Singapore is a city-state in Southeast Asia. Founded as a British trading colony in 1819, since independence it has become one of the world's most successful countries and sports the world's busiest port. Combining the skyscrapers and subways of a modern, well-heeled city with a medley of Chinese, Indian and Malay influences and a tropical climate, with tasty food, good shopping and an exciting nightlife scene, this Garden City makes a great stopover or springboard into the region.
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Singapore is made up of not just one island but a main island with 63 surrounding small islands. The main island has a total land area of 682 square km. Singapore is the busiest port in the world with over 600 shipping lines sending super tankers, container ships and passenger liners to share the busy waters with coastal fishing vessels and wooden lighters. Singapore is a major supplier of electronic components and a leader in shipbuilding and repairing. It has also become one of the most important financial centres of Asia, with more than 130 banks. Business dealings are facilitated by Singapore's superb communications network which links the nation to the rest of the world via satellite, 24-hour telegraph and telephone systems. Singapore's strategic location, excellent facilities, fascinating cultural contrasts and tourist attractions contribute to its success as a leading destination for both business and pleasure.
For more information, please visit www.visitsingapore.org
The Muslim centre of Singapore is a traditional textile district, full of batiks from Indonesia, silks, sarongs and shirts. Add to this mix rosaries, flower essences, hajj caps, songkok hats, basket ware and rattan goods, and you have a fair idea of the products haggled over in this part of the city.
Asian Civilisations Museum
Housed in a magnificently restored 1865 building, the ACM is one of Singapore's icons and a must-see. Set over three levels, the 10 permanent exhibits explore traditional aspects of pan-Asian culture and civilisation, including all of Southeast Asia, China, India and Sri Lanka.
Esplanade Theatres on the Bay
One of Southeast Asia's most stunning pieces of architecture, the Esplanade was created to announce Singapore's arrival on the world arts scene and also as a challenge to the city's deep-seated environment. It succeeded on both counts, with a year-round programme of opera, classical music, jazz, theatre, dance and a host of extreme events.
Jurong Bird Park
Showing one of the largest bird collections in the world, the Bird Park is a mixed bag of enchanting open-concept aviaries and depressing little cages. Don't miss the Waterfall Aviary, the African Wetlands and the Lori Loft, as well as the Birds of Prey show.
Located half a kilometre off the Singapore coast the British then, turned the island into a military fortress in the late 1800s. In 1967 it was returned to the government who developed it into a holiday resort. Like its imported sand and piped tin-drum renditions of Summer Holiday, kids love the flashy rides and there are some great museums and activities for adults to chew on.
This is the world's largest observation wheel and one of the key Marina Bay developments. The 30-minute ride is best done on a clear blue day, or on a clear night, when the lights of Indonesia and Malaysia frame the spectacular pan-Singapore views.
Sentosa's saving grace, Gracie the dugong is the star performer at Underwater World. Leafy sea dragons and wobbling Medusa jellyfish are fascinating, while stingrays and 10ft sharks cruise inches from your face as they pass through Ocean Colony's submerged glass tubes. Watch divers feeding the fish, or muster some nerve for the 30-minute Dive with the Sharks experience.
This large, practical, no-nonsense shopping centre has long been a favourite with Singaporeans and draws a fair number of visitors too. The biggest draw is Robinson’s department store, established in 1858, which is well known for some of the best service in Singapore. Children's retail, home furnishings, jewellery, electronics and bookshops are other attractions here.
Thickets of Local Street wear outlets wedged into a corner of Parco Bugis Junction, illustrating the revolving-door nature of Singapore fashion.
Holland Village Shopping Centre
This ageing, slightly rundown building is a magnet for expats and fashionable Singaporeans and a great place for an aimless browse among the arts, handicrafts, gifts, home wares and fashion outlets. Then top it off at one of the massage, reflexology or beauty salons on level three for a little pampering afterwards.
Khan Mohamed Bhoy and Sons
Follow your nose to what may be the last traditional spice-grinding shop in Singapore. Plastic garbage bins full of dried bell chillies crowd the doorway, while inside you can take away big scoops of turmeric, cumin and fennel or order them freshly ground.
It's worth going at weekends just to see the queues of eager females and their anxious male companions waiting to get in. Join the queue, and look for a bag the replica hounds haven't copied yet.
A Singapore legend, as much cultural rite of passage as shopping experience, Mustafa's narrow aisles and tiny nooks have everything from electronics, clothing, toiletries, tacky clothes, cheap DVDs, gold, money changers, a supermarket and sometimes half the population of Singapore.
Classy, classy, classy: Givenchy, Ralph Lauren, YSL, Hugo Boss, Versace, Gucci, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Prada and people who love them. Great basement food selection.
Food & Beverages
Cafe Le Caire
Blink and you'll miss it during the day, but at night this alcohol-free Egyptian café becomes a miniature scene, especially at weekends, colonising both sides of the street with tables and rugs, filled with lounging shisha -smokers and eager diners gorging on kebabs and superb dips.
Chili Padi Restaurant
Home of home style Nonya cooking set in a row of picturesque shop houses in the heart of Peranakan country. Dig into some fiery, sour asam (tamarind) fish head, the range of classic chicken dishes, or the sambal seafood. Its success has spawned other branches and a range of home-cook pastes.
Best of the Sentosa beach eateries, serving up excellent pizzas, pasta and curries to a relaxed crowd. Grab a rustic table under the pergola, or look louche on the sun loungers. It's not exclusively for the hip, tanned and beautiful, as the thumping music suggests.
Golden Mile Complex
Singapore's Little Thailand. Forget all the fancy restaurants with their Buddha statues and cultural knick-knacks, if you want real Thai food, brave the stumbling drunken Isaan workers in this seedy old shopping centre for an evening of friendly service, cheap Singha and som tam (spicy papaya salad) like mother used to make. It's uniformly superb (the north-east Thai food is best), but the Nong Khai Food & Beer Garden on the ground floor is particularly good.
House of Sundanese Food
A beacon of low-key friendliness on hyper Boat Quay; dine under the riverside boughs or upstairs surrounded by artefacts. Tickle your tonsils with the ayam bumbu (mildly spiced chicken in semisweet lemon gravy) or west-Javanese grilled seabass, saturated with a quenching lime juice.
Sit out in the mall to watch Singapore's rich sashay past, or sit inside the shop linked to the café for a more private setting. Sandwiches and pastas are reasonable, but the real reason to come here is the amazing desserts.
It's hard to ignore Sanur's beef rendang (beef simmered in coconut-milk curry sauce), the fragrant ayam bali (chicken in lemongrass curry) might take your mind off the Fountain of Wealth outside.
Sungei Road Laksa Restaurants
Selected by the Makansutra street-food guru as Singapore's best laksa. Apparently this laksa master uses only charcoal to keep his precious gravy warm.
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