An hour or two at Singapore airport on a stop over to Indonesia or Oceania is often the closest that people ever get to visiting Singapore. Their loss.
One of the only pieces of trivia people know about Singapore is that chewing gum is illegal, but that hardly sums up one of the most vibrant and prosperous cities in Asia. The days of strict post-colonial regulations banning such things as rock 'n 'roll and video game arcades are long gone. What has emerged in their wake is one of the most culturally diverse places on earth bursting with art, fashion, food, and music.
Named as 'the world's easiest place to do business' by the World Bank for the 9th year running, Singapore has become a diverse community with several professional expats enjoying the opportunities - and weather. And as the host of an F1 Grand Prix and the home of several Michelin Starred restaurants, Singapore is now entertaining on an international scale.
We've been locals for 3 years now so we've just about got the lay of the island. Here are our recommendations to anyone visiting Singapore:
Din Tai Fung: An authentic Taiwanese restaurant with a Michelin star, Din Tai Fung is ranked as one of the world’s Top Ten Best Restaurants by The New York Times. Go for the xiao long baos (steamed pork dumplings) and heart-warming steamed chicken soup.
Maxwell Hawker Centre: The local's favourite food market. Hundreds of delicacies to try under one roof from fish head soup to the traditional congee with pork and century egg from Zhen Zhen Porridge.
Labyrinth: The newest face of Singaporean fusion, Labyrinth is the vision of chef LG Han. Be sure to try the signature dish of chili crab ice cream (below).
Pasarbella: A wonderful farmers' market with great craft beers, wine, meat, dairy, seafood, fruit, veg, and more.
KU DÉ TA: Perched above the observation deck of the SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands, KU DÉ TA Singapore boasts a restaurant, club lounge and a breathtaking view of the skyscape. Potato Head Folk: Whimsy childhood murals on the walls and sculptures fill the space at Potato Head Folk. It also offers a beautiful roof terrace, delicious burgers and amazing cocktails.
Ronin: Exceptional coffee and excellent sandwiches in this simply gorgeous cafe.
Orchard Road: Walk down Orchard Road by night to see it at its best.
Southern Ridges Park: Bridges to die for.
Joo Chiat: Discover Peranakan culture as you stroll past heritage shophouses, quaint stores and eateries in this charming corner of East Singapore.Chinatown: Heritage in abundance. Experience the original Chinese charm of Singapore. Visit its Wiki Travel page for detailed info.
Art & Design
Gillman Barracks: Located on a 6.4 hectare site and set amid lush greenery, Gillman Barracks is a contemporary arts cluster in Singapore that is home to 17 international art galleries, three restaurants and the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), which are all housed in conserved colonial barracks.
[email protected]: Having just re-opened after 7 years, the [email protected] is built around the theme "Design is for Everyone." The next-generation public library includes numerous interactive features and collaborative spaces to inspire and educate. With a collection of comfortable nooks and crannies, the upper level is the perfect place to relax with a design book or magazine.
Red Dot Design Museum: The latest trends in the international design scene with a collection of more than 1,000 exhibits in the field of product design and communication design from over 50 countries.
National Design Centre: Centrally located in the arts, cultural, learning and entertainment district in the Bras Basah-Bugis area, it is well placed to invite the public to learn about design through its exhibitions and programmes.
Parkroyal on Pickering: Balconies covered in tropical plants provide 15,000 square metres of greenery at this stunning hotel. The award-winning interior is equally as stunning.
Haji Lane: Enjoy the many independent stylish clothing boutiques of Haji Lane.
ION Orchard: It cost $2 billion to construct this massive futuristic shopping centre. ION Orchard has become the "centre of gravity" in the retail scene, with spectacular frontage and cutting edge designs and concepts. It brings together the world’s best loved brands for within one development with over eight levels of intelligently designed shopping space – four levels above ground and four levels below – totalling 66,000 square metres.
Sungei Road Thieves' Market: Singapore's oldest flea market dating back to the 1930s. Great if you're looking for retro, vintage items.
Little India: Crammed into 700 by 500 metres of space, Little India is a little hectic but well worth your time. With markets, food stalls and temples aplenty, it's an experience for all 5 senses and an opportunity to grab some bargains.