With a host of new and returning festivals, art exhibitions and trendy new bar and restaurant openings in 2023, there’s no better time to visit Singapore than now. And with pandemic era restrictions mostly removed, the Little Red Dot has once again become a vibrant cultural hub drawing in millions of tourists. If you’re in the midst of planning your next trip to the city, here’s a helpful list of 23 reasons why Singapore is more exciting than ever in 2023.
1. Mondrian hotel’s Southeast Asian debut
Like its human namesake – known for his inventive abstract painting – the hotel Mondrian pushes the envelope with its bold, stunning concept. Featuring 302 guestrooms and shophouse suites, this unique bolthole draws inspiration from its Duxton neighbourhood and is designed in a style best described as “deconstructed shophouse chic”. For example, the traditional hotel lobby has been scrapped in favour of a bustling restaurant-and-bar space that fully immerses guests in the Mondrian energy the moment they arrive. The top floor has also been transformed into a glamorous pool and lounge area, with sweeping views of the city skyline.
2. A heyday for modern Indian cuisine
There’s no shortage of traditional Indian restaurants in Singapore, ranging from hole-in-the-wall neighbourhood gems to exquisite fine-dining establishments helmed by globally acclaimed chefs. (See #17 for more.) In the last few years, however, contemporary Indian cuisine has stolen the spotlight, offering novel takes on the cuisine while remaining rooted in tradition. Firangi Superstar is one of the buzziest new additions to this new wave of contemporary Indian restaurants, offering dishes like the Iberico pork roasted in a Mangalorean spice mix and a riff on the classic rogan josh made with braised and grilled beef short ribs. An even fresher-faced entry to the scene is Barood, which describes itself as a “Latin-Indian izakaya” that serves an elevated selection of tapas and cocktails.
3. New nature attractions for every ability
True to its “Garden City” moniker, Singapore is flush with green spaces to explore. Opened in November 2022, the new Rifle Range Nature Park boasts seven kilometres of trails and boardwalks, a viewing point high above the forest canopy and hundreds of species of flora and fauna. The beloved Gardens by the Bay continues to roll out new botanical-themed events including Sakura (10 March to 9 April 2023), Tulipmania (21 April to 21 May 2023) and Orchid Extravaganza (28 July to 10 September 2023). The venue is currently running Avatar: The Experience (extended until 30 June 2023), which sees the Cloud Forest transformed to evoke the otherworldly setting of Pandora.
4. Craft cocktails with a dash of excellent music
Singapore’s cocktail scene is as vibrant as ever with new bars like Las Palmas and Ginger.Lily entering the fray. Unique among the newcomers is Offtrack, a “music-centric” bar that serves up eclectic beats, pan-Asian cuisine and classic cocktails in a laid-back setting that’s popular with the afterwork crowd. The bar’s music programme features a rotating lineup of resident DJs along with International guests. Offtrack isn’t the only bar bringing tipples and tunes into the same space. The venerable Tippling Club has recently unveiled a music-inspired cocktail menu that charts a journey through 50 years of music. Highlights of the menu include cocktails like Learnin’ The Blues and Savoy Truffle, inspired by Frank Sinatra and The Beatles.
5. Exciting new openings at Jewel Changi Airport
Upon landing at Changi Airport, it’s hard to miss the sheer spectacle that is Jewel – a sprawling lifestyle hub centred upon a massive 40-metre waterfall surrounded by lush gardens. In the three years it’s been open, Jewel has proven popular with locals and tourists alike, but there’s more reasons to revisit this unique mall in 2023. If you’re in the mood for desserts, check out Sourbombe by Genevieve Lee, a runner-up in the first season of MasterChef Singapore. The bakery specialises in Italian bomboloni made with sourdough and stuffed with a variety of unique fillings like lavender lime mascarpone, crème brûlée and strawberry milk. You can also check out the new aviation themed Don Don Donki (a Japanese supermarket) or shop for bags and accessories at cult Korean fashion brand MARHEN J.
