Singapore is the jewel of Asia. On this small island, you can explore colonial heritage, like the Raffles Hotel and the British forts and ports. And delve into the worlds of Malaysian, Indian and Chinese culture and food that all mix here in one of the world's tiniest countries. It's also one of the most modern – exploring Singapore at night is like being in the film Blade Runner.
The Singapore Grand Prix was the first night race on the F1 calendar when it began in 2008 and is a fan favourite for its unpredictability and stunning locale. Walls loom around every corner of this sinuous circuit and the margin for error is low. It pushes drivers to the limit – a test of physical and mental endurance – and provides one of the most memorable spectacles of the season with the sheer drama of all the action taking place at night, under the floodlights in the middle of one of the world's busiest cities.
Together with our Global Luxury Luggage Partner Globe-Trotter, this is our guide to exploring the Lion City.
How can you feel like you're on the beach?
One of the many engineering marvels of this tiny island nation, Sentosa Cove is formed largely from reclaimed land and is one of the most high-end resorts in Singapore. Residential complexes sit with hotels like the W, which is the perfect place to relax. It has a large pool and plenty of quiet green space to wind down in, but also has that big city buzz when the sun goes down. Rooms are tricked out in a funky style, reminiscent of a hip-hop video. Nearby you can find harbours and yachts for anyone who wants to spend a little time on the sea.
Where can you kick back and relax?
In colonial days, Singapore and Hong Kong were known globally for their clubs, where the great and good would lunch extravagantly and then gather in the evening for cocktails. The British legacy is hard to shake and these places are little heritage bubbles.
The NCO Club at the JW Marriott harks back to classic traditions but also brings its hospitality offering up to the modern day too. Set in a historic building that was once an Army club, today it offers restaurants and bars including Cool Cats live music lounge and Stags Room wine-tasting bar.
What about some fun on arrival?
No other airport in the world is like Changi. It's no wonder that Singapore's global gateway to the world is so consistently ranked among the best in the world. From the serve-yourself laksa in the business class lounges to the butterfly garden and world-class shopping, clean and efficient Changi is a cut above. The airport has upped the ante with its new Jewel mall, which has a striking sight at its centre – the HSBC Rain Vortex, the world's tallest indoor waterfall. It has already become a key sight and icon of the city-state.
Where can you enjoy the fresh air?
Fort Canning Park teems with interesting sights that have witnessed their fair share of history. The Battle Box where the British fought the Japanese in 1942 is under the park's soil and the Governor used to live in a house in the park. The whole site is set on a hill and is a replica of the Government House – which was actually first the residence of Stamford Raffles, one of the founders of modern Singapore, sits here overlooking the city.
Raffles was a keen botanist and as well as starting the famous hotel, which is now metres away from the Marina Bay Street Circuit, he also experimented in gardening, and the British colonial authorities continued those experiments. You can see the preserved experimental gardens which were planted with nutmeg, cloves, sugarcane and tea plants. There are also plenty of exotic fruit trees around the park, and a lake too.
How about some world-class street food?
A quintessential Singapore experience is street food, and it's no wonder that Singapore is regarded as possibly the best in the world. You will feel like you've gone to foodie heaven after tasting the most fragrant laksas, unctuous beef rendang, comforting Singapore noodles, stir fries, the famous chilli crab and even more eccentric options like lamb brain. Head to the hawker markets on Adam Street or Amoy Street, or the Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre for an epicurean treat. Cheap, delicious dishes and a buzzing, febrile atmosphere will be waiting for you.
What is the most picturesque location in the city?
Another icon of modern Singapore is the Gardens By The Bay. The Supertrees tower over everything else and are one of the most recognisable images of this city. The huge structures house a variety of plant life and an observatory and are strikingly lit up at night – look out for them when you're watching the night race.
The Gardens also boast a generous 100 hectares (which is a huge amount of space in this small city) of greenhouses, lawns, plants, exhibits, cafes and other attractions. It's a perfect place to get back to nature and shows how highly the people here value the natural world.
Where can I enjoy some stunning art?
The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) was founded in 1996, so its history is not as lengthy as some art museums around the world. But in that short time, it has staked a claim as possibly one of the best of its type in South-East Asia. Operating from old colonial buildings in the city and a new venue in the Tanjong Pagar port area, SAM is proud to champion Asian art as well as more well-known Western art. Thai artist Arin Rungjang and Singapore's own Charles Lim are some key artists with works in the permanent collection here. Also check out Ming Wong's Wayang Spaceship temporary installation on show until the end of 2023.
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