- Sipping a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar: Ahhhh, the Long Bar, home of the Singapore Sling. Sheltered by long jalousie shutters that close out the tropical sun, the air cooled by lazy punkahs (small fans that wave gently back and forth above), you can sit back in old rattan chairs and have your saronged waitress serve you the sticky alcoholic creations. Life can be so decadent. Okay, so the punkahs are electric, and, come to think of it, the place is air-conditioned (not to mention that it costs a small fortune), but it's fun to imagine the days when Somerset Maugham, Rudyard Kipling, or Charlie Chaplin would be sitting at the bar sipping Slings and spinning exotic tales of their world travels.
- Walking the City Streets: Comfortable shoes are a must for exploring Singapore's maze of narrow lanes and alleys. In neighborhoods like Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam (Arab St.), some of the most memorable sights are the small vignettes of local life only found at street level. In Chinatown, hawkers stir up fiery woks and old-timers play checkers in the park. In Little India, women weave flower garlands at the roadside, and some die-hards still chew betel and spit red goo in the drains. In Kampong Glam, back-alley boutiques and art galleries provide a welcome pocket of counterculture. Don't forget your camera.
- Witnessing Ceremonial Gore: It's the start of the Thaipusam festival, an annual Hindu religious occasion to express gratitude to Lord Subramaniam for granting their wishes in the previous year. To do this, they will carry kevadis, steel racks hung with fruits and flowers, held onto their bodies with skewers that dig into their flesh. Others will have rows of hooks piercing the thick skin on their backs -- the hooks attached to long leather straps that are pulled hard. Once ready, they will parade en masse, in full torture regalia, through the streets of Little India and Singapore's downtown to the Sri Thandayuthapani Temple. Singapore's Hindus celebrate Thaipusam every January into February, and like many other cultural and religious celebrations, foreign visitors are welcome to come and (respectfully) observe. If you're not in town for this unusual festival, you can catch ceremonial gore at annual events like Thimithi, the Birthday of the Monkey God, and the Festival of the Nine Emperor God later in the year.
- Getting Cultured at the Esplanade: After the blazing sun sets, Esplanade Park becomes cool in more ways than one. Inside the prickly domes of The Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, audiences are moved by symphony orchestras, jazz ensembles, dance troupes, drama, and contemporary music. But don't miss the scene outside: Along the waterfront, a band shell hosts free performances by local and international bands for crowds of onlookers. The acts here are edgier than what goes on inside the theaters, and it's awe-inspiring to watch these performances with the towering city skyline in full view.
- Discovering the Rainforest: Singapore has primary, ancient, virgin rainforest located within its city limits, just a 15-minute cab ride from the city center. At Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, visitors will find well-marked trails with bridges and viewing platforms, playgrounds for children, and pavilions for short breaks. Under the shady canopy, there is a cornucopia of jungle flora and fauna -- exotic flowers, curious lizards, cheeky monkeys, and more.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.