Where to eat, sleep, explore, and shop when in Singapore
Nowadays, think Singapore, think Crazy Rich Asians. The city-state is famed for being one of the most expensive travel destinations in the world, and indeed, the steep price tag ensues a slew of desirable qualities that make it an alluring tourist draw. This is where you’ll get a heavy helping of glamour from Orchard Street’s designer boutiques to splashy restaurants helmed by award-winning names. Where nature’s verdant, blooming at every turn with no exception, not even at the airport. And this is where Chinese, Malay and Indian cultures fuse together for the ultimate melting pot of…pots…and people, architecture, and tradition. Lion City has never tasted better than right now. Whether you’re packing evening gowns or hiking gear, here’s how to experience the best of Singapore.
Where to Stay
Despite its iconic exterior, a stay at Marina Bay Sands Hotel would be ill-advised for views of the bay. The best vistas are in fact, from The Fullerton Bay Hotel, a palace-like waterfront hotel perched across the water and one of Singapore’s most prestigious builds. Book a Bay View Corner Room and be mesmerized.
This low-key business district retreat is hailed as Asia’s top design hotel. From its 73 guest rooms, opt for the monochrome paletted Gabrielle and Camellia room, inspired by Coco Chanel; or try the quirky Eden and Nirwana suite, inspired by Andy Warhol. Eco-friendly rules mean no single-use plastic throughout the property.
A weekend on Sentosa Island means a ‘detox to retox’ situation at the W. Book a spa-side AWAY Room, which comes with its own private plunge pool or join the rest of the party at the swim-up bar located within the huge outdoor pool. The breakfast buffet’s chili crab omelet, served with mimosa, is a must-try.
What to Do
Enter a Floral Fantasy
Gardens by the Bay offers a fairy tale escape from reality: a paradise of 1.5 million plants showcased in awe-inspiring fashion. Parts of it are under a gigantic conservatory dancing with tropical plants from every continent, and parts of it consist of an outdoor walkway, suspended by supertrees. Choose to explore its entirety or purchase individual tickets for gardens of interest.
Escape to Pulau Ubin
Singapore may feel like a concrete jungle of glass buildings and manicured gardens, but did you know it has a secret wild side? Pulau Ubin is a nearby island home to a tiny population of give-or-take 50 people, living a way of life before Singapore became the megacity it is today. Take a 10-minute bumboat there and spend a day hiking the unspoiled trails, eating from family-owned huts, and dipping your toes in its rocky waters.
Or Play on Sentosa Island
At the other end of the spectrum is Sentosa Island, boasting over a thousand acres of (mostly man-made) playground. Here you’ll find an entertainment option to suit any mood: there’s a Universal Studios Singapore and S.E.A Aquarium; a Luxury Fashion Galleria shopping mall; and beaches where you can swim, sunbathe or sign up for water sports.
Explore South East Asian Art
The National Gallery of Singapore is a truly special gallery, not only to Singapore but to the continent. Here you’ll find over 9,000 items spread across several impressive British-era buildings, making up what is officially the world’s largest collection of modern South East Asian art.
Get to the Airport Early
It’s not often you see an airport on an attractions list, but Changi’s no ordinary airport. Here lies The Jewel, an adjoining shopping mall centered around a lush manufactured rainforest. Its focal point is the tallest indoor waterfall in the world, or ‘Rain Vortex’. Note that the water runs at intervals throughout the day rather than continuously, so you may have to wait for the action to happen.
What to Eat and Drink
Fancy Zen with your sushi? The world’s first Nobu restaurant with an outdoor designer Japanese garden is just the place to say ‘ahh’. Celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s Japanese cooking is punctuated with Peruvian flavors, and sake lovers beam at the restaurant’s exclusive brews.
Newton Hawker Center
The most famous hawker center in town, this is one of the few chances to experience a slice of Crazy Rich Asians (it was the key scene in the movie) without breaking the bank. The open-air food market sizzles with flavors ranging from satay skewers to carrot cakes to laksa curries, and fresh juice counters quench Singaporean heat.
Smoke and Mirrors is where to go for a decadent sip amidst Singapore’s glittering skyline. This sophisticated rooftop bar is frequented by both locals and visitors alike, and being perched on top of the National Gallery Singapore, you’d be right to assume that cocktails are influenced and presented as works of art.