A compact city-state between Malaysia and Indonesia, Singapore has been nicknamed “The Garden City”, and it’s not hard to see why. Though it boasts roughly 5.5 million residents and an economy rivaled by few nations in the world, the city is no dingy metropolis; rather, Singapore is filled with pristine streets and dotted with countless nature reserves, parks, and tree-lined walkways. A high per-capita income, rich ambience, and reputation for culture and business over partying set it aside from many other regional destinations. Visitors can enjoy the assortment of museums, theaters, spas, and sporting opportunities, or simply escape to the beaches on the off-lying islands for some relaxation in the sun and sands.
Location: At the Tip of the Malay Peninsula
Singapore sits on a series of islands just off the southern end of the Malay Peninsula, a short jump north from Indonesia. Most travelers choose to arrive via Singapore Changi Airport, which is a massive aviation hub that processes tens of millions of travelers annually. Direct connections are available to cities around the world, and many budget airlines offer cheap flights from across Southeast Asia as well. Road and rail links to Malaysia are provided via bridges, and ferries can bring travelers from Malaysia and Indonesia alike.
Business: A World Leader in Finance and Manufacturing
Though tiny, Singapore is one of the world’s premier centers for commerce and business capital. As the fourth-biggest financial center on Earth and the host of a port regularly ranked among the top 5 busiest (and occasionally the #1 busiest) around the globe, the World Bank has named this city-state the easiest place in the world to do business. Much of the economy depends on refining and re-exporting imported goods, and Singapore is a major manufacturer and producer of electronics, chemicals, refined petroleum, and engineering products–both mechanical and biomedical.
Culture: A Modernized Melting Pot
Singapore is a highly ethnically diverse country, with four official languages (English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil) and a substantial population of foreign nationals–many of whom are drawn from around the Southeast Asia region and beyond by the high quality of life and excellent business opportunities. As a result, the local cuisine, arts, media, and sports are widely varied and result in unique hybrids incomparable to anything else on earth. Do note that Singaporean society is generally rather conservative compared to that of many other nations: only in recent years has any substantial nightlife developed, and “sin taxes” on items like tobacco and alcohol are still substantial.
Activities: Thrills In, On, and Under the Water
An oceanfront location means no shortage of water sports in, and around, Singapore. From quiet sailing to thrill-packed water skiing and sea kayaking, there’s plenty to experience in the warm waters of the surrounding straits. Once you’ve broken from the main island, try scuba diving in the rich coral reefs off Pulau Hantu, or even venturing farther to nearby cities in Malaysia and Indonesia for a day or two.