The Garden City’s bay area parks will take your breath away by day – or by night, when their iconic ‘supertrees’ are all lit up. Trail along the raised walkways of the biodomes and visit a steep cloud forest and a Mediterranean-style flower dome. Take photos of this flower show on steroids, it’s almost too much for the human eye to take in.
Head to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Victorian botanists from Kew Gardens, England, lent their expertise to nurture this 82-hectare site, which includes the largest collection of orchids in the world. If you fancy a walk in the jungle, take the MRT (which stands, in rather utilitarian fashion, for Mass Rapid Transit) to Kent Ridge Park or to the Mac Ritchie Nature Trail. Just beware of marauding monkeys.
Where to stay: The W on Sentosa island. Epitomising modern luxury, it’s taken its styling cues from Miami South Beach and feels hips and fun. The pool area is surrounded by gardens and feels a world away from the city.
During dramatic tropical downpours you might not want to get your camera wet, so duck into Singapore’s ever-popular shops. Orchard Road is Singapore’s main retail street. It’s famous for its high concentration of designer flagships and its many malls. Keen shoppers, don’t forget to have a spin in Vivocity or the Marina Bay Shoppes, and beauty junkies will love hunting down lauded South Korean products: try Tony Moly at Bugis Junction. Hipsters head to Books Actually, an independent bookstore. English speakers will be pleased to find lots of English literature in the city. Seek out a volume of Rudyard Kipling’s works for the plane home – he spent a lot of time in the Raffles Hotel.
Where to stay: The Shangri-La hotel is an oasis of peace and calm, just a short walk away from the Orchard Road shops. One of Singapore’s first modern hotels, the interior is fabulous.
Slinging in the rain
Gin, a dash of Cointreau and Benedictine, cherry brandy, lime, a splash of grenadine, a few drops of bitters and pineapple juice – that’s how you make a Singapore sling, the national cocktail. If that’s too many ingredients to track down, then head to the Raffles Hotel, where it was invented. This iconic colonial building is a must-visit for a drink. You’ll be offered monkey nuts to eat alongside. According to tradition, everyone discards the shells on the floor in a gloriously carefree fashion. At night, have drinks at a swanky rooftop bar, like 1-Altitude at One Raffles Place. The highest al fresco bar in the world, it’s fiendishly fancy, but worth dressing up for.
Where to stay: Park Hotel Clarke Quay has the restaurants and bars of the colonial district right on its doorstep. Enjoy the views of the skyscrapers on the skyline from the outdoor pool.
You might not have been expecting a bookshop to make our hitlist, but Singapore has plenty of kooky shops beyond the malls.Book flights
The stalls have it all
Street food in Singapore comes from all the regions of Asia, from tasty Indian dhal to all forms of noodle and seafood dishes.Book a holiday
Yayoi Kusama and Andy Warhol are some of the big names that have had exhibitions at the huge National Gallery in Singapore.Book a stay
Singapore has Michelin-starred restaurants geared towards pleasing its high-flying business visitors, including Jaan in The Stamford. But you’ll discover the best treats when you put down the guidebook and follow your nose. If the tropical weather whets your appetite, then there are plenty of covered markets to explore. Try the local chilli crab: a stir fry of spice-spiked tomato sauce and local crab. Swap your takeout Singapore noodles for char kwa cheow. In Little India, eat a jumble of curries off a banana leaf or have a hopper for breakfast from a Sri Lankan stand. Fancy a roadside show? Teh Tarik, a milk tea, is poured between cups from a mesmerising height until it froths at the top.
Where to stay: Comfortable and peaceful, big but never busy, surround yourself in modern luxury at The Fairmont Hotel. It has its own fantastic restaurants, including a wonderful buffet breakfast, plus it’s in close proximity to many great places to eat, including the Stamford. You’re right in the city centre, but you’ll find sanctuary at the poolside. Plus, The Fairmont Hotel boasts the largest spa in Singapore.
A cultural fix
Singapore is a city of many cultures and many histories. Amongst them, Changi prison tells an important story. In World War II Singapore, then under British rule, was invaded and then occupied by Japan until the end of the war. At Fort Canning you can visit the underground command centre, ‘Battle Box’ where the British decided to surrender, in 1942. Art lovers should visit the National Gallery Singapore, which opened in 2015 in the old town hall. It’s easily the best art collection in the city with 8,000 works of South East Asian art. With kids, head to the ArtScience museum, an incredible building styled like a lotus flower with fascinating exhibits: whoever said art and science couldn’t get along?
Where to stay: The Raffles Hotel completes a cultural jaunt in Singapore with its teak verandas, colonial style décor and the historic Writer’s Bar, where you can find inspiration with a classic cocktail. One of the last remaining great 19th century hotels, look out for famous faces.