Singapore has a lot of obvious "ticks" when it comes to a visit. You have to hit the hawkers, see Marina Bay Sands and pose for that pic that makes it looks like the Merlion is spitting water on you. But, when you've visited a few times, you start to see that there are a range of experiences that give you a different slant on the well-trodden tourist must-dos.
Here are five alternatives to Singapore sights and experiences:
BEEN to the Singapore Zoo?
It is one of the greatest zoos in the world, with exhibits such as the Fragile Forest – where you enter a giant enclosure with free-range mouse deer, lemurs and a non-plussed sloth, the open-air orangutan exhibit and new Frozen Tundra polar bear habitat.
GO up river at the River Safari
Part of the same complex, this new zoo is compact but still full of the wow-factor habitats the main zoo is known for. Stand underneath a manmade flooded rainforest, protect your bag from cheeky free-range monkeys and see the pandas, Kai Kai and Jia Jia. See wrs.com.sg
DONE Ku De Ta on top of Marina Bar Sands?
It is definitely a must-do on a quick visit to the Lion City, having a Ku De Ta mai tai (think the classic cocktail in mist form) on the 57th floor rooftop bar of Marina May Sands. You can't get to the iconic rooftop pool but you can watch guests taking selfies in it. Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore. See marinabaysands.com
THEN try Southbridge Oyster Bar
Shun the crowds and keep the views at this newly opened oyster bar on a fifth floor rooftop in Boat Quay. OK, you are not sipping drinks from the top of MBS, but you are looking at it and if you time it right you get front row seats to the evening light show. Beneath you, boats lit with strings of fairylights putter up and down the Singapore River, the skyscrapers of Raffles Place are reflected in the water and you have a full 360-degree view of the city. The oysters and bubbles are pretty good too. Southbridge Oyster Bar, level 5, 80 Boat Quay, Singapore. See southbridge.sg
HAD chilli crab at Jumbo Seafood?
It has to be done, and dipping those fried dumplings into that spicy, tomatoey sauce is worth the plane fare to Singapore alone. Jumbo Seafood is one of the most popular choices for travellers to sample this Singapore staple with the branch at Dempsey Hill one of the best, set in anold army building. See jumboseafood.com.sg
TRY black pepper crab at Red House
Not as well known abroad but predating Jumbo by a decade, Red House does a respectable chilli crab but locals go for the smokier flavours of the black pepper crab. Red House started out on the east coast of the island but for travellers, the central outlet in Prinsep (68 Prinsep Street) will be more convenient. See redhouseseafood.com
WORN out your soles on Orchard Road?
At weekends this street-long mall to high-end fashion can be a river of people flowing underground and queueing outside the likes of Dior and Hermes for a peek at the latest fashions. If you can't find what you want here, it doesn't exist.
HIT the shops at Haji Lane
Street art, hookah cafes and small shops full of local Singaporean designers, this small lane in the Arab Quarter is the antidote to high-street fashion. Stores such as Dulcetfig (41 Haji Lane), Mondays Off (76 Haji Lane) and Zhai (82 Haji Lane), a shop which specialises in bamboo clothing, mean you will be wearing something original and locally made.
Major airlines Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com), Qantas (qantas.com), Emirates (emirates.com) and British Airways (britishairways.com) all fly to Singapore from Melbourne and Sydney. For low-cost carriers, Scoot (flyscoot.com) flies from Sydney to Singapore and Jetstar (jetstar.com) flies from Melbourne to Singapore.
Weekend pool parties, designer bars and a waterside spot on Sentosa Island, the W Singapore at Sentosa Cove has double rooms starting from $375. W Singapore, 21 Ocean Way, Singapore. See wsingaporesentosacove.com
Singapore Marriott Hotel
A new renovation and a relaxing pool area and Pool Grill restaurant, you can be close to the Orchard Road action at this five-star hotel but feel a million miles away. Double rooms start from $365. Singapore Marriott Hotel, 320 Orchard Road, Singapore. See marriott.com