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This past year marked the 200th anniversary of the founding of the city-state of Singapore, and it's never been a more popular time to visit.
There’s been a huge surge in interest in Singapore, especially now that the country has become renown for its dining, lodging and nightlife. The remarkable success of the film “Crazy Rich Asians,” which takes place partly in Singapore, hasn't hurt tourism, either.
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“For Americans visiting Asia for the first time, it’s the most easily approachable city," says Gary Leff, who runs the travel website “View From the Wing.”
The Marina Bay Sands, left, is one of the most iconic features of the Singapore skyline.
As Leff says, Singapore has become a great option for folks who want to stay in a bustling city with easy access to all of Asia, as there are “several non-stop flights from the U.S." to Changi airport, so "it makes a great stopover" for a few days. The official language is English, helping to make it an easier visit for any travelers who fear there might be a language barrier.
Sek Eng Lee, Singapore Airlines's Vice President for the Americas, also told Fox News that Singapore is a jump-off point for other popular destinations in Asia, particularly Bali or Malaysia. But that doesn't mean Singapore isn't a fantastic destination in and of itself.
“Singapore offers lots for visitors including excellent shopping, the new Jewel mall at Changi Airport, nighttime safari, hosting the Singapore F-1 races, [and] a lot to offer regardless of what you like to do.”
He may be selling the airport a bit short, though: The airport, which opened earlier this year at a cost of about $1.25 billion, features not only shopping, but the world’s largest indoor waterfall and climbing gardens, as well as many other attractions — including a slide that takes passengers to their gate.
The Changi Airport, which opened this year at a reported cost of $1.25 billion, features the world’s largest indoor waterfall.
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Outside the airport, Lee tells Fox News, he's a fan of one of the world’s most famous hotels — Raffles Singapore.
Raffles, which is named for Thomas Raffles, the founder of the modern city-state, just underwent a two-year multi-million dollar renovation. It’s where the Singapore Sling was invented, and it’s a tourist attraction in its own right. It's very fancy, but it's also pricey. Room rates start at $650 a night — if you really want to treat yourself.
There are plenty of other places to stay in Singapore, however. The Marina Bay Sands, for instance, is a fixture of the Singapore skyline, as it features what appears to be a giant cruise placed on top of its three towers. Rooms start around $400 a night, but there several other adequate options, including the Intercontinental just around the corner from Raffles, where rooms start at about $150.
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The city's best food also ranges in price from extremely expensive to extremely affordable.
"Singapore is one of the best food cities in the world, both at the high and low end," Leff said, pointing to the city's amazing coffee and food scenes.
The Supertree Grove Trees, which perform a number of environmental functions, tower over the nature park at the Gardens by the Bay.
He advised visitors to try a number of different dishes, but suggests that tourists go to the stalls with the longest lines, as those are usually best. "Hawker centers position food vendors in close proximity, each usually specializing in a dish," he explained, before adding that there's usually one that stands out from the pack — and the locals know it.
Guyong Lock, a local who spoke with Fox News, admits that there's a "limit to how much you can do" on such a small island like Singapore, but described his home as “safe, clean, convenient, multi-national and multi-cultural." He was also a fan of the famous "night safari," a nocturnal zoo which houses approximately 100 species, including leopards, lions and tigers.
There are also the incredible new Gardens by the Bay, where you can climb towering tree sculptures, or museums such as the National Gallery — highly recommended for a great overview of the city’s history. And no trip would be complete without a selfie in front of the Merlion — a half-lion and half-fish that’s a symbol of the city.
The Singapore Merlion has long been a symbol of the "Lion City."
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Turns out there's a reason Singapore is on so many travelers' bucket lists: It’s a great, growing mega-city — and it's worth a visit.