We lived in Singapore for the first time from 2006-2008 when it was still a quaint charming and very affordable town. We moved back in 2011 after almost 3 years in Shanghai and in the interim, Singapore grew into a very impressive metropolitan with prices to match.
WHERE TO STAY
There are many hotel options in Singapore. Here’s a shortlist from Tablet.
We love the Warehouse Hotel both for its location, its story and the design. We have stayed at both Intercontinental Hotels….
Hotel Jen at about $200 SGD, this hotel is good value and a nice location. Upgrading to Club Rooms give you executive lounge access for daily breakfast, mid-afternoon snacks and cocktail hour.
I WOULD GO MORE CLEARLY HIGH/LOW ON THE HOTELS. WHAT ABOUT THE FULLERTON AND RAFFLES ? NAUMI ? THE SCARLET ? AND, FOR SURE CAPELLA. CHEAPER ? THE QUINCY.
WHERE TO EAT
There are endless options depending on budgets and taste. Here are a few favourites that have stood the test of time.
Chilli Crab, this Singaporean iconic seafood dish is a must try. Basically, chilli crab is a seafood dish in which stir-fried crab is coated with sweet, savoury and spicy tomato based sauce. I also like black pepper crab
Jumbo Seafood on the Riverwalk - we always take visitors here because the outside tables overlook Singapore River with nice views of old port and modern skyscrapers in CBD.
Long Beach Seafood in Dempsey Hill is also nice location because you are surrounded by greenery,
Hawker Centres - another must try when you are in Singapore. Hawker Centre is an open-air complex housing dozens of independent food stalls, each cooking up fresh Asian fare at affordable prices.
Maxwell Road - If you can only go to one hawker center in Singapore, make it Maxwell. Located at the edge of Chinatown, this hawker center is home to over 100 stalls, and both locals and tourists alike flock here for the variety of cuisines and local specialties.
Lau Pa Sat - a historical hawker center, Lau Pa Sat is considered a national monument and has been in operation since the 1800s. Located in the heart of the CBD, Lau Pa Sat is often packed with businessmen at lunchtime — but when night falls, the atmosphere changes completely as satay stalls and beer vendors come out and set up an alfresco dining area.
Smith Street - Not your typical hawker center, Smith Street is an open-air food street located in the center of Chinatown. Each night, when the road is closed for pedestrian use, shop owners set out tables and open their food stalls for business — a throwback to the days when actual hawkers roamed the city, selling their foods from nomadic stalls.
Tiong Bahru - is famous in Singapore these days as being one of the city’s hipster enclaves, full of charm with cafes and restaurants on every corner.
Bakalaki - one of our favourite restaurant. It’s Greek and Mediterranean food - a nice change from Asian. Their Greek salad, grilled platters (especially lamb chops) are fantastic as are their selection of crisp Greek wines.
Merci Marcel - a French breakfast and brunch café spot in the day, chic restaurant and wine bar/tapas at night. We love their Marinated Crab Tartine, Ravioles de Royans and reasonably priced wines.
P.S. Cafe Petit - is a gourmet takeaway and retail concept that offers traditionally fast foods and hearty salads prepared with a Slow Food sensibility. We love their pizzas and salads.
Dempsey hill - not far from Orchard Road, this tranquil hideaway is a well-loved lifestyle destination. Surrounded by nature’s lush greenery, the little hill is filled with gourmet grocers, art galleries, antique shops, restaurants, cafés and wine bars.
P.S. Cafe (see above) is perfect spot for breakfast and brunch.
Samy’s Curry is famous for southern Indian food. Really authentic and lovely atmosphere, it is an unpretentious place for good affordable authentic banana leaf meal in Singapore.
ANG SIANG HILL / CLUB STREET
Lovely to go for a stroll along Club street and up Ang Siang Hill. It’s filled with bars and restaurants. Use to have many shops but I think most are gone. Next to Scarlet hotel (Erskine road) is a strip of little shops that are fun to browse. PS Cafe on Ang Siang Hill (at the end of the street) is a nice reasonably priced restaurant. They have a roof bar which is lovely for cocktails and snacks.
Cross over Maxwell Road and find your way to Duxton Hill. It is another area full of cafes and bars.
Other neighbourhoods to go to wine and dine
Piedra Negra in Arab Street and Haji Lane. A must-try here is their chunky guacamole that’s made fresh right in front of your eyes.
And on the same level is Din Tai Fung. Famous dumpling and noodle restaurant form Taiwan. Yummy and cheap. It’s always lined up so avoid lunch/dinner crowd. Across street under Takashimaya is Cold Storage which has nice groceries as well.
Japanese Inakaya Robatayaki - part of Orchard Parade Hotel, dinner here is highly entertaining and great food but ask for pricing before ordering very expensive Waygu.
