There’s a lot you can do with just a day to spare…
Singapore’s unique East meets West vibe has long lured visitors. Lush green parks, iconic architecture, the all-age playground of Sentosa Island and the chance to breakfast with an Orang-utan at its world famous zoo are just part of its allure.
Cutting edge new attractions like the incredible modern art mecca that is the National Gallery Singapore and the dazzling Gardens By The Bay, an urban oasis of greenery and plant-studded steel Super Trees that light up the night, are drawing a whole new generation of visitors to The Lion City.
But for me, it’s the city’s unofficial national sports; eating, drinking and shopping – that tempt me back time and time again. And even when I’ve only got a day to spend here, there’s much to be squeezed out of Singapore…
9am: Chow down
Singaporeans love their food, and with a cuisine rich in Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and Indonesian influences, it’s almost impossible to get a bad meal here.
I eat my way through several of Singapore’s many hawker centres – purpose-built food courts with fastidious hygiene standards – diving head first into local dishes including succulent Hainanese Chicken Rice at Maxwell Rd’s Tian Tian, steaming bowls of prawn studded Laksa at East Coast Lagoon Food Village’s Roxy Laksa, and dozens of smoky chargrilled satays at Lau Pa Sat’s Satay Street.
10am: Shop till it hurts
I’m a fan of cute, hole-in-the-wall boutiques, so quite literally salivate over the stores in the ultra hip shopping enclaves of Haji Lane and Tiong Bahru.
Label lovers may prefer to give their credit cards an almighty workout in the designer malls. In the heart of Singapore’s Orchard Road shopping district, devoted fashionistas can worship at the altar of the Paragon Shopping Centre’s six sophisticated levels of luxury brands or ION Orchard, a mecca of haute couture and hot new labels.
Elsewhere in town, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands is yet another shrine to luxury and exclusivity. If like me, you’re buying on a budget, it’s still worth visiting for a Holly Golightly style window shop.
1:30pm: Lunch like a local
I fill my belly with some of the best South Indian vegetarian food and North Indian tandoori I’ve ever had in incredible eateries nestled between the colorful sari shops and Hindu temples of Little India, before going for round two at the tactile, extremely messy and utterly irresistible chilli crab at Long Beach Restaurant.
3pm: Slurp up the culture
Although it’s touristy, a visit to Singapore isn’t complete without making the pilgrimage to the Long Bar at Raffles Singapore, where the gin-soaked literary likes of Rudyard Kipling, Noël Coward, and Somerset Maugham – who described the hotel as “the legendary symbol for all the fables of the Exotic East” – once fuelled their creative juices.
6pm: VIP dining
For the ultimate high-end culinary experience, there’s no surpassing Tetsuya Wakuda’s intimate and exclusive Waku Ghin at Marina Bay Sands. This is fine dining at its most exclusive with a private chef conjuring up 10-courses of culinary magic.
But for a truly unforgettable dinner experience, I decide to go really upscale, and by ‘up’ I mean 42-storeys up, on the Singapore Flyer, Asia’s largest observation wheel. Here, from the comfort of a spacious capsule, I enjoy a four-course meal complete with full butler service. This is my kind of high.
7:30pm: Cocktails and dancing
Ku De Ta’s Club Lounge, perched atop of Marina Bay Sands, is the place for bevvies and beats with a view.
11pm: Last drinks
I hit up the salubrious Manhattan Bar at the Regent (voted one of the world’s best); a haven of plump Chesterfield sofas and marble benches, this place boasts a cocktail list so good that it leaves me shaken and stirred as I prepare to farewell the buzzing city that is Singapore.
Images via herworldplus.com, asia-bars.com, flikr.com, michaelcreasy.com, thelittlemomentsofmylife and littlecornerofmyheart.
Comment: What are your must-dos when in Singapore?