Money and food make this dynamic city state tick, writes Kieran Nash.
The career-obsessed Singaporeans could be said to have three principal hobbies: making money, spending money, and eating and drinking.
The island state certainly provides plenty of opportunities to do all three. The headquarters on the shopping front is, of course, the strip of upmarket malls on Orchard Rd. And there are so many eateries that some locals can hardly cook and many apartments don't have ovens.
The love of food is fostered by Singapore's marvellous mix of Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, Arabic, Peranakan and European influences.
The day starts at a local kopi tiam (coffee house) in Chinatown. Kopi is a Malay translation of coffee, but it's a far cry from the frothy Italian and French creations popular in New Zealand.
Robusta beans, higher in caffeine than their Arabica cousins, are water-filtered through a steep metal pot. The thick-as-mud creation is mixed with condensed milk to make it extra-decadent.
The kopi arrives served with kaya toast, coated in a sugary coconut extract, served with two half-boiled eggs, which is a national dish in Singapore. It's eaten by cracking the two eggs into a shallow bowl, adding soy sauce and pepper and dipping the toast into the runny, snot-like liquid, which tastes a lot better than it sounds.
The kopi house is an institution. Surly drinks women bustle around keeping the locals wired on caffeine and elderly men stay put for the best part of the day smoking cigarettes and reading Chinese newspapers.
That is enough to keep you going until you get to Little India. If you're lucky enough to visit during a festival such as Diwali or Navarathiri, the streets, which are never drab at any time of year, burst with colours, scents and sounds as the markets fill with traders touting saris and spices.
Through the midday heat, wafts of curry beckon from every restaurant and it's difficult to pick a favourite, but Usman on Serangoon Rd is consistently superb. The name means friend and the wait staff take it to heart.
A jalfrezi arrives on a sizzling plate billowing terrifying plumes of steam, accompanied by a garlic naan the size of a small parachute. The chunks of chicken and capsicum are clean, light and seem to dance from plate to palate.
After eating, you can while away an afternoon in a flurry of $10 silk shirts, Obama jandals and loud T-shirts at the franchised Cheapest Store In Singapore.
From Little India, the Kampung Glam, the city's Arab/Malay quarter, is within easy walking distance. It's a cluster of narrow streets, rug stores, shisha bars and hipster boutiques, grouped around Masjid Sultan, the largest mosque in Singapore. At dusk, the mosque's haunting calls to worship float through streets as Westerners in Hawaiian-print shorts fill the many bars and cafes.
Tucked behind the Haji Lane party strip are low-key, cosy eateries like Pyramid restaurant, where softly spoken wait staff pour cups of turbo-charged Arabic coffee - spicy, sweet and thick as soup. Follow this up with juicy lamb koftas and lazy draws of apple-flavoured shisha while overlooking Baghdad St.
These Chinese, Indian and Arab quarters serve up plenty of old-world charm, but a trip to ultra-modern Singapore wouldn't feel complete without soaking in some form of opulence. It's a quick, cheap taxi ride from Arab St to Marina Bay, an area of reclaimed land built to indulge some of mankind's basest instincts - drinking cocktails and swimming 57 floors above the urban sprawl.
Marina Bay Sands is a multi-billion-dollar hotel, mall, theatre, convention centre, casino and art gallery complex overlooking the bay. The hotel's three towers dominate the skyline, topped with a massive, 380m cantilevered structure called the SkyPark, which looks like a superliner washed up on top of the complex.
Its entire rooftop is a big kids' playground, the centrepiece being a 150m infinity pool. One side of this giant pool is lined by palm trees, restaurants and cocktail bars, the other by nothing but the night air and huge, distant skyscrapers. Gliding round this warm pool feels like swimming on the brink of the world, so those with a fear of heights would probably be more comfortable at the famous Ku De Ta bar.
The 360-degree views from this monstrous man-made park really inspire a dizzying sense of grandeur: you feel like you're a millionaire playboy, which is about right, since the main pool is only available to overnight guests and rooms start from about $400. But then, as well as eating, Singaporeans do like splashing out.
Getting there: Jetstar has a regular service from Auckland to Singapore. You can even enjoy the comfort of business class for as little as $649 one way.
Where to stay: Hotel Fort Canning is a stylish boutique hotel within walking distance of the CBD.
Further information: See yoursingapore.com.
Kieran Nash lives in Singapore.