Singapore is situated in South East Asia, just off the southern tip of Malaysia. One of the smallest and most densely populated countries in the world, Singapore is a breeze to explore- nothing is more than an hour away from the central business district.
Built at the crossroads of maritime trading routes, for well over a century Singapore was the jewel in Britain’s Empire.
When the city became a republic in 1965, few thought a country with so few resources and of vastly different ethnic groups could succeed. But succeed it has, on an unimaginable scale! Singapore today is one of the Four Asian economic Tigers, a futuristic bridge between East and West. Yet despite blossoming into one of the great global cities, Singapore is a nation that still cherishes its Asian traditions.
Once filled with trading houses and opium dens, Chinatown’s historic shop houses have been transformed into restaurants, boutique hotels and gift shops. Pick up a good luck charm in the Pagoda Street Market, or find a few moments of quiet reflection at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Across town, Little India crams all the colors, scents, and gods of the Indian Subcontinent into a just a few city blocks.
While nearby in the Malay and Muslim quarter of Kampong Glam, the streets are a treasure trove of handicrafts from the Arabian world.
One thing unites all Singaporeans- food- it’s the national obsession! For an authentic Singaporean ‘Makan’ experience, follow the satay smoke to the nearest hawkers center. For more upscale dinning, head to the bright lights of Boat and Clarke Quays. Despite Singapore’s high urban density, the island is incredibly fertile. They say, if you stick a broom handle into the soil, it will flower overnight!
Escape the heat and enter a world of color at the Singapore Botanic Gardens and National Orchid Garden. For a slightly wilder experience explore the jungle paths of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Singapore’s animal residents are a pretty diverse bunch too! Famed for its forest setting, The Singapore Zoo is home to over 300 species, including the world’s largest captive colony of Orangutans, while the Jurong Bird Park has been bringing human beings and birdlife closer together for over 40 years.
Singapore enjoys a hot tropical climate.
When the cooling afternoon rains come, indulge in that other Singaporean obsession, shopping! Orchard Road offers miles of retail indulgence. For a change of pace, head to the Bugis Markets to really rub shoulders with bargain-hunting locals. When it’s time to unwind, climb aboard a cable-car to Sentosa, an island playground filled with resorts, theme parks, beaches and bars. At Sentosa’s western tip is Fort Siloso, a vivid reminder of Singapore’s darkest days during World War Two.
Closer to town is Singapore’s big backyard, East Coast Park.
This 10-mile recreational park is lined with bike paths and beaches, and is proof that busy Singaporeans do know how to kick back and relax. A little further east is Changi Beach. From here, catch a ‘bumboat’ to the island of Pulau Ubin for a taste of ‘Kampong Life’ that has all but vanished on the mainland.
Pulau Ubin’s quiet beaches, mangroves and wetlands are a world away from the buzz of modern Singapore. But you don’t need to ride a ‘bumboat’ to head back in time, simply step through the doors of Raffles Hotel and order a Singapore Sling. Many of history’s greatest adventurers and writers have cooled off in Raffles’ legendary bars.
In the 21st Century, Singapore is attracting the world’s most adventurous architectural minds. Marina Bay shines like something from a science fiction blockbuster, while Gardens by the Bay shows the endless possibilities of mankind’s flowering imagination. Welcome to Singapore, where the future is only ever a few steps from the past.
A destination that proves that with unity, diversity and daring, even the smallest of places, can grow into a giant! .
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