6. Singapore’s ever-evolving hawker culture
While traditional hawker centres remain an indelible part of Singapore’s culinary landscape, food parks like Timbre+ are redefining the idea of hawker centres. Timbre+ Eastside at the Singapore Expo is the group’s newest addition. The food park’s stalls include local favourites such as Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak, Huat Huat (known for their smoky barbecued chicken wings and satay) and Kopifellas & Noodlefellas (a stall that highlights modern takes on local kopi and kaya toast). You’ll also find less traditional options such as Wolf Burger and Ajiya Okonomiyaki. The food park is also built with sustainability in mind and is powered entirely by renewable energy drawn from the Expo’s solar panels.
7. Raffles’ new opening on Sentosa
More than 130 years after the iconic Raffles Singapore was first built, the city-state will be getting another Raffles, this time on Sentosa island. Set to open in the second half of 2023, this exclusive villa-only resort is built on over 100,000 square metres of lush tropical gardens overlooking the South China Sea. Each of the 62 villas will come with its own private pool and terrace, and range from intimate one-bedroom spaces to capacious four-bedroom accommodations – perfect for the whole family. Guests can also look forward to signature Raffles experiences such as the famous Raffles butlers and the award-winning Raffles Spa.
8. New attractions for children
Families with young children can look forward to even more places to keep your little ones entertained. Children’s Museum Singapore, which first opened its doors in December 2022, is the first museum dedicated to kids below the age of 12. In this fun, engaging space, your child is encouraged to roam freely and interact with all the exhibits. Look out for the rotating lineup of events that include art and craft classes, parent-child dances and even LEGO-building workshops. Another brand new attraction is the family of four giant sculptures that are scattered across Palawan Beach in Sentosa. Made using recycled wood sourced in Singapore by Danish artist Thomas Dambo, these totemic statues were created to demonstrate the value of trash as a creative material. For added fun for the kids, download the interactive online map and go on a treasure hunt to look for these four giant trolls.
9. Global contemporary art at the Singapore Biennale
The 2022 edition of the Singapore Biennale, the seventh iteration of the event, is a must-see showcase for art lovers and culture enthusiasts alike. The Biennale, which runs until 19 March, is named Natasha and will feature the works of over 50 artists and collaborators from around the world. A diverse range of media will be on display including paintings, sculptures, installations, videos and performance art. Exhibitions, talks and workshops will take place across various venues across the island including St. John’s Island, Yan Kit Playfield and Sentosa Cove Village, allowing visitors the unique opportunity to experience contemporary art in an array of settings.
10. Singapore’s growing list of craft microbreweries
In addition to a burgeoning cocktail scene, Singapore is home to a surprising number of craft microbreweries such Little Island Brewing Co., The 1925 Brewing Co., and LeVeL33 – the world’s highest microbrewery! You can also enjoy a variety of craft beers from brands like Trouble Brewing, Alive Brewing Co. and Sunbird Brewing Company. If you’re intrigued by the artistry and science behind your favourite beers, Lion Brewery has resumed guided tours of their brewing facilities. The 30-minute tour of the “Brewlab” ends with a Q&A session followed by a tasting flight of six beers. You’ll also get to take home a Brewlab pint glass and a cap as a souvenir.
11. Concerts galore as live music returns
This year is set to be an exciting one for concert-goers, with a whole slew of international music acts gracing Singapore’s shores. Kicking it off is the Red Hot Chili Peppers, bringing their distinctive Californian sound to the National Stadium on 16 February. The rocking good times continue to roll, with French pop rock outfit Phoenix making their return to the Lion City on 9 March. Come May, legendary K-pop girlband BLACKPINK will be electrifying the stage at the National Stadium as part of their [BORN PINK] world tour.
