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Cruising to Singapore

A microcosm of Asia

If you're interested in delving into the complex tapestry that is life in south-east Asia then a cruise around the region is the perfect way to start, as this will enable you to sample multiple destinations in one trip. However, by choosing an itinerary that includes a stop-off in Singapore, you'll be able to experience the entire continent in a single city.

The city-state was founded as a British trading colony in 1819, and over the past two centuries has become one of the busiest ports in the world. As such, people from all over Asia have set up shop here, which is why modern Singapore is such a mish-mash of cultures and nationalities. In particular, the city is characterised by its Chinese, Indian and Malay influences, all of which come together to form the perfect microcosm of Asia. So, visiting Singapore is like being at a cultural finger buffet, with the chance to sample a little bit of everything. In fact, food analogies are particularly appropriate when talking about Singapore, as the city's cuisine holds the key to its incredible cultural mix. Markets, hawkers and 'coffee shops' (which are basically street food stalls selling much more than just coffee) offer an array of dishes from across the continent, with several different nations represented in the flavours you're likely to experience. While there are also plenty of top-rate restaurants in Singapore, these street stalls are often regarded as the custodians of the city's true cuisine, and are renowned for their quality. Among the dishes you're likely to find are Indian staples like biryani, Malay specialities such as satay chicken, and a variety of Chinese recipes.

Once you've given your taste buds a buzz, you'll no doubt want to wander around the skyscrapers and shopping malls that line Singapore's streets. If it's retail therapy you're after then Orchard Road is certainly the place to head to, while culture vultures may want to check out establishments like the Singapore Art Museum or the National Museum of Singapore.

For relaxation, meanwhile, the man-made beach at Sentosa is easily a match for any of Asia's best natural beaches, and also holds the distinction of being the southernmost point of the mainland continent.

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