Like its mythical mascot - the Merlion with the head of a lion and body of a fish - the city-state of Singapore is one of a kind. A highly developed nation where the old is juxtaposed with the new in gleaming skyscrapers and historical spaces. Our guide to Singapore has the best of both worlds for you to explore.
Start the day in rejuvenating nature at Singapore's favourite green spot. The gardens open from 5am, so that even the early birds will find somewhere to perch and enjoy its various aspects that include a mini-tropical rainforest, the Evolution Garden and the renowned National Orchid Garden. The National Orchid Garden is the largest tropical orchid garden with some of the rarest orchid cultivars kept in the Tan Hoon Siang Misthouse. Entrance to the Botanic Gardens is free, but the Orchid Garden has an entry fee of $5 (Singaporean dollars).
- Address: Singapore Botanic Gardens, 1 Cluny Road, Singapore, 259569
- Tel: +65 6471 7138
- Website: www.sbg.org.sg
Changi Chapel and Museum
The Changi Chapel and Museum is a shrine to the prisoners-of-war held here during the Japanese occupation in World War II. The many Allied soldiers that were kept in Changi Prison built a modest chapel from the few materials they had available. Their stories became famous through the writing of the accomplished men that were formerly POWs there, most notably the book King Rat by James Clavell. The museum houses artwork by former POWs and personal items left after the experience.
- Address: 1000 Upper Changi Road North, Singapore 507707
- Tel: +65 6214 2451
- Website: www.changimuseum.com
Border X is an indoors outdoor attraction for active travellers. A place to enjoy outdoor activities - like climbing - indoors. The climbing wall at Border X is the tallest indoor via ferrata (a climbing route with fixed cables, ladders and pathways) in the world.
- Address: 181 Orchard Road, #04-22 Orchard Central, Singapore, 238896
- Tel: +65 6884 4870
- Website: www.borderx.com.sg
All roads lead to Orchard Road when it comes to the best retail that Singapore has to offer. The road is lined with ranks of posh shops, pedestrian malls and a galaxy of five-star hotels. All the expected names are there, but to sample a local experience visit Tangs - the Harrods of Singapore. Their flagship store on Orchard Road is five floors of shopping pleasure.
- Website: www.orchardroad.org
Saint John's Island
The Southern Islands of Singapore are about as far away as you can get from the metropolis and are a welcome antidote to the urban sprawl. Saint John's Island offers overnight stays in bungalows for the city-weary to enjoy Singapore's natural beauty.
Murtabak is a pan-fried bread served with mutton, chicken and vegetables enjoyed in many Asian and Middle Eastern countries. The Singaporean variety is raised to an art at Zam Zam - arguably the oldest surviving eatery in Singapore. Here you'll get not only a tasty Murtabak, but a buzzing bazaar-like vibe that hasn't changed since 1908.
- Address: 697 North Bridge Rd, Singapore, 198675
- Tel: +65 6298 7011
What the Eye is to London the Flyer is to Singapore. The 165 metre tall ferris wheel is the tallest observation wheel in the world. It is one of the better vantage points in the city with the added bonus of a moving vista and a ton of unique ways to go round and round (one cycle round takes about half an hour). One way is the Butler Sky Dining experience: a four-course meal with stunning views and great food.
- Address: 30 Raffles Avenue, Singapore, 039803
- Tel: +65 6333 3311
- Website: www.singaporeflyer.com
If the Flyer is a tad disappointing for you, in that it doesn't actually fly, try the Flight Experience nextdoor. The flight simulator is probably as close as most of us will get to 'flying' a jumbo jet. The 360 degree experience has fully-functioning avionics and instruments to recreate exactly what it is like to be at the helm of a Boeing or an Airbus.
- Address: 30 Raffles Avenue #02-06, Singapore, 039803
- Tel: +65 6339 2737
- Website: www.flightexperience.com.sg
'Peace and Tranquility' is the meaning of Sentosa and the island delivers on that promise. For frivolous fun the recently opened Universal Studios Singapore are great for family outings, but the laidback will prefer the sands of Siloso Beach or the more secluded Tanjong Beach.
- Tel: +65 6736 8672
- Website: www.sentosa.com
The White Rabbit
A repurposed chapel is where the White Rabbit serves up its style of ambrosia. The European comfort foods served here will have you sated and your eyelids drooping before long. Unlike similar haute cuisine establishments this is a relaxed location that's a great way to end a day in Singapore or kickstart a night of partying.
- Address: 39C Harding Rd, Singapore, 249541
- Tel: +65 6473 9965
- Website: www.thewhiterabbit.com.sg
Some may see it as a touristy gimmick, but the mechanical dance of cranes on Sentosa Island - like the Bellagio Fountains of Las Vegas - are something to be stared at and appreciated just for their technical mastery. Watch the video below to see the cranes in a love dance.
- Address: 8 Sentosa Gateway, Sentosa Island, Singapore, 098269
- Tel: +65 6577 8888
- Website: www.rwsentosa.com
The Art House
The centre of Singapore's art scene is suitably named the 'Art House' and is housed in the Old Parliament House. The Art House is described as 'a kaleidoscope of imaginative spaces'. Expect art ranging from dramatic performances in the former chambers of parliament to a mixture of art forms displayed and performed in the so-called Play Den. To add to the variety there is also a more recent emphasis on literature.
- Address: 1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore, 179429
- Tel: +65 6332 6900
- Website: www.thearthouse.com.sg
So innovative is its design that the Esplanade Theatre may one day become Singapore's architectural landmark, much like the Opera House has become Sydney's. The theatre has a concert hall and a theatre, with a combined capacity of 4600 people, and a busy calendar of festivals; so that at any given time there is always something to enjoy. For the day visitor though, we recommend taking the iTour and just meandering about this beautiful building with your digital assistant.
- Address: 1 Esplanade Drive, Singapore, 038981
- Tel: +65 68288 377
- Website: www.esplanade.com
Night Safari Tram
A safari may seem out of place in Singapore, but the Night Safari Tram proves otherwise. The tram takes visitors through different natural landscapes from the rocky Himalayas with mountain-hardy Marhors to the Nepal River Valley with Golden Jackals to the Burmese hillside with massive Gaur cattle. If you're afraid of a glowing set of eyes peering back at you in the night, bring along a friend.
- Tel: +65 6265 0022
- Website: www.nightsafari.co.sg
You'll find 1-Altitude in and amongst the forest of skyscrapers of Raffles Place - the CBD of Singapore. Between the 61st and 63rd floors of the One Raffles Place Tower is a sophisticated night experience with all-round views of Singapore. Attached to the viewing gallery is 282, sports bar with a golf simulator that allows you to play hundreds of international courses, and the highest al fresco bar in the world on the 63rd floor.
- Address: 1 Raffles Place, Singapore, 048616
- Tel: +65 6438 0410
- Website: www.1-altitude.com
St. James Powerstation
The atmosphere is positively electric at St. James Powerstation - a former powerstation turned into a nightclub venue with at least twelve clubs under one roof (or should we say chimney). Release your inner pop idol with karaoke at Mono, try an Eastern cabaret experience at Shanghai Dolly or have meaningful latenight conversation at Peppermint Park.
- Address: 3 Sentosa Gateway, Singapore, 098544
- Tel: +65 6270 7676
- Website: www.stjamespowerstation.com