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Singapore
It's popular to dismiss Singapore as a kind of Asia Lite - blandly efficient and safe, a boringly tasteless, disciplinarian and unadventurous place where citizens are robbed of their cherished freedom to spit on the street and chew gum. Utter nonsense.

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Singapore is in fact one of the most enjoyable cities in Southeast Asia. As you zoom in from one of the world's best airports along the lushly tree-shaded expressway or on the zippy MRT train line, you'll quickly realise this is no traffic-snarled Bangkok. And as you stroll through the fashion emporiums of Orchard Rd, poke around antique shops in Chinatown or take a walk around one of the dozens of beautiful city parks, you'll know the city bears no comparison to crime- and poverty-ridden Manila or Jakarta.

Then, as you are drinking and dancing until dawn in the city's pubs and clubs, or sipping a cocktail surrounded by the colonial elegance of a Raffles Hotel veranda, think of your fellow travellers in Bangkok, who are being turfed onto the street at midnight.

There's no law that says an Asian city can't be well run. It may have been a long and difficult haul from swampy colonial outpost and notorious den of vice to powerhouse industrial nation, but those who say that Singapore has lost its soul along the way couldn't be more wrong.

Few cities in Southeast Asia can boast Singapore's fascinating ethnic brew. Where else in the world can you dip into the cultures of China, India and Muslim Malaysia all in one day, against a backdrop of ultra-modern Western commerce? Not only has Singapore's history of migration left a rich cultural and architectural legacy that makes wandering the streets an absorbing delight, it has created one of the world's great eating capitals.

Food is the national obsession - and it's not difficult to see why. Sitting out under the stars at a bustling hawker centre with a few bottles of Tiger beer and diving into an enormous array of Asian dishes is one of the iconic Singaporean experiences. Sambal stingray, char kway teow, oyster omelette, chicken rice, clay-pot seafood, fish head curry, beef rendang…the list is as long as it is delicious.

And, of course, if your credit card hasn't already taken a battering in the shops, the city's restaurants are some of the most stylish and innovative in the region.