Eat. Shop. Drink. Repeat. That’s what Singapore is best known for; you might even have a chance to catch some sleep if you’re lucky. Our Singapore insider Rohan Muralee works full-time at an insurance company and moonlights as a bon vivant, spending his free time exploring, eating, drinking and uncovering the coolest bits of the city-state.
Getting acclimated: The city is small, neatly organized, accessible and vibrant, making it the perfect destination for a long weekend or as a transit stop en route to a relaxing beach holiday. If you can’t figure this one out, there’s no hope for you!
Known as The Garden City, Singapore is indeed awash with greenery, parks and trails. A personal favorite is the Macritchie Reservoir, sitting in the middle of the National Nature Reserve.
Take the two-hour treetop walk route and enjoy views from above the forest. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some friendly monitor lizards too. Too far-flung for you? For those who’d rather stay nearer the city center, Gardens by the Bay is another pleasant walk which will also take you past Singapore’s most iconic landmark: the Marina Bay Sands. Whichever you choose, start early to avoid the heat…
Reward yourself with a traditional Singaporean breakfast of creamy Kaya toast (a sugary coconut milk spread on toast, usually served with eggs) and a nice strong coffee. Famous for a good reason, Ya Kun Kaya Toast is one of the best and, with several outlets across town, you’re bound to be close to one wherever you are.
Organic-only types will find fresh sandwiches full of grass-fed beef and hormone-free chicken sandwiches at Sarnies. It’s one of several nice places in the Telok Ayer area and the coffee is awesome too.
No trip to Singapore is complete without some retail therapy. At the most boiling part of the day, dip into one of the glorious AC-spewing malls along Orchard Road. This is the place to be, with dozens of shopping centers and boutiques which, depending on the depth of your wallet, could consume several hours of your day exploring.
To avoid the major brands (and horrendous crowds), head to Tiong Bahru. Built around one of the most famous 1930s estates, this area used to be reserved for only the wealthiest and most elite resident. Today, the district is filled with boutiques, independent shops and excellent cafes where you can stop for lunch. This is the perfect neighborhood if you want to sit and read a book over a quiet drink, or take the pulse of what Singapore’s coolest kids are up to these days.
Singapore is best explored on foot. It’s not a big town, so put on your comfiest shoes and explore Chinatown, Arab Street and its vicinity and the belt around Bras Basah and City Hall MRT stations. You’ll stumble across countless places to stop (and take artsy photos, for those of you who want some good Instagram material).
There are only a few museums (the city is only 50 years old, alright?), but the Peranakan Museum stands out as a must visit. Taking you through the journeys of 15th- and 16th-century Chinese immigrants toward the Malay archipelago, you’ll leave with a much better understanding of how Singapore came to be today.
Get a last dose of caffeine at Common Man Coffee Roasters. If you’ve got the space, they serve some mean churros there too. Walk it off by going through Robertson Quay, through Clarke Quay and ending up at Boat Quay, a popular and lively food and drinks area.
Go to a famous hawker center — Newton Food Centre is my top recommendation. There are so many stalls that you’ll likely spend longer trying to decide what to eat than you will devouring it.
Singapore is also very famous for its Indian food; Little India is a crazy area that magically springs to life after sunset. There are dozens of good eateries between Racecourse and Serangoon Road, but my favorites are Jaggi’s and Anjappar.
No Menu is one of the best and most authentic Italian restaurants I have ever been to, so if you fancy a genuine ristorante experience, be sure to head here. There’s also an excellent Japanese restaurant, Kinki, with a rooftop terrace that is worth a visit if you’re in the mood for sushi.
There are hundreds of choices, so your only mission should be ensuring you can still stand at the end of the night. Speakeasy-style bars have become very popular in Singapore — 28 Hong Kong Street got the ball rolling with its classic American drinks, followed by The Library, Bitters & Love, and D Bespoke.
No trip is complete without going to at least one dizzying rooftop bar. The highest alfresco bar in the world, 1-Altitude has unrivaled 360-degree views of the city from its perch on the 63rd of Raffles Place, and is very popular with the city’s hippest and best dressed. Lantern, at the Fullerton Bay Hotel, is another with a great view, as is SuperTree by Indochine.
If you’re just looking for a good old-fashioned bar crawl, head to Boat Quay or Emerald Hill. You won’t be short of options…