Singapore - Sightseeing
There really is nowhere like Singapore, when it comes to shopping. From Orchard Road's mind-boggling department stores (a whole floor for handbags?!) to the ethic markets of Holland Village and Chinatown this is a city that lives to shop.
The glittering heart of Singapore's shopping scene, Orchard Road is a procession of world-famous department stores, each even more dazzling than the last. Here, the art of shopping is elevated to thrilling heights - with department stores offering a bewildering array of gifts (stores often have entire floors given over to just one accessory - from handbags to hats, watches to shoes) and a choice that is simply staggering.
ION Orchard has more than 600,000 square feet of shops, and features big-name designers from Chanel to Prada, Dior to Louis Vuitton, Top Shop to H&M. All bases are covered!
Orchard Central is a hacienda-inspired enclave of wrought-iron balconies, terracotta tiles and chic boutiques, while [email protected] full of funky fashions, jewelers and retro gifts.
For precious gems (Singapore's a hot destination for jewellery lovers) head to the Far Eat Shopping Centre, with its gold, silver and gem stores, electronics boutiques and authentic (and good value) restaurants.
Lining the streets running off Orchard road, you'll find plenty of tempting art, antiques and Asian-inspired gift shops: but buy antiques with caution. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Reputable dealers can be found on the second floor of the Tanglin Shopping Centre, or along South Bridge Road in Chinatown.
For electrical goods, head to the Peninsula Plaza, Funan, Mustafa (Little India) or Lucky Plaza. Here, you'll find excellent prices on cameras, camcorders, MP3 players and the like - and, as an added bonus, Singapore has the same three pin plugs as we have in the UK. For ethnic goods, fabrics, and the more unusual gifts, head to Arab Street and Little India.
Holland Village's Holland Road Shopping Centre is a must, if only to visit the legendary Lim's Arts and Living, a bazaar where gilded cages, filigree silverwork, teak wood furniture and exotic arts offer a unique shopping experience.
Marina Bay Sands
Like something out of a computer-generated action film, the jaw-dropping silhouette of Marina Bay Sands is hard to take in. Three 55 storey towers are topped off with an overhanging top floor, jutting out, 200 metres up, into the Singapore sky. Here, on top of the world, you'll find Sands SkyPark, a 1.2 hectare tropical oasis, longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall! It contains an observation deck, gardens, restaurants, and an infinity-edged swimming pool. The Marina Bay Sands Art Path is a super-scaled art gallery, extending from the 23rd-storey atrium in the hotel towers. Mind-boggling!
Raffles Hotel, Beach Road
The daddy of them all, Raffles has been a Singapore landmark since 1887 - and its famous Long Bar has been serving cocktails since the day it opened. Plenty of time to perfect the perfect Singapore Sling, we'd reckon! But stop to look at the grand lounges, fashion boutiques and restaurants too.
Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay
Singapore is home to some of the world's most iconic modern architecture: not least the Theatres on the Bay's striking arts centre complex. With its concert hall, theatres and galleries this is a one-stop cultural centre within a spiked outer shell resembling a pineapple or durian (a juicy native fruit). Quite simply, you really can't miss it. For more architectural wonders, take a look at the incredible engineering feat of the Helix Bridge - recently opened, and the world's first curving bridge. A 280-metre pedestrian linkway, the bridge features a world's first 'double-helix' structure, resembling the human's DNA chains.
Haw Par Villa, Pasir Panjang
For a touch of eastern mysticism, you can't beat the Haw Par Villa (previously known as Tiger Balm Village, after the ointment said to soothe headaches). Within this pristine complex you'll uncover 1,000 statues, and scenes depicting famous Asian myths and legends, all dramatically lit and painstakingly reconstructed. It's an odd mix of childlike grotto and serious historical evocation, and totally spellbinding.
An open, handsomely proportioned square, Parkview Square is an Art Deco masterpiece, surrounded by the granite, marble and bronze facades of its sculptures, and the stunning edifice of the skyscraper itself - modeled on New York's 1929 Chanin Building.
Located at the Resorts World Sentosa hotel complex, the Universal Studios Theme Park is Southeast Asia's first movie theme park, and is crammed with white-knuckle rides, white-water rapids, Shrek's swampy home, entertainment complexes, dining opportunities and - in Battlestar Gallactica - the world's tallest dueling rollercoaster!
Wild Wild Wet
Singapore's best park for water-based thrills, Wild Wild Wet, Downtown East, is a stunning expanse of water chutes, lazy rivers, and terrifying slides plunging into deep, sunlit pools. Great for kids, with safe paddling zones and water cannons to splash about in, Wild Wild Wet is the perfect sunny day out for the whole family.
Singapore is a great place for outdoorsy types. The Republic's National Parks offer a network of easy to navigate nature trails such as the thrilling Lower Pierce Trail and Prunes Trail in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, or the more strenuous, but more rewarding MacRitchie Reservoir, where you cross the longest suspension bridge in Singapore. Ketam Mountain Bike Park in Pulau Ubin (an island off eastern Singapore) has an area of 45 hectares, contains the best of biking trails in Singapore, and offers an adrenalin-pumped day out for the adventurous.
Gentler thrills can be found at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, and amid the breezy and beautifully manicured lawns and flower displays, recreation grounds and al fresco cafes at the East Coast and West Coast Parks.
The exiting Night Safari, in a jungle plantation alongside Singapore Zoological Gardens, is the world's first wildlife park designed exclusively for night viewing - with around 100 species of nocturnal animals to creep up on!
The Juerong Bird Park offers an up-close encounter with many of southeast Asia's colourful winged inhabitants (over 600 species call this lush reserve home), while the Sungei Buloh Wetland encompasses 87 hectares of fabulous eco-tourism, presenting, perhaps, a more sustainable alternative to tourism than the glitzy commercial quarter.