Cultural melting pot and dazzling example of the region's economic successes, wealthy Singapore assails the senses of the first time visitor.
The former British trading post and colony has carved a unique niche for itself in its two short centuries of existence, nowadays offering a vivid combination of ultra-modern skyscrapers, remnants of tropical rainforest and colourful ethnic urban areas, each with a character very much of their own.
One of the most noticeable features of this tiny but bustling city-state is its cleanliness - indeed, it is sometimes criticised for its many seemingly petty regulations, such as the banning of chewing gum - but crime is virtually unknown, and it is one of the world's safest places to visit.
Despite its rather sanitised reputation, though, Singapore is anything but dull. The visitor is spoilt for choice, for things to see and do, and in terms of vibrant nightlife, its rich cultural mix, and a whole planet's worth of culinary experiences. Singapore is a veritable feast for the senses, a heady mixture of the familiar and the exotic.
It suits all budgets, too, presenting a happy collision of opposites - grand and expensive at the famed Raffles Hotel, but low-key and cheap (but good) in thefood markets of Bugis Junction and Clarke Quay.