12. A recently reopened Peranakan Museum
After a four-year renovation break, the Peranakan Museum will be back in February 2023. Visitors to the refurbished building along Armenian Street will be treated to nine galleries spread across three storeys, with each floor examining themes pertaining to Peranakan identity – “Origins”, “Home”, and “Style”. Through a mix of exhibits and interactive displays, visitors will be able to get up close with the diverse Peranakan cultures of Singapore and Southeast Asia. Apart from seeing artefacts dating back to the 20th century, visitors will also get to watch and listen to interviews with people from living cultures such as that of the Arab Peranakans, Chinese Peranakans, Peranakan Indians and Jawi Peranakans.
13. An arty new hotel in Little India
Located in the heart of the heritage district of Little India, Owen House puts you within walking distance of cultural attractions such as the Sri Veeramakaliamman temple and the historic Tan Teng Niah building. Foodies will also be spoiled for choice in this neighbourhood, with a wide range of eateries here, ranging from casual dining spots to upscale restaurants. This brand new hotel concept from flexible-living brand Hmlet features 106 artsy rooms, each designed with modern art deco elements – think sleek interiors, geometric patterns and a liberal use of metallics and jewel tones. Guests are also invited to unwind with a cocktail (or two) at Sunlight and Moonshine, a chic café by day and modern speakeasy by night.
14. The much-anticipated reopening of the bird park
January 2023 saw the closure of Singapore’s beloved Jurong Bird Park – but not for long. The attraction is scheduled to reopen as the 17-hectare Bird Paradise in the second quarter of 2023. It will sit on the same site as the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, River Wonders and upcoming Rainforest Wild, making up Mandai Wildlife Reserve. Visitors can look forward to eight immersive walk-through aviaries designed to reflect different biomes from across the globe – from the Australian dry eucalypt forests to the South American wetlands – and containing 3,500 birds from over 400 species. It will also have the world’s largest living genetic reserve of hornbills under human care.
15. Jaw-dropping public art shows
Art comes to life in 2023 with a series of large-scale, interactive exhibitions designed to tickle all your senses. In February, 29Rooms – a collaboration between Refinery29 and Vice – marks its global debut at Gardens by the Bay. This whimsical wonderland features 29 visually arresting experiences and includes a 800sqm space that will play host to music acts, trendy art programmes and hot new dining concepts from around the world. For something a bit more laid back, pop by Resorts World Sentosa this March for Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience. Spread out across two storeys, this mesmerising light-and-sound showcase features projections of the Dutch painter’s most compelling work, including The Starry Night, Self-Portrait, and Irises. You can even pop on a pair of VR goggles to find out more about the inspiration behind these epochal art pieces.
16. Skiing and snowboarding on Orchard Road
Snowboarding in the centre of Orchard Road? It won’t be a pipe dream for long. The upcoming Trifecta is an action sports facility where you can surf, skate, ski and snowboard to your heart’s content. Spanning roughly 49,000 square feet, this will be the first attraction in Asia with three action sports arenas in one place, and will also include the world’s first hybrid skate bowl. Trifecta will be situated a short distance away from Por Vida Skateboarding, a new indoor skatepark that’s also the largest in the country. With over 6,000 square feet of ramps, rails and tracks, plus lessons for beginners, it’s an ideal place to take the kids to if they need to burn off some energy.
17. All-new adventures on Sentosa
Sentosa has always been a top family-friendly destination. Besides its sun-kissed beaches and enchanting aquarium, it offers plenty of nature and adventure activities. For starters, there’s the Sentosa Heritage Trail – launched just last year – which allows you to traverse the verdant island while learning about its storied legacy. Meanwhile, the new Central Beach Bazaar boasts a powerboat simulator ride where you can experience the adrenaline rush of high-speed boat races. The Palawan Sands lifestyle and entertainment precinct, which is slated to debut in the second quarter of 2023, will include Singapore’s first gamified electric go-kart circuit, a mini-golf course and beach clubs with colourful waterslides galore.
