Shop, eat, safari: Singapore thrills Megan Singleton.
Singapore is about as Western as you can get for Asia. English is their first language, they drive on the left (not that you'd want to!), taxis are cheap and the shopping has everything you could wish for.
Shop Orchard Road
I hadn't visited Orchard Road since my OE umpteen years ago, preferring to stick to smaller shopping malls near wherever I was staying, but for true shoppers, you'll need a day here. This 2.2km road is lined with luxury and high street brands, bars and restaurants. Stay at Grand Park Orchard, right around the corner from Top Shop.
Visit Gardens by the Bay
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This multimillion-dollar eco garden project under the soaring shadow of the Marina Bay Sands is set to become the signature of Singapore. Sixteen super-trees made of steel are embedded with plants and two climate-controlled domes mean you have every specimen from rainforest to desert. Arrive at about 6pm and stay for the free light and sound shows at 7.45pm and 8.45pm. Here are my photos from the Gardens.
Singapore Zoo will be a winner with the kids, but little people and big ones will love the Night Safari. The park opens at 7.30pm and begins with a Creatures of the Night show featuring nocturnal cats and other wildlife. Then hop aboard a tram and spy on the animals that come out to play. Arrive early to have dinner first and leave time to walk the four trails for a fascinating insight into what happens after dark.
If you love peanut satay skewers then, like me, you'll want to visit Singapore purely to eat on Boon Tat Street. Several satay huts line the street - which is closed to traffic each evening - and plastic tables and chairs dot the tarseal. Satays by the hundreds are hand-cooked over coals and the smell is amazing. At 60c a stick for mutton, lamb or chicken, you'd be hard pressed to spend more than $15 on dinner.
The former British Army barracks is now a hipster hangout with colonial-inspired bars and restaurants. It's a popular Friday and Saturday night hangout for expats and Sunday brunch destination. But during the week, when it's less crowded, visit Chop Suey for dim sum.