Compact Singapore maybe a one-city country but you’ll find plenty to pack into a visit here. There’s great shopping and nightlife, a glut of family attractions and a surprising cultural mix. You can even take time out on beaches not far from the skyscrapers.
What to do and see
Get your bearings with a river cruise (www.rivercruise.com.sg) from Boat Quay or by taking in the view from Mount Faber where you can also catch a cable car to Singapore’s playground island, Sentosa (www.sentosa.com.sg). On Sentosa take your pick of organised fun from golf to luge rides to an aquarium or simply flop somewhere on its three kilometres of beach. Alternatively, leafy relaxation can be found in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve – a rainforest in the heart of the city – or the Botanic Gardens (www.sbg.org.sg), home to thousands of orchids.
Shopping is a way of life in Singapore so you might as well join the throng. Orchard Road is the hub for malls and designer boutiques while Arab Street in Kampong Glam district is popular for bazaar browsing.
After dark, before you hit the cocktail bars, see nocturnal animals doing their thing on a Night Safari at the award-winning Singapore Zoo (www.nightsafari.com.sg)
Where to eat
At Clarke Quay and Boat Quay you’ll find plenty of smart riverside bars and restaurants. A different cultural experience awaits in Singapore’s ethnic districts – Chinatown, Little India and the Malay-Arab quarter of Kampong Glam where you can take your pick of restaurants and hawker stalls.
For a city view, choose the Shangri-La hotel’s BLU restaurant and bar (www.shangri-la.com) where the innovative food will also wow, or The Jewel Box on Mount Faber which has five gem-themed dining venues (www.mountfaber.com.sg).
Visiting over the weekend? Treat yourself to hors d’ oeuvres, roasts, desserts and bubbles at Raffles’ Sunday Carving Champagne Brunch.
Where to drink
A cocktail at Raffles (www.raffles.com) is a must. The mansion hotel has a history that warrants its own museum and the Singapore Sling, invented in its Long Bar,
is part of that. Another heritage building in which to enjoy a tipple or two is Chijmes (pronounced Chimes, (www.chijmes.com.sg), a former convent that now houses shops, bars and restaurants and rocks to the sound of bands. Blues–orientated Crazy Elephant (www.crazyelephant.com) at Clarke Quay is among the city’s other live music venues. For martinis with a cooling riverside setting try Boat Quay’s BQ (www.bqbar.com), housed in a 1920s shop house.
Where to stay
If you like showy, full-facility accommodation, check out the new Marina Bay Sands complex (www.marinabaysands.com) where skyscraper hotels are topped with a massive SkyPark observation deck with gardens, restaurants and a pool and Resorts World Sentosa, (www.rwsentosa.com) which incorporates several hotels, a Universal Studios and a marine park. Both developments boast casinos as well as Vegas-style proportions.
At the other end of the scale, boutique hotels include design-conscious Wanqz (www.wangzhotel.com) with its aluminium facade, asymmetric windows and contemporary art and sexy The Scarlet in Chinatown (www.thescarlethotel.com), a heritage building housing suites with names like ‘splendour’ and ‘swank’.