WHERE TO DRINK
The Atlas bar is another must. The bar is set in Singapore’s Gothic-looking Parkview Square office tower, is an Art Deco throwback—The Great Gatsby as conceived by the Hong Kong property mogul C.S. Hwang. Recently refurbished, it now houses one of the largest gin collections in the world.
Manhattan Bar at the Regent Hotel Singapore is one of the top three bars in the world, according to the World's 50 Best Bars list.
Bar hopping around Arab Street and Tanjong Pagar area.
WHAT TO DO
Start with a Hop on Hop off BUS TOUR of the city. You can get a feel of the city and its key sites. I’m sure there’s a stop in Bugis Junction where your hotel is.
Orchard Road - Asia's most famous shopping street is home to giant shopping malls. Emerald Hill located just behind Orchard Central and was once an upmarket residential area for Peranakans. The main reason to take a quick walk down this street is that it remains almost frozen in time, with most buildings constructed between 1900 and 1920. There’s a blend of art deco and Chinese Baroque styles and it’s extremely picturesque – a contrast with the modern concrete of Orchard Road. Not only is it nice to marvel at the architecture, but there’s some great bars here such as No. 5 Emerald Hill and Ice Cold Beer.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel - Touted as the most expensive hotel ever built, Marina Bay Sands hotel comprises of three 55-storey towers. The towers are connected by a 1 hectare roof terrace known as the Sands SkyPark, home to the world’s largest rooftop pool stretching 150 metres. Unfortunately you need to a guest of the hotel to access. Have a cocktail at Spago (Wolfgang Puck) or go to the Observation Deck to take in the panoramic city-skyline view. Walk across to Gardens by the Bay, an early evening stroll is best.
For one of the best views of Marina Bay Sands Hotel, go to Fullerton Bay Hotel’s rooftop bar - Lantern. Have a drink and take in views of Marina Bay Sands hotel and waterfront and Singapore’s skyscraper skyline. Level 33 is another place to have a drink and gorgeous view of the bay.
Take a walk around the Marina Bay Area to catch sights of Merlion, Fullerton hotel, Asian civilisation museum, National museum.
Gardens by the Bay - very cool tourist site. Singapore gov’t spend a couple of billion on this. It’s worth a gander.
If you’re a runner or you can walk these Routes to see some of Singapore’s best sites. Route #2 - As the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Singapore, the 150-year-old Singapore Botanic Gardens has a rich history and rich collection of heritage and iconic plants. Route #4 is another great run/walk. I’d start at Robertson Quay, along Singapore River towards Marina Bay area, passing through nightlife destination Clarke Quay, scenic Boat Quay, and one of the main tourist attractions in Singapore, the Merlion
RAFFLES HOTEL: If you want to have the touristy Singapore Sling, go upstairs to the Long Bar. It’s a really cool bar where the drink was supposedly invented. We typically order 1 sling as it’s $20+. The beer is cheap-ish and free peanuts where you throw the shells on the floor.
SINGAPORE RIVER - You can start at Boat Quay and just hug the river. Or take the boat one way and walk back. There are ticket booths along the river. Our favourite spot for nosh is Riverside point (right across from Clark Quay) with Cafe Iguana for Mexican food and next door is Brewerkz (microbrewery restaurant). Both have large patios facing river. Nice people watching. If you’re into Chilli Crab, it’s a tourist must, we go to Jumbo seafood in Riverside point because it’s outdoors and view of river is nice. Locals swear by No Sign Board on the east coast.
Capitol Theatre - First built in 1929 at the heart of Singapore's civic district, Capitol Theatre has undergone a renaissance of late. Now, this Art Deco icon has been revived as part of Capitol Singapore, the country's first integrated lifestyle development. Designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architects Richard Meier and Partners, the whole development comprises of The Patina, a luxury hotel; Eden Residences Capitol, a residential development; and Capitol Piazza, a retail and food & beverage hub. Capitol Theatre is the crown jewel of this exciting lifestyle destination.
What’s happening around Singapore
Night safari is popular. They often have plays or dance in the park. Sentosa Island is another popular tourist spot with Universal Studios, amazing aquarium and Resort world Sentosa with casino. It’s touristy but we would go to W hotel for brunch or Capella hotel for drinks. Gorgeous hotel at $800+ a night.
WHAT TO DO ? ADD ON THE RESERVOIR WHERE EVERYBODY GOES RUNNING, THE ZOO OR NIGHT SAFARI. THE BIG FREAKIN SINGAPORE FLYER FERRIS WHEEL. F1 RACE IN SEPTEMBER. CHECK OUT WHAT’S ON AT THE NEW CAPITAL THEATRE. PULAU UBIN FOR THE LAST OF AUTHENTIC SINGAPORE AND FOR BIKING TOO. CHINA TOWN ?
GETTING AROUND SINGAPORE