18. New boutiques by high-end streetwear labels
Shoppers in Singapore have long had their pick of luxury brands, independent labels and casual outfitters. Recently, there’s been a slew of elevated streetwear names that have touched down in the city-state, adding to the diversity of the retail landscape. Swedish fashion house Acne Studios opened at Marina Bay Sands in December 2022, marking its Southeast Asian debut. Other recent arrivals include MLB from South Korea and SNKRDUNK from Japan, both located at Mandarin Gallery along the famed Orchard Road shopping strip. Cult-favourite brand Stüssy also celebrated its long-awaited return to Singapore – you’ll find it at Scotts Square, which additionally houses Carhartt WIP’s new flagship outpost.
19. Homegrown brands, markets and fairs aplenty
Singapore has a burgeoning homegrown retail scene, and you’ll discover many local makers posted up at the biannual Boutique Fairs Singapore (17 to 19 March 2023). This shopping event brings together the city-state’s best independent, design-led businesses under one roof, with previous vendors including textile-based studio TANCHEN; design and homewares label Studio Yono; and Plural Supply, which is known for its sustainably made candles and soaps. Other highlights are lifestyle market ARTBOX (24 to 26 February and 3 to 5 March 2023), which is back after a three-year absence, and Bangkok export Chatuchak Night Market Singapore (7 February to 2 April 2023) that will feature a range of quirky retail stalls alongside scrumptious bites.
20. Singapore’s first restaurant by legendary chef Gaggan Anand
Gaggan Anand and his eponymous restaurant need no introduction. After all, his two-Michelin-star restaurant in Bangkok was awarded fourth-best in the world in 2019’s edition of World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Late in 2022, Anand opened his first outpost in Singapore, Ms. Maria & Mr. Singh. The eclectic restaurant concept takes inspiration from a fictional love story between a small town Mexican girl and an Indian city boy. Naturally, its menu draws from the rich culinary heritage of both these cultures. Expect enticing creations like a cold curry ceviche, keema quesadillas, pork vindaloo tacos and an intriguing seafood and beef tongue biryani.
21. A bevy of new Michelin-star restaurants
While hawker food might be Singapore’s most iconic cultural treasure, the Little Red Dot’s high-end dining establishments have made a name for themselves as well. In fact, as of 2023, Singapore boasts 41 one Michelin star restaurants. The most recent edition saw four new restaurants clinch their first star: 12-seater sushi restaurant Hamamoto; contemporary European Marguerite; Rêve which pairs fine Japanese ingredients with French culinary techniques; and Nae:um, a contemporary Korean restaurant. In addition to these newly starred restaurants, Cloudstreet and Thevar have been awarded their second Michelin star, bringing the total number of two Michelin star restaurants in Singapore to seven.
22. Local theatre’s big comeback
If you’re a fan of the theatre, there’s plenty to look forward to in Singapore for 2023. From 2 March, Wild Rice’s Glen Goei reimagines An Inspector Calls, a classic play written by JB Priestley in 1945. The play tells the story of a middle class family whose lives are turned upside down when an Inspector arrives at their home to announce the death of a young woman. As the Inspector delves deeper into the family’s past, secrets and lies are revealed, leading to a thought-provoking exploration of social responsibility, class, and morality. For a production with a little more local flavour, Brown Boys Don’t Tell Jokes (23 March to 2 April) by playwright Myle Yan Tay and director Huzir Sulaiman, is a poignant examination of male friendships and what it means to be a brown boy in Singapore.
23. Two-wheeled ways to explore the country
Besides using its efficient public transportation system, visitors can also explore Singapore by bike. The government has made it a priority to develop the country’s cycling network and aims to expand it to cover approximately 1,300km by 2030. New cycling paths stretching 6km have just been launched in the CBD – weaving through Tanjong Pagar, Clarke Quay and Bayfront – with more planned in the near future. If you need wheels while you’re here, bike-sharing company HelloRide has joined Anywheel and SG Bike as licensed operators, so finding a ride will be a breeze.
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