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Singapore is a city-state located within Southeast Asia. It is a tourist hub known for its shopping, cleanliness and orderliness, and progressive mentality. The name Singapore comes from from the Malay words singa, meaning lion, and pura, meaning city. It is one of the four economic "Asian Tigers," along with Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan. Singapore is a small but rich nation, having the 18th highest per capita income in the world.
Singapore, like any wealthy cosmopolitan city, is home to designer shops, world-class restaurants, and a varied nightlife. The city hosts many outdoor events with bands, ballerinas, and folk entertainment all coming into the mix. Orchard Road, the main tourist artery, is home to a plethora of malls with restaurants and shops to cater to every taste and budget, from McDonald's to dim sum, and Hello Kitty to Louis Vuitton. The tourist doesn’t have to go very far to sample the energy of the nation, and even if he did, it would be a comfort to know that transportation in this country is both cheap and comfortable and English is widely spoken.
With everything going on in this incredibly engaging city, perhaps the best thing to do first is sit down to good food. Singapore is known for its inventive cuisine, which is a mix of Chinese flavors, Malay ingredients, Indian spices, and continental flair. Best had in one of the country's many hawker food stalls, Singaporean food is delicious and a unique treat. Among the many must-taste dishes are the Singaporean chili crab, chicken rice, laksa, Hokkien prawn noodes, and fish porridge.
After a hearty meal, it could be a good idea to take a walk along one of Singapore's diverse neighborhoods. Singapore is home to a melting pot of cultures, and one can find enclaves of various ethnicities all throughout the city. The tourist can ramble along Little India to buy sarees and ogle Hindu temples, stride over to Chinatown for dimsum and hotpot, and then stroll along the streets of Geylang Serai for a little bit of Malay culture. Taxis and buses also ply these routes regularly and for very reasonable fees.
For something a little bit more ecologically minded, there are the Night Safari, a zoological adventure set in a lush tropical rain forest, and the Dolphin Lagoon, where one can bond with unique pink dolphins. With over 900 animals prowling the expansive grounds of the Singapore Zoo, including elephants, tigers, and lions; the Night Safari is an experience not to be overlooked. Meeting the Indo Pacific Humpback dolphin firsthand, meanwhile, is sure to be an unforgettable component of any family vacation.
And finally, for those feeling the need to escape the city, Singapore boasts its share of cool tropical beaches. Its 60+ outlying islands are full of water parks, exclusive resorts and spectacular vistas just waiting to be enjoyed. Sentosa is the place to go for ocean-related relaxation, and it might be good to know that Malaysia and Indonesia (and the rest of Southeast Asia) are only a bus away.
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