Food and drink
Acquaint yourself with Mod-Sin cuisine...
at Wild Rocket, owned by much-celebrated local chef Willin Low, the well-travelled man has an imaginative menu, fusng Singaporean flavours with modern cooking techniques, as seen in the salted egg yolk crab meatball, a dish inspired by the popular local dish served with a duck egg sauce. Splash out on a full culinary journey with his omakase dinner set, or head here for the three-course set lunch, which sees dishes like rice bowls topped with rendang.
Argue about chicken rice
Arguably Singapore's national dish, there are as many places to find it as there are ways to eat it. Maxwell Food Centre alone has several different chicken rice stalls, including the star-approved Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (Stall 10), which has been visited by celebrity chefs Anthony Bourdain (for his show No Reservations in 2008) and Gordon Ramsay. Expect a queue for their boiled 'white' chicken, which is known for being exceptionally tender, and try it drizzled with their special sauce and sesame oil, or dipped in their punchy chilli. Also nearby is Ah Tai Chicken Rice (stall 7) or Maxwell Chicken Rice (stall 40), which offers the roasted version – try them all to see which you prefer, then add your voice to the fray.
Eat chilli crab
Another quintessential Singaporean dish, chilli crab is at once sweet and savoury and tangy. Plenty of seafood restaurants serve it, but our best bet is Hua Yu Wee Seafood, housed in a colonial bungalow off the beaten tourist track. The second-generation family members who run the place still produce a brilliant chilli crab, with well-balanced flavours and just the right amount of spice to be scooped up with the obligatory deep-fried man tou (bun).
Kick back with Michelin-starred tapas...
at Esquina, a local venture with British chef Jason Atherton, who is gaining a reputation that he's becoming known less as Gordon Ramsay's protégé and more as the Michelin-starred chef behind restaurants such as London's Pollen Street Social. The food at this narrow space, overseen by executive chef Andrew Walsh, is an interesting interplay of classic and fun – highlights include a pull-apart ox cheek oloroso, which is braised in sherry for eight hours and served with creamy mash, capers, crispy bacon and bone-marrow crumbs. The wine list is chosen well, with some good sherries and a range of Spanish beers.
Reserve a seat for coffeeshop yakitori
In the day, this Tiong Bahru coffeeshop houses Hua Bee, which sees one of Singapore's very popular mee pok (flat yellow noodles) stalls by day. By night, the space transforms into Bincho: a sleek industrial yakitori-ya with set menus from $60, as well as spirits and cocktails with a Japanese state of mind.
Party on Singapore’s highest point
At 282m above ground, the triangular-shaped outdoor bar at this self-proclaimed ‘highest alfresco bar in the world’ is indeed a magnificent vantage point, with unobstructed views of the city lights. Bordered securely by glass and furnished with wood flooring and lounging cabana beds, this rooftop bar is one with not just Altitude but attitude – it even has a lowered dance floor in the centre for partygoers to show off their moves under palm trees. The revelry is supported by an extensive, and in parts, unusual drinks list, as well as a resident DJ. Drinks from $16.
Get lost looking for a bar
It’s easy to walk past The Library and not know there’s a bustling secret bar behind its working by-appointment tailor facade. Look out for the weekly changing password online, whisper the words to the bar custodians, and an entrance will magically whisk you into a world of fun and innovative cocktails. Cocktails from $17.
Sip on a Singapore Sling
One cannot come to Singapore and not try its claim to mixology fame. Comprised of a medley of gin, cherry brandy, Cointreau, Dom Benedictine, Grenadine, then mellowed with lime and pineapple juice, the Singapore Sling arrives in a highball glass garnished with a pineapple slice and a maraschino cherry. For the full experience, make your way to The Long Bar at the iconic Raffles Hotel, where the drink was originally developed in 1915 as an alternative to straight gin for the ladies.
Party at Zouk
Having hosted some of the biggest and most cutting-edge acts around, the grand dame continues to push the boundaries of electronic dance music. On Wednesdays, make like a mad thing for TGIW, which showcases five clubbing experiences for the price of one entry fee (free for ladies). At weekends, let yourself go to the music of international DJs. Come quick – its lease is ending and the future is uncertain. 1Cover charge $28 for ladies, $33 for men; Wed free entry for ladies, $28 for men. Charges vary with special events.
Sip on a (better) Singapore Sling
After you’ve tried the original, get into Singapore’s plentiful cocktail scene, filled with unique creations from our growing ranks of world-class mixologists. Case in point: Nutmeg & Clove’s Barrel Aged Singapura Sling ($20), designed by Taiwanese bartender Kae Yin and his team, which updates the original with a spiced hibiscus-infused Tanqueray London Dry gin with Cherry Heering, Benedictine DOM (also found in the original), as well as goji & red date syrup, orange cream citrate and Old Time Aromatic bitters in a wooden cask for a mix that goes down sweet and easy. Bonus: it’s served out of a porcelain cup, perched on a rattan rickshaw for an additional breath of quirky authenticity. Cocktails from $16.
