Wander the different ethnic neighbourhoods Raffles created (he founded modern Singapore) and soak up their unique atmosphere. Shop everywhere from rickety markets to hi-tech malls, and eat everywhere from street-corner stalls to top-class hotel restaurants: Cantonese, French, Thai, Italian, Japanese, Pacific Rim, fusion cuisine – Singapore has it all. On the mainland, take the brilliant cable car trip to Mount Faber.
You’d never believe there was so much to do in this bustling little city state on the tip of the Malaysian peninsula. From British colonial outpost to soaring modern city state, Singapore has come on a fascinating journey. You can trace that history in the excellent Asian Civilisations Museum, and also in the streets themselves. Myriad cultures live side by side, and in between the gleaming skyscrapers you can visit the traditional streets of the Chinese, Arab and Indian quarters, where the exotic atmosphere is a world apart.
Singapore is Asia’s food capital, where East meets West in a dizzying mélange of flavours. Its street food is some of the world’s tastiest: start in Chinatown food street with local favourites such as Char Kway Teow (fried broad noodles). At the East Coast Seafood Centre, try spicy chilli crab while the kids enjoy black pepper crayfish. Elsewhere, of course, the big hotels offer international food of every type.
Not to be missed
When it’s time to take a break from city life, head to the beaches of Sentosa Island for a few days of relaxation, or take a day trip to Sentosa and visit Underwater World, Asia’s largest tropical fish oceanarium. You could also take a leisurely stroll around Singapore’s beautiful Botanical Gardens, or even visit Jurong Bird Park and view more than 60 species of birds.
Best for families
There are lots of family attractions, including Singapore Zoo, which has opened Night Safari, the world’s first night-time wildlife park – the kids will love it as they meet leopards, otters and owls, among other animals, in the Creatures of the Night show. At Underwater World, you can swim with the dolphins, as well as (friendly) sharks.
Best for couples
Serious shoppers will be happy to know the shops open till 9.00pm or 10.00pm (except for Mustafa Centre in Little India, open 24 hours a day!). On Sundays, head to Clarke Quay markets, down by the river – you’ll find all sorts of exotica. You can haggle in the smaller shops, and you’ll pick up wonderful crafts in the various ethnic quarters. Come in June to attack the great Singapore sale – it’s a retail frenzy!
Water is all around, and it’s great fun to take to it on a boat. Cruise the harbour on one of the ‘bum boats’ that once took goods to the warehouses. Take a day cruise or a dinner cruise, passing sights such as Boat Quay and Clarke Quay. Or, treat yourself to a luxury 5- or 7-night cruise across to Thailand and Malaysia, aboard Superstar Virgo or Superstar Gemini.