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Singapore is so much more than a stopover destination - and here are the best things to see and do for a week's break

Mirror logo Mirror 14/11/2017 Clare Fitzsimons

Stunning Singapore © provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Stunning Singapore Singapore has long served as a stopover destination for both business travellers and holidaymakers - but the island country actually has so much more to offer.

In fact, there's so much to see and do that if you were to cram them all into your itinerary, you could be surprised at how packed a week's stay could turn out to be!

Clare Fitzsimons decided to put Singapore to the test and headed there for a week's city break to see just how full her itinerary could get. The result? A jam-packed break with everything from a vibrant nightlife to cultural sightseeing and foodie havens.

Read all about her trip below...

Clare's travel diary

There are some places which seem eternally doomed to be a stopgap; somewhere to lay your head for a day or two and recover from the jetlag on your way to your main destination.

Singapore has found itself one of these places, a stopover for those heading Down Under or elsewhere in Asia. Somewhere to sleepily wander round for a couple of days to forget the rigours of the 13-hour flight.

In some ways it’s a city geared up for the whistle-stop tourist – if you’ve only got a few hours, you can even take a free city tour from the airport which will get you back in time to catch your next flight.

So, with no less than six days in a small city – two days entirely on my own – I did wonder how exactly I was going to fill my time.

I needn’t have worried. At the end of my stay, I got on my flight home wishing I had another week to explore the multitude of places I hadn’t made it to.

a train crossing a bridge over a river in a city: Credits: Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty Because what Singapore definitely isn’t, is just a stopover. It’s the definition of a destination.

A melting pot of cultures, the country has four official languages – English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil – and landscapes from rainforests scattered with troops of monkeys to forests of gleaming skyscrapers.

Whatever kind of holiday you could want, you can find it 
here. Live like a local and visit some of the dozens of hawker centres serving incredible food for the equivalent of just a few pounds.

Trek through the rainforest just 10 minutes from the city centre. Laze on the beach or head to one of the deserted islands just a short ferry ride from the coast.

Put on your gladrags and head to one of the many cocktail bars littering the city – get yourself a delicious lychee martini and soak up the incredible views at the rooftop 1-Altitude, the world's highest 
al fresco bar.

a harbor with a city in the background: Credits: Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty History is something Singapore has in spades. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles founded it in the 19th century as a trading post for the British Empire, which it later became a colony of before, in 1965, gaining independence.

It’s a city proud of its heritage. Colonial settlements are preserved, including the famous Raffles hotel where you can still have a traditional Singapore Sling and a bag of monkey nuts (it’s tradition to throw the shells on the floor).

But the city is also thoroughly modern in every way – the towering hotels and businesses of downtown are reminiscent of New York, just with wider streets and a lot fewer people.

It’s also very clean – clinical some people say, not like REAL Asia.

If that means litter-free streets, helpful and polite people, no fear of dodgy tummies from eating street food and a public transport system which puts London to shame, then that’s just fine by me.

If you’ve never travelled beyond the borders of Europe or are daunted by the thought of backpacking your way round the world, then Singapore is the perfect place to start, a blend of home comforts and exotic experiences.

I travelled there with Norwegian as the airline launched its first foray into Asia with the world’s longest non-stop low-cost route. At less than £200 one way, suddenly a week in Singapore looks attractive and achievable.

a woman standing in front of a body of water © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc The cuisine alone is worth the trip – from street food to Michelin-starred restaurants and everything in between.

At Lau Pa Sat you’ll find it all. Closed off to traffic every night to allow dozens of stalls to set up, it becomes known as Satay Street.

In the Chinatown district, you’ll find the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal – Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle, costing just £2.

If your tastes run a little more towards fine dining, try Candlenut –the world’s first Michelin-starred Peranakan (Chinese and Malay-inspired) restaurant.

Yes, it might cost a little more than £2, but the beautiful interior and amazing food are well worth the extra.

For day-to-day (but still fabulous) food head to Straits Kitchen for a huge buffet of Malay, Indian, Chinese or Eurasian food, and for a traditional Singaporean breakfast, go to Kopi & Kaya Toast at Heap Seng Leong.

The coffee with butter (kopi gu you) is a must. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the kaya toast and eggs – toast with palm sugar and a slab of butter served with soft boiled eggs. Be warned, these are VERY runny eggs...

Sunset view from the Hotel Jen OrchardGateway Hotel rooftop pool © provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Sunset view from the Hotel Jen OrchardGateway Hotel rooftop pool Fervent foodies should not miss Red House Seafood. Its Chilli Crab (another Singapore classic) is incredible – even for a complete spice wimp like me – and the cereal prawns are to die for.

For food with a view, head to Makansutra where you can choose from dozens of local delicacies, such as fried carrot cake, oyster omelette or sambal stingray, along with a spectacular panorama of the bay –including the impressive-looking Marina Bay Sands Skypark and Hotel.

It might dominate the skyline and have a fabulous rooftop infinity pool, but there are many other amazing places to sleep in the city too.

I stayed in the Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore by Shangri-La, nestled in the heart of the city’s shopping centre – with its own rooftop infinity pool. It’s a great base from which to explore the city and surrounding areas.

Just a few minutes in a taxi will take you from 20-storey buildings to the lush greenery and rainforests of MacRitchie Park, where you can walk a 10km treetop trail to a rope bridge surrounded by long-tailed macaques.

Just be careful about carrying food and drink openly – those monkeys aren’t shy as I found out when one leapt up to try to grab my water bottle.

a cat walking on a dirt road © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc And you’ll definitely be needing that water. Even in October on the edge of rainy season, the temperatures were around 30C and the humidity is around 90% – the short showers and thunderstorms are a great relief.

And if the weather does get too much, there are plenty of areas to explore, with small shops and cafes where you can escape the showers.

Little India is full of the sights, sounds and smells of India, with market stalls selling everything from traditional food to stunning saris.

In Kampong Glam, you can get an authentic taste of Malay culture in what is now a conservation area for the Muslim and Arab community.

And Haji Lane, a bustling street of pre-war shop houses (shop on the ground floor and house above it) has everything from clothes to food.

a store inside of a building: Credits: Photolibrary RM © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Photolibrary RM The city is also scattered with beautifully ornate temples.

For the kids, the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands is both educational and entertaining. If, however, you want outdoor activities, try the Luge on Sentosa Island or (for the big kids) the Megazip zipline – which goes from the top of a hill to the edge of the beach.

If mum and dad can’t quite face the zipline, then there’s always a reflexology massage at Kenko in VivoCity, the largest shopping mall in Singapore.

And once you’re back on your newly massaged feet, use them to wander the Botanic Gardens, the first and only tropical botanic garden on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

You can also take a leisurely bumboat ride along the Singapore river, past the Merlion – the national icon with the head of a lion and body of a fish which symbolises Singapore’s start as a fishing village and its original name, Singapura – ‘lion city’ in Malay.

a statue of person: Credits: age fotostock RM © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: age fotostock RM After a long day of sightseeing, head to the Gardens by the Bay and the conservatories – home to over a quarter of a million rare plant species.

If you have any time (or energy) left, then the Singapore Zoo and 
Night Safari are excellent, and there’s even a Universal Studios for any roller coaster fans.

But after six days of food, fun, amazing architecture, nature and nightspots, forget Singapore as a stopover. I’m just astonished most people don’t stop there for ever.

Related: 2017 Travel Goals For Your Bucket List (provided by Wochit News)

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