Try a TCM cocktail
Who said cocktails are bad for you? Jekyll & Hyde borrows ancient Chinese wisdom – or its flavours, at least – for its menu of cocktails that your sinseh might approve of. Selecting the more flavourful ingredients from the Traditional Chinese Medicine canon like wolfberries, shiitake mushrooms and chrysanthemums to pair with fun-fortifying spirits like sake, white rum and vodka, try the Chicolate Soup ($25) of chocolate, butterscotch and hazelnut liqueurs, given a savoury edge with the addition of Brand’s Essence of Chicken elixir. Mother-approved!
Shop for saris at 3am
Mustafa Centre has sated many a random late night craving or retail urge, selling everything from watches and perfumes to American hot sauce and poppadum chips. The twobuilding complex even has its own pharmacy, travel agency and currency and gold exchange open all times of the day, allowing you to literally shop until you drop.
Pimp your bike (or buy a new one)
Tokyobike has been knocking out lightweight, attractive bicycles since the original shop opened in Tokyo almost ten years back. The concept is simple: comfort above speed. The minimalist brand has become a worldwide hit, and in addition to Japan, there are now outlets in London and Sydney as well as on our very own Haji Lane. The small shop has everything a brand enthusiast could hope for, from the complete range of frame designs and colours, right through to similarly designed flasks, pumps and adorable handmade wicker baskets.
Support an independent bookshop
In this day and age when brick and mortar booksellers are steadily making way for online shipping, independent bookshops like the charming Littered With Books deserves special mention. Browsing promises to be a fun affair in this spacious two-storey shophouse-turnedbookshop. Additionally, the curated selection of books on sale, ranging from bestsellers and literary classics to children's titles, is actually quite affordable, or at least cheaper than you'd expect from other bookstores.
Shop designer for less
Originating from Italy, Kilo Fascion Asia brings to town the new and unique concept of ‘fashion by weight’ – where you can grab outfits, shoes, bags and accessories (for men and women) from the store and pay for your purchases according to their weight. Depending on the label and the type of item, prices range from four-cents per gram to six dollars per gram, and discounts can come up to as much as 60 percent off the original retail price. They are currently at a temporary address while searching for a suitable store space.
Déjà Vu Vintage
Peruse vintage in style Banish all thoughts of rummaging through stockpiles of pre-loved clothes. Shopping at Déjà vu Vintage is as classy as the boutique, which feels like a (glass)house on the prairie with a huge walk-in wardrobe. Check out quirky bags and chic cocktail numbers by muchloved designer brands like YSL and Oscar de la Renta, and browse through a curated collection of skirts – many with quirky prints like owls, postage stamps and leaping tigers.
Arts and culture
Get a designer art fix
Get a designer art fix inside Hermès. Situated on the third floor of the high-end designer store, this space opens wheneer they have shows going on – their exhibitions are generally site-specific installations, and ironically, feature some of the most interesting and conceptual pieces around. Hermès art spaces can also be found in Berlin, Tokyo and New York.
Get to know the Peranakans
The name Peranakan describes both a rich culture and a unique ethnic group, arising from the meeting of Chinese and Malay peoples. They’re known for their delicious cooking, but if you can’t wrangle a dinner invitation, head to the ten-gallery Peranakan Museum for the world’s largest and best overview of Peranakan life over three floors. Explore documents and artefacts – jewellery, silver, furniture, textiles and crockery predominate – brought to life through interactive and multimedia stations.
Brush up on Asian culture
One of Singapore's largest and most impressive museums, the Asian Civilisations Museum has 11 galleries showcasing more than 1,300 artefacts from the civilisations of China, South-East Asia, South Asia and West Asia. The permanent exhibition, Singapore River Gallery, tells the stories of coolies, indigenous Orang Laut (or ‘Sea People’) and fresh-off-the-boat Europeans (Gallery 1).
Get cultured at ‘the durian’
Love or hate its design, Singapore’s premier performing arts centre Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay is now one of the city’s iconic landmarks (it’s also known as ‘the durian’ for its distinctive domes) and a world-class artistic venue, hosting concerts and performances by local troupes such as the Singapore Dance Theatre or international touring companies like the Royal Shakespeare Company in its 1,600-seat Concert Hall and the 2,000-seat Theatre. There’s also the Outdoor Theatre for music festivals like Baybeats and other free concerts, a black box Theatre Studio (seating 220) and a Recital Studio (245).
Get familiar with local art
Formerly a Catholic boys’ school, the intimate building that now houses the Singapore Art Museum features a number of small, unusual and hidden gallery spaces scattered throughout the building – many of which house longrunning exhibitions showcasing their impressive collection of South-East Asian contemporary art, including a number of notable ‘pioneer’ works.
Splash out on a fancy VIP cinema experience
Catch the latest blockbuster while lounging on your recliner seat, an embroided blanket keeping you warm. Sip on a glass of wine, and luxuriate in the fact that you’ve paid to have a concierge at your beck and call. This first-class cinema experience is available at various cinema chains including Golden Village (www.gv.com), The Cathay (www.cathaycineplexes.com.sg) and Shaw Theatres (www.shaw.sg). Prices start from $20, but vary across cinemas.
