Big things do come in little packages—Singapore keeps proving this over and over. It's only three-and-a-half times larger than Washington, D.C., but this island city-state packs in the properties and activities. A strong bicyclist could traverse the country in a day, but to uncover all of the many worthwhile, multicultural nooks and crannies here would take a lifetime.
Starting where most people first see a country—the airport—visitors will probably arrive at the sparkling new Terminal 3 at Singapore Changi Airport. Shoppers might want to check out the Shopping City while they're here—though there will be plenty of that in the city center as well.
Once inside the city, the first-time visitor may be surprised that this modern Asian metropolis is actually made up of a number of long-established neighborhoods, and is really a collection of mini-cities. Suntec City (aka "Convention City") and the main ethnic areas—Chinatown, Little India and Arab Street—are all next to each other on the southern tip of the island. The Chinese are the majority population in Singapore, with Malays the next most-numerous ethnic group, followed by Indian, Arabs and a host of other ethnicities that all live together in harmony.
Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre, 20 minutes from the airport and next to the Central Business District, has more than 1 million square feet of floor space on six levels. The center has direct access to 5,200 hotel rooms, 1,000 retail shops, 300 restaurants, and a center for the performing arts, Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay. Outside, be sure the check out the "fountain of wealth," the sight of laser shows and the symbol (and good luck charm for some) of Singapore's continued good fortune.
Properties near Suntec include the Ritz-Carlton, Pan Pacific, Conrad Centennial, Raffles, and Fairmont brands. Other worthwhile convention facilities on the island include Singapore Expo, Waterfront Conference Centre and Raffles City Convention Centre.
Like we said before, Singapore doesn't just rest on its laurels. Major developments will bring two new resorts—and gaming—to the island.
Marina Bay Sands, opposite the Central Business District and not too far from Suntec Singapore, is slated to open in 2009. The facility will add more than 1 million square feet of event space, including exhibition space, meeting rooms and a grand ballroom. Most importantly, it will be the first legalized gaming facility on the island.
Resorts World Sentosa is scheduled to open in 2010, and will be the second integrated resort on nearby Sentosa Island. Striving for a mix of business and pleasure, Resorts World will have facilities large enough to host a total of 12,000 delegates in its three main halls and will also have seven indoor incentive or family venues, ranging from a Universal Studios theme park to the Waterworld Amphitheatre.
The list of attractions here is dizzying. There will be a Marine Life Park that promises to be the world’s largest oceanarium; the Equarius Water Park, where visitors can enjoy customized water rides; the world's first maritime Silk Route museum; and FestiveWalk, an outdoor retail, dining and entertainment space.
Now, who wants to argue that little Singapore doesn’t think big?