Established as a trade colony of the British Empire at the beginning of the 19th century, Singapore has long outgrown its humble beginnings and is now one of the world's busiest and most captivating cities. A metropolitan and sophisticated atmosphere characterises the city but it also retains a sensitivity and respect for the many traditional cultures while its south-east Asian location gives it a very humid equatorial climate.
While the country is very densely populated, care has been taken with design, and almost half of the city-state's area is parklands. Relax at Singapore Botanic Gardens, or get away from the hustle and bustle at the beaches and seaside walks of the East Coast Park. Gardens by the Bay is packed with a riot of tropical plants filling its domes, and you won't miss its towering 'Supertrees'. Other green spaces well worth a visit are Jurong Bird Park and Singapore Zoo.
Another excellent choice for a quieter side of Singapore is the island of Pulau Ubin. You can take a “bumboat” out, and rent a bicycle at the small village to take you on track around the edge of the island to discover the wetlands and habitats rich in plant and animal life.
The diverse cultures of Asia are represented in a number of districts, offering local dishes and access to different ways of life. One of the biggest Chinatowns in the world can be found here, and you can learn about its history and growth at the Chinatown Heritage Centre. Little India is an excellent choice for dining, while Arab Street offers carpets and tailors, and is also home to a number of mosques. The eateries and trendy shops of nearby Haji Lane make this a fashionable hangout.
Don't forget your chequebook when you visit the shopping paradise of famous Orchard Road, whose extensive range demands a day or more to explore. Take the cable car to Sentosa Island to discover a place fully dedicated to the joys of amusement parks and other attractions. Fort Siloso offers an excellent view into World War II history, as some of the pivotal points of that conflict are explored here.
As the day starts to give way to night, make your way down to Clarke Quay or Boat Quay for an elegant choice of top cuisine and exciting nightclubs.
Changi Airport is one on the largest in Asia, and is the main point of arrival in Singapore. The city is easy to get around, with good quality and cheap public transport, and taxis, widely available.