Fitness, spa and beauty
Get a late-night garden massage
Aramsa’s unusual location in the middle of suburban Bishan Park means that it is surrounded by nature and feels a million miles from the concrete jungle of the city centre. Individual spa suites are linked via resort-style covered walkways; some also boast sunken bathtubs in private gardens. The best part is that on Friday and Saturday nights, they extend service hours until midnight.
Unknot kinks and fill your belly
Who doesn’t want free food with their massage? While the design may border on gaudy, g.spa Fitness and Recreation Hub makes up for it with a surprisingly solid Penang kway teow and laksa. If you’ve got time to kill, or you’re looking to relieve stress before a long haul (it’s only 20 minutes away from the airport), jump in and out of the hot and cold pools, or sweat it out in this integrated wellness centre’s sauna. If you’re feeling more decadent, there’s a four-hand synchronised massage that hits just the right spots.
Get an old-school blowout (with a glass of wine)
Booking in for a hair blowout to get a bouncy, volumised finish has been all the rage for those looking for star-worthy bombshell hair. The concept at Blow+Bar is pretty simple: pick from a menu of final looks from the salon’s iPad, get a treatment to solve certain hair woes, add on extras like a manicure or a trim and then select a drink – the unique selling point here is a complimentary glass of wine to complete the indulgent experience.
Bliss out at the city’s closest interpretation of an onsen
Ikeda’s ryokan-style (Japanese inn) VIP suite on the fifth floor features traditional tatami (rice straw) mats, shoji sliding doors, as well as a hinoki bath tub that sits two, cosily. The tub is where the restoration lies: the specially imported hinoki, or Japanese cypress wood, releases oil as water enhanced with crystallised mineral bath salts is warmed up to a consistent 45 degrees Celsius. A mist blows while you’re seated in the tub to cool you down. Close your eyes and you may just convince yourself it’s Japan.
Paddle around on a surfboard
Stand Up Paddle (SUP) is a great way to work out your core. SUP School in Sentosa offers lessons and board rental beginning at $40 per hour, and it’s a nice way to soak in the sun without baking on the sand. Once you’ve found your balance, try one of their classes like Yoga/Fitness or Core Challenge to really feel the burn.
Take a walk on the wild side
Manatees, crocodiles, flamingos and monkeys are just some of the 5,000 animals you'll meet in the newish river-themed wildlife park, River Safari. See the world’s largest freshwater pufferfish at the Congo River showcase, watch the adorable squirrel monkeys roam within Wild Amazonia showcase, and check out the cuddly couple Kai Kai and Jia Jia (along with cute red pandas) at the Panda exhibit.
Korea’s Trick Eye Museum has finally arrived in Resorts World Sentosa, and guests are encouraged to fully immerse themselves in the interactive pieces. The 800 sqm museum is divided into six zones with different themes (like Safari or Circus), and each displays three-dimensional paintings and optical illusion masterpieces that you can pose in front of for mindboggling photo ops. Tag your friends to brag.
Go back to nature at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
The wetland reserve of mangrove swamps, ponds and secondary forest is home to 140 species of birds. Thousands of egrets, sandpipers and plovers pass through in winter, but plenty of local species (kingfishers, herons, bitterns) are visible all year round. Early morning is the best time for birdwatching; there are observation hides, and you can rent binoculars. There are three nature trails (3-7km/2-4 miles long), and you can also spot mudskippers, monkeys and climbing crabs on the mangrove boardwalks.
Go (almost) skydiving
No excuses about not wanting to jump out of a plane, because now we can feel the rush of skydiving a few metres off the ground at iFly Singapore. You won’t have the Earth zooming towards you, but you will have the South China Sea to look at as your body is kept afloat in the world’s largest indoor skydiving wind tunnel.
Ride in the world’s largest observation wheel
It’s a little slow, but there’s no denying that a ride aboard the 42-storey, 165m Singapore Flyer offers some of the best 360-degree views of the city. Each flight lasts 30 minutes and on a clear day the panorama from the top of the wheel stretches into neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia.
See the garden of the future
Spanning 101 hectares, Gardens by the Bay is home to over 380,000 plants, housed in two climate-controlled indoor conservatories and the futuristic looking Supertree structures, which act as vertical gardens. A 128m aerial walkway connecting the tops of the Supertrees offers great panoramic views of the Marina Bay skyline; you can also make it a day out by packing a picnic to munch on while lounging on Bay East’s grassy lawns. If the outdoor tropical heat gets to you, cool off over at the conservatories – the Flower Dome displays amazing plants like Baobabs and ancient olive trees from cool-dry Mediterranean climates, while the cool-moist Cloud Forest boasts a 35m man-made waterfall, along with exotic fauna from the Tropical Montane highlands. Then stay on after dark to watch the Supertrees come alive with an evening light and sound show (daily 7.45pm and 8.45pm).