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Singapore is the sleeper hotspot of Southeast Asia, a formerly staid ex-colony that has drunk deep from the cup of modernity and style. A land where technology reigns supreme, art is everywhere, and former colonial barracks are repurposed to house museums and four-star restaurants, you are sure to be surprised. This “City in a Garden” is long on lush green spaces, a stark contrast to the towering cityscape. Indeed, Singapore is a land of many fascinating contrasts: the ancient and the modern, natural and futuristic, the culturally borrowed and the unique.

The shopping in Singapore is truly epic. From glittering couture outlets to megamalls dedicated solely to electronics, it’s a near-guarantee that you’ve not seen anything like it before. Orchard Road is the most famous shopping district, packed with one formidable shopping mall after another, but don’t discount the hip boutiques of Haji Lane or the market stalls of Chinatown. Here Chinese temples bursting with incense and traditional medicines cozy up to steel-and-glass shrines to consumerism.

Food is another great pleasure in Singapore. Plentiful and consistently delicious, you’ll find eating here to be a sensually delightful experience. There’s a fusion of Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian flavors at play, and the end result is nothing short of delectable. Whether you choose to dine on street food or at one of the city’s many amazing restaurants, you will leave full and impressed. Interestingly, some of the best cuisine to be found is on the streets of Geylang, the Singaporean red light district.

Singapore Top Attractions

Marina Bay

Marina Bay is the area around the shopping mall that bears the same name. Nearby is the Marina Bay Sands Casino, the country’s second-largest casino. It boasts 600 gaming tables and 1500 slot machines! Also in the area is Sands SkyPark, the dramatic-looking surfboard-esque landmark set 55 stories above ground. Stroll the Gardens By the Bay, take in a concert at the Esplanade Theaters On the Bay, take a spin on the Singapore Flyer, or visit the enormous ArtScience Museum. The Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, the only night races in Formula 1 history, take place here in the fall. As per usual, the shopping and dining are fabulous.

Sentosa

Once a British fortress, now reimagined as a glamorous getaway, Sentosa is a popular vacation spot for all of Singapore. One can take a monorail or boat over, or try out a cable car! Resorts World Sentosa is home to an immense casino offering traditional Western table games as well as Chinese favorites, as well as a Universal Studios theme park and Voyage de la Vie, a circus-like spectacular that will thrill those who love live shows with celebrity guest stars. The beachfront in Sentosa has a nice atmosphere, one made especially convivial by the bars and restaurants that crowd the shoreline. Nearby are the islands of Kusu and St. John, where the fishing is outstanding.

Chinatown / Little India

Singapore is a land of contrasts, some of which can be felt keenly in two of its ethnic quarters, Chinatown and Little India. Chinatown best hearkens to Hong Kong, with its wet markets and shopping stalls, while the street scenes of Little India bring Mumbai to vivid life. Narrow outdoor street fairs spill over with merchants hawking their wares, and the noise and bustle of the crowd could make you swear that you’ve been transported. In Little India, don’t miss a visit to Mustafa Center, a 24-hour emporium teeming with great deals.

Riverside

The central government hub of Singapore also marks the spot where British colonizers first came ashore in Singapore. Many of the nation’s historical attractions are along the eponymous river’s edge—the Merlion (Singapore’s national symbol), Raffles Statue, and the Cavenagh Bridge, for instance. The shiny-new Asian Civilizations Museum is here, which showcases cultural artifacts from all over the continent. You can take in a show at the Victoria Theater and Concert Hall, do some shopping at The Arcade or Raffles City, or tuck into some delicious food—a large Japanese expat community in this area means that type of food is nonpareil.

Orchard Road

The retail expanse of Orchard Road is, justifiably, one of Singapore’s most famous tourist attractions. It feels like every couturier on Earth has a storefront in the shopping malls here. Spend hours strolling the gleaming concourses, then head to any one of the food courts for some scrumptious Singaporean cuisine. Pamper yourself at Andana@Orchard, the largest spa in Singapore, with a gorgeous rooftop location. Ladies can get their hair and nails done at any of several luxury spas, and there are several theaters perfect for taking in the nearest films. Orchard Road is basically a hotspot for all things beautiful. Bring your wallet!

Quick Facts

Capital: Singapore
Primary Airports: Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)
Government: Parliamentary Republic
Currency: Singapore dollars (SGD)
Population: 5,077,000 (2013 est.)
Language: English, Mandarin, Malay, Chinese, Tamil
Electricity: 230V/50Hz (UK)
Singapore
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