I’ll admit it. I’m a Singapore girl. Not literally, but I’m a fan, and every trip to The Lion City begins with an important ritual at Changi, no matter what time the flight lands. I encourage you to try this for yourself. Before even considering customs, I make a beeline for Bak Kwa at Bee Cheng Hiang. It’s a porky chilli, sweet and salty type of jerky. And it is super tasty.
Singapore, is not just a hub, stop-over city. I’m a frequent visitor to the city-state, and it’s a destination in its own right. I’ve heard it accused of being too gentrified, too colonial and oh so clean (read: sterile). It may be, but it also has so much to offer and is constantly evolving. I’ve a few expat friends that have lived and continue to live there, and what they can all agree on is that it is an easy way to foray into Asia.
Singaporeans and ex-pats alike, take their food seriously. The choice and quality of food is incredible. The service though, well, let’s just say that it’s a work in progress and hasn’t hit the heights of the US or Australia in terms of attentiveness and efficiency.
Town planning is of utmost importance in Singapore and getting around could not be easier. The MRT is easy to navigate, cheap, super clean and efficient. Taxi drivers are pleasant, usually know where they’re going and the cabs are clean. It’s always polite to extend the courtesy and respect of referring to your driver as Uncle or Aunty, as appropriate and tipping is not expected. A word to the wise, in peak hour and heavy downpours of rain, traffic above ground, can really crawl.
Sunday Brunch at Colony, the Ritz Carlton
A visit to Singapore is not complete without a free-flowing vintage champagne Sunday brunch. My favourite is brunch at the Ritz Carlton. I thought I’d died and gone to foodie heaven. An out of this world spread of cuisine, it truly is a feast with the world’s best cheese board and cocktails to boot. It is a glorious wonderland of food.
Kinki Japanese Restaurant & Bar
At Kinki, the food is incredibly fresh, tasty and imaginative, oh and did I mention the wicked beats? The beats follow you from your table to the rooftop bar. One of my new favourites, this place does not disappoint.
Newton Circus Hawker
There are a few hawker markets in Singapore and you’ll have a great feed at any of them. Be selective about where you order from. Look for stalls rated by the city as A & B and it’s important to know that you can order from any stall, not just the person that runs over with their menus. Skip the Chicken Rice in favour of dishes that really pack a punch. My favourite is the food market at Newton and Denmark seafood is my pick of the places. They do incredible chilli crab, pepper crab and cereal prawns are an absolute favourite.
All day dining at Wild Honey at Scotts Square is high quality and the dishes are large enough to share. There are some good hair of the dog options, available all day. Being Australian, recommending coffee places in Singapore is skint. Wild Honey coffee is good. Really good. Ask to be seated on the verandah.
Salt Tapas by Luke Mangan
I liken this place to my local, when I’m on holiday in Singapore. There is a really chilled vibe here, easy poured wines in cute carafes and great bar snacks at hand – the chilli calamari is one of my favourites. And if you choose to dine in, well you’re in for a treat. Go the banquet if there’s a group of you. Guaranteed to roll out, well fed, watered and happy.
Pizzeria Mozza at MBS
Yes, a chain. But a great one and good for sharing plates. The pizza is excellent, as are the cheese and snacks.
My favourite haunts in Singapore are around Chinatown and the happening vibes of around Keong Saik road. The Study and it’s neighbouring secret bar, The Library are a great place for dinner and drinks.
22 Martin Road is great for breakfast, brunch and really good coffee. It’s a little out of the way, but worth the extra minutes in a cab for the a-grade coffee.
The cufflink club
World class cocktails in chinatown with a classy vibe. Try the bunga bunga…
A rooftop bar with cool vibes and a good crowd. You can even catch a screening of a flick when you’re there.
Lantern Rooftop Bar
Located on the rooftop of the Fullerton Hotel, the service is lacking, but the incredible views over the harbour and across to MBS more than make up for it.
28 Hong Kong street
This is where the cool cats hang. It’s hard to find, but that’s part of the charm. gin, cocktails and truffle mac n cheese. Perfect for late night snacking down by Clarke Quay way. Make sure you reserve your table.
Seah Road, Singapore
This is a understated boutique hotel with the trappings of simplistic elegance and modernity, set to rival the likes of Starwood’s W or Hyatt’s Andaz. This room has thought of everything possible. On welcome, the staff are only too happy to help. I was worried at first by their enthusiasm at almost midnight, greeting a weary traveller. It’s about the detail, the small touches. An advocate of minimalistic living and maximising space, this room has it covered. Ironing facilities tucked in the secret bed base drawer; rainwater and separate hand held shower faucets; Nespresso ready for a morning cup; Rooftop pool and happy hour? Yes please.
Marina Bay Sands
The rooms are well appointed and remind me of the fit out of some of Las Vegas high end hotels like Wynns and MGM Grand. The real reason to stay here is the incredible infinity rooftop pool.
It. Is. Awesome.
Check-in here is vast and confusing, so be sure to know which tower you’re booked in to as the staff aren’t all that accommodating in the rush that constantly seems to swarm the check in counter.
W Singapore Sentosa Cove
For a sea change, check out the W Hotel in Sentosa. It has the uber chilled vibe and service you expect from the W. With a complementary shuttle service to Singapore, it’s nice to get away from the bustle and get down to some R&R and a good book by the pool.
Before exiting customs at Changi, if you’re staying for a few days, pick up a SingTel hi! Tourist SIM at one of the foreign exchange booths. Public wifi is not great in Singapore, so it’s easier to have a local SIM in your phone.