condoms is the norm. That’s probably a good idea, considering all the raging hormones.
  6. Every single pipe of the Grand Organ that’s in the Sydney Opera House has a name. In case you’re wondering that’s 10,154 names. Phew!
  7. If you want to visit Sydney’s oldest house, head to the Cadman’s Cottage built in 1816 in The Rocks.
  8. Back in the 19th century, Sydney had a ghostly railway service with funeral trains that would transport coffins and mourners from the aptly named Mortuary Station (located near Central Station today) to Roofwood Cemetery.
  9. The University of Sydney is Australia’s oldest college and was founded in 1850.
  10. Unsurprisingly, over 200 Hollywood and Bollywood movies have been shot in Sydney.
  11. You can complete the beautiful coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee in about 2 hours. It’s 6 km long and has spectacular views of beaches, cliffs, parks, bays, and rock pools.
  12. The Sydney Mint on Queen Street was originally built to be a hospital back in 1814. It was called the Rum Hospital because the contractors were paid with 45,000 gallons of rum! If you ask us, that’s as a good a payment as any.
  13. Sydney is sunny for almost 342 days in a year, out of which it rains for about 150 days. Perfect time to spot a rainbow!
  14. One of Sydney’s most famous cafes, Ambrosia On The Spot set a record in 2010 by making the world’s largest burger. It contained a 210 lb beef patty, 150 slices of cheese, 120 eggs, 5.5 lbs of tomatoes, and almost 4.5 lbs of lettuce. YUM!
  15. Australia is known for its crazy wildlife and while many of them just LOOK scary, the Sydney Funnel Web Spider actually is scary. Its fangs are larger than that of a brown snake and it can kill a human in 15 minutes. That’s a whole lot of NOPE!

 

 

10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Copenhagen

With its colorful houses, Renaissance castles, bike-friendly streets, amazing Nordic cuisine, and youthful vibe, Copenhagen is a dream destination. These fun facts about Denmark’s charming capital and cultural melting pot will make you wonder why you haven’t been there yet.

  1. A long time ago, Copenhagen was a fishing village known as “Havn” which translates to harbor. Sometime in the 12th century, it came to be called Køpmannæhafn or “merchant’s harbor” which thanks to Germanic translations was shortened to København, or Copenhagen. What’s in a name, you say?
  2. Copenhagen was titled the happiest city in the world according to the World Happiness Report of 2013. We wish they’d share their secret with the rest of us.
  3. Copenhagen is home to “The Stroget” which is the longest car-free, pedestrian shopping zone in Scandinavia. From popular designers to boutique stores and plenty of restaurants and street entertainment, you simply can’t skip this place. Back when the idea was proposed though, not everyone was onboard with it and the mayor even received death threats!
  4. During the 19th century, Copenhagen constructed small, man-made islands for defense purposes. After World War II, these artificial islands were developed for civilian use and now have plenty of restaurants, walking tours, and ghost hunts. Spooky!
  5. The Øresund Bridge is an engineering marvel that connects Copenhagen to Malmö, Sweden. What starts off as an elevated bridge for the first 5 miles across the artificial island of Pebrholm, then transforms into a tunnel for the remaining 2.5 miles. This is a unique driving experience that you won’t get anywhere else in the world!
  6. Copenhagen is a bicycle-friendly city. Almost 55% of the locals commute to work on bikes and it doesn’t matter whether it’s summer or winter. You can find about 250 miles of bike lanes here and recently they even started a cycling “super highway” that connects Copenhagen to Albertslund. Wow!
  7. It may sound like dystopian fiction but just outside the city center lies the autonomous Freetown of Christiana. It’s home to around 1000 residents who don’t pay taxes and have their own laws. Visitors are welcome to travel there, but you can’t take cars and cameras.
  8. It goes without saying that Copenhagen is extremely environmentally conscious. About 64% of the hotel rooms are certified as eco-friendly and most of the restaurants serve organic food. They have also cut down their emissions by using wind and solar power and heating systems that actually recycle waste. In fact, Copenhagen aims to be carbon-neutral by 2025, and they’re already well on their way!
  9. If you’re famished, why not try the 20-course meal at the two-Michelin star restaurant, Noma? It has the honor of being rated the world’s best restaurant four times! Some of their popular delicacies include sea urchin with hazelnuts, foraged herbs, and hay-smoked quail eggs. Yum!
  10. Who doesn’t love amusement parks? While you’re in Copenhagen, you must stop at Tivoli, which is Denmark’s second-oldest amusement park and the inspiration behind Disneyland. All the rides here are old school, including a 100-year-old wooden roller coaster that is a wild ride! If you go ten minutes north of Copenhagen, you can also visit Bakken, which is the world’s oldest amusement park!

10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, or KL as it is fondly called, is one of the fastest-growing cosmopolitan cities in Southeast Asia. With its mix of Malay, Indian, and Chinese population, glitzy skyscrapers, lush parks, lively street markets, and historical monuments, Kuala Lumpur has come far from its humble beginnings. Check out these fun facts about this much-sought-after tourist destination.

