Informed by two centuries of trading history, Singapore mixes in influences from all corners of the globe. In between its sky-scraping glass and steel, multi-tiered temples dot Chinatown, Little India is resplendent in thousands of colours and a 19th-century mosque glitters over the Arabic Quarter.
It all boils down into bustling hawker markets. Here, the likes of delicately spiced satay skewers and impossibly fluffy dim-sum dumplings are inspired by everywhere from Hong Kong to Indonesia to create a culinary landscape that's uniquely Singaporean. Remember, alongside those famous street-stall vendors there’s also plenty of fine-dining restaurants, often found perched on rivers and alongside rooftop bars.
Indeed, in Singapore, it pays to look up. In a single glance, you can expect to take in giant ferris wheels, monolithic lotuses housing unique museums and infinity-pool surfboards that cap luxury hotels. Together they form one of the world’s most iconic skylines. In among it all, there’s also plenty of colonial intrigue. And, alongside neoclassical courthouses and Victorian concert halls, it’s the whitewashed colonnades of the iconic Raffles Hotel that linger longest in the memory.
Given all this unashamed urbanity, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Singapore had forgotten its eco credentials. However, it’s Asia’s (some say the world’s) greenest city. Look beyond the palm-fringed beaches of Sentosa Island and you’ll find botanic gardens, a world-class zoo and an interior given over the treetop jungle bridges. However, the city’s latest offering is perhaps its greatest – the Gardens by the Bay. Pictured above, it’s a vertical park of 50-metre-high “Supertrees” knitted together by sweeping elevated walkways.
Built to impress, Singapore is packed full of unique moments to make your holiday special. Indeed, after settling in for a hearty lunch of steaming noodle soup in a hawker centre, perhaps treat yourself to a Michelin-recognised dinner. With over 40 stars on offer, the city features one of the highest concentrations the world over. That’s alongside plenty of afternoon-tea delights, served up in perfect colonial elegance.
Speaking of treating yourself, Singapore has long been recognised as something of a shopping mecca. Our pick is Orchard Road, home to some of the world’s finest fashion houses. The city is also host to a series of truly special accommodation, detailed below. Just remember, although you’ll have to be a guest to enjoy a dip in the surfboard’s iconic infinity pool, anyone can enjoy a Singapore Sling in the famed Long Bar of Raffles Hotel.
Appropriately, Singapore’s accommodation options span from colonial jewels to ultra-modern delights. And, Raffles Hotel remains the place to stay. Although almost as old as Singapore itself and named after the country’s founder, it’s been newly reopened for 2019. Expect billiards tables, elegant rooms and fine-dining terraces. However, there’s plenty of extra intrigue, with highlights ranging from beach-side favourites to converted-warehouse boutiques.
Raffles Hotel Singapore
Experience the icon that is Raffles hotel, reopened in August 2019 following a significant restoration. Expect elegant suites, an indulgent spa, cocktails in the famous Long Bar and dining by Alain Ducasse.
Eastern & Oriental Express
Southeast Asia’s only luxury train pairs vintage opulence, fine drinks and finer dining with views of lush jungle and ancient temples.
Offering an enticing blend of contemporary design and Asian tradition, this luxury hotel is superbly located, right on the golden shores of palm-fringed Sentosa Island, just a short hop from Singapore itself.
The Fullerton Hotel Singapore
A true Singapore icon, the grand neoclassical façade of the acclaimed Fullerton Hotel hides a wealth of delights, from stunning rooms and suites to a spectacular pool and spa.
Fullerton Bay Hotel
Ideally located on the waterfront in the heart of Singapore’s vibrant heritage district, this luxurious modern hotel pays more than a passing nod to the city’s traditional roots
With an equatorial climate, Singapore is hot and sunny year-round. Don’t worry though, from the high-end shopping malls to the superb public transport system, air conditioning is ubiquitous. Then, to minimise rainfall, look outside the short December–January monsoon. However, often confined to the early morning, showers invariably last a mere half hour and come as a welcome refreshment.
Bali, Singapore & Komodo: luxury cruise and stays
17 days from £8,295 pp incl. flights
Between island-hopping on a luxury small-ship cruise, complete with technicolour dives and Komodo dragons, you’ll explore Singapore’s futurism and stay in private-pool villas in Bali.
Singapore & Sentosa in Style
7 days from £2,915 pp incl. flightsSave up to £475 pp – ends 28 February
Celebrate one of the world’s great cities on this indulgent weeklong break, complete with private tours and transfers, and stays in two luxurious hotels.