MY KIND OF TOWN: Singapore
Singapore is a singular sensation, says Victoria Glendinning
I recently wrote a book (Raffles and the Golden Opportunity)about Sir Thomas Raffles, the man who planted the British flag on an island that became Singapore.
In the course of my research I became fascinated by the place, which is probably the most successful city-state in the world and runs like clockwork.
Anything special one should pack?
Lightweight smart-casual clothes because Singapore is extremely humid. I'd also advise you to take an empty suitcase. It's a heaven for shopaholics.
What's the first thing you do?
I love going to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, which are a sort of miracle in the heart of the city. They were started in the 1850s but more than 150 years later you can still find these wonderful acres and acres of beautifully lush gardens among all the skyscrapers.
Where would you meet friends for a drink?
Have a Singapore Sling at the legendary Long Bar at the Raffles hotel (00 65 6337 1886). Even if you can't afford to stay at this most marvellous and glamorous hotel, you should at least have a drink there.
Where is the best place for lunch?
All the big shopping malls have food courts, where you find kiosks selling all sorts of Singaporean, Indonesian and Chinese dishes. They're cheap but sell very tasty food.
And for dinner?
There is a very good vegetarian restaurant in the Holland Village area of Singapore called Original Sin. The food is absolutely delicious.
Where would you send a first-time visitor?
I'd tell them to head for the Old Singapore - Chinatown and its little cluster of old streets, where you'll find ancient temples and great little local places in which to eat. But also look around you at all the fantastic skyscrapers. Some of them are quite extraordinary and have viewing platforms offering a view of this ultra-modern city.
What should I avoid?
Smoking. Unfortunately, if you're a smoker you will find it hard to light up anywhere in the city. Avoid dropping anything on the pavement - the littering laws are very strict in Singapore.