To call numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international code), 65 (code for Singapore) and the local number.

WHERE TO STAY:

Pan Pacific Singapore, Marina Square, 7 Raffles Blvd.; 6336-8111, fax 6339-1861, http://www.singapore.panpacific.com . Wonderful views of Marina Bay, the skyline and the water-spouting statue of Singapore's icon, the Merlion. Doubles from $228.

WHERE TO EAT:

Blue Ginger, 97 Tanjong Pagar Road; 6222-3928. Peranakan cuisine, Singapore's distinctive Malay-Chinese fusion, served in a restored shop-house in Chinatown. Entrees $7-$17.

Siem Reap II, 1 Empress Place; 6338-7596, http://www.indochine.com.sg . Cafe behind the stunning new Asian Civilisations Museum has an outdoor patio overlooking the Singapore River. We shared Khao Poon Nam Pa, spicy noodles with prawns and kafir lime leaves. Entrees $7-$11.

Tekka Centre, Serangoon and Bukit Timah roads, near Little India MRT (subway) station. This drab structure houses one of Singapore's many food courts — basically street stalls moved indoors. Mainly inexpensive Indian and Muslim dishes. Fresh juices for 60 cents, fish curry for $1.65.

Tea Chapter, 9 and 11 Neil Road; 6226-1175, http://www.tea-chapter.com.sg . Claiming to be the largest teahouse in Singapore, this multistory Chinatown haven doesn't just serve tea; it shows you how to drink it. Our brief tea introduction cost about $3 a person. Next door is a fine store that sells tea, teapots and related paraphernalia.

Tiffin Room, Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Road; 6337-1886, http://www.raffles.com . Buffet lunches and dinners, plus breakfast and tea, taken in two elegant, white-colonnaded rooms. We went for tea, a self-service buffet offered 3:30-5:30 p.m. daily. (Book two to three days ahead.) $21 a person.

THE ZOO:

Singapore Zoological Gardens, 80 Mandai Lake Road; 6269-3411, http://www.zoo.com.sg . You could easily spend a full day at this vast park. The main zoo is open 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. daily; adult admission $7. Night Safari is a separate area with its own Web site, http://www.nightsafari.com.sg . View creatures by tram and on foot. Open 7:30 p.m.-midnight; adult admission $9. Combined ticket for both parts of zoo, with tram, $16.

WALKING TOUR:

The Original Singapore Walks, 24A Sago St.; 6325-1631, http://www.singaporewalks.com . This new service offers two-hour themed tours daily. No reservations required. Adults $8.50.

TO LEARN MORE:

Singapore Tourism Board, 4929 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 510, Los Angeles, CA 90010; (323) 677-0808, fax (323) 677-0801, http://www.tourismsingapore.com .

Jane Engle

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HIGHLIGHTS

Culture and nature: Best of Singapore

Urban sophisticates and nature lovers can be equally content in Singapore, with its upscale shops, eclectic Asian cultural life and leafy retreats. Some iconic scenes from the island:

Singapore Botanic Gardens: "All the Englishmen in the island congregated there," Rudyard Kipling wrote of this oasis more than a century ago. And they still do, along with many others. Don't miss the National Orchid Garden, one of Asia's largest.

Asian Civilisations Museum: This striking new facility is so Singapore, one of Asia's great ethnic melting pots. Listen to gamelan music from Indonesia or admire a batik from Syria. Then stroll out back for a river view and a meal or snack at the cafe.

Singapore Zoological Gardens: One of the world's great zoos is in two parts. One is a jungly park that puts few barriers between humans and other species. You can even have breakfast and tea with the wildlife. The other is the Night Safari, where visitors spy on beasts' nocturnal doings.

— Jane Engle