Welcome, old devil, to the business-mecca of the orient - Singapore. Along with its well-established reputation as a billionaire's paradise and its ever growing status as a financial centre this great city state, once known as a colonial backwater, is also host to an array of fascinating multicultural wonders. To help you uncover the many riches that this playhouse has to offer we have put together an essential travel guide, brought to you by our founder - Mr. Motif - who recently visited this great region. The guide includes a visit to one of the world's top ten restaurants, a drink at the famous "Raffles" hotel and a new year's eve spent on top of a skyscraper. We don't do things in half measures, old rascal.
If variety is what tickles your fancy, then Singapore will have you spoiled for choice. From modern skyline bars to modest alleyway stalls - there really is something here for everyone. so, to avoid an overbearing amount of advice I have cut my selection down to three "must try" eateries that have stayed with me for life.
- Dim-sum at Din Thai Fung -
Every accomplished traveller knows that to survive a trip abroad you sometimes need to plot in some quick refuelling stations along the way. Often times this can means sacrificing quality over quantity. However, I have three words fo you... "Din Tai Fung". This is a Taiwanese Michelin starred fast food chain that has become famous for its no thrills / all taste dim sum menu (rumoured to be coming to London soon). There is a decent network of these restaurants all across Singapore, so you will definitely get a chance to dive into some of the best and most affordable dim-sum you have ever tasted.
- Oriental Afternoon Tea at Gardens by the Bay -
What would a British holiday be without some colonial afternoon tea? Spend a day in the luscious Gardens by the Bay, where you will experience a truly modern afternoon tea at a wonderful place called "Pollen", set in the midst of a beautiful garden. If you are an old colonel who prefers his stack of sandwiches and traditional scones, then maybe stick to the Singaporean cricket club. However, if you are a fellow thespian, forward thinker and foodie fanatic, then you will most likely appreciate how clever these alternative takes on traditional cakes really are. I would also recommend booking ahead of time as these gardens are a highly popular location for a nibble and some tea at three.
- Dinner With a View at Marina Bay Sands -
Ah yes, The great Marina Bay Sands, a £4bn resort which boasts a jaw dropping view of the city and an infinity pool that seemingly drops off the edge of the rooftops. I definitely suggest booking a table at the top of this "skypark" on the very first day of your arrival. This way you will get to enjoy planning your trip as you watch the heart of the city beating around you. If you're feeling a bit guarded with your spend then I don't recommend taking up a room here, as the prices tend to filter into Great Gatsby territory. However, If you do choose to stay you will probably be more than happy to know that there is an indoor canal, outdoor infinity pools, opulent art, casinos, an outdoor plaza, a convention centre, several theatres, a crystal pavilion and a museum shaped like a lotus flower. Did I not mention that Singapore was a billionaire’s paradise?
In Good Spirits
Looking for a place to loosen the spirits? Singapore has you covered. Nothing says maximalism like colonialism, so if you are looking for something grand and memorable you will probably find it in one of the old establishments from the former British empire, such as the well esteemed Raffles Hotel. On the flip-side, there are also plenty of smaller bars that specialise in unique modern experiences. To make life easy, I have again named three of my favourite establishments.
- Gotham City / Atlas Bar -
Want to know what it feels like to be part of the rich and famous underbelly of Batman's Gotham City? Atlas bar, hailed as the world's most ambitious gin bar, will bring you just that. Dress to impress, grab a gin and tonic and don some of your best charm, because you'll be entering into a world filled with villainous mischief and extravagance.
- Raffles Hotel -
As most people will tell you - a trip to Singapore is not complete if you have not tried their most famous gin cocktail, the "Singapore Sling". The Sling was developed by a Hainanese bartender in the early 1900s while he was working at the long bar of the famous Raffles Hotel. It has since become the stable of Singaporean night life. Singapore is a colonial hub after all, so why not use this as an excuse to visit the very embodiment of British colonisation.
- Rooftop Lounge in OUE -
Looking to see yourself through a new year in style? Well I can't do much better than drinks in the OUE building. This skyscraper is home to a beautiful rooftop lounge and is an amazing place to sit back and watch the bay light up over new year's eve.
There are so many cultural aspects of this amazing city to explore, from the delights of its local wildlife to the many urban wonders of the concrete jungle. The dilemma sits with choosing which amazing landmark to visit first.
- National Gallery of Singapore -
Singapore is a city steeped in cultural heritage from all around the world, and it would be a great shame if you passed by without taking at least a quick detour through the halls of the National Gallery of Singapore. Here you can can take a journey through the arts and find displays from across all walks of this journey we call life. Make sure you get there early so that you can beat the crowds and make the most out of every exhibition without feeling too much like a sardine.
- Botanical Gardens / Singapore Zoo -
If you're the adventurous / animal loving type who also feels comfortable with wild encounters and perhaps a banana flying past your head then there could be nothing more exciting than spending a day at the Singapore Zoo, an award winning wildlife park. Here you'll find some greatly encouraging bids for conservationism, with a large portion of the wildlife in the park roaming free across the treetops and within the undergrowth. However, if you're less inclined towards the hustle and bustle of a busy zoo you can still find your connection with nature through the beauty and tranquility of Singapore's Botanical Gardens. The gardens are a lot closer to the city centre and can be the perfect place to reclaim some zen in the midst of a busy travel schedule.
- China Town -
What would multiculturalism in Singapore be like if you didn't have the bustling, wild and wonderful world of China Town? If you have no idea what to do next on your trip through Singapore then I suggest immersing yourself in this great world of food stalls, temples, miniature museums and alleyway shops. Chinatown is located within the larger district of Outram, and brings some wonderful cultural elements to the otherwise busy shopping area surrounding it.
- Arab Quarters -
I love that moment on a trip abroad when I find a street that houses all of the commemorative amenities that I could ever ask for... All in one place! Arab Quarters is an absolute "must go" for anyone who loves textiles and or quirky fashion items. This area of town is easily the most unique in terms of shopping experience and you'll find yourself getting pleasantly lost amidst a plethora of delightfully vibrant stalls.
- Island of Sentosa -
One of the most essential items on every gent's list must of course be a stop by the decadent island of Sentosa (otherwise known as the state of fun). This region of Singapore is famous for its over-the-top extravagance and ignorance to worldly problems. Here you will find everything from an eclectic mix of world famous theme-parks to the so called "Beverly Hills" of Asia. My personal favourite recommendation would to simply rent some bikes and cycle around the many ridiculously opulent estates that litter the island. The pyramid shaped houses and endless Ferraris are sure to keep your mind in a bubble for a short while.... If not, try taking a dip in one of the pools while the owner isn't looking! Only joking. you can get in trouble for simply chewing gum in Singapore, so I hate to think what the punishment for tress-passing might be.... Perhaps stick to the sunny beaches that cover the outskirts of the island.
So, that's it gentlemen! My long and way too elaborate guide to Singapore. I hope you liked it, and if you ever do end up going, or if you have already been, please drop me a message and tell me all about your adventures!
Until next time, my dear friend.
Erik S. Motif
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