Singapore is a place of contrasts and colour — where temples sit alongside futuristic buildings and world-class greenery.
As a nation-city, Singapore is small and easy to get around, even on a fairly short visit. That said, it is a place rich in diversity, and there is plenty to see, do and taste. It’s a beautiful mix of cultures — a fusion that is reflected in its food, architecture and traditions.
Soak up the flavours
With influences from Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and Indonesian cuisines, food in Singapore is an experience in itself. One of my favourite spots in the city is Chinatown. Here, you’ll find the street market, one of the busiest and most popular places to shop and eat. Also known as Chinatown Food Street, the area is perfect for trying a vast array of local flavours — classics include the Singapore fried carrot cake, which is made from eggs and preserved radish; Hong Kong and Shanghai-inspired dim sum; and laksa, a dish made of vermicelli noodles, coconut milk, bean curd, fish and shrimps.
Little India is also a great place for a meal, plus it’s a beautiful area to simply walk around. It’s a colourful mix of old and new, and you’ll see Hindu and Buddhist temples, a mix of European and Chinese architecture, as well as some sweet cafés and restaurants. When it comes to food, there’s a bit of everything available, including plenty of authentic Indian dishes like coconut milk-based curries, naan and chapati, and traditional desserts and sweets.
While you’ll want to try at least some of the street food available, it must be noted that Singapore is famed for its fine dining too. In fact, the city is home to a number of Michelin-starred restaurants, so it’s well worth tracking down a few of the hottest chefs in town. If you’re at the Botanic Gardens, try Corner House, a restaurant co-owned by Michelin starred-chef Jason Tan. Tan pioneered the concept of ‘gastro-botanica’, a cuisine that applies traditional French cooking techniques to botanical elements, so that fruits and vegetables form a key part of the menu, rather than mere sides. Some of his most interesting dishes include Japanese chestnut with stout, blackcurrant and coconut; watermelon with soursop, rambutan and rose; and a whole baked onion hollowed and filled with onion puree and confit, egg, sea salt, chives and black truffles.
Enjoy the green space
Singapore is quickly making a name for itself as a green city, with many of its skyscrapers being transformed into vertical gardens and living ecosystems. Gardens by the Bay is perhaps one of the city’s most famous green spaces — the area spans 101 hectares of reclaimed land. Here, you’ll see the tree-shaped vertical gardens known as the ‘super trees’, which extend between nine and 16 storeys tall. It’s possible to walk between the man-made trees on a suspended walkway and enjoy views over the impressive park.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens is also a must for plant-lovers. It was the country’s first UNESCO Heritage Site and was established back in 1859. It’s a great place for a stroll and a meal. Whatever you do, don’t miss The National Orchid Garden inside, which hosts the world’s largest orchid display with over 60 000 plants.
If you’re up for a challenge, you can climb Singapore’s highest hill in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Just 12 kilometres from the city centre, the reserve is one of the few places you can see primary rainforest in the area.
If you’re planning a trip to Singapore soon, don’t miss these events…
THE GREAT SINGAPORE SALE
Shopaholics will love this one — from 21 June to 28 July, retailers all around the city offer huge discounts, and you’ll find deals on everything from fashion and jewellery to electronics and even hotel and spa rates.
SINGAPORE FOOD FESTIVAL
From 12 – 18 July, this annual festival gives foodies the chance to enjoy innovative dishes, as well as food-inspired art and dance and theatre performances.
SINGAPORE NIGHT FESTIVAL
During the month of August, art and culture spill onto the streets with public performances and installations.