Awe-inspiring spectacles, a Michelin-star-packed dining scene and electrifying nightlife await
Words by ERIN WEINGER
Global travelers in the know have long been familiar with Singapore’s many lures: the food, the architecture, the shopping. And credit must be given to the 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians for bringing the city’s draws to the silver screen, offering a love letter akin to La La Land’s ode to Los Angeles. Now thanks to the glittering spotlight — literally, as evident by a grove of robotic, futuristic trees that dazzle the night sky above the Gardens by the Bay each evening at 7:45 p.m. — it’s apparent Singapore is very much a destination that’s worth the China Eastern Airlines lay-flat long haul all on its own.
To prove this Asian banking capital is much more than merely a collection of boardrooms, Las Vegas nightlife mainstay Marquee just opened, complete with an indoor Ferris wheel and an A$AP Rocky-helmed launch party; Michelin-favored mega chefs Alain Ducasse and Anne Sophie Pic have also made a Malay Peninsula pilgrimage with their own respective restaurants at the newly reopened Raffles Hotel; and Ian Schrager’s glossy Edition Hotel is slated to welcome guests in 2021.
The St. Regis Singapore provides a luxe home base to explore the almost utopian surroundings (yes, Singapore really is that clean).
The hotel’s weekend brunch options — including dim sum at Yan Ting and decadent French fare at Brasserie Les Saveurs — is a property highlight; as is its daily 6 p.m. tour showcasing the vast and mostly Chinese and Singaporean contemporary art collection of hotel owner Kwek Leng Beng and his wife, Cecilia Kwek (works by Georgette Chen, Chen Wen Hsi and Chua Ek Kay are unique standouts).
A quick 15-minute walk down the road — which can feel longer in Singapore’s signature stifling humidity — brings you to the majestic Singapore Botanic Gardens, an 1859-founded UNESCO heritage site that plays host to more than 1,000 species of orchid. A 10-minute walk in the other direction gets you to Orchard Road, where label-lovers can find their share of Vuitton and Dior. On the same stretch, privy expats love Design Orchard, which carries over 60 local brands, including August Society swimwear, Ling Wu’s sculptural suede bags and Pera Skincare’s Bedak Sejuk face masks made from the fermented rice that Malay women have considered a beauty secret for hundreds of years.
For more off-the-beaten-path retail therapy, download the Grab app (Singapore’s answer to Lyft) and get yourself to the hipster enclave of Tiong Bahru, where art deco architecture commingles with some of the cutest indie stores in town — including BooksActually, a jewel box shop featuring local critical essayists, cookbooks and dissident artist ’zines straight from Beijing.
But you didn’t come to Singapore just to shop — you came to eat. Start at the cash-only Maxwell Food Centre (1 Kadayanallur St., Singapore) on the outskirts of Chinatown’s colonial-era shophouses and don’t leave without a $4 plate (or two) from Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, the Michelin-starred hawker stall that Anthony Bourdain put on the map. Later, don a bib and get ready to ruin your manicure at Jumbo Seafood, where the signature chilli crab is worth every splatter.
When it’s time to imbibe after a day of degustation, the Chilli Pady Mary at The St. Regis’ Astor Bar is a spicy kickstart to the night, while the innovative New York-inspired menu at Manhattan across the street — No. 3 on the 2018 list of The World’s 50 Best Bars — is a sleek, dark den made for lingering. After a visit to the tourist-friendly Sands SkyPark Observation Deck, enjoy mixologist Davide Boncimino’s tea-infused Yu Cha libation at nearby JW Marriott’s old-school Madame Fan Bar. For more cocktails and more views, try Smoke & Mirrors on the roof of the National Gallery Singapore — which should be visited in daylight too, if only to see the space’s conversion from former government buildings to a jaw-droppingly gorgeous institution spearheaded by famed French architect Jean-François Milou of StudioMilou.
No Singapore visit is complete without proper exploration of the renowned Changi Airport, which is so good that people sans boarding passes come for fun on the weekends. Expect more than 300 shops, restaurants and the world’s largest indoor waterfall as part of the just-opened Jewel complex, plus a butterfly garden, which happens to be a stone’s throw from the plush terminal three lounge — the perfect place to re-create your very own Crazy Rich Asians fantasy. After all, you never know who you might meet on your trip.
Feature image: The CHANGI AIRPORT’s 130-foot-tall indoor waterfall. Photo by Tang Yan Song/Shutterstock.
This story originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of C Magazine.
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