Don’t dismiss Singapore as one giant shopping mall. Yes, there are lots of those but Singapore is also a tropical melting pot of culture and traditions reflected in its food, architecture and people. You’re never far from expansive green spaces or new and exotic flavours – and if you need any tips on where to eat, rest assured the locals are more than happy to share their favourite spots with you. Singapore was recently reinstated as the key stopover on for QF1/2 Qantas flights on the way to Sydney for Londoners (and vice versa, of course) so make the most of your time in this fascinating city with this list of must-eats, sees, stays and buys.
Stay at Hotel
Polished rosewood, floor-to-ceiling windows and vintage nautical maps decorate this glamorous 100-room bolthole, which blends classic and contemporary design in a historic waterfront location – the landing point of Singapore's forefathers. Enjoy dim sum, afternoon tea and jazz at the hotel's 'heritage-chic' Clifford Pier restaurant, and chill at the stylish Lantern rooftop pool and bar. Book now
Breakfast at Toast Box (Bugis Junction)
Head to this funky modern take on an old-school kopitiam (coffee shop) for a traditional Singaporean pick-me-up: toast laced with kaya (a jam made from coconut milk, eggs and sugar). It goes well with soft-boiled eggs and coffee sweetened with condensed milk.
Saddle up: join a cycling tour
Running day and night, Biking Singapore's absorbing, anecdote-packed tours have you pedalling through the fragrant lanes of Chinatown via CBD skyscrapers and past the futuristic architectural beacons of Marina Bay.
Savour chilli crab at Momma Kong's
Tuck into a legendary sticky-fingered Singaporean dish at this trendy eatery, helmed by two young brothers on Chinatown's Mosque Street. If the chilli crab isn't to your taste, try the black pepper version. They're both amazing.
Image credit: Momma Kong's
Browse the National Gallery
The world's largest collection of modern South-East Asian art – including paintings of Singapore when it was a jungly fishing village – line the labyrinthine galleries of the spruced-up City Hall and Supreme Court buildings.
Shop and eat in Little India
The vibrant 'Little India' enclave is a hypnotic treat for souvenir hunters. Fossick flea markets, Instagrammable shopping arcades and the 24-hour Mustafa Centre for colourful fabrics, eclectic antiques and vintage posters of Singapore. If you're peckish, the hawker court in the Tekka Centre serves flavoursome Indian, Chinese and Malay fare.
Visit Fort Canning Park
This tranquil, leafy retreat looms above the colonial district. Wander through aromatic spice gardens, peruse the shrine of Singapore's last Malay king and delve into the bunker-style Battle Box Museum, which traces the Japanese invasion of Singapore in 1942.
Be pampered at Banyan Tree Spa
Singapore's hustle, bustle and sweltering humidity can sap energy levels. But you'll feel revitalised after some Royal Banyan treatment. A massage using a herbal pouch dipped in sesame oil is a signature offering at the Banyan Tree Spa on the 55th floor of Marina Bay Sands.
Explore Gardens by the Bay
This lush, lavish, eminently stroll-able attraction is impressive by day but really dazzles after dark when its huge glass conservatories and towering 'supertrees' are illuminated. Time your visit to catch the mesmerising Garden Rhapsody light and sound show (nightly at 7.45pm and 8.45pm).
Splurge at 1-Altitude
Singapore's loftiest alfresco bar (62 storeys up) is the place for cocktails and city views. It's also home to fine dining restaurant, Stellar. East meets west in the tasting menus (think foie gras parfait brioche, Japanese Hida Wagyu rib eye and roast turbot).