The classic transit destination, Singapore is a common stopover for those travelling from Europe and America to ‘The East’. But it’s rarely seen as a destination in its own right. A new generation of foodies, designers, architects and artists are starting to change that reputation. Not only that, but it also has an outstanding public transport system, so you can travel around the city-state easily, cheaply and in air conditioning. The closest MRT (mass rapid transit) stations are included.
Eating & Drinking
Coffee culture has truly arrived in this tiny city state. 1KS by Park Bench Deli (MRT Outram) is an indie cafe in Working Capitol, Chinatown’s entrepreneurial hub. The casual atmosphere is perfect for chilling out before a day on the sightseeing circuit. Take out one of their sandwiches as a mid-morning snack too – they’re delicious. If you’re back in the neighbourhood later on, Neon Pigeon next door serves up ingenious Japanese fusion at surprisingly good value.
The heat can be an issue – even for locals and veteran expats. Stop off in one of the hundreds of hawker centres and have your chosen combination of fresh juice or sugarcane squeezed on demand.
Camp Kilo Charcoal Club (MRT Lavender), is set a little out of town and the most chilled place to head for dinner. It’s barbecue done the Singaporean way, which means a little bit of every culture – Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, European, Japanese and more – thrown onto hot coals and cooked up beautifully. Wolf it down with a huge cooler of speciality cocktail or local Tiger beer. If you don’t go into a food coma, taxi to sister club, Kilo Lounge (MRT Chinatown), for a proper all-night party.
Singaporeans have two pastimes – eating and shopping. If you want to enjoy your day, avoid Orchard Road – and all the other big malls for that matter. Haji Lane (MRT Bugis) is a graffiti-covered street of independent clothes, lifestyle and food boutiques. Nothing really opens until 12pm so head here after lunch for a relaxed afternoon of browsing, very much away from the masses.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens (MRT Botanic Gardens) is a UNESCO World Heritage site. So yes, it’s often full of tourists. But it’s also big enough for them to blend into the tropical scenery. Take time to explore all the small pathways between the immense trees and you’ll discover cool glades and the odd monitor lizard (they don’t bite, honestly).
If the heat gets too much, the National Gallery Singapore (MRT Raffles Place/Esplanade) has an enormous permanent collection of South East Asian art and international exhibitions. To see how Alice felt as she plummeted through the rabbit hole, make sure you venture into the Keppel Centre for Art Education to see a changing array of installations by Asian artists.
Located beside Chinatown MRT Station, PARKROYAL on Pickering boasts a dedicated wellness floor that features an outdoor pool, gym and 300-metre garden walk.
Hotel Mono is a chic hideaway set in six historical shophouses of modern design. The beautifully rejuvenated buildings retain their original charm with characteristic air wells and Rococo-era windows, seamlessly interweaving with the culture of traditional Singapore and the city’s urban bustle.