Singapore often gets labeled as Asia Lite, but truth is the tiny country is lively and food-obsessed, and offers visitors both modern and fashionable urban experiences as well as those that hark back to its colonial-era days. A mélange of Chinese, Malaysian and Indian cultures bring color and unique charm to the easy-to-navigate land. Read on for a few suggestions on how to spend your days in this culturally and architecturally rich Southeast Asian gem.
Yummy food everywhere is one of the most delicious things about spending time in Singapore. So first things first: grab a kopi (coffee with sweet condensed milk) and roti canai (an Indian pastry pancake). Then, take a leisurely stroll through the Botanic Gardens, filled with 60,000 orchid plants.
There's no better way to get your bearings than by hopping on the (three-and-a-half-hour) Singapore City Tour. You will drive through the Civic District, stop at Merlion Park, visit the Thian Hock Keng Temple, one of the oldest Buddhist-Taoist temples on the island, and drive through Chinatown, with a final stop at the enchanting Little India. If you want to spend more of the day getting oriented in Singapore, the City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off tour is a great way to explore the city at your own pace, and its valid for 24 hours of hopping around the island.
After freshening up at your hotel, it's time for dinner. For the original, now-famous Singapore chilli crab dine at Roland Restaurant, where the son of the dish's creator serves up Mom's specialty. It's also known for its award-winning USA Duck. If you're still up for a late-night cocktail, nothing beats the ambience (or the mojitos) at Post Bar.
Taking advantage of Singapore's proximity to Malaysia is a must for travelers looking to maximize their Asian adventures. The Malacca Malaysia Day Tour is popular and highly rated for good reason. You will visit Malacca, Malaysia's most historical city, which has been governed by a plethora of empires throughout its history--all of which have left their stamp. Medieval charm, narrow streets and picturesque buildings are the order of the day, as the tour whirls through many incredible sites including the oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia and the Portuguese fortress Porta De Santiago.
Another full-day tour of a decidedly different mien is the Kukup and Orchid Valley - Malaysia tour. A leisurely drive highlights Malaysia's beauty and diversity, including a stop at Orchid Valley, where more than a million tropical orchid plants live on 100 acres. Kukup provides a taste of life in a typical fishing village that's built on stilts and planks. After a seafood lunch, a boat ride will transport you to an offshore fishing farm.
There's nothing better than shopping and eating your way through Singapore, which is why taking the Uniquely Singapore - Shop and Eat - Heartlands Trail is a no-brainer. On the agenda are Toa Payoh, a colorful suburb, and the bohemian enclave of Holland Village. Shopping-wise, you'll be awash in carpets, fashions and antiques from top local purveyors. On the food front, you'll be treated to many local dishes, such as Singapore's famous Laksa (rice noodles and mixed seafood in spicy coconut milk sauce).
Taking a cooking class is another fun option so that you will be able to prepare some of your favorite Singaporean dishes once you return home. At-Sunrice is well regarded and offers various and sundry hands-on courses. And whether you take the aforementioned eating/shopping tour or not, a trek to the shopping mall nirvana Orchard Road is necessary. The sheer number of malls and stores, and the mind-boggling array of goods will have shopaholics doing backflips.
No trip to Singapore is complete without a hop over to Sentosa Island. This island of peace and tranquility is just minutes away by a scenic cable car ride from Mount Faber. If you spend the morning there you can get back in time to enjoy another activity on the main island, or arrive later and stay for an amazing sunset.
Enjoy a different kind of nightlife tonight -- take a Singapore Night Safari, sure to be one of the highlights of your trip. You will take a tram through a jungle adjoining the Singapore Zoo, where you encounter lots of nocturnal animals in their natural habitat. Simply spectacular.
The above suggestions are just a small slice of the things to do in Singapore. If you need more inspiration, browse our complete list of Singapore tours and activities.