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With Singapore Airlines now flying daily from Canberra to Singapore, there are even more reason to visit the cosmopolitan hub of Asia’s Southeast.
And who better to tell you where to stay, play, eat and shop than a Canberra girl who lived there for three years? Barb Fisher was one of our original HerCanberra contributors, and now she’s back to give you the good oil on this exciting, steamy city.
PLACES TO STAY
There are so many wonderful places to stay in Singapore, from all the big chains to the littlest of boutique hotels. There’s the famous Raffles Hotel, (original home of the Singapore Sling), if you want to relive the colonial past, or there’s the vibrant W Hotel on Sentosa Island, ideal for heading to Universal Studios and the Aquarium with the kids. However, for something a little different than the usual suspects, here are a few others to consider.
If you’re after a spot of luxury during your stay in Singapore, you can’t go past the Sofitel So. Located in an iconic heritage building on Robinson Road, this is a fairly recent arrival on the Singapore scene. It has stunning rooms and a gold tiled swimming pool, along with many other ultra chic elements by fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. I think I want to move in permanently.
35 Robinson Road, Singapore 068876 | www.sofitel.com
The New Majestic Hotel
If you’re after something a little more out-there, The New Majestic Hotel is the answer. Set amongst the bustling bars, cafes and restaurants of Chinatown, this hotel is housed in a traditional conservation shop-house, with rooms designed by local artists and designers. Not one for the faint-hearted.
31-37 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089845 | www.newmajestichotel.com
After the obligatory city-view-infinity-pool shot, but don’t want to shell out for Marina Bay Sands? The Naumi Hotel is a much better (and much cooler) option in my opinion. This gorgeous boutique hotel is situated just near the iconic Raffles Hotel, and if you fall in love with anything in your room or the rest of the hotel, most of it is available to purchase or send back home as a gift. How cool is that?
41 Seah Street, Singapore 188396 | www.naumihotel.com
The Scarlet Hotel
This is Singapore’s original boutique hotel. The Scarlet Hotel is nestled amongst the vibrant Club Street community of restaurants, wine bars, antique shops and galleries, this original 1924 Art Deco building has been beautifully restored and is adjacent to a row of gorgeous shop houses from the late 1800’s. Club Street closes off to traffic after 7pm and has a fun, vibrant atmosphere with the patrons of all the bars and restaurants spilling out onto the street, perfect in the tropical Singapore climate.
33 Erskine Road, Singapore 069333 | www.thescarlethotels.com/singapore
The Parkroyal on Pickering
A five minute walk from both the Central Business District and the famous riverside area of Clarke Key is the super groovy looking Parkroyal On Pickering. My daughter calls this the cardboard hotel, as parts of the façade looks like the internal layers of a cardboard box. Can’t you see yourself sipping a Singapore Sling in one of those birdcages by the pool?
3 Upper Pickering Street, Singapore 058289 | www.parkroyalhotels.com
THINGS TO DO
There’s so much to explore in Singapore. Wander the neighbourhoods or see it from the water.
Jump aboard the Singapore River Cruise for a scenic ride down the river. It’s a great way to get your bearings amongst all the hottest riverside spots like Clarke Quay, Boat Quay, Esplanade, and Robinson Quay.
Gardens By The Bay
Just across from Marina Bay Sands is Gardens By The Bay. The Flower Dome is the world’s largest glass greenhouse and the Cloud House has it’s own mini mountain shrouded in mist. At night, the Super Trees are spectacularly lit up, and you can walk across the Skyway to dine at the very top of the tallest tree (Indochine), with gorgeous food and views all the way back across the Singapore skyline. There are some great restaurants within the complex (check out Pollen), and make sure to bring the kids’ swimmers as there is a free water park to help cool down after a few hours exploring in the Singapore heat.
Gardens By The Bay | 18 Marina Gardens Dr, Singapore 018953 | www.gardensbythebay.com.sg
Universal Studios Singapore
If you have kids, no trip to Singapore is complete without a trip to Universal Studios. It’s less crowded than many other theme parks around the world, and yes, it’s a little bit dated in terms of the themes for some of it’s attractions and rides, but it’s still a fun day out for the whole family. I recommend forking out for the Express Pass if you can manage it, as it will take you right to the front of the queue every time.
