- Cityscape Skyscrapers and shophouses
- City life Clean and cosmopolitan
Singapore has come a long way, baby. Once dubbed the most boring city in Asia, it now marries old-world charm with gleaming modernity.
Scratch the squeaky-clean surface of this former colonial trading post and you’ll find an aromatically spiced blend of Malay, Chinese, Eurasian and Indian culture, neatly displayed against a landscape of glossy skyscrapers, lush parkland and tropical shoreline. Spend your mornings eyeballing designer glad rags in super-chilled labyrinthine shopping malls, then stop for lunch in a curry house before exploring historic temples and poking around Little India and Chinatown, all within minutes of each other. Later, soak up the sun on Sentosa Island, try your luck at Sands Casino, and feast on amazing Asian-fusion culinary feats in one of the city’s smart restaurants.
Do go/Don’t go
Singapore is in the tropics and prone to sudden downpours all year round, but the rainiest months are October–January. In a country where shopping is the national pastime, it makes sense for the sales to be exceptional: May–July brings the Great Singapore Sale, an eight-week retail extravaganza (www.greatsingaporesale.com.sg). Pick up a Tourist Privilege Card from any visitor centre and you’ll get extra benefits.
- Planes Singapore’s superb Changi Airport (www.changiairport.com) is served by more than 80 international carriers, including Singapore Airlines
(www.singaporeair.com), British Airways (www.ba.com), Qantas (www.qantas.com), Virgin Atlantic (www.virgin-atlantic.com), Emirates (www.emirates.com), KLM (www.klm.com) and Malaysia Airlines (www.malaysiaairlines.com).
- Trains You can reach Singapore by rail from Malaysia
and Thailand: travel in style on the Eastern & Oriental Express (www.orient-express.com). From the airport there’s a fast 30-minute train transfer to the city on the MRT, Singapore’s tube system, but the catch is you can only take one small piece of luggage on board. Within the city itself, you can’t beat the MRT: it’s cheap, clean and super-efficient. Buy a Tourist Day Ticket for unlimited journeys – you can use it on buses, too (www.smrt.com.sg).
- Automobiles Don’t bother hiring a car; the public transport is excellent and metered taxis plentiful.
- Taxis Easy to hail on the street (except during rush hours and just before midnight), cabs are the most convenient and economical way to get around the city centre. Expect surcharges for journeys in rush hour, at night, on public holidays or to certain destinations.