Singapore is a playground for everyone from architecture aficionados and cocktail connoisseurs to hawker centre habitués. A word to the wise: Bring loose-fitting pants for the flight home, because no amount of walking around and exploring this awe-inspiring island will balance out its endless eats.
A multistory tower that displays more than 1,000 gins is the centerpiece of the show at ATLAS. The bar’s enormous ballroom lounge is reminiscent of a lavish party straight out of The Great Gatsby (or Scarface). Nobody has more fun than the crew at Employees Only, the local outpost of the renowned New York City bar. Be sure to make it to last call to end the night in proper fashion. Check out Junior “The Pocket Bar,” a tiny, partially hidden bar that rotates pop-up concepts. And sure, grab a Singapore Sling at Raffles Singapore to say you did it.
Singapore boasts more than 100 “hawker centres,” or open-air markets where vendors sell food. Popular hubs include the Old Airport Road Hawker Centre, Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre, Maxwell Road Hawker Centre and Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre. Just remember to chope your table, a regional term for reserving a space, often by throwing down a pack of tissues. Try such delights as char kuey teow fried noodles, laksa soup, roti with curry sauce, kaya toast and nasi lemak fried chicken with coconut rice. A can’t miss? The brilliant char siu pork from Roast Paradise at Old Airport Road, which is marinated and charcoal roasted to perfection by owner Kai Koh, who learned the craft from an uncle.
You can also sample spruced-up renditions of classic dishes at one of the city’s mod-Sin (modern Singaporean) restaurants like Chef Willin Low’s Wild Rocket. No trip to Singapore is complete without getting your hands dirty with a massive plate of whole chili crab. Try it at iconic seafood joints like Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant or JUMBO Seafood. Finally, indulge with a four-hour modern French feast from Julien Royer at Odette, owner of two Michelin stars.
The shop-filled streets of Orchard Road attract jetsetters on the prowl for fashion and luxury. On the other end of the spectrum is the sprawling Mustafa Centre, which features 24-hour bargain shopping. Bugis Junction and Bugis+ are malls connected by an overhead bridge. They boast the futuristic design features and the endless diversions you’ll come to expect in Singapore. Carve out some extra time at Changi Airport and its 350 shops, not to mention its swimming pool, gardens and entertainment centers.
The three-towered Marina Bay Sands is iconic, and it provides unmatched views from its 57th-story SkyPark, which boasts the world’s largest infinity pool. Gardens by the Bay is a fantasyland with the surreal Supertree Grove and its overhanging skywalk, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and the Flower Dome, the world’s largest glass greenhouse. Catch a glimpse of traditional Singapore with the brightly adorned and immaculately preserved Peranakan shop houses of Katong. A bumboat river cruise offers up-close views of Marina Bay, Boat Quay and Clarke Quay.
Spend an evening at Singapore’s Night Safari and walk down a series of interconnected trails showcasing different habitats. You can also take in a variety of performances and exhibitions like the Creatures of the Night Show, or enjoy a tram ride through environments that range from Equatorial Africa to the Himalayan Foothills. If you prefer the “day” part of daytrips, hop on a short ferry ride to explore one of Singapore’s small offshore islands, from the tortoise sanctuary on Kusu Island to the idyllic beaches of Lazarus Island.