Universal Studios Singapore | 8 Sentosa Gateway, Singapore 098269 | www.rwsentosa.com
Sentosa Beach Clubs
Now the beaches in Singapore aren’t much to write home about, but while you’re over at Sentosa Island visiting Universal Studios (or any other of the zillion attractions), it would be rude not to stop off at the Tanjong Beach Club or Coastes for a refreshing beverage, wouldn’t it?
Tanjong Beach Club | 120 Tanjong Beach Walk, Sentosa Island 098942 | www.tanjongbeachclub.com
Coastes | 50 Siloso Beach Walk, Sentosa Island 098942 | www.coastes.com
You actually do feel like you’ve stepped across to India when you take in the sights and sounds of Little India in Singapore. It’s an assault on the senses, usually full of thronging crowds and a buzzy atmosphere. Explore temples, enjoy the clamour of the famous Tekka wet market, and get lost in the maze-like Mustafa Centre, open 24 hours a day.
Mustafa Centre | 145 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207704, Singapore | www.mustafa.com.sg
Singapore is a shopper’s paradise…you could very easily spend days wandering the interconnected mega-malls of Orchard Road without emerging from their air conditioned comfort. But there are also some more quirky and interesting places to spend your dosh.
Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
If designer labels are your thing, you’ve come to the right place. There are more Gucci, Prada and Chanel shop fronts in Singapore than you can poke a stick at. If you really want to get your label on, you can’t go past the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, where every fashion house you can think of is contained under one giant (super air conditioned) roof. It’s also where world famous chefs like Tetsuya, Gordon Ramsay and Wolfgang Puck set up shop.
Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands | 10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956 | www.marinabaysands.com
If you want a little more bang for your buck, head to the quirky Haji Lane in Kampong Glam where small, independent boutiques are the order of the day. Head out in the early evening, do a spot of shopping and watch the bars and cafes come alive at night.
Haji Lane, Singapore 189244
Of course, more than anything else, Singapore is famous for it’s cuisine; there’s everything from high-end Michelin Star restaurants to hawkers’ centres and everything in between. Ann Siang and Club Street get a lot of (well-deserved) raps, but there are a few other areas worth your attention. Don’t be asking for Singapore Noodles, though…there’s no such thing!
To get a feel for the real Singapore, you need to go to a Hawker’s Centre, which is basically a group of street food vendors – but all operating under very strict guidelines regarding food safety. The most famous centre is Lau Pa Sat, which has recently undergone extensive renovations. My favourite is Chomp Chomp, though it’s not as central. It’s right in Singapore’s heartlands, and perfect if you want to eat like a local. (Editor’s note: Try the murtabak (pan fried bread) – it’s amazing!)
Lau Pa Sat | 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582 | www.laupasat.biz
Chomp Chomp | 20 Kensington Park Road, Singapore 557269
Lush, tropical greenery and colonial British army barracks are just two of the reasons that I love this part of Singapore. We often eat out at Dempsey Hill because you really feel like you’re in the tropics – plus there are many amazing eateries to choose from. A few faves are The Green Door, Chop Suey, PS Café, The White Rabbit and Jim Thompson
Dempsey Hill | 8D Dempsey Road #03-01, Singapore 249679 | www.dempseyhill.com
Tiong Bahru is one of the oldest housing estates in Singapore, and is full of gorgeous three-storey art deco buildings. It houses many cool little shops, cafés and restaurants and is one of my favourite areas in Singapore. I love to just wander the streets and take in the old school atmosphere. There’s also a great wet market and hawkers centre right in the middle of it all.
Check out Tiong Bahru Bakery, Plain Vanilla, Open Door Policy (my personal favourite), PS Café Petit and 40 Hands. Afterwards, wander the boutiques: Strangelets, Books Actually, Maissone, and Nana & Bird are all delightful.
Open Door Policy | 19 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168650 | www.odpsingapore.com
Duxton Hill is minutes from the CBD and packed with cafes, bars and shops. Stroll around and admire the traditional shophouse architecture and try and choose from all the delicious options at your fingertips. One of my faves is Lucha Loco – a fantastic Mexican taqueria and garden bar. The cocktails go down too well on a balmy evening and their Mexican street-style grilled corn rubbed with mayo, chili, and cotija cheese is out of this world!
Lucha Loco | 15 Duxton Hill, 089598 | www.luchaloco.com