Whether you’re a newcomer to Asia or a frequent visitor, you’ll find that Singapore is a seamless entry point. The multicultural city-state is famously clean, green, and safe, and its English-speaking locals can help you navigate and share favorite spots.
The sense of ease sets in from the moment you land; only at Singapore’s award-winning Changi Airport will you find inviting amenities like a 24-hour-movie theater, a butterfly garden, and a rooftop pool. It’s also a convenient hub with low-cost carriers to connect you to the ancient temples, gorgeous beaches of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Myanmar—all within a few hours.
You can also opt to explore the region’s waterways by boarding a ship at one of Singapore’s two cruise terminals. More than a dozen lines have voyages departing here, from a few nights to two weeks, including Royal Caribbean, Princess, Celebrity, Star Clippers, and Seabourn.
Still, easy as it is, don’t be in too much of a rush to move on from Singapore. It’s a destination in its own right, with an intriguing cultural mash-up of new and old. You might divide your time between modern additions like the Gardens by the Bay and the lotus-flower-shaped ArtScience Museum and historic treasures, such as its 19th and early 20th-century Buddhist and Hindu temples, mosques, and shophouses found within Chinatown, which is also indicative of Singapore’s multiculturalism. Some of those heritage buildings have been converted into restaurants, and you can’t truly know Singapore without experiencing its dynamic food culture—praised by everyone from Anthony Bourdain to Michelin reviewers.
Singapore’s many ethnic groups, including Chinese, Indian, and Malay, come to the table with cuisines and customs rooted in their respective homelands. As a seaport, Singapore has always attracted immigrants, and so flavors from Europe and the Middle East have also entered the collective cultural stew. You can sample this fusion at the food stalls of Singapore’s more than 100 hawker centers. Tiong Bahru Market, Amoy Street Food Center, and Lau Pa Sat food center—a 19th-century Victorian wrought iron beauty with soaring arches—are a few standouts.
For more upscale dining, the Candlenut, the first and only Peranakan restaurant to earn a Michelin star, serves up modern renditions of Peranakan classics, such as the babi pongteh (braised pork belly with fermented soy bean paste sauce) and the kueh pie tee (crispy pastry shells filled with spicy and sweet mixture of thinly sliced vegetables and prawns). Burnt Ends for gourmet Australian barbeque, and two-Michelin-starred Restaurant André for innovative French cuisine, are elegant establishments housed in the heritage shophouses in the Duxton Hill and its adjacent streets.
Then there are Singapore’s dazzling towers, which literally take fine dining to new heights. Two of the best include the SuperTree by Indochine, where you can dine atop mega-trees 164 feet high, and Wolfgang Puck’s flagship Italian Spago on the 57th level of the tri-towered Marina Bay Sands.
With all this satisfying food and culture, Singapore may even tempt travelers to make it not only the first but also the final stop on their itinerary.