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Singapore recently celebrated half a century of independence from Malaysia, and the city is busy reinventing itself for the next 50 years. Where Far Eastern ex-pats once dismissively talked of partying in Hong Kong and parenting in Singapore, if you know where to look (clue - we do) you can now find plenty of places to put the Sin in Singapore. OK, you still can't chew gum on the street, but those self-same streets are home to hawkers peddling killer fusion food, cutting edge contemporary art galleries and underground clubbing nights. Next time you're passing through, we strongly recommend you stay 48-hours and hear the so-called Lion City finally find its roar.
Why we think you’ll love it
- Little India is an assault on the senses - traditional shop houses, vibrant colours, aromatic spices, and a weekend bustle unmatched anywhere else in the city
- Food! Indulge in char kway teow in Chinatown, sip teh tarik on Serangoon road, or sample the signature chilli crab at one of the East Coast Parkways seafood hotspots
- Escape the city, and hike the rainforest trails in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, or visit the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari
From the gallery
Singapore: The Detail
So, what to do when you're there? Easy - experience the city's cheek by jowl cultural quarters for a reminder of Singapore's melting pot mentality. Within easy walking distance of each you can gawp at the extraordinary Sri Veeramakaliamman temple in Little India, hit the hipster shop-houses on Haji Lane in the Muslim Quarter (one of the very few places the authorities allow street art) and chow down on delectable dim sum in Chinatown,
While we're on the subject of food, Singapore offers some of the finest in Asia, if not the world. Foodie fad du jour is Mod Sin (Modern Singaporean) cooking, where innovative local chefs have taken the traditional recipes made famous by the city's Indian, Chinese and Malaysian streetfood hawkers and given them a contemporary twist. Not to say the conventional street eats aren't delectable. Far from it - Singapore gives the likes of Vietnam and Mexico a run for their streetfood money. You'll be spoilt for choice, both in variations and venues, but make sure not to leave without trying a Singaporean staple - chicken rice - where the fowl is marinated in pork stock and served with ginger and garlic laced rice topped off with red chilli sauce. Unbelievably good.
As for a post-prandial drink, 'Singa-bore' is a place of the past thanks to a fun and thriving nightlife scene where speakeasy cocktail bars and all-night clubs pop up on a regular basis. Come sun up, and before leaving town, it's worth tapping into the city-state's upcoming contemporary art scene - check out as many as 16 galleries and exhibition spaces at former British army base Gillman Barracks - and pick up that 24hr turnaround tailor-made suit you ordered the day before.