Singapore may be a modern business hub, but elements of its original melting-pot culture remain if you take time to search them out. When bored of the malls of Orchard Road, head to the free museum in Raffles Hotel (third floor) to see photographs and memrobilia of a bygone age: Charlie Chaplain, Elizabeth Taylor, Lord Mountabtten and more including images of streets with rickshaw drivers, coolies and colonials. Chinatown has some charm, but has sadly been made "more Chinese" over the last decade. The nearby Telok Ayer area (where you will find Singapore's oldest Taoist temple next to a tiny park) has some good cafes and restaurants including the budget Lotus Cafe. Porta Porta Restaurant on Stanley Street and Aoili on Boon Tat Street offer inventive and authentic Italian and French food (the set lunches are modestly priced at around S$20 to $30). If you want organic vegetarian food, two doors from Aioli is Yogi Hub.More authentic than Chinatown is Little India, but ignore the infamous Komala Villas Restaurant (now serving poor quality Indian vegetarian food in a bad atmosphere) and head for Sri Saktivillas Restaurant on Cuff Road for fantastic food at cheap prices. On the next street - Upper Dickson Road - is Kulfi Bar where you will find some of the creamiest Indian ice-cream in an amazing variety of flavours (the colours and tastes of the beetroot and pistachio are unforgettable.)Fort Canning Park (not far from Orchard Road) and the Botanical Gardens offer green and pleasant distractions. See the Spice Garden at Fort Canning and the Orchid Gardens at the Botanical Gardens.On Hill Street is the charming Armenian Church of St Gregory the Illuminator. It has a circular design, a marvellous atmosphere and is a national treasure. And for a taste of a more authentic Singapore life, head to the heartlands of Toa Payoh, Tampines or Clementi. Among the Housing Development Boad apartment blocks you will find shops, food centres and coffee shops with economy prices and a genuine local flavour.
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