Travel Guide: Exploring Singapore

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Both familiar and exotic, Singapore invites you to visit some of the world’s most intriguing countries — China, Indonesia, India, and Malaysia, yet you will unpack your suitcase only once.

Both familiar and exotic, Singapore invites you to visit some of the world’s most intriguing countries—China, Indonesia, India, and Malaysia, yet you will unpack your suitcase only once, have all your conversations in English and enjoy year-round warm weather. All these cultures clasp hands in romantic, spotlessly clean Singapore, nicknamed “The Garden City.”

Birds chirp in cages that hang at shop windows in old Chinatown, along Seng Poh Road. In Little India, along Serangoon Road, you’ll mingle with turbaned Sikhs and women in silk saris. On a stroll along Arab Street to the Sultan Mosque, you might hear the call to prayer. The open green, known as Padang, located in the Colonial District, is bordered by reminders of old England: the Parliament House, the Supreme Court, the Cricket Club and the Victoria Concert Hall & Theater.

As you shop and dine your way through the worlds of Singapore, you also may catch some of the ethnic festivals and celebrations that abound in this multicultural city. Watch for Chinese street operas and performances of Malay and Indian dances.

Snuggle into a trishaw and let yourselves be “pedaled” around Singapore’s Asian quarters. Stop by a teahouse for an afternoon snack, send home notes scribed by a street calligrapher, and watch Chinese opera masks and kites being hand painted by youthful artists. Then, stop to bargain for decorative chopsticks and dainty porcelain rice dishes.

Nearby, on the cobblestoned streets of Little India, enjoy the scents of clove, cardamom, and incense wafting from the shops. Stop to buy gossamer, delicately printed sari—they pack easily and have a myriad of uses.

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Along the Arab Street, you might bargain for silver or gold dance anklets and rings. More shopping awaits along Erskine Road in Chinatown, where you’ll find art and crafts, including spices packaged in unusual containers—they make wonderful keepsakes.

Somewhere along the way, you’ll want to stop and let a reflexologist give you foot and leg massages.

Singapore is a food lover’s paradise. Around the city, you’ll fond every kind of Chinese food, as well as Malay, Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Brazilian, Danish, Russian, Caribbean, Swiss, American, and even Mexican restaurants. Too many and too much sample in one tour? Not at all! An easy way to try nearly all of Singapore’s cuisines is at one of the many “hawker centers,” open-air food centers where countless stalls sell different ethnic foods and drinks. Among the best hawker offerings are the fresh tropical fruit drinks such as mango and lychee juice.

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When you are ready for some fun in the sun, Singapore offers its own getaway isle – Sentosa Island, which is accessible by ferry, cable car, or bus. Here, you can spend a day at the beach and rent pedal boats, aquabikes and windsurfers. There are also golf courses as well as facilities for canoeing and roller skating.

For a wildlife day in the city, visit Jurong Park, where you can have your fortunes told by the resident talking parrot. You may also head 30 minutes outside the city center and spend an evening at the Night Safari Park, where you’ll watch the nocturnal activities of rare jungle animals such as the golden jackal, the red panda lemur, and the purple coot. Don’t miss a visit to Haw Par Village, also a short car or bus ride from the city center. At this Chinese-mythology theme park, you can learn about Chinese legends and myths through multimedia shows, theme rides, live theater and interactive displays.

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