You’ll be outdoors for long stretches of the day, so start it off with a hearty breakfast. The morning spread at the Conrad Centennial– renovated earlier this year, adding natural jute-fibre window coverings and eggshell-effect walls in the crisp rooms – is impressive and includes many local favourites such as rice congee and prawn noodles.
Suitably stuffed, take a 40-minute cab ride to the northwest of the island, a fertile paradise populated by parklands and farms. The 202ha Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park and features vast biodiversity in its wetlands and mangrove forest, which are home to plenty of mudskippers, water snakes, kingfishers, monitor lizards and otters. The park is also a seasonal migratory stop, when plovers and sandpipers swing by the Little Red Dot.
A 10-minute drive brings you to Bollywood Veggies, a four-hectare farm with vegetables, edible plants and fruits, including more than 20 banana varieties. Stay for lunch at the farm’s Poison Ivy Bistro, where chefs whip up homemade laksa, Peranakan desserts, banana bread and fresh fig tea.
Nearby, Hay Dairies has more than 800 goats that are fed a non-GMO hay diet. The bleaters produce milk for local consumption. While visitors can’t milk the goats, they do have the rare opportunity to feed the sweet-eyed animals.
The nearby Kranji Countryside Farmers’ Market is held every three months, with the next one planned for December. Check their website for details of the event, which is a trove of fruit, vegetables, herbs and moreish local food products.
Then head south to the Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle where visitors can enter the oldest surviving dragon kiln in Singapore (it’s fired up a few times a year, the next being 1 December). The studio stages pottery workshops and has a retail shop with imported Peranakan dishes and celadon ware, plus local crafts.
After a long day in and around nature, celebrate the earth’s bounty with dinner at Open Farm Community, where dishes might include prawn pappardelle with a laksa reduction or braised beef cheek with rendang spice and sweet potato leaves.
There’s no denying that Singapore is hot, so you may be seeking places to chill out – literally. Snow City is an indoor equatorial winter wonderland, with an Arctic playground, an Inuit igloo and a 60m, three-storey-high snow slide. Once you’ve had your fun, get a taxi or take the train to Absolute Zero. A specially designed sauna here uses nitrogen to drop the temperature to about -170°C for cryotherapy treatments.
Refreshed and reset, take a short stroll to Hans im Glück, a German restaurant named for a fairytale by the Brothers Grimm. The burgers (which include vegan options), salads and cocktails will bring some colour back to your skin.
After you’ve had some time to digest your feast, hop into a taxi for the 20-minute drive to Adventure Cove Waterpark on Sentosa. The aquatic theme park has a number of water slides, an obstacle course, a giant wave pool and an artificial reef where visitors can swim with 20,000 fish. Sentosa also features beaches such as Palawan Beach and Tanjong Beach that are perfect for a languid dip. The latter is home to Tanjong Beach Club, a cool idyll with drinks, dining and great daybeds.
All that lounging about can be hard work, so grab a cab for a quick ride (or opt for a 20-minute walk if you’re feeling revived) to Capella Singapore. Designed by Foster + Partners, it comprises four heritage former British Army officers’ messes and a sinuous, contemporary wing, and is where the Trump-Kim summit was held earlier this year. The resort’s Auriga Spa has an ice fountain which, along with the herbal steam room and vitality pool, can improve circulation.
Once you’re done, hop into a taxi back to the main island for a delectable dinner at The English House. It’s the first outpost in Singapore for Marco Pierre White, considered the world’s first celebrity chef, and you can expect classics such as grilled Dover sole and a roasted rack of lamb. White will open an 18-room hotel next year in the adjoining shophouse.
Mark the end of the day with a tipple at the new MO Bar at the Mandarin Oriental. The bar serves Asian-inspired cocktails such as the Mother of Dragons (strawberry, aloe vera, red dragon fruit juice and cachaça) and its very own MO Bar pilsner alongside sweeping views of Marina Bay through floor-to-ceiling windows.
Start your day early with an amble down Orchard Road, the city’s premier shopping strip. Designer hounds will while away the hours at Ion Orchard and Paragon or the design-forward Surrender boutique, where you can now find sustainable yet elegant Swiss fashion label Sottes.
Then take a 10-minute taxi ride to Chinatown for lunch at Bar Cicheti. The newly opened restaurant is located in a Peranakan-tiled shophouse, and the focus here is squarely on delicious handmade pasta and various wines.
Fight off the post-prandial sleepiness with some more shopping and spending. You’ll encounter an array of designer threads at Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, while over the bridge at Marina Square you’ll find the flagship atelier of high-end watch brand Rolex– watch aficionados will appreciate the store’s permanent exhibition, where customers can get a deep dive into how the timepieces are created.
The evening is a blank canvas awaiting inspiration, but luckily you are spoilt for choice. Until 15 December, the musical A Singapore Carol (a twist on the classic Charles Dickens novella) is playing at Victoria Theatre.
For many tourists – and residents – the festive lights are a highlight. This year, the Orchard Road Christmas light-up has a Disney theme, the first branded light-up in the 35-year history of the event. At Gardens by the Bay, Christmas Wonderland is the largest celebration of the festive season, with live entertainment, food and some giant light sculptures.
Be sure to make time for a culinary treat at the newly opened Zen. Headed by star Swedish chef Björn Frantzén, it serves nine-course tasting menus with dishes such as poached marron with crispy Koshihikari rice, mandarin kosho (spicy seasoning), ginger and clarified-butter emulsion.
Reflect on your day’s spoils with a nightcap at the two-month-old Whiskey Library at the Vagabond Club hotel, where you can choose from 1,000 different whiskies from around the world.
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This article was originally published in the December 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine