Don't bother hiring a car; public transport is excellent and taxis plentiful.
Singapore's excellent Changi Airport is served by more than 70 international carriers: from the UK, fly direct with BA (www.ba.com), Singapore Airlines (www.singaporeair.com), Qantas (www.qantas.com) or Virgin Atlantic (www.virgin-atlantic.com); alternatively, go via Amsterdam with KLM, or via Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines. If you fly with Singapore Airlines, hang on to your boarding pass, as it gives you free bus rides, shopping and dinner deals and discounted entry to the city's most popular sights.
There's a fast train transfer to the city from the airport, but you can only take one small piece of luggage on board. Within the city itself, you can't beat the MRT, Singapore's own tube system: it's cheap, clean and super-efficient. Buy a Tourist Day Ticket for unlimited journeys - you can use it on buses, too (www.smrt.com.sg). You can travel to Singapore by train from the Malay peninsula or Thailand.
Country code for Singapore: +65.
Paul Theroux's entertaining Saint Jack follows a hapless expatriate as he stumbles around finding his feet in 1970s Singapore; futuristic Mammon Inc by Hwee Hwee Tan pits Western materialism against Eastern idealism; Makansutra, the street-food guide, will direct you to the best hawker stalls in Singapore - grab a copy at any local bookshop.
Do go / Don't Go
Singapore is in the tropics and is generally hot, humid and prone to sudden downpours all year round, but the rainiest months are October-January. In a country where shopping is the national pastime, it makes sense for the sales to be exceptional: May-July brings the Great Singapore Sale, an eight-week retail extravaganza with huge discounts in all major shops (www.greatsingaporesale.com.sg). Pick up a Tourist Privilege Card from any visitor centre and you'll get extra discounts on attractions and in participating outlets.
Singapore is renowned for its cosmopolitan dining scene. Chinese, Malay and Indian culinary traditions exist side by side and can be sampled everywhere from the hawker street-stall centres selling Mee Goreng and oyster omelettes to formal restaurants offering elegant, modern fusion creations such as foie gras with Peking duck. For something truly unique, seek out the cuisine of the Peranakans (Nyonyas or Straits Chinese), a sophisticated blend of Chinese and Malay flavours.
Easy to hail on the street, cabs are a very economical way to get around, although you'll pay more in a 'premium' Mercedes taxi or London-style Hackney cab. There are also various surcharges added for journeys in rush hour, at night, on public holidays or to certain destinations. In busy central locations (such as Orchard Road), you're better off going to a rank, although some shops and most restaurants will ring a taxi for you.
Tipping is not really the norm in Singapore; bars and restaurants usually add a 10 per cent service charge to the bill so there's no need to add any extra cash.
Singapore dollar (SGD); £1 converts to about S$3.
It's hot, hot, hot and humid, so aside from all the 'S-ssentials' (sunglasses, swimwear and sunscreen) bring your best sandals, mules and flip-flops: shoes will feel way too clammy. Little-nothing tops and shorts will get you through from day to night. Mosquito repellent will fend the little blighters off, but if you do get bitten, Singapore's famous Tiger Balm will soothe any itchy bits. Pack yourself a portable fan and you'll be the smuggest tourist in the taxi queue; perversely, you'll want an evening wrap to keep the air-conditioning chill at bay in big malls and restaurants.
The newly renovated National Museum of Singapore on Stamford Road (+65 6332 3659; www.nationalmuseum.sg) is well worth a visit - even if it's just to see its slick facelift and new extenstion. We also love the Mint Museum of Toys (+65 6339 0660; www.emint.com) at 26 Seah Street, next to the Raffles Hotel. This cleverly displayed private collection offers a privileged peek at the playthings of the past. There's a nice little bistro for post-play reminiscing, too. Have a nose around experimental art space Plastique Kinetic Worms at 61 Kerbau Road (www.pkworms.org.sg), a gallery run by artists.
Get instant street cred and sound like a Singaporean simply by adding an emphatic 'Lah!' to the end of your every utterance.
When you land, pick up maps and shopping brochures at airport (they often have discount vouchers inside) and get your VAT back when departing. Singapore is renowned for its bargain watches, with up to 35 per cent off big-name brands. Try the Hour Glass (www.thehourglass.com), Sincere Fine Watches (www.sincerewatch.com) or Cortina Watch (www.cortinawatch.com). Electronics are also cheap here - Sim Lim Square mall is the place to go for anything blinking, digital or with a screen. Remember to shop around and let store owners see you doing your research; prices can vary widely and you shouldn't be afraid to bargain. Haji Lane is a tiny street lined with former shophouses transformed into trendy little boutiques; we love Pluck at 31-33 (+65 6396 4048), which stocks vintage kitsch finds as well as iPod covers and bags in reclaimed fabrics; it also has a sweet ice-cream parlour. For Chinese gifts and homewares, head to Yue Hwa Chinese Products (+65 6538 4222) in Chinatown. Also look out for local fashion label All Dressed Up (+65 6836 3238), established by Singapore style guru Tina Tan Leo and designed by Sven Tan, and ogle the pretty-perfect interiors and lifestyle must-haves at the flagship Egg3 store at 33 Erskine Road (+65 6536 6977).
Head up to hiply vertigo-inducing New Asia Bar or the City Space lounge bar in the Equinox Complex (www.equinoxcomplex.com), on floors 70-72 of Swissotel The Stamford, for stunning views of downtown Singapore.
Wander through the Singapore Botanic Gardens (www.sbg.org.sg) at daybreak for respite from the city's urban sprawl and a spectacular overview of the region's flora. The gardens open at 5am. If you're more nightjar than early bird, stroll along the Changi Point Boardwalk on Singapore's easternmost tip at sunset.
Late January/early February Chinese New Year is celebrated with parades and fireworks. April During the World Gourmet Summit, Michelin-starred chefs roll into town to give wine workshops, host gourmet barbecues and wax gastronomical about all things foodie (www.worldgourmetsummit.com). May/June The Singapore Arts Festival showcases cutting-edge world premieres and performances (www.singaporeartsfest.com). August
Womad Singapore is a world music festival held at Fort Canning Park (www.womad.org). October ARTSingapore is Southeast Asia's answer to Art Basel, a trade fair where art collectors gather to hunt down new museum-quality contemporary artworks; it's the place to spot young talent (www.artsingapore.net).