The Raffles Culinary Academy at Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Rd. (tel. 65/6412-1256; www.raffles.com), has daily cooking classes taught by chefs from Raffles Hotel staff. Individual classes on Asian herbs and spices, kids' cuisine, Italian, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Thai, plus desserts and pastries, range from 2 to 4 hours and are suitable for professionals and hobbyists alike. Bookings can be made online.
Because Singapore is compact and efficient and most people speak English, few travelers feel the need for a travel operator to hold their hand during their stay. Still, package tour operators can get you better deals on travel and hotel stays. One company I recommend is Absolute Asia (15 Watts St., 5th Floor, New York, NY 10013; tel. 800/736-8187; fax 212/627-4090; www.absoluteasia.com), with packages that give you plenty of free time to explore on your own and innovative itineraries that combine Singapore with one or more if its Southeast Asian neighbors. Asia Transpacific Journeys (2995 Center Green Court, Boulder, CO 80301; tel. 800/642-2742; fax 303/443-7078; www.southeastasia.com) is another great operator, specializing in customized tours with particular attention to cultural and ecological sensitivity.
Tour East (tel. 65/6735-1221) organizes typical half-day coach tours of the city every day (adults S$30, children S$15), and full-day coach excursions on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday to some of the main attractions around the island (adults S$73, children S$36), some with meals included. The Peranakan Trail (Tues-Sun) takes visitors out to Katong, a suburban neighborhood that is the focal point of Peranakan heritage (adults S$45, children S$22).
For something different, go for the DUCKTour (tel. 65/6338-6877; www.ducktours.com.sg), a combined coach and boat tour in an amphibious vehicle, a decommissioned military craft, that circles you around the Historic District for a tour of the harbor. The hour-long tour starts every hour, departing from the Suntec City Mall Galleria, with additional transfers from the DUCKTours office on Orchard Road (at the corner of Cairnhill Rd.). Reservations are highly recommended, and tours cost S$33 adults, S$17 children ages 3 to 12, and S$2 kids 2 and under. DUCKTours also operates the HiPPO Tour aboard an open-top double-decker bus, cruising Orchard Road, Little India, Kampong Glam, Chinatown, and the Historic District. Pick it up at the DUCKTours office on Orchard Road or at Suntec City, then get on and off at sights that interest you along the way. The day ticket costs S$33 adults, S$13 children 3 to 12, and S$2 for kids 2 and under. Call DUCKTours for information.
Singapore's internationally accredited hospitals and specialist centers are staffed with medical professionals educated at some of the world's top schools, furnished with state-of-the-art diagnostic and procedural equipment, and administered with an efficiency that Singapore is famous for. International patients choose to receive medical care in Singapore for a number of reasons: because of insufficient medical facilities in their home countries, to cover gaps in medical insurance coverage, or for privacy for sensitive procedures and recovery. Singapore's international hospitals can provide health screening and cosmetic surgery, usually at a greater cost compared to competitor hospitals in Malaysia and Thailand, but many prefer the peace of mind that comes from Singapore's reputation as a first-world city. It has also nurtured a reputation for high-end surgical procedures and care in specialist areas like cardiology, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, and pediatrics. The Singapore government has teamed up with the top hospitals for www.singaporemedicine.com, a portal that answers every question for prospective patients. Hospitals have specialized departments that handle everything from travel arrangements, accommodations, specialists appointments, and even tours during your recovery -- they really handle everything soup to nuts.
Medical Spas -- Medical spas blur the line between cosmetic medicine for beauty and rejuvenation, and spa treatments for relaxations and well-being. Medical treatments for the face and body are combined with indulgent amenities and services of a luxury spa. The top medical spas in Singapore are: The MedSpa, 1 Orchard Blvd., #12-03/05, Camden Medical Centre (tel. 65/6887-3087; www.medspa.com.sg); and DRx Medispa, 3 Temasek Blvd., #03-52 Suntec City Mall (tel. 65/6836-1555), or 583 Orchard Rd., #11-01, Forum (tel. 65/6223-1555; www.drxmedispa.com).
River Tours & Cruises
Singapore River Cruises (tel. 65/6336-6111; www.rivercruise.com.sg) operates boats up and down the Singapore River and into the harbor from 9am to 11pm daily. A bumboat ride past Boat Quay and Clarke Quay costs adults S$15 and children S$8, and an extended ride that includes Robertson Quay costs adults S$20 and children S$10. You can also use the river cruise boats as a taxi, as it has pick-up points from the Merlion (Fullerton), Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, and Robertson Quay.
The Imperial Cheng Ho, operated by Watertours (tel. 65/6533-9811; www.watertours.com.sg), is a huge boat modeled after the sort of Chinese junk that Admiral Cheng Ho might have sailed when he explored this region in the 15th century. A 2 1/2-hour cruise takes you from Marina South Pier past the Singapore skyline, the mouth of the Singapore River, then out past Sentosa, with a stop on Kusu Island. I recommend the Morning Glory Cruise at 10:30am (adults S$27, children S$14). There's also a Dragon Cruise at 3pm (adults S$27, children S$14), High Tea Cruise at 3pm (adults S$32, children S$16), and a dinner cruise at 6:30pm (adults S$55, children S$29). Watertours can arrange hotel transfer with your booking.
Look for independently operated bicycle rickshaws behind the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple on the corner of Sago and Terrenganu streets in Chinatown. Charges run about S$36 per person for an hour-and-a-half ride.
Singapore Walks (tel. 65/6325-1631; www.singaporewalks.com) is a reputable outfit that organizes guided walking tours of the Historic District, Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam, and other neighborhoods Monday through Saturday, except for public holidays. Call them to find out the meeting time and place for the tour you want; for most walks, adults pay S$28, children tour for S$15. Their river walk, at S$28, includes a bumboat tour.