Kim Jong-un has arrived in Singapore on Sunday ahead of his historic summit with President Donald Trump.

The meeting will be held at the five-star Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island on Tuesday.

An Air China jet carrying Kim landed at Singapore's Changi airport on Sunday afternoon, local time, amid huge security precautions on the city-state island.

Kim Jong Un, right, arrives at the Changi International Airport. Photo / AP
Kim Jong Un, right, arrives at the Changi International Airport. Photo / AP

North Korea's capacity for distraction and sleight of hand was on show as two decoy flights also made their way to Singapore from North Korea.

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In all, three aircraft - including the North Korean leader's private plane - made their way to Singapore from Pyongyang airport, a facility that frequently sees fewer than three international flights a day.

One of them was the ageing Soviet-made Ilyushin-62 that is Kim's personal jet - officially known as 'Chammae-1', or Goshawk-1, after the North's national bird but perhaps more memorably dubbed 'Air Force Un'.

But while Singapore is well within its range, questions have been raised about its reliability and Kim, it turned out, was not on board.

Instead he flew on an Air China Boeing 747. According to flight tracking website Flightradar24, it took off using flight number CA122, a standard designation for the airline's route from Pyongyang to Beijing.

In midair, it changed its callsign to CA061 and headed south, landing in Singapore at 2.36pm local time.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Photo / AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Photo / AP

In Singapore, the jet's high-profile passenger was met by Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

"Welcomed Chairman Kim Jong Un, who has just arrived in Singapore," Balakrishnan said on Twitter, alongside a picture of him shaking hands with Kim wearing glasses and a dark Maoist suit.

Kim was driven into the city-state in a convoy of more than 20 vehicles, including an ambulance, with North Korean television cameramen filming his progress through the sunroofs.

A large limousine with a North Korean flag was seen surrounded by other black vehicles with tinted windows as it sped through the city's streets to the St. Regis Hotel, where China's President Xi Jinping once stayed.

Hundreds of Singaporeans lined the streets to capture images of their own of his black Mercedes Benz stretch limousine with tinted windows - not normally allowed in Singapore, even for the country's prime minister.

Reporters and photographers packed the pavements outside the St Regis hotel where Kim was to stay.

Covers had been hung over the driveway and hotel security brought out additional potted plants to obstruct the view of the lobby.

Aside from three official photographs released by the Singapore government, there had been no public sighting of Kim nearly two hours after he landed.

Located just off Singapore's diplomatic district and a stone's throw away from the Orchard Road shopping belt, the modernist St Regis is tucked between an ageing building dotted with carpet shops and a sleepy high-end neighbourhood mall.

Rooms at the establishment start at Sg$320 (US$240) a night.

On the 20th floor, the ostentatiously opulent 335-square metre (3606 square feet) Presidential Suite, where Kim was believed likely to stay, features a Marc Chagall artwork and a white baby grand piano.

Its rooms are "lined with gold, and accented with precious metals like brass, onyx and silver", the hotel says on its website. It does not give prices but the list price of a similar facility in New York is US$35,000 a night.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, centre left, is greeted by Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs. Photo / AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, centre left, is greeted by Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs. Photo / AP

But who will pick up the bill for the North Koreans' stay has been the subject of much speculation.

The North's economy has suffered from years of mismanagement and is now subject to multiple sanctions over its nuclear ambitions.

Pyongyang has a history of trying to have others pay for its travel. Seoul paid for its delegates to this year's Winter Olympics in the South.

But a Seoul presidential spokesman said it was 'not considering it at all at the moment', while the US has insisted it will not foot the bill - and is not asking anyone else to do so.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday his government was spending around Sg$20 million to host the summit - around half of it on security.

A limousine, front, with a North Korean flag believed to be carrying leader Kim Jong Un travels past Singapore's Orchard Road on its way to the St Regis Hotel. Photo / AP
A limousine, front, with a North Korean flag believed to be carrying leader Kim Jong Un travels past Singapore's Orchard Road on its way to the St Regis Hotel. Photo / AP

"It's a cost that we are willing to pay. It's our contribution to an international endeavour which is in our profound interests," he said. He did not mention the North Koreans' hotel bill.

Kim is set to meet with Trump on Tuesday in what's shaping up to be one of the most unusual summits in modern history.

