Although Singapore is a modern, cosmopolitan metropolis, there are numerous ancient and cultural attractions to fascinate visitors. This young, vibrant city-state packs a great deal into a relatively small area. Located one degree north of the equator, Singapore is a tropical paradise teeming with lush gardens, parks and reserves, yet it is a city of skyscrapers and luxury accommodations.
In this city of neighborhoods, groups of attractions may be explored on foot. The Chinese, Indian and Arab areas each contain unique sights, but it is in Colonial Singapore where you'll find most of the major landmarks including three popular museums, Marina Square and the Singapore River quays, and Raffles City.
The Singapore Art Museum (71 Bras Basah Road; 65.6332.3222; www.singart.com), housed in an 1867 building, hosts a 4,000-piece permanent collection of modern and traditional art from Southeast Asia. The Asian Civilizations Museum (39 Armenian Street; 65.6332.2982; www.acm.org.sg) has been a huge success as a window on regional cultures. The impressive nearby Singapore Philatelic Museum (23B Coleman Street; 65.6337.3888; www.spm.org.sg), located in historic Fort Canning Park, was the first in Southeast Asia.
Marina Square is home to the Suntec City mall and giant convention center, two other shopping malls, a soon-to-open performing arts center, and five fabulous hotels. The most dramatic of these hotels is the Ritz-Carlton, Millennia Singapore (7 Raffles Avenue; 800-241-3333; www.ritzcarlton.com/hotels/singapore) with every amenity money can buy. The best-known hotel in town is the venerable Raffles Hotel (One Beach Road; 65.6337.1886; http://singapore-raffles.raffles.com), declared a national monument in 1987 and a name synonymous with the city itself.
Food is king in this city-state, with its wide representation of Asian cuisines, either individually or in delicious combinations. Here is an opportunity to indulge in local Peranakan dishes, well executed at both locations of Blue Ginger (www.theblueginger.com).
Singapore is justifiably called the Garden Isle, so save some time for the flora and fauna. The Botanic Gardens (corner of Cluny and Napier roads; www.sbg.org.sg) were begun in 1859 and spread over 128 acres, including the 7.4-acre National Orchid Garden which displays more than 60,000 plants. More species of plants are in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (177 Hindhede Drive; 65.6468.5736).
Don't overlook the outstanding Singapore Zoological Gardens (www.zoo.com.sg), set in a natural rain forest and home to 3,000 animals from about 160 species. The adjacent Night Safari (www.nightsafari.com.sg) is a wildlife park designed for after-dark viewing of nocturnal tropical animals.