An exciting destination for tourism as well as business, Singapore is an island country and sovereign city-state situated just south of the Malay Peninsula. Its 270 square miles (700 square kilometres) are home to just over 5 million people from an incredibly diverse set of ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds, making it a thrilling place to spend a week or weekend. Singapore's towering skyscrapers and huge, busy port show that the economy is alive and kicking – the republic has the world's highest percentage of millionaires. But tourism is flourishing too, helped by several fantastic new attractions and some of the region's best cuisine.
While there are no seasons when you're only 85 miles north of the equator, Singapore has many ‘seasonal’ festivals, many of which reflect its mosaic society – Chinese New Year, Muslim Eid and Hindu Diwali are all celebrated here. At other times, tradition takes a backseat to technology: both the Singapore Grand Prix (www.singaporegp.sg), the world’s only night-time Formula 1 event, and Singapore Airshow (www.singaporeairshow.com.sg) draw huge crowds. Want to party all night? December’s ZoukOut (www.zoukout.com) is an iconic beach rave featuring superstar DJs.
It's a challenge to eat badly in Singapore, where cuisine is a national obsession. For award-winning dining with terrific panoramic views, try the open kitchen at Stellar (www.1-altitude.com/#stellar), where you can pick your own four- and six-course tasting menus. Screening Room (www.screeningroom.com.sg) is a multi-space venue where you can share a mixed kebab platter while watching a classic movie. With its creative tasting menus and superb wine list, upscale Les Amis (www.lesamis.com.sg) is a Singapore fine-dining institution.
Tick off lunch and sightseeing in one at the colourful Maxwell Food Centre (Kim Hua Market) in Chinatown: the centre is packed with over 100 food stalls and the accompanying noises, smells, chatty local residents and photo opportunities. Escape the city bustle with a trip to East Coast Park (www.nparks.gov.sg), a beach area built entirely on reclaimed land on the island’s southeast coast. Families will also enjoy River Safari (www.riversafari.com.sg), a high-tech wildlife reserve with a Giant Panda Forest.
They’ve been slinging Singapore Slings around for almost a century now, but plenty of other aspects of the island’s nightlife are brand new. St James Power Station (www.stjamespowerstation.com) is a whopping all-in-one venue and part of the global trend for turning old power plants into leisure facilities. Another regeneration effort in Singapore has resulted in Clarke Quay (www.clarkequay.com.sg), a riverside neighbourhood of bars and restaurants housed in converted warehouses. Pangaea (www.pangaea.sg), run by New Yorker Michael Ault, is pure glitz and glamour.
A day’s shopping in Singapore can feel like a trip to the United Nations: there are prayer rugs and rattan baskets to barter over on Arab Street, spices to inhale in Little India, porcelain and traditional medicines to inspect in Chinatown, and last-minute souvenirs to pick up in Holland Village. If that sounds like too much walking, simply head for ION Orchard (www.ionorchard.com), a state-of-the-art megamall with 330 outlets spread over eight floors.