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Singapore

Sophisticated Singapore
A Vibrant Traveler's Mecca


Chili crab with "man tou" from Long Beach Seafood Restaurant
Long Beach Seafood Restaurant @ Dempsey is famous for their chili crab with "man tou" (Chinese steamed bun)

DAY 3

Catch a taxi to the Singapore Botanic Garden and alight at the Visitor Center. With its proximity to the shopping district of Orchard Road, the sprawling Botanic Garden is a refuge for city dwellers seeking an escape from the suffocating city atmosphere. It's also the most popular destination for the expatriate community's morning run. Kick-start your morning with a leisurely jog, or you may want to join one of the many exercise classes conducted here every morning; perhaps a tai chi class? After working it out amidst the backdrop of landscaped gardens and undulating green lawns, drop by the Les Amis Café for breakfast; if spicy Mee Siam (thin rice noodles with spicy, sweet and sour light gravy) is not your cup of tea, croissants and other Danish pastries are available too.

Singapore Botanic Garden
Singapore Botanic Garden

Then, check out the 20,000 orchid plants on display at National Orchid Garden, the world's largest display of orchids, which houses more than 1,000 species of orchid plants.Before the sweltering heat hits, jump into a taxi for a quick ride to Singapore's shopping belt at Orchard Road, which stretches from Plaza Singapura to Tanglin Mall. Start your local shopping experience at Singapore's oldest and most popular department store, Robinson's at Centrepoint, which has an excellent range of household products. Centrepoint has recently been renovated to reveal a more funky and updated look, so do take your time to peruse the multiple restaurants and stores retailing casual clothes, optical equipment, sporting goods, and books before you adjourn to your next shopping destination. The crème de la crème of shopping malls and located just a few blocks away from Centrepoint is Paragon, a vast and ultra luxurious shopping mall that boasts five floors of branded fashion and apparel, gift and lifestyle stores.

If you are famished, it is time to check-in to the glamorous Crystal Jade Golden Palace on the 5th level for a lovely dim sum (a variety of light Chinese dishes served alongside Chinese tea) lunch. Alternatively, head to Project Café, an Australian style casual restaurant that is known to serve the meanest Caesar Salad in Singapore; don't leave without trying the Banana Mango Crumble.

Centrepoint Shopping Mecca
Centrepoint Shopping Mecca

Across the road from Paragon is Ngee Ann City, probably one of the largest malls in Southeast Asia. Spread out over seven floors, Ngee Ann City has numerous restaurants, a post office, banks, Takashimaya departmental store and more than 120 shops. If you are a book lover, you will want to drop by Kinokuniya, the largest bookstore in Southeast Asia, which also retails a good selection of Japanese literature, where you can pick up some manga for your kids.And if Kinokuniya does not carry the books on your wish list, there is always Border's outpost at Wheelock Place, a shopping mall that is shaped like a steel-and-glass Christmas tree located several blocks away from Ngee Ann City.

After all that shopping, you are probably feeling somewhat ravenous. For a slice of Paris chic in Singapore, head down to the most glamorous café-boutique of the moment, Hediard Café at Tudor Court. Situated next to the St Regis Hotel and a mere 10 minutes stroll further down from Wheelock Place, you can tuck into Singapore's best Parisian-style sandwich, Croq' Ferdinand, grilled bread with Parma Ham, Gruyere cheese and mornay sauce, with a cup of gourmet coffee amidst a sophisticated black and red setting.

Wheelock Place
Wheelock Place

Now that you are recharged, head down to Tanglin Shopping Centre, your final shopping stop. Tucked at the far end of Orchard Road and removed from the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road , this rather worn-down mall is a haunt for antique lovers. You can browse through the treasure coves of old maps, bric-a-brac, second hand books, furniture, Persian rugs, tapestries, curios, carpets and art; checkout Apsara for a good collection of Chinese and Burmese antiques.Dinner tonight is at Singapore's hottest dining destination at Dempsey Road. For a taste of Singapore-style seafood, be sure to make a reservation at the Long Beach Seafood Restaurant @ Dempsey and experience its black peppered crab or chili crab with "man tou" (Chinese steamed bun) and "drunken" prawns; go for the gigantic Alaskan King Crab if you have a party of four or more, otherwise a Sri Lankan crab will suffice.Before you head back home, remember to savor your final moments in Singapore at the Newton Food Center; it's one of the few places that hints of night life in the Lion City. With a jug of Tiger Beer and some popular local fare like fried oyster omelet, tuck into your supper and watch the world go by.You might have shopped along the famous belt of Orchard Road, walked the beach at Sentosa and witnessed the landscape of Singapore on board the Singapore Flyer; but nothing beats the experience of chowing down on local food in the midst of Singapore's busiest food center.

For more information, visit the Singapore Tourism Board at www.visitsingapore.com and at www.stb.com.sg.

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* Chinese Garden Image courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board

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