Despite the initial high stakes of a meeting meant to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons, the talks have been portrayed by Trump in recent days more as a get-to-know-each-other meeting.

He has also raised the possibility of further summits and an agreement ending the Korea War by replacing the armistice signed in 1953 with a peace treaty. China and South Korea would have to sign off on any legal treaty.

Trump departed the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Canada, early, telling reporters he was embarking on a "mission of peace".

He said: "I will be on a mission of peace and will carry in my heart the hearts of millions of people, all over the world.

"We really think North Korea will be a tremendous place in a very short period of time and we appreciate everything that's going on."

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana or presidential palace. Photo / AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana or presidential palace. Photo / AP

He added to reporters: "It's unknown territory in the truest sense, but I really feel confident.

"I feel that Kim Jong-un wants to do something great for his people and he has that opportunity and he won't have that opportunity again.

"It's never been done before. And obviously, what has been done before hasn't worked."

Raising expectations, Trump had also said the outcome of the meeting will rely heavily on his own instincts.

The US president, who prides himself on his deal-making prowess, said he will know "within the first minute" of meeting Kim whether the North Korean leader is serious about the nuclear negotiations.

"I think I'll know pretty quickly whether or not, in my opinion, something positive will happen. And if I think it won't happen, I'm not going to waste my time. I don't want to waste his time," he said.

"This is a leader who really is an unknown personality," Trump added of Kim.

"People don't know much about him. I think that he's going to surprise on the upside, very much on the upside."

White House aides described Trump in the days after receiving Kim's initial invitation as being obsessed by visions of winning the Nobel Peace Prize and using The Art of the Deal to put his mark on the global order.

But in recent weeks, Trump's enthusiasm has been tempered somewhat by the challenge of deal-making with such an unpredictable opponent.

And there are worries from the White House to East Asian allies that Trump's desire for an agreement will lead him to accept any deal - even if it's a bad one.

The Trump-Kim meeting has captured intense global attention after a turn to diplomacy in recent months replaced, for the time being, serious fears of war last year amid North Korean nuclear and missile tests.

The North, many experts believe, stands on the brink of being able to target the entire US mainland with its nuclear-armed missiles.

While there's deep skepticism that Kim will quickly give up those hard-won nukes, there's also some hope that diplomacy can replace the animosity between the U.S. and the North.

The North Korean autocrat's every move will be followed by 3,000 journalists up until he shakes hands with Trump.

The North Korean Motorcade carrying leader Kim Jong Un travels down Singapore's Orchard Boulevard. Photo / AP
The North Korean Motorcade carrying leader Kim Jong Un travels down Singapore's Orchard Boulevard. Photo / AP

He has only publicly left his country three times since taking power after his despot father's death in late 2011 - twice traveling to China and once across his shared border with the South to the southern part of the Demilitarized Zone in recent summits with the leaders of China and South Korea respectively.

There's a flurry of speculation about what results might come from the summit.

The initial goal was the "complete denuclearisation" of the North.

Pyongyang has said it's willing to deal away its entire nuclear arsenal if the United States provides it with a reliable security assurance and other benefits.

But many, if not all analysts, say that this is highly unlikely, given how hard it has been for Kim to build his program and that the weapons are seen as the major guarantee to his unchecked power.

Any nuclear deal will hinge on North Korea's willingness to allow unfettered outside inspections of the country's warheads and radioactive materials, much of which is likely kept in a vast complex of underground facilities.

Past nuclear deals have crumbled over North Korea's reluctance to open its doors to outsiders.

Another possibility from the summit is a deal to end the Korean War, which North Korea has long demanded, presumably, in part, to get US troops off the Korean Peninsula and, eventually, pave the way for a North Korean-led unified Korea.

The fighting ended on July 27, 1953, but the war technically continues today because instead of a difficult-to-negotiate peace treaty, military officers for the US-led United Nations, North Korea and China signed an armistice that halted the fighting.

The North may see a treaty - and its presumed safety assurances from Washington - as its best way of preserving the Kim family dynasty.

The ensuing recognition as a 'normal country' could then allow sanctions relief, and later international aid and investment.

Kim may also be interested in getting aid and eventual investment to stabilise and then rebuild a crumbling economy.

Just meeting with Trump will also give Kim recognition as the leader of a 'normal' country and as an equal of the US leader.