  1. Kuala Lumpur literally translates to “muddy confluence”. It is the perfect name considering KL is located at the junction of the Klang and Gombak rivers.
  2. Kuala Lumpur was founded by Chinese tin miners who were the first to discover rich sources of tin in the area. It’s also worth noting that although KL is a fast developing city today, it didn’t acquire “city” status until 1972.
  3. The famous Petronas Twin Towers were designed by Argentinian architect, Cesar Pelli. One of the towers was built by the Japanese Hazama Corporation, while the other one was built by the Korean Samsung C&T Corporation. The one that’s built by the Samsung group is level but the other tower is tilted by almost 10 inches! The construction was completed in only 6 years and between 1998 to 2004, they were considered the world’s tallest buildings. While that honor has now gone to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Petronas Towers are still considered the tallest twin buildings in the world!
  4. Kuala Lumpur has the highest literacy rate in all of Malaysia. That’s not really surprising, considering that it is a business hub and one of the largest international tourist destinations in the world.
  5. Shopaholics will love Kuala Lumpur as it is the fashion and retail hub of Malaysia. With more than 65 shopping malls, you can literally spend days shopping away. It is home to 1Utama, which covers a whopping 5 million square feet making it the world’s fourth-largest mall. The Sunway Pyramid mall is also pretty iconic with its Egyptian-inspired sphinx architecture.
  6. Kuala Lumpur is home to the magnificent Istana Negara, which is the official residence of Malaysian monarch Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Visitors can tour the royal museum in the old compound to see some spectacular installations and exhibitions.
  7. Believe it or not, the government of KL actually introduced a ban against excessive lipstick and high heels for Muslim women in 1996. They defended the decision by saying that these things attract unwanted attention and compromise the safety of women.
  8. Other than the Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur also has the KL Tower which is the tallest of its kind in Southeast Asia and the 7th tallest telecommunication tower in the world!
  9. The cuisine here is a wonderful amalgamation of Malay, Indian, and Chinese flavors. For an authentic experience, try eating at the many street-food markets in KL. Affordable and delicious, what more could you ask for?
  10. Flooding is extremely common in Kuala Lumpur because of the tropical rainforest climate. Remember to pack an umbrella before you visit!

15 Facts You Didn’t Know About Montreal

Canada’s second-largest city and the cultural capital of Quebec, Montreal is a vibrant city that warrants a visit no matter who you are. Teeming with the best food, people, culture, and nightlife, Montreal will make you fall in love instantly. Check out these 15 facts about “The City of Saints” that will amaze you!

  1. If you are a foodie, you will be pleased to know that Montreal has the highest number of restaurants per capita in Canada. While you’re there you have to try some Montreal classics like poutine, a Montreal style bagel, and a smoked meat sandwich from Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen.
  2. After Paris, Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world. Don’t worry if you can’t speak French though as most Montrealers are bilingual. In fact, many downtown shopkeepers will greet you with a “Bonjour, Hi”.
  3. Too hot or too cold? Just head to RÉSO, also known as the Underground City which is a 20-mile underground labyrinth of tunnels full of shopping malls, banks, museums, and food courts.
  4. Long before Google, three students from Montreal created the world’s first search engine called “Archie”. Sadly, “Archie it” doesn’t sound quite as good.
  5. The famous “Give Peace a Chance” song by John Lennon and Yoko Ono was recorded in Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel during their second “bed-in” for peace.
  6. If you’ve ever wondered why Montreal doesn’t have gigantic skyscrapers, it’s because no building is allowed to be taller than Mount Royal which is 233 meters high. Incidentally, that’s where Montreal gets its name from.
  7. Montreal’s flag used to have five symbols: the heraldic cross to represent Christian principles, the shamrock for the Irish, the fleur-de-lis for the French, the Lancastrian rose for the English and the thistle for the Scottish. In 2017, a sixth symbol, a white pine was added to the flag to represent the original indigenous population called the Iroquois.
  8. For a truly unique dining experience in Montreal, try the O.Noir restaurant where you can dine in complete darkness! The visually impaired staff make the experience extra special.
  9. If you love architecture, it’s worth noting that Montreal is officially a UNESCO city of Design. Old Montreal and the Old Port are particularly stunning!
  10. Any Walking Dead fans here? The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies in Montreal is, as you guessed, a school dedicated to horror movies. They have two semesters with courses that include topics like reality horror, zombies in horror, and Shakespeare in horror.
  11. Do you believe in aliens? Well, you just might after you read about the “Place Bonaventure Incident”. On November 7th, 1990, a woman reported seeing strange lights coming from a circular object when she was on the roof of the Place Bonaventure hotel. Apparently, it stood there motionless for almost 3 hours! What makes it more credible is that more than 30 people including journalists, policemen, and scientists saw the same thing and there’s photographic evidence as well. Spooky!
  12. If you’re in the mood for something “out there”, head to the Le musée de l’absurde or the Museum of the Absurd. It’s a pop-up museum that has an ever-changing collection of weird posters, objects, and collages that are bound to make you giggle.
  13. In 1998, Montreal became the sister city of Hiroshima to promote peace and develop a relationship between the two cities.
  14. There’s evidence that the CIA conducted mind control experiments at the Allen Memorial Institute in Montreal from 1957 to 1964. While most of the records were (obviously) destroyed in 1973, some records were found in 1977. Say, what?!
  15. The metro network in Montreal actually has no heating system! This may sound unbelievable given how cold it can get during winters but other than the STM staff areas and ticket booths, the network is heated by the movement of trains, the passengers’ body heat and the heat that comes from nearby buildings. You’ve got to love science!