A Singapore travel guide – a fusion of Asian culture and exotic cuisine with a colonial twist
Get your bearings
Singapore is an island state set on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, just a hop across the causeway from Malaysia and a ferry ride from the nearest Indonesian isles. Its main artery is shopping hub Orchard Road in the south centre of the island, which opens out into a wider boulevard stretching south past the Heritage District's colonial gem, Raffles Hotel. On the south coast, the cable car drops in on Sentosa Island's beaches from high up over the harbour. The Singapore River that carried in Singapore's founder, Sir Stamford Raffles, now meanders past nightlife at Clarke Quay.
Orchard Road is a shrine to Southeast Asian shopping, whose air-conditioned malls provide a welcome escape from the day's humidity. The palatial Ngee Ann City plays hosts to couture while the mirrored Wisma Astria specialises in international brands. A smaller enclave, Holland Village, lies west of Orchard, where expatriates shop for Asian silks and bohemian crafts. Shoppers haggling for bargain electronics head to Sim Lim Square on Rochor Canal Road.
Taste a spectrum of Southeast Asian flavours all on one island. Pick and mix dishes from the open kitchens in the local hawker centres – every community has one. Central Newton Circus serves up specialities like chicken rice at all hours, while Lau Pa Sat in the financial district quells lunchtime hunger under its Victorian cast iron canopy. Singapore's five-star hotels serve up all-you-can-eat buffets – nibble dim sum near Orchard Road at The Carlton and fill up on high tea at The Fullerton on Boat Quay. For Asian-European fusion cuisine dine on the riverfront at the IndoChine Waterfront.
Green, open areas and parks balance Singapore's urban cityscape. Leafy Fort Canning Park shades sculpture exhibitions and open-air performances in its gardens overlooking Orchard Road. For a rugged, jungle adventure follow the footpath through Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, where forest birds and monkeys still live in the rainforest at the island's heart. Singapore Botanic Gardens provides a floral feast of tropical plants from bamboos to spices close to the city centre.
Singapore became the multicultural island of today during its day as the Straits Settlement's capital in the early 1800s. Indian settlers established Little India, east of Chinatown, with its lively Hindu temple and banana leaf curry houses. The first Chinese arrived in 1821 to settle in Chinatown, where pastel colored shophouses sell eastern-inspired gifts. Delve into Singapore-Malay arts and culture at the Malay Heritage Museum in the heart of the Malay-Muslim area in Kampong Gelam. The island's signature cocktail, the Singapore Sling, was invented under the sweeping fans in the Long Bar at the colonial Raffles Hotel.
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