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Discover the superlative city-state where diverse cultures meet
Once a colonial port, Singapore has evolved into one of the world’s most prosperous and cosmopolitan city-states, a melting pot of Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures. Despite having the second-highest population density of any country, it feels utterly calm and orderly, thanks to ingenious urban planning, highly efficient infrastructure, pristine streets and abundant green spaces.
Your adventure starts in Singapore’s oldest districts. Lose yourself amidst the elaborately decorated, lantern-strung temples of Chinatown, where perhaps the most beautiful place of worship is Sri Mariamman, the oldest Hindu shrine in the city. You can’t miss it – its five-tiered entrance is carved with hundreds of multicolored deities and mythological figures.
Shophouses are a defining feature of “old” Singapore, and there are many preserved throughout the city with their narrow, brightly painted frontages and recessed pedestrian walkways. One of the best examples is Baba House in the historic Blair Plain district, with its collection of furniture, ceramics, textiles and calligraphy providing a valuable insight into Peranakan Chinese life at the turn of the 20th century.
These charismatic neighborhoods are also ideal places to sample traditional Singaporean cuisine, from fish-head curry to satay skewers. Of course, the city also has more than its fair share of fine-dining restaurants representing a dizzying array of cuisines, while nightlife options range from rooftop bars with stunning city views to nightclubs with well-known guest DJs.
Singapore’s cultural scene is just as diverse. Check out the incredible collections of contemporary works at the Singapore Art Museum. Catch world-class plays and concerts at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, or book tickets to the Singapore Conference Hall to experience the fantastic Singapore Chinese Orchestra. During Chinese New Year, the streets abound with performances involving puppeteers and lion dancers.
When it comes to recreation, those with a taste for retail therapy will find the flagship stores of many international luxury brands on legendary Orchard Road. Futuristic Gardens by the Bay is a horticulturalist’s fantasy with themed biomes and towering Supertrees, while Singapore Botanic Gardens hosts the world’s largest collection of tropical orchids. At Singapore Zoo, come face to face with Southeast Asian fauna, including orangutans and Malaysian flying foxes.
For a completely different change of pace, the lush rainforests and luxury resorts of Sentosa Island await. Locals and travelers alike adore Tanjong Beach, a haven of tranquility complete with golden sands, rustling palms and crystal-clear waters.