Singapore


Singapore destination

about Capitalising on its melting pot of cultures, Singapore is finally getting some spark, and is fast becoming one of Asia’s hit-list destinations.

Here, There, Everywhere

Whizzing around Singapore can take a matter of minutes, thanks to one of the world’s most efficient and widespread public transport systems. Hankering for breakfast in Little India, but want to visit the temples in Chinatown before lunch? No problem, you’ll be there in a jiffy using the sparkling MRT system – and why not stop at Marina Bay for a spot of shopping on your way? Plus, with new metro lines opening practically every two years, this tiny island just keeps on becoming easier to explore.

The Island of Feasting

Food in Singapore is taken very seriously. From cheap hawker fare to Michelin-starred fine dining, food-enamoured Singaporeans will line up for it, Instagram the hell out of it and passionately debate whether it is ‘die, die, must try’ – Singlish slang for ‘to die for’. Don’t fret about finding a place to chow down, as each neighbourhood is home to local hawker centres and coffeeshops dishing up some of the island’s best meals for just a couple of bucks. Simply follow your nose or join the longest queue – whatever morsels lie at the end, they are almost guaranteed to be scrumptious.

A Green City

The concrete jungles that once dominated Singapore’s skyline are slowly giving way to green skyscrapers, which look more like living ecosystems than business hubs. Fervently working towards its ‘City in a Garden’ dream, the nation is ploughing money into becoming more sustainable and, well, green. Head out of town a little and you’ll find plenty of walking trails, treetop jungle bridges, wildlife galore and the city's green jewel, the Unesco World Heritage–listed Singapore Botanic Gardens: these are the lungs of Singapore.

Shopping Frenzy

When the sweltering outdoor heat gets too much, Singaporeans love ducking inside for a spot of retail therapy and a good dose of air-conditioning. Orchard Rd is the queen of shopping malls: with all the high-street brands, plenty of high-fashion houses, and a few discount outlets thrown into the mix, everyone’s needs (and more often wants) are catered for here. If you prefer your shopping a little less mass-market, head out to local neighbourhoods for independent designers, quirky art galleries, bustling markets, Chinese medicines, Persian carpets and a sari or two.

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Sleeping

Staying in Singapore is expensive, especially in the CBD and around shoppers paradise Orchard Rd, however more modest and budget friendly digs are available in the surrounding areas of Little India and Chinatown. Prices all over the island skyrocket during September's F1 night race so you should book early if visiting during that time. Accommodation options range from simple, shared backpacker dorms to some of the most historical and luxurious sleep spots in Asia.

Eating

Singaporeans are obsessed with makan (food), from talking incessantly about their last meal, to feverishly photographing, critiquing and posting about it online. It's hardly surprising – food is one of Singapore's greatest drawcards, the nation's melting pot of cultures creating one of the world's most diverse, drool-inducing culinary landscapes.

Drinking & Nightlife

You’ll find many of Singapore’s hottest bars in Chinatown, especially on Club St and Ann Siang Rd, Duxton Hill, and up-and-coming Keong Saik Rd. Chinatown’s Neil Rd is home to a handful of swinging gay venues. Other popular drinking spots include bohemian-spirited Kampong Glam, heritage-listed Emerald Hill Rd (just off Orchard Rd), leafy expat enclave Dempsey, and hyper-touristy Boat and Clarke Quays.

Bars generally open around 5pm until at least midnight Sunday to Thursday, and through to 2am or 3am on Friday and Saturday.

Entertainment

You're never short of a hot night out in Singapore. There's live music, theatre and adrenalin-pumping activities year-round, while at certain times of the year the Little Red Dot explodes into a flurry of car racing, cultural festivals and hot-ticket music events.

Shopping

While its shopping scene mightn't match the edge of Hong Kong's or Bangkok's, Singapore is no retail slouch. Look beyond the malls and you'll find everything from sharply curated local boutiques to vintage map peddlers and clued-in contemporary galleries.

Travel with Children

Singapore is one of the easiest Asian countries in which to travel with children – it's safe and clean, with efficient public transport. Kids are welcome everywhere, and there are facilities and amenities catering to children of all ages. Oh, and don't be surprised if locals fawn over your little ones!

LGBT Travellers

Sex between males is illegal in Singapore, carrying a minimum sentence of 10 years. In reality, nobody is ever likely to be prosecuted, but the ban remains as a symbol of the government's belief that the country is not ready for the open acceptance of 'alternative lifestyles'.

Despite that, Singapore has a string of popular LGBT bars. A good place to start looking for information is on the websites of Travel Gay Asia (www.travelgayasia.com), PLUguide (www.pluguide.com) or Utopia (www.utopia-asia.com), which provide coverage of venues and events.

Singaporeans are fairly conservative about public affection, though it's more common to see displays of familiarity among lesbian couples these days. A gay male couple doing the same would definitely draw negative attention.

What to do in Singapore

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