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City Guide to Singapore

Singapore - Something Old, Something New

9. September 2021

by Punita Malhotra

Rediscovery is a constant theme in this popular and diverse island city-state - poised at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, where cosmopolitan affluence is happily married to traditional culture. From the quite stunning airport to the luxury hotels, award-winning restaurants, cultural experiences and incredible shopping, Singapore has become one of Asia’s top holiday destinations and no longer just a stopover city.

Fishing village, colonial trading port, enterprise dynamo…each avatar of Singapore marks a memorable milestone in its short but eventful journey. South Asia’s coveted tourism hotspot is a wellspring of inspiration for many reasons. Modernistic meets multi-cultural in the Garden City where glossy skyscrapers sprout from rainforest-grade greens. Hawker stalls and cocktail bars, secluded beaches and secret islands, world-class shopping complexes and historic shophouses, colonial architecture, and revered temples - all synchronise seamlessly in a slickly choreographed symphony of urbanity.

Gardens by the Bay


Jump into the buzz right away, starting with the Colonial District, dotted with symbols of British imperialism like the Fort Canning Park, Old Parliament House, Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall, the Old Supreme Court, City Hall and the majestic Raffles hotel.

Raffles Hotel


Absorb the glitz of the Financial District and glamour of Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay. Then head to the 250-acre Gardens by the Bay to be blown away by a 165-foot Supertree Grove, the world’s largest column-free greenhouse, and a 115-foot Cloud Mountain indoor waterfall. The sky-high view of the city from the rooftop bar of nearby Marina Bay Sands is unbeatable.

Merlion Park


For a complete contrast, dive into the heart of Singapore’s cultural precincts and thrill your senses with a canvas of everyday exotic. Whet your appetite for local life at hipster Tiong Bahru’s grocery market, Tekka’s wet market, and the murals of Arts Village. The kaleidoscopic backdrops of Little India, Chinatown and Kampong Glam are a photographer’s dream come true, as are the vibrant vibes of Arab Street and Haji Lane. But there’s more than meets the eye. Charming architecture, quirky boutiques, social media photographable cafés and aromatic hawker stalls are just some of the takeaways along these colourful trails.

Arab Street


Escape the sleek facades of steel and glass and give the lush tropical scenery a chance. Love for flowers blooms at the meandering pathways of the Singapore Botanic Garden. You can encounter your inner zen with a morning session of Tai Chi while you commune with nature.

National Orchid Garden


Later, hit the MacRitchie Nature Trail and Reservoir Park for the Treetop Walk, a 250-metre suspension bridge. Gloat over 360-degree views from the Jelutong Tower. Conquer the 11-kilometre nature loop around the entirety of the park, spotting lemurs and long-tailed macaque monkeys.

MacRitchie Nature Trail & Reservoir Park


Consider an hour of kayaking in Singapore's largest reservoir or linger with an old-fashioned picnic basket at the waterfront. Pump up those lungs with more outdoor adventures in the thick jungles of the Southern Ridges. Hiking enthusiasts will enjoy the nine-kilometre-long open trail that links Kent Ridge Park to HarbourFront.

Henderson Waves Bridge


Noteworthy landmarks along the way include Henderson Waves, an undulating bridge connecting Mount Faber Park with Telok Blangah Hill. Back in the city, fulfil the urge to splurge at the world-class racecourse, Singapore Turf Club. Stay high with private betting counters, racing stallions, swapping tips and fiery cheering until you can take the excitement no more.
 
Shopping

Orchard Road: Brace for a five kilometre shopping extravaganza on this premier high street. Twenty two, yes – twenty two, snazzy malls and six department stores on this stretch showcase some of the most exclusive brands one can think of, as well as mainstream labels. The only question is, how long will you chase temptation? Bonus point for fine dining options and architectural eye-candy like the futuristic-styled ION Orchard.

Shopping on Orchard Road


VivoCity
: The city’s largest shopping and lifestyle destination, set on the picturesque HarbourFront across Sentosa Island, can keep you on your toes all day long. Loosen your purse strings with a wide variety of luxury to mid-range brands, linger at the Golden Village Cineplex and roam the pretty waterfront till night falls.

VivoCity


The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
: This is your destination of choice for all your favourite premier brands in the league of Balenciaga, Burberry, Bulgari, Jimmy Choo and Michael Kors. Shop to your heart’s content for home accessories, fine pens, expensive bags and luxury jewellery. The floating crystal pavilion with the largest Louis Vuitton store outside of Paris will win the approval of a discerning customer.

The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands


Bugis
: This complete retail centre appeals to the young crowd with a large shopping mall and a lively street market. Hundreds of stalls lure shoppers with Singapore-themed tote bags, imitation jewellery, slogan T-shirts, artisan confectionery and upmarket souvenirs. Bugis is the place to stock up on good quality keepsakes for friends and family.

Bugis Junction


Museums & the Arts

Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM): Occupying a neoclassical Empress Place Building next to the Singapore River, this museum has 11 galleries to introduce you to areas as diverse as art, fashion and maritime trade. Even if you’re hard-pressed for time, peek into The Ancestors and Rituals section for fascinating artefacts from remote Southeast Asian communities.

Asian Civilisations Museum


Peranakan Museum
: This is your chance to learn about the ancient Peranakans, descendants of Chinese settlers in the Malay archipelago. Costumes, porcelain, furniture and artefacts will keep you busy for hours in this offbeat museum. Bump up the experience with a Peranakan meal at True Blue Cuisine restaurant next door. Vintage photographs and antiques provide the perfect ambience.

