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Why balmy, beautiful Singapore just isn’t only a stopover any more

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Once seen merely as a stopover, Singapore is now considered a unbelievable destination in its own right. 

It’s a balmy, beautiful city state where record-breaking skyscrapers tower over nature reserves and supersized shopping malls.

There’s no shortage of places to remain and the country is legendary for its UNESCO-listed street food scene and plush, sprawling parks — lots of that are connected by Singapore’s consistently expanding network of bicycle lanes.

Glittering heights: Once seen merely as a stopover, Singapore is now considered a unbelievable destination in its own right. Above is town’s spectacular skyline  

Chilli crab is a Singaporean delicacy (file photo)

Chilli crab is a Singaporean delicacy (file photo) 

A SKYLINE TO RIVAL DUBAI

Singapore’s skyline — particularly within the waterfront area — makes Dubai’s look positively boring. You’ll find every sort of architecture here, starting from the 57-storey Marina Bay Sands hotel, with its rooftop sky park (which is longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall), to the neoclassical splendour of the waterfront Fullerton Hotel, which was once Singapore’s general post office.

EAT LIKE A MOVIE STAR

In late 2020, Singapore’s hawker culture — which refers back to the open-air food courts where delicious, local dishes are served — was added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (try saying that after a mouthful of chilli crab — a Singaporean delicacy).

Incredible places to sample Singapore’s famous street food include the Newton Food Centre (which starred within the 2018 film Crazy Wealthy Asians) and the Maxwell Food Centre, near Chinatown.

For wonderful dining, consider hotel Raffles Singapore’s newest restaurant, Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse, which opened late last 12 months. Or try Singapore’s first Nobu outpost on the 4 Seasons Hotel. As for that each one essential Singaporean sundowner? It’s got to be the Regent hotel’s Manhattan bar.

OFF TO THE SHOPPES

Head to The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, which now has greater than 170 stores. You’ll be just a brief walk from the world’s first floating Apple store, which opened in 2020 on the waters of Marina Bay.

Singapore’s enormous Raffles City shopping centre may have 50 latest stores by the top of the 12 months. These include Sephora, L’Occitane, Lululemon and Acqua di Parma.

For some truly Singaporean souvenirs, head to Design Orchard, a sprawling boutique on Orchard Road with a consistently expanding roster of brands.

TREASURE ISLAND

Sentosa Island, pictured above, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year - check out the island's new SkyHelix Sentosa panoramic ride

Sentosa Island, pictured above, celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this 12 months – try the island’s latest SkyHelix Sentosa panoramic ride

There’s never been a greater time to go to Sentosa Island, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this 12 months. Got a head for heights? Brave the brand new SkyHelix Sentosa ride — Singapore’s highest open-air, panoramic ride.

After strapping in, you’ll slowly ascend to 260 ft above ground level. The ride rotates, providing 360-degree views over Sentosa and Singapore’s southern islands. Incidentally, the view will soon be much more spectacular — there are plans to relocate the port and Sentosa itself will expand to incorporate the smaller nearby island of Pulau Brani.

For a history fix, try Fort Siloso — a coastal artillery battery, which became Singapore’s 74th National Monument this 12 months.

Elsewhere, several Sentosa Island hotels (including the Hard Rock Hotel Singapore) will soon be refurbished as a part of a makeover which is able to involve an expansion of the S.E.A. Aquarium and, at Universal Studios Singapore, a latest Minion Land zone, as a consequence of open in 2024.

186 MILES OF PEDAL POWER

Go for a bike ride on the recently expanded Park Connector Network, a 186-mile trail of bike paths connecting Singapore’s green spaces. Above is a section of the network in East Coast Park

Go for a motorbike ride on the recently expanded Park Connector Network, a 186-mile trail of motorbike paths connecting Singapore’s green spaces. Above is a piece of the network in East Coast Park

Go for a pedal-powered exploration of Singapore. Our favourite dedicated cycling routes include the recently expanded Park Connector Network, a 186-mile trail of motorbike paths connecting Singapore’s green spaces. The preferred stretches include the Eastern Coastal Loop, which weaves along Singapore’s southern coastline. There’s also the 16-mile Rail Corridor, a latest cycling and climbing path within the footprint of a railway which once shuttled goods to Malaysia.

The route is lined with nature reserves and historic sites (including ancient steel truss bridges and restored train stations), and pangolins and lemurs are commonly spotted.

FAMILY FUN

Marina Bay Sands (pictured) hosts a twice-nightly water and light show known as Spectra

Marina Bay Sands (pictured) hosts a twice-nightly water and light-weight show generally known as Spectra 

Singapore will soon have its first dedicated children’s museum. Interactive exhibits shall be central to the museum, which is able to open in December near Fort Canning Park. Meanwhile, children (and their parents) will love Future World on the ArtScience Museum, near the bottom of the Marina Bay Sands.

Future World is full of interactive digital art — the highlight of which is the Sketch Aquarium. After drawing their favourite sea creature, children can scan the image and watch their design swim across the floor-to-ceiling virtual aquarium.

For some free fun, consider a wander across the nearby Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. Its art installations include the Rain Oculus, which stores rainwater and empties it into the shopping centre’s canals, making a thundering indoor waterfall at 10am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm on daily basis.

Equally unmissable is Spectra, Marina Bay Sands’ twice-nightly water and light-weight show. It returned in April after a two-year hiatus.

WHEN TO GO

AS Singapore is simply to the north of the equator, it’s hot and humid all 12 months round, and the temperature rarely drops below 25c (77f) or exceeds 33c (91f). Major events include the Singapore Food Festival this month and the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, which starts on September 30.

WHERE TO STAY

Feast on the legendary afternoon tea at the historic Fullerton Hotel Singapore (above)

Feast on the legendary afternoon tea on the historic Fullerton Hotel Singapore (above) 

TRAVEL FACTS

Returns from London Heathrow to Singapore with Singapore Airlines start from £555 (singaporeair.com).

Stay on the historic Fullerton Hotel Singapore from £276 per room per night (fullertonhotels.com). Absorb the views of Singapore’s skyline and feast on the hotel’s legendary afternoon tea.

Visitors who fancy a pedal-powered exploration should consider the Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen, near Orchard Road. From £80 per room per night (all.accor.com), it has a fleet of bamboo bikes for guests. The Raffles Sentosa Resort and Spa (raffles.com) will develop into the brand’s second Singapore property when it opens later this 12 months. Also consider the Park Royal Collection Marina Bay (panpacific.com) which recently emerged from a £25 million makeover.

Although places to remain in the course of the Grand Prix are already briefly supply, you won’t struggle to search out one on the 1,080-room Hilton Singapore Orchard (hilton.com), which became the region’s largest Hilton hotel when it opened this 12 months.

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