Truly an international city, Singapore inhabits a main island among dozens of smaller ones that form the Singapore republic, situated between the isles of Malaysia and Indonesia in the South China Sea. A British colonial past and a unique blend of cultures creates a metropolis where elderly gentlemen play mah-jongg in formally landscaped parks. Expansive cricket pitches give way to scores of narrow alleyways boasting pop-up markets, with street food that ranges from Indian roti to Chinese noodles. The heady mix of Singapore attractions has been a draw for centuries, and with new-found financial strength, the city is likely to keep winning over travelers.
When looking for for things to do in Singapore, begin with a cruise along Singapore River. Luxurious high-rises tower over modest rafts paddled on the river below. Quaint wooden boats that used to carry cargo between the harbor and inland spots have been renovated for sightseers, and the leisurely route gives travelers an excellent view of the city from the water. Boats stop into several jetties along the route, allowing passengers a chance to hop off for shopping or strolling.
After taking in views of skyscrapers and a busy riverfront, shift gears at Singapore Botanic Gardens, one of the city's top sights. Situated northwest of downtown, the gardens feature a waterfall, tropical rainforest and an orchid garden with more than 1,000 species of the flower.
For an entirely different type of vista, head downtown to Marina Bay Sands, a 55-floor resort that dominates the landscape and resembles a cruise ship suspended high in the air. Most distinctive for its huge rooftop infinity pool, the resort also boasts a shopping center with indoor canal rides and a sizable casino floor. Sky on 57, an elegant on-site restaurant with stunning panoramic views, offers cuisine that fuses French favorites with Asian flavors.
That type of fusion cuisine is showcased at many of the city's restaurants, making dining one of the top things to do in Singapore. One popular pick is Iggy's, named after restaurateur Ignatius Chan. With an intimate dining room and inventive tasting menus, Iggy's blends flavors from Europe, Asia and Australia. Another favorite, L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon weaves together Japanese cuisine with Spanish-style tapas, in a dining room with French and Asian flair.
Evening brings dancing at one of Singapore's many nightclubs, or spotting other wildlife on a Night Safari, one of the city's most popular attractions. The first night-time wildlife park in the world, the safari provides subtle lighting and quiet, motorized open buses so visitors can see nocturnal animals like tarsiers as well as slumbering tigers and giraffes. For added flair, the attraction also offers tribal dance performances and fire-eating demonstrations.
Spotlessly clean, and providing a distinctive look at cultures melding together, Singapore is a cosmopolitan city that has not forgotten its roots. Slurping noodles in a tiny market stall in the evening or relaxing on a river cruise by day, travelers will find plenty of delights in Singapore attractions.