Peranakan Museum


National Gallery
: The largest visual arts venue in Singapore, spread over 64,000 square metres, is set in two historic national monuments, the City Hall and the country’s former Supreme Court. The museum has the most extensive collection of modern Southeast Asian art in the world, from the 19th-century. Don’t miss the Rotunda Dome, an impressive two-storey circular structure, which used to be a Law Library.

National Gallery Singapore


ArtScience Museum
: An architectural stunner located at the edge of Marina Bay, it features stylised hands that seem to welcome visitors. Skylight “fingertips” light up the interior. Sections named Curiosity, Inspiration, and Expression ignite the interest of visitors. Twenty one gallery spaces are famous for ground-breaking and futuristic exhibitions.

ArtScience Museum


Mint Museum of Toys
: Break away from the expected with a collection of vintage and rare toys. Surprise yourself with a 30s Alice Doll from the UK and a 30s Mickey Mouse Hurdy Gurdy from Germany. Themed floors feature displays across categories like Collectables, Characters and Outer Space. The museum takes the visitor back to their childhood - reversing time - surely the greatest luxury of them all. 

MINT Museum of Toys


Restaurants & Bars

Odette: This pastel-hued, 3-star Michelin restaurant takes you on an indulgent dining odyssey of French heritage with the finest ingredients. Tradition meets innovation through classic cooking techniques and modern interpretations. Signature dishes include Normandy brown crab with wasabi oil and Nashi pear and Kampot pepper-crusted pigeon.

Odette


Candlenut: Rustic-chic decor defines the world’s first Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant. Expect traditional dishes elevated with inventive twists. The wholesome food is inspired by heirloom recipes, mixing Chinese ingredients with local spices and techniques. Opt for the delectable 20-course tasting menu.

Candlenut 


Zen: One of the newest 3-star Michelin restaurants in Singapore specialises in an eight-course tasting menu with Japanese influences. Signature offerings include beer-poached crustacean, dill smetana, wild trout roe and fennel flowers; rum raisin foie gras; and vendace roe. Pair your meal with the best of wines or Japanese sake.

Zen


Rhubarb Le Restaurant: A superb 1-star Michelin star establishment, with an intimate setting of only 7 tables, allowing guests to interact with chefs in an open plan kitchen. Seasonal, fresh ingredients, two degustation menus and an extensive wine list ensure a pleasant experience at this contemporary French restaurant.

Rhubarb Le Restaurant


Shinji by Kanesaka: Settle into one of the twelve seats at the wooden counter or reserve the private room that accommodates a group of five. Order the sliced yellowtail wrapped around daikon radish ribbons, sweet amaebi shrimp topped with uni and the nigiri. The well-balanced and subtle flavours are sure to stay with you.

Shinji by Kanesaka


Exclusive experience

Take part in a tea appreciation workshop in an authentic Chinese teahouse to taste different tea varieties and become a connoisseur of the delicate beverage. This crash course in the history of tea cultivation and brewing rituals is a great way to acquaint yourself with the local culture.

Tea room


Watch experts estimate the heat of the boiling water with the size of rising bubbles. Savour the aroma of tea with "sniffer" cups and sip from the small cups to know why tea has the status of a ceremony in this part of the world. 


Must-buy souvenir

Go on a quest for aromatic perfection and capture the orchid, Singapore's national flower, in a bottle. The city is the best place to buy exquisite orchid-infused perfumes crafted with a blend of native orchid varieties. Soft, strong, spicy or citrusy, there's one to suit every taste. Caramel, mint, honey, cherry, jasmine, baby powder… what is your poison?  

Orchid-infused perfume


Side trip

Most visitors to Singapore never realise that the island nation is made up of a total of 63 islands, only three of which are inhabited. Sitting just off the southern coast of the main island, Sentosa is the second largest island. It is only 15 minutes from the city centre - by metro, car or monorial - but feels like a world of its own. The island is home to Capella - a delightful luxury resort. Here you can sit by the outdoor swimming pool or head down to the pristine beach - Champagne in hand - to enjoy the best beachlife that Singapore can offer.

Capella Singapore at Sentosa Island


For an unforgettable island getaway, charter a private yacht for an afternoon cruise to some of the Southern Islands such as Sain John´s and Lazarus - with a stop at Kusu Island where tortoises abound. Seeing the skyline of Singapore from the sea as the day comes to an end and the lights come on - is simply unforgettable.

Nightlife / Hidden gem

Wander into a side street in Chinatown to stumble upon a bar tucked away behind the doors of an old shophouse. A night at 28 HongKong Street will reward you with skillfully curated American-style spirits. Up your cocktail game in Singapore with this bar consistently rated as one of Asia's best.

28 HongKong Street


Hotels

Singapore boasts a plethora of world-class luxury hotels. From the famous Raffles Hotel to the decadent Marina Bay Sands - the city offers something for everyone. Michelin-starred restaurants, casinos, amazing suites, swimming pools, luxury shopping experiences and superb spas - Singapore's hotels has it all.

Read the BusinessClass.com guide to The Best Luxury Hotels In Singapore 

PARKROYAL on Pickering


Getting there

Ralph Waldo Emerson is often credited with writing "life is a journey, not a destination" - but a journey to Singapore invariably includes the quite fantastic destination - Changi Airport. Opened in 1981, it has improved with age. It is more like a space port than an airport. Hosting shopping and beer festivals, concerts, amazing restaurants and even weddings - Changi is a destination in itself and needs time to explore. 

The metro


Getting around

Singapore Changi Airport is well connected to the city by the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) subway system, an excellent underground network that links the entire city. Taxis are the most popular and convenient mode of transport while navigating the neighbourhoods.

BusinessClass.com searches hundreds of travel sites at once to help you find the best premium travel offers for both flights to and from the city and accommodation in Singapore.