Singapore sky line © Jon Yeomans

With the return of the night time Formula 1 Grand Prix to Singapore this month, and an increasing array of high-end restaurants, gleaming shopping malls and electric night spots making it one of the hottest destinations in Asia, here is our inside guide on where to best appreciate the beautiful island after dark.

True, you can be fined for jaywalking, dropping gum or forgetting to flush the toilet, but if you can respect certain rules, you'll find that modern-day Singapore is all about fun, especially after dark.

In 2008, the country hosted the first night-time Formula One race, and a continual stream of the world's top music acts, plus a multitude of hip new bars, casinos, theme parks, art galleries, concert halls and stunning restaurants make night time in Singapore a thoroughly exciting place to be.

Singapore River

Singapore's thriving nightlife scene is concentrated along the Singapore River; the lively bars at Boat Quay are a magnet for westerners.

Also worth checking out are the pubs and restaurants along Circular Road, which runs parallel to the river. The street is lined with Singapore's distinctive shophouses: colonial-era buildings with a 1.5m (5ft) covered walkway in front that contain both shops and residential areas.

Around the bend of the river the pedestrianised zone Clarke Quay comprises four streets of historic warehouses now converted into bars, nightclubs and restaurants. All types of cuisine can be found here, from Indian fusion to Mexican tapas, alongside a number of inventive bars. Check out Clinic, where the furniture is recycled from a hospital, and Lunar bar, which is decked out in modern Chinese pop art.

Taste the high life

The high-rise downtown area next to the Singapore River is home to numerous stunning hotels, the most famous being Raffles; sipping Singapore Slings (gin, cherry brandy and Benedictine, if you feel like whipping up a DIY version) in the Long Bar at Raffles is an obligatory pilgrimage for any tourist.

Alternatively, check out the bar of cavernous Mandarin Oriental, which boasts stunning views of Marina Bay, or take in the elegant surroundings of the Swissotel Merchant Court, located in the main entertainment district.

Melting pot

Singapore is a melting pot of cultures. To see another side of the city, pay a visit to the bars and restaurants of Chinatown, a short walk from the centre, or enjoy the rough and tumble of Little India and Kampong Glam, the Malay district.

With these three cultures blending into one nation, it's no surprise that some of the world's best Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and fusion food is found here, and it's definitely worth sampling the fare in the bustling food courts or ‘hawker centres', where even fast meals can be healthy, tasty and kind on the wallet.

Singapore's most famous dish is chilli crab, invented in the 1950s: succulent crab cooked in spicy gravy to be eaten with your fingers. Another popular meal is Malaysian satay: chunks of marinated chicken or pork cooked over a charcoal fire and served in peanut sauce. Wash it down with a bottle of the ubiquitous local brew, Tiger Beer.

Shopping and spinning

If you fancy a break from filling your stomach, you can indulge in Singapore's other great pastime: shopping. No stay would be complete without a trip to Orchard Road, a 7 km (4.5-mile) boulevard of pristine shopping malls. Many stores are open until 2200, while the eclectic Mustafa Centre in Little India serves customers around the clock.

Relax after a tiring evening's shop by hopping on Singapore's newest attraction the Singapore Flyer - a giant wheel which, at 165m (541ft) high, is taller than the London Eye. The flyer is open until 2230 and offers fantastic views of the marina and downtown area.

Walk on the wild side

One of Singapore's finest attractions - day or night - is the Night Safari. This nature reserve is home to all manner of animals from lions and tigers to elephants and rhino.

The entrance - all wooden gates and burning torches - puts you in mind of Jurassic Park, and, once inside, visitors can walk or ride the tram around enclosures carved out of the island's natural rainforest watching creatures going about their business under simulated moonlight, completely unaware that they are being observed.

Singapore Grand Prix

Singapore held the first night time Formula One Grand Prix in September 2008, with 5kms (3.1 miles) of smooth course snaking around Marina Bay under specially designed lights. The thrilling event - which saw Fernando Alonso storm up the field from 15th place to claim victory - returns to Singapore on 27 September 2009, and the terrific atmosphere and enthusiasm of the locals make it one of the best times to visit.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.