Dive right into the heart of the action in the CBD. There’s no shortage of cool cafés here; still, nothing says “Singapore” more than kaya (coconut jam) toast and kopi (local coffee) at Ah Seng (Hai Nam) Coffee (#02-95 Amoy Street Food Centre).
Once you’ve fuelled up, it’s time for a spot of shopping. OUE Downtown Gallery is an urban village of hip boutiques like Threadbare & Squirrel (#01-41), which stocks carefully curated apparel such as sustainably made, travel-appropriate clothing from local label Matter.
You don’t even have to leave the building at lunchtime. Head to Hrvst (#05-01), where the local dish of bak kut teh (pork rib soup) is reimagined as a vegan barley risotto.
Get some steps in while devoting the afternoon to Singapore’s most iconic places of worship. Make your way to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum, where the chief attraction is what’s purported to be the Buddha’s left canine tooth. Once you’re done, walk to Sri Mariamman Temple, the city’s oldest Hindu temple, first erected as a wood-and-attap structure in 1827. While the five-tier gopuram (tower gateway) is undeniably impressive, the real gem is in the inner sanctum, where the original statue of Sri Mariamman remains covered, except during services. Down the street is the eye-catching Jamae Mosque, established in 1826, with its South Indian-style front gate and minarets, Neoclassical Doric columns and Chinese green-glaze tiles.
When dusk falls, walk over to The Coconut Club at nearby Ann Siang Hill for one of the best (and pricier) plates of nasi lemak Singapore has to offer. It’s worth the $12.80 price tag for the unctuous, aromatic, high-quality coconut milk used to cook the rice, not to mention the crispy chicken. Save space for a bowl of chendol (iced dessert).
Before calling it a night, amble down to Club Street to the newly opened Le Bon Funk and peruse their selection of natural wines, carefully handpicked by head sommelier Josée Yeomans to suit the balmy climate.
For your second breakfast in the city, head to bustling Tekka Market in Little India. Try appam, a traditional pancake served with grated coconut and coconut sugar, at Deen’s Food Stall (#01-273) or the orb-shaped bhatura (deep-fried flatbread) at SJ Tandoori (#01-218) – perfect with some lentil curry.
But there’s more to Little India than its culinary offerings. Head to the Museum of Independent Music on Madras Street, which has the local music scene covered in its entirety. With 1960s band the Quests on vinyl and lesser-known genres like screamo and grindcore, this eccentric spot is perfect for sound junkies.
Now that you’re ready for lunch, we have a few words for you: coconut chutney pork ribs at Meat Smith. Not into pork? The hot chicken wrap will keep food envy at bay.
Once you’ve had your fill, pop into the Indian Heritage Centre just down the street. Among its 440 artefacts is a spectacular 3.4m-tall wooden Chettinad doorway that dates back to the late 19th century.
Escape the mid-afternoon sun at the National Design Centre, where 50 years of design history are on display. Pick up some souvenirs at local design collective Keepers, which showcases apparel and accessories from the city’s most beloved creative talents.
Then stroll over to buzzing Kampong Glam, Singapore’s historic Muslim quarter. Here, you’ll find everything from stalls selling vibrant silks to hipster boutiques. At dusk, situate yourself at the pedestrian end of Bussorah Street to admire the grand Sultan Mosque glittering during the call to prayer.
For dinner, make a beeline for Folklore, where chef Damian D’Silva whips up plates inspired by his Eurasian-Peranakan heritage. Order his career-making sambal buah keluak fried rice (made with a nut indigenous to the region), along with new dishes like the kari kapitan (Eurasian-style chicken curry).
Atlas, an impressive Art Deco-style bar, is the place for a glamorous nightcap. There are over 1,000 gins as well as over 250 varieties of bubbly to sample, including a bottle of the Heidsieck & Co Monopole “Goût Américain” – the Champagne that was served on the RMS Titanic.
For an easy and scenic walk, get an early start at the Henderson Waves, a pedestrian bridge some 36m above ground. As its name suggests, it’s shaped like a wave along its entire 274m length. Cross over to Telok Blangah Hill Park and follow the signs to Hort Park, one of the many green spaces along the 10km Southern Ridges trail.
Now that you’ve worked up a sweat and an appetite, cool off at the nearby Gillman Barracks, a leafy arts and lifestyle enclave that was once a British military camp.
For lunch, try the highly underrated seafood restaurant The Naked Finn. The delicious prawn noodle soup uses a broth brewed using three types of prawns.
Once you’ve had your fill, check out the galleries. This month, Chan + Hori Contemporary hosts Alma Matter (from 24 May), an exhibition from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts alumni.
After local art, it’s time for an afternoon of local fashion. Take a taxi to the cosy neighbourhood of Holland Village and check out Chip Bee Gardens across the road, where several Singaporean brands are set up along the same stretch, like Bynd Artisan (leather goods), Ling Wu (luxe handbags) and Ong Shunmugam (modern womenswear).
Continue the day’s garden theme with a 20-minute taxi ride to Gardens by the Bay. While the futuristic Supertree Grove is quite the sight, don’t miss the equally impressive Cloud Forest, where an orchid display is on show until 31 May 2018.
Then, beat the rush-hour traffic with a river cruise. Hop on the last WaterB shuttle (Mon-Fri, 5-7pm) of the day, which meanders past Marina Bay Sands and the Esplanade.
After disembarking, cross the road to the lush Fort Canning Green, where you can catch a staging of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (2-27 May, 7.30pm); the plot has been cleverly adjusted to reflect current affairs.
After the show, take a stroll along the river to Robertson Quay and settle in at cocktail bar Marcello. Order the smoked black olive Negroni; for nibbles, the truffle arancini and charred octopus will tide you over till morning.
This article was originally published in the May 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine.