As Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence, we show you the best places to eat and play in the Lion State
Must see and do
Have a head for heights? Seek out all the US$240m Singapore Flyer – currently the world’s largest ferris wheel. At an impressive 165m tall, the flyer dwarfs the London Eye (a mere 135m) and, its highest point, offers passengers a different take on Singapore’s landscape as well as parts of neighbouring Malaysia, Indonesia and even the South China Sea.
However for an insight into Singapore’s history and multicultural make up, check out Chinatown – arguably the country’s cultural heart – the fascinating Malay quarter of Kampong Glam and Little India. If you can brave the crowds on a Sunday evening, the latter is a photographer’s dream. Meanwhile theatre aficionados could consider catching a performance at the US$600m Esplanade – an opera house that was designed to look like the local durian fruit. But by far and way the main draw is the beautiful riverfront where Sir Stamford first landed two centuries ago in search of a strategic trading post: it’s here that you’ll find Singapore’s mascot Merlion – a water sprouting half fish, half lion.
Good retail therapy is undeniably one of Singapore’s major attractions. Orchard Road is arguably the city state’s trendiest shopping street: there are enough malls here to clothe you for life.
When you’re saturated with shops, seek out the serene Botanic Gardens off Orchard Road. Not too many tourists make it here, but those that do are rewarded with tranquil green, gardens.
The Lion State is a foodie’s paradise and all of which means it’s nigh on impossible, to go hungry. Do as the locals do and kick-start your day with some kaya – a coconut and sweet egg jam slathered over toasted bread.
For lunch, head to a hawker centre for Fish head curry, Nasi lemak (coconut rice, anchovies, a slice of omelette and chilli paste), laksa (rice noodles in coconut curry gravy) and the like. Save room for a sweet treat such as the intriguing ice kachang – aka beans and jelly cubes under an avalanche of shaved ice, washed in lashings of milk and ripples of rose syrup. It sounds strange, but don’t knock it until you have tried it! When night falls, tuck into Chilli crab at Clarke Quay or Boat Quay – two trendy waterfront venues.
A trip to Singapore’s award-winning attraction – the world’s first Night Zoo Safari - should be high on every tourist’s agenda.Here you can get up close and personal with no fewer than 1,200 beasts including one horned rhinos and Asian elephants. Night Zoo aside, visitors are always awed by the amazing array of restaurants, bars and clubs at the city’s restored wharfs. And of course no visit to Singapore is complete without knocking back several Singapore Slings at Raffles’ legendary Long Bar – named so owing to its 40-foot long bar.
For a daytime island treat, take a trip to Sentosa. Sure, Sentosa’s beaches can’t match Malaysia’s, but there’s still plenty of golden sand to laze on while you enjoy a quick blast of sun.
Singapore has a public transport system that Londoners would kill for. Regardless of whether you travel by bus or MRT (Singapore’s subway and light rail system), both are super efficient.