6. Singapore
Lights of the skyline of the central business district and Marina Bay are reflected on the waters of Marina Barrage in Singapore at dusk, Dec. 1, 2011. Singapore’s presence in the top 10 highlights a shift away from Western Europe toward Asian hubs, EIU noted. REUTERS

Got 48 hours to explore Singapore? The Asian financial and business centre has undergone a makeover in recent years and it is now also a playground for Asia's rich where sleek skyscrapers meet quaint shops.

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a visit to this multicultural Southeast Asian city-state.


5 p.m. - Hop on the Singapore River Cruise to trace the island's journey from a sleepy fishing village to a bustling metropolis. The boats come at a roughly 15 minute interval and pass through Marina Bay, Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay.

6 p.m. - Try your luck at the Marina Bay Sands casino, or get a good view of the business district from the SkyPark. You can also check out the exhibitions at the lotus-inspired ArtScience Museum.

Enjoy fine dining at restaurants with names such as Wolfgang Puck and Mario Batali. For a taste of East-meets-West, try Sky on 57 by local French-trained chef Justin Quek And feast while enjoying a panoramic view of Singapore's bay from level 57.

Alternatively, take a 20 minute walk around Marina Bay to One Fullerton, where you can see the Merlion, with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, and hit the bars.

You can also take a short walk to Esplanade, Singapore's durian-shaped performing arts venue, and pig out at Gluttons Bay, an outdoor hawker area next to Esplanade.

11 p.m. - Take a cab to Zouk and party the night away. Zouk houses four different clubs: Velvet Underground, Phuture, The Wine Bar and the main Zouk room.


9 a.m. - Tuck into prata, a fried pancake often served with curry, at Little India. Get a glimpse into the Hindu religion at the temples, and shop at the giant Mustafa Centre, which is popular with visitors from India and Pakistan as well as Singapore's own Indian community because of its wide range of goods and spices from South Asia.

12 p.m. - Ride the MRT (subway) to Bugis, then take a 10-15 minute walk to Haji Lane, where you can check out indie shops, cafes and restaurants offering a shisha pipe for smoking. Also visit the gold-domed Sultan Mosque, which was built in 1824.

You can buy arts and crafts hand-made from recycled fabric and other materials by local artists at Doinky Doodles! on the second floor of 33 Bali Lane.

Seek to jostle with the locals? Then dive into the crowd at Bugis Street, which has dozens of shops selling snacks, accessories, clothes and other goods -- like Bangkok's Chatuchak Weekend Market, but smaller. Then head to the Fu Lu Shou area, where the Buddhist Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple and the Hindu Sri Krishnan Temple stand side by side.

4 p.m. - Hop on a bus to Chinatown and enter the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, which houses the sacred Buddha tooth in a stupa composed of 320 kg of gold donated by devotees. Stroll on the streets and soak in the colourful atmosphere.

7 p.m. - Sample local food such as char kway teow (fried noodles with cockles), carrot cake (fried radish flour with egg and preserved vegetables) and satay (grilled meat on a skewer) at Chinatown Food Street. You can watch while your friendly hawker cooks your dinner right in front of you.

9 p.m. - For the adventurous, take a cab to Geylang for the durians, the king of fruits, which some say looks like a hedgehog and smells of the sewer.


9 a.m. - Take a walk through the sprawling Botanic Gardens and smell the flowers at the National Orchid Garden, with about 600 species and hybrids on display.

12 p.m. - Have brunch at the all-day breakfast restaurant, Wild Honey, at Mandarin Gallery. The menu ranges from Swiss and Japanese to Yemen and European. Alternatively, try the risotto and the sinful butterscotch apple and mixed berries crumble at Food for Thought at 8 Queen Street.

2 p.m. - Revel in contemporary art from Singapore and other Southeast Asian nations at the Singapore Art Museum.

4 p.m. - Finish the trip by hitting the stores at Orchard Road, Singapore's shopping mecca.