Language: Official language spoken nationally: Malay
Also official: English, Mandarin, Tamil

Climate: Located 1.5 degrees north of the equator, it's usually sunny with no distinct seasons. Rain falls almost daily throughout the year, usually in sudden, heavy showers that rarely last longer than an hour.

Monsoon season — November to January — can bring lengthy spells of continuous rain. Spectacular thunderstorms can occur throughout the year, any time during the day, so it's wise to carry an umbrella at all times, both as shade from the sun and cover from the rain.

Average year round temperature is 33ºC, dipping to 26ºC at night.

Time Zone: GMT +8

International phone code: +65

Currency: Singapore dollar (SGD)

Capital: Singapore is a city-state.

Transportation: Getting to Singapore is easy. As one of the largest airline hubs in Asia, most major carriers offer flights. If you're already in Southeast Asia, or want to make this your jumping off point, there are plenty of regional airlines to get you to destinations in neighbouring Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Getting around this densely populated island city-state is also surprisingly easy with a comprehensive metropolitan public transit system — the MRT — complemented by inexpensive taxis. To get further afield use the extensive Light Rapid Transit (LRT). Car rentals are rarely necessary.

Gay Singapore:

Singapore offers a fairly vibrant and diverse gay community. Primarily located on and near Tanjong Pagar Road in Chinatown, it includes a selection of gay and gay-friendly businesses, discos, karaoke bars and hotels. Despite a conservative reputation that has led some to call it the Switzerland of Asia, Singapore also offers more saunas per capita than any other Asian city except Bangkok.

The gay beach is Tanjong, in the southwest corner of Sentosa Island. From the Harbourfront MRT Station, take the Sentosa Express to Beach Station. Tanjong Beach is the furthest from the station, and the most tranquil.

Singapore celebrated its first Gay Pride Festival in 2005. And in 2007, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was quoted in parliament as saying, "We recognize that homosexuals are part of our society. They have a place in our society and are entitled to their private lives."

But while the gay scene gains momentum, and while it remains a beautiful city that deserves to be on everyone's must-see list of destinations, Singapore is still a society that rigidly adheres to traditional values and very strict laws governing public behaviour. It has been described as "Disneyland with the death penalty."

Spitting can get you a steep fine. Vandalism can get you caned — even if you're a US citizen (see Michael P Fay). Getting caught with more than 200 grams of pot comes with a mandatory death penalty.

And sex between men is still illegal. Their penal code defines it as 'gross indecency' and allows for up to two years in prison. It is argued that this law is seldom enforced, but you don't want to be the exception to that rule.

Interestingly, lesbians are saved by omission: the code makes no mention of sex between women. Sort of like the Bible.

Notwithstanding Singapore's button-down conservative bent, most gay travel blogs agree that you'll get along just fine there as long as you don't draw attention to yourself. Keep in mind that drawing attention to yourself includes holding hands, spitting in public, and (although the law is currently under review) chewing gum.