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Asia travel: 5 Reasons to visit Singapore

If you have yet to visit the steamy city-state of Singapore, you’re missing out. We share some of the top must-dos and reasons to add this hot spot to your list of vacation destinations this year.

singapore hawker center

Eat at a hawker centre

Tip: If the stall says “self-service,” that means you wait to bring your meal to your table. Otherwise the stall owner will bring your meal when it’s ready.

If there’s anything Singaporeans like more than (or as much as) shopping, it’s eating, and that’s evident with the seemingly endless array of places to grab a bite. But if you eat anywhere in Singapore, make it a hawker centre, which is essentially a large, covered hall containing food stalls that sell local favourites. Grab a table (locals put a packet of tissues on the table to claim it while they order), choose your dish of choice, order and either sit down to be served or wait for your meal to be prepared. Try Lau Pa Sat or Maxwell Road Hawker Centre, two large and airy options with lots of choices.

Shop on Orchard Road

Singaporeans love to shop, which is one of the first things you’ll notice about the bustling but orderly city-state. Opportunities to part with your money are everywhere, but none are as captivating as the iconic Orchard Road. If Fifth Avenue in New York and the Champs-Élysées in Paris had a baby, it would most certainly look like Orchard Road, a veritable mecca for shopping enthusiasts. Any designer name you can think of can be found along this strip of malls and high-end shops. Bring your wallet, or resign yourself (as we did) to window-shopping.

Wander through Chinatown and Little India

When you want to move past the ultra-orderly nature of Singapore and see and experience something that feels a little different, head to Chinatown or Little India (or both). You’ll experience delicious food and interesting markets to browse (selling both food and other items like clothes and souvenirs) and get lost among the sights and smells of two fascinating cultures. Each offers its own attractions, including temples, galleries, museums and the aforementioned markets.

Enjoy the outdoors at the Singapore Botanic Gardens

If you go: We were instantly enamoured with the sleek, modern design of the conveniently located and very green (literally and figuratively) PARKROYAL on Pickering, which just opened in January and aptly dubs itself a “hotel in a garden.” Within steps of bustling Chinatown and many other popular attractions, the eco-conscious PARKROYAL on Pickering offered a serene yet ideal base for a few days in Singapore. Don’t leave without taking a dip in the gorgeous infinity pool overlooking the Singapore skyline (seriously, we didn’t want to get out), a wander through the lush garden walk high above street level or a hearty breakfast at Lime, the property’s main-level restaurant.

Escape the hectic pace of Singapore with a few hours spent exploring the vast, well-manicured Botanic Gardens. Trails leading to each section (from rainforest to orchids) are well marked and easy to navigate, and while there, you feel completely outside the city even though the gardens can be accessed on foot from the Orchard Road shopping area. We were particularly impressed with the evolution garden, rainforest area and ginger garden. Bring water and good walking shoes if you plan to wander for a while.

Marvel at the many museums

Getting your fix of museums is easy in Singapore, with dozens to choose from, depending on what you’re after. Start with the National Museum of Singapore to get a sense of the history of the area, including Singapore’s colonial past and how the culture has developed since the nation’s independence. It’s also well worth visiting the Asian Civilisations Museum for a taste of Asian culture from all over the continent. Eleven themed galleries over three floors showcase Singapore River, South Asia, West Asia, China and Southeast Asia. Other good museum-hopping spots include the Singapore Art Museum and Peranakan Museum.

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Photo courtesy of Catchlights_sg

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