Start your day with breakfast at the recently reopened Chinatown Complex, one of the biggest and best of Singapore’s more than 100 hawker centres. Head over to Xiu Ji Ikan Bilis Yong Tau Foo for custom-made noodle bowls or Terry Katong Laksa for a rich and satisfying take on this spicy Singaporean dish consisting of noodles in a moreish curry-based soup.
Afterwards, stroll over to the Asian Civilisations Museum, where the sprawling exhibits showcase artworks and artefacts from all across Asia. Don’t miss “(re) construct . (re)konstruksi .” in which Indonesian artist Gatot Indrajati explores representations of modern Southeast Asian identity; and “Guo Pei: Chinese Art & Couture”, which spotlights the renowned Chinese couturier’s exquisite designs.
Back outdoors, take a wander through the leafy Fort Canning Park – the former site of a 14th-century palace and, much later, an underground WWII British military base now known as the Battlebox. The latter is where British forces made the decision to surrender to the Japanese army in 1942. Take a guided tour to learn more about this period of Singapore’s history.
For lunch, head to nearby CHIJMES, a one-time Catholic convent and home to the island’s second-oldest building, Caldwell House. These days, the complex is a lively dining enclave, home to New Ubin Seafood, which offers a menu of classic Singaporean dishes – the signature fried bee hoon (noodles), chilli crab and salted egg squid are standouts.
Next, wander over to the colourful alleys of Kampong Glam heritage area. Landmarks include the Malay Heritage Centre, housed in a restored Malay palace, and the striking Sultan Mosque. While you’re here, grab a traditional late-afternoon snack of murtabak (fried flatbread stuffed with egg and meat) at Singapore Zam Zam.
While taking a breather at your hotel, call ahead for an early dinner booking at Candlenut. Located in the leafy Dempsey Hill area, a former British army barracks, this is the world’s only Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant.
Afterwards, sip a pint at RedDot BrewHouse, which was Singapore’s first locally owned brewpub.
End your day at Haw Par Villa, which recently extended its opening hours to 10pm. After dark is the best time to experience this amusement park themed around Chinese mythology.
Have breakfast at your hotel, then those with kids and/or teens can let them go wild at SuperPark, a huge indoor park at Suntec City where facilities include an augmented climbing wall, pedal-car track and football pitch.
Once they’re done playing, hail a taxi and head downtown to the ArtScience Museum, which hosts many of Singapore’s cutting- edge exhibitions. “Floating Utopias”, for instance, features inflatable artworks from more than 40 local and international artists, while permanent exhibition “Future World” is an interactive high-tech spectacle that was created in collaboration with Japanese interdisciplinary art collective teamLab.
Alternatively, if you want to see the past come to life then head over to Kallang to come face to face with a fearsome T-Rex and an 11-foot tall Brachiosaurus. They are just two of the stars of Walking With Dinosaurs – The Live Experience, which sees state of the art animatronics bring these epic creatures back to life as part of a journey through prehistoric times. You can catch this award-winning show until September 8th at the Indoor National Stadium.
For lunch, hop in a taxi and head to the other side of Marina Bay to splurge on
a tasting menu at Labyrinth. Singaporean chef Han Li Guang puts a bold spin on traditional local flavours at this swanky one-Michelin-star restaurant. Dishes include local shrimp with nasturtium purée; chicken liver pâté with goji berry jam; and caviar served with kaya (coconut jam) ice cream and toast.
Do robots have souls? That’s one question investigated at “Human-Nature”, a futuristic exhibition at Red Dot Design Museum, which is a short 15-minute walk away and the last sightseeing stop of the day.
After that, your evening starts in Chinatown with pre-dinner cocktails at The Old Man Singapore, the sister bar of its Hong Kong namesake. Inspired by Ernest Hemingway, they serve up ambitious drinks such as The Snows of Kilimanjaro, featuring marshmallow gin, lacto-fermented raspberries and shavings of aged gruyère.
Dinner is a taxi ride away at Cheek Bistro on Boon Tat Street, a more casual reboot of chef Rishi Naleendra’s Michelin-starred Cheek by Jowl. The menu features such mod-Australian dishes as burrata with fermented green chilli and buttermilk quail with sriracha mayo.
To cap off your evening, kick back at Oldham Theatre, Singapore’s first movie theatre focused on Asian films.
Spend your morning along Orchard Road partaking in two of Singapore’s unofficial national pastimes – eating and shopping. Start by crunching into crispy, buttery croissants and sipping all-natural bubble tea at Lalune Croissant.
Almost every imaginable name-brand international retailer is here, but it’s easy to shop local, too. At Orchard Central, for instance, diffuser maker BsaB offers vases made from recovered glass bottles, with scents such as Aquatic Rose and Violette.
Meanwhile, at Paragon, high-end women’s resort clothing is K.BLU’s calling card; Beyond The Vines showcases contemporary women’s fashion at its chic Mandarin Gallery boutique; and womenswear label Love, Bonito rules the roost at 313@somerset. And for a little bit of everything, check out Design Orchard, which is home to more than 60 Singapore-based brands.
To refuel, take a taxi to Telok Ayer for some noodles at Chuan Hung. This no-frills eatery has fast gained a loyal following for its firm Mian Yang rice noodles sourced from China’s Sichuan province.
If you’re in Singapore over a weekend, zip to Gardens by the Bay and its new Bayfront Plaza, where you can browse Singapore products at a pop- up market Friday to Sunday. Just around the corner at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, stop by IN GOOD COMPANY, a homegrown brand that’s known for its structured-yet-relaxed silhouettes.
Drop your bags at the hotel and start thinking about dinner. If you’re a meat lover, head to The Feather Blade – other than sides and a weekly special, it lists just one menu item: 200g of perfectly grilled steak. For more local fare, The Coconut Club, just down the road, does an upscale rendition of the famous local dish nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf with various fixings).
If you fancy yourself a whiskey connoisseur, make it a late dinner since The Whiskey Wander starts at 6.30pm every Wednesday. This guided minibus tour includes stops at three of Singapore’s finest cocktail bars. Or rest your weary feet with a show at Marina Bay Sands. Playing until 1 September, Broadway production Aladdin is guaranteed to thrill all ages with Disney tunes from the beloved movie, as well as a truly impressive magic carpet ride.
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This article was originally published in the August 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine