Visiting Singapore - What to See and Do
(Singapore Changi Airport SIN, Singapore)
Few cities in the tropical climes of South-East Asia
are as appealing as Singapore
. This compact modern metropolis is a well-rounded customer, with ethnic diversity, top-flight amenities and plenty of nature right on the doorstep. The island is a fantastic destination, for a weekend or a week.
Foodies and culture junkies will have their hands full absorbing the depth of Singapore's three main ethnic groups. Between Chinatown, Little India and Arab Street there are days' worth of eating, shopping and people watching. It is this ethnic diversity that makes the city so addictive.
Singapore also has lots of outdoor attractions to balance its urban amenities. Its zoo and night safari are among the world's best, and just 15 minutes from the city is a virgin rainforest park. Sentosa Island is connected to the city streets by cable car, allowing you to play on the beach all day, then slip back to your hotel on Orchard Road and prepare for another memorable night out.
Ten things you must do in Singapore
- There is no avoiding the consumer side to the city. Its history is based on maritime trade, and today the heart of city shopping lies along fantastic Orchard Road. Not only is this the best strip in Singapore city for shopping, it is also home to many of the best hotels and plenty of options for nightlife.
- Singapore Zoo is generally regarded as one of the world's best. It is an 'open zoo', which means that the animals live in open-air habitats that resemble their native homes. There are several different areas of the zoo, as well as a decent aquarium and a bunch of entertaining animal performances. Its recent Rainforest Kidzworld addition blends a water park, petting zoo and adventure playground.
- Even better than the zoo is the Night Safari. Since the nights here are as balmy as the days, it transforms part of the zoo area into an open-air safari to showcase the many nocturnal creatures it contains. Guides and staff are posted along the main trails to help visitors, and the 45-minute tram is well worth the extra expense.
- The Asian Civilisations Museum is the best institution of its kind in Asia. This modern and extremely well-organised museum traces the evolution of South-East Asian civilisation in general and the creation of Singapore specifically. The artefacts on display are magnificent and the building itself is something of a colonial-era icon.
- Resorts World Sentosa is Singapore's little Las Vegas. It combines six different holiday resort hotels with a casino, huge shopping arcade and the Universal Studios amusement park. The waterfront promenade has a fun light and water fountain show every night, perfect for free entertainment after dining in one of the resort's 60 quality restaurants.
- Chinatown is the largest of the city's ethnic neighbourhoods. Its historic shophouses and shrines have been wonderfully restored to their original state, though today these attractions typically house trendy cafés and boutiques instead of real families. Still, Chinatown is a joy to explore, with superb eateries and plenty of photogenic scenery.
- Arab Street, or Kampong Glam as it is known locally, is a unique component of Singapore because of the historic Islamic presence here. Towering minarets and mosques dot the neighbourhood, many of which are open to visitors who are dressed appropriately. The shopping along Arab Street is some of the city's best, with great buys including textiles and regional handicrafts.
- There are several historic Chinese temples in Singapore, but one of the most important and interesting is the Thian Hock Keng Temple. This one is dedicated to Ma Cho Po, a patron of Chinese sailors in ancient times. The elaborate pagoda complex is a real beauty and almost always filled with devotees making merit.
- Marina Bay Sands is the newest resort complex right in the city. It is a huge place, with some 2,500 luxury hotel rooms, a 24-hour casino, a convention centre and a busy shopping mall. There are also around 60 different places to eat and drink at the resort, along with a museum and the very notable Sands SkyPark, a truly massive rooftop garden atop the hotel that boasts some of the city's best views, a huge infinity pool and more.
- Like many of today's great cities, Singapore decided it needed a giant observation wheel attraction - and so it built the Singapore Flyer. Its glass-encased cabins are big enough to stroll around during the 30-minute loop that provides 45-mile / 72-km views all the way to Indonesia and Malaysia. The views are quite impressive, especially those of the bustling harbour and the hundreds of container ships lined up to offload their goods.