With its soaring skyscrapers and glittering ultra-modern architecture, Singapore must be seen to be believed. For thousands of years, the “Lion City” welcomed traders and seafarers from near and far; today, that legacy is reflected in a unique blend of cultures. Here, you’ll find some of the world’s most exclusive boutiques, as well as some of its best street food. Indian, British, Indonesian, Chinese and Malaysian – all leave their marks on the food, traditions, history and sidewalks of Singapore.
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What To Do
Toast the sky at 1-Altitude – At nearly 1000 feet above sea level, this sophisticated open air bar (the world’s highest) provides a view of the Singapore skyline that can’t be beat.
Go merlion hunting – Five statues scattered across Singapore depict the merlion – a fantastic beast with the head of a lion and the tail of a fish. A journey to find them all will take you to some of the highlights of the islands.
Hit the beach – Singapore isn’t just one island but a chain of sixty-three. One of the most famous is Sentosa Island, a resort complex featuring theme parks, a casino, shopping, dining and best of all, a sunny, sandy beach. Arrive via cable car from Mount Faber for a can’t-miss view.
Discover kampong life – Take a boat trip to Pulau Ubin, another one of Singapore’s scenic islands. Here, you can stroll down shaded forest paths and visit a traditional “kampong” (village), one of the last remaining in the country.
What To See
Gardens by the Bay – More than just some pretty flowers (though it has those too – thousands of them), this unique destination features modern art, stunning horticultural displays and both the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and its largest greenhouse. Towering above it all are the Supertrees, twisted sculptures of metal and greenery that rise 75 feet in the air and light brilliantly at night, creating a fantasy forest.
Xiao Guilin – Hidden just a short ways from the towers and offices of the city lies Xiao Guilin. This former quarry is now a picturesque park, where sheer rock cliffs meet calm waters to create a scenic escape from the non-stop bustle of urban life.
Haw Par Villa – Discover the history and legend of China at this colorful park. Painted dioramas depict religious stories, myths and scenes from traditional life. The park’s most famous attraction is the “Ten Courts of Hell” – an imaginative series of graphic sculptures and scenes that bring the afterlife to life. Not for the faint of heart.
Orchard Road – Designer flagships and luxury shopping malls line this famous retail street. Bring your wallet to see and be seen in some of the world’s most exclusive showrooms.
Bugis Street Market – Singapore’s largest night market is a great place to people watch, grab a bite, and scour hundreds of stalls for the perfect souvenir.
Mustafa Centre – No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it at Mustafa Centre. This massive shopping complex in the Little India neighborhood is open 24 hours a day, and it’s the best place to find a bargain on pretty much anything.
Great Singapore Sale – Better than any coupon, this annual summer event sees retailers throughout Singapore offering steep discounts and exclusive offers.
Singapore With Kids
Singapore Zoo – Children will delight in this sprawling zoo, whose carefully designed habitats are home to hundreds of species, big and small. When the sun sets, experience the Night Safari, where visitors can catch a glimpse of rare nocturnal residents.
Jurong Bird Park – This world-famous wildlife park features thousands of birds, from native Singaporean species to endangered animals from around the world. It’s a colorful place to explore and learn.
Universal Studios Singapore – Thrill rides, familiar characters and family-friendly fun can be found at this theme park on the resort island of Sentosa.
Off the Beaten Path
Don’t trust your eyes – For vacation pictures that will make everyone jealous, check out the Trick Eye Museum. Share a lily pad with a frog, ride on the back of a merlion or go skydiving – each exhibit here is a carefully crafted optical illusion.
Let off some steam – Travel can be stressful, so if you’re overwhelmed by all Singapore has to offer, make an appointment at The Fragment Room. Select your weapon and a variety of breakable objects, then let the destruction begin.
Go fishing – Try prawning, where you can cast a line and catch your own dinner right in the restaurant. Once you’ve hauled in a plate, your fresh catch will be cooked in front of you.
Hawker centers – The heart of Singapore is in its stomach. At hawker centers throughout the city, street food vendors serve up their finest specialty dish, each more delicious than the last. Fill a tray and then search for an empty seat – if they’re hard to find, you’ve chosen well. Must try: chili crab (crab cooked in a sweet and spicy tomato sauce), chicken rice and chendol, a refreshingly cool jellied sweet.
Breakfast – Start the day off right with the national breakfast of Singapore. Begin with kaya toast (a toasted sandwich with butter and coconut jam) and add a dish of very soft boiled eggs, warm and runny.
Durian – This malodorous fruit produces a rotten smell so powerful it’s banned in many public areas. The flesh inside is soft and delicious, so if you’d like a taste, look for durian in pre-prepared dishes and candies.