Kick-start your day at Nanyang Old Coffee in Chinatown with a traditional Singapore breakfast of soft-boiled eggs, toast slathered in kaya (coconut jam) and a cup of kopi (local coffee). Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, this café serves toothsome cuppas made with beans roasted in a little sugar and butter.
Once you’ve fuelled up, take your time exploring some of the area’s historic religious sites. Sri Mariamman Temple, built in 1827 and noted for its colourful tower of deities, is the island’s oldest Hindu temple, while the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum houses sacred Buddhist heirlooms. The rooftop garden also makes a serene spot to relax in.
Before lunch, dive into local literary culture at The Moon, a bookstore and café where at least half of the selection comes from female authors. Littered with Books, located in a beautiful Chinese shophouse, is another indie bookshop where author Noelle Q de Jesus will discuss the intersections of literature and tennis on 15 June.
Meander over to Esquina, where you can take advantage of the well-priced lunches created by head chef Carlos Montobbio, who works culinary magic with his take on contemporary Spanish cuisine. Near the entrance, the many signatures on the white column from decorated chefs who’ve dined here testify to the restaurant’s enduring prestige.
Running all afternoon until late on 8 and 9 June, Ultra Singapore is the republic’s biggest annual electronic dance music (EDM) bash. This year’s headliners include such electro heavy-hitters as Martin Garrix, Skrillex and Josh Wink. Those looking for something a little bit more downtempo can head to arts enclave Gillman Barracks from 28 to 30 June for the Singapore Art Book Fair, a homage to all things print.
If you’re not busy dancing the night away at Ultra Singapore, head back to Chinatown for dinner and drinks. Choose from 11 delicious signature handmade Italian pasta dishes at newly opened Pasta Bar on Keong Saik Road or, alternatively, indulge in succulent modern Asian dishes such as truffle duck fried rice and Singapore chilli soft-shell crab at funky eatery Xiao Ya Tou.
Wrap up the evening with a few pints from craft beer hawkers Smith Street Taps, which just reopened following Chinatown Complex’s three month closure for renovations.
Tuck into brunch at Wakey Wakey, where standout dishes include buttermilk waffles with maple syrup and fresh fruits and an assortment of grain bowls. Next, follow the sound of thundering drums downtown to the DBS Marina Regatta, where from 1 to 2 June the annual dragon boating festival takes over the bay area with food, family-friendly festivities and, of course, teams of rowers competing in long boats mounted with dragon heads.
From here, grab a taxi to Orchard Road and shop ’til you drop during GSS: Experience Singapore. Starting 21 June, this revamped five-week retail blitz replaces the Great Singapore Sale with a stronger focus on local brands and designers. Expect deep discounts at some of the stretch’s coolest boutiques.
Take a lunch break at Fat Cow, a Japanese wagyu specialist surreptitiously located in Camden Medical Centre. The signature wagyu sandwich (S$88) usually sells out, but recent “mini donburi” menu additions such as histumabushi (eel) and seared salmon prove this local favourite is no one-trick pony.
Sated, take a short walk over to Royal Plaza on Scotts to check out “Pop Art & Bubbles”, an exhibition from Australian artist Linda Preece showcasing landmarks like the Merlion splashed in bright, vibrant colours (until 12 June).
Then, take a break at your hotel and get tickets online to one of two special dance performances later tonight. First, the three-time Grammy-winning Soweto Gospel Choir leads INALA – A Zulu Ballet from 19 to 22 June at the Sands Theatre, while the Paris Opera Ballet performs works from three celebrated choreographers at the Esplanade Theatre from 21 to 23 June. If you’re not in town during those dates, check showtimes at The Projector, a beloved indie cinema that breathed new life into Golden Mile Tower’s previously defunct screening rooms.
For dinner, grab a table at Frieda. Located at the Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore, it focuses on modern German and Austrian fare served in a laidback environment. Try the salad with goat cheese; classic weiner schnitzel; or beef consomme with semolina dumplings.
Finish the night off by popping over to the intimate Madame Fan Bar, where award-winning mixologist Davide Boncimino plays with ingredients that he freezes, cooks and even bakes himself in the adjacent Cantonese restaurant’s kitchen.
Have an early breakfast at your hotel, and make sure to pack your swimsuit before you hop in a taxi to Kent Ridge Park for a morning hike along the peaceful Southern Ridges. Going east on well-marked pathways, you’ll pass a World War II battlefield, zigzag through secondary rainforest on an elevated platform and walk the Henderson Waves, which at 36 metres is Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge.
Stop at Mount Faber Park and refuel with a casual lunch and panoramic views at Arbora, where dishes include slow-cooked pork ribs with Mexican spices and sweet pickled vegetables; as well as a hearty Fisherman’s Stew made with lobster, scallops, squid and abalone.
Then zip into Sentosa by cable car for an afternoon at the beach. The island has three – Palawan is best for families, Siloso caters to thrill-seekers and Tanjong is good for adults thanks to its eponymous beach club. Once you’ve soaked up the sun, learn about Sentosa’s colonial history on a heritage bus tour, offered all month as part of Singapore’s bicentennial celebrations.
Consistently voted the world’s best airport, Changi Airport seems unlikely to relinquish the honour anytime soon thanks to the arrival of Jewel, its sparkling new mixed-use attraction that’s full of surprises. Plan to spend at least a few hours here – there are more than 250 shops and dining venues to explore; hedge and mirror mazes; the misting Foggy Bowls and interactive slide sculptures; and the Shiseido Forest Valley, with hiking trails, bouncing nets and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
End your day at East Coast Park with a sunset stroll along the water and dinner at East Coast Lagoon Food Village, Singapore’s only beachside hawker centre. Aside from its scenic setting, this food haven gets high marks for its ranks of accomplished hawkers. Try the sambal stingray at Stingray Forever, char kway teow (fried flat rice noodles) at Choon Hiang or fish-head curry at Eastern Red Seafood, plus black sesame paste or pomelo mango sago at Zhen Jie Traditional Homemade Dessert.
This article was originally published in the June 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine