The Surprising Weekend Stopover Guide To Singapore
Singapore is made for weekend getaways. It’s the perfect place to break-up the long haul journey to Europe, but still close enough to Australia to work for quick trips when you’re time-poor but holiday-hungry.
A melting pot of cultures collide here, making a stroll down any street irresistibly interesting, while the Singaporean love of the finer things in life means great bars, restaurants and hotel options abound. And with the whole of the city-state contained in, well, one city, it’s small enough to tackle in a short time frame.
So what’s the key to nailing a weekend in The Lion City? We’ve got a few ideas.
Eat some incredible fancy food
In the mood to splash some cash? Good, because Singapore absolutely aces fine dining. Sample Michelin-starred Peranakan food (a cuisine that blends Chinese and Malay flavours) at Candlenut, eat modern Japanese at Esora or get lost in the mood lighting at Cure, where each table has a small spotlight while the rest of the restaurant is dimmed.
But my favourite was the oh-so-trendy Burnt Ends, the upmarket BBQ joint run by a team of Australian chefs. Grab a seat at the long table facing the kitchen and watch as the chefs sizzle up steak, squid and other seafood at this stylish spot on Teck Lim Road.
…And some incredibly cheap food
The good news is once you’ve blown the bank account on a proper meal out, there’s endless cheap eats to fuel up on throughout the city.
At Singapore’s hawker stalls you’ll find incredible meals on a serious budget — we’re talking a few bucks a dish. There’s Tian Tian at Maxwell Food Centre, the stall serving the Hainanese Chicken Rice that the late, great Anthony Bourdain considered the world’s best. You could eat the Michelin-starred Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle at Chinatown Complex Market, or join the queues for the famously succulent pork at Roast Paradise at the Old Airport Road Food Centre.
You’ll also want to squeeze in some laksa, chilli crab, satay, kueh (sweet, glutinous rice balls), char kway teow, prata and murtabak during your stay. Then wash it all down with a plastic cup of freshly-squeezed sugarcane juice or ice bandung, a rose syrup cordial garnished with condensed milk. So, um, arrive hungry?
Grab a drink
Of course, no trip to Singapore is complete without a stop at the famous Long Bar for a Singapore Sling. Raffles Hotel has been serving up this legendary pink-hued cocktail since 1915, in surrounds that ache of old world grandeur — though if you’re not one of sickly sweet creations, rest assured they also do a mean mojito.
The extra good news is that the Long Bar has just reopened after an extensive refurbishment, so it’s bound to be looking better than ever. But in keeping with tradition, guests are still encouraged to snack on peanuts while they drink and throw the discarded shells on the bar’s floor.
Take a dip
The best view in all of Singapore is from the rooftop infinity pool at the Marina Bay Sands, perched some 57 levels above the city. Unfortunately access to the pool is reserved for guests of the luxury hotel only, but that sunset selfie is totally worth the splurge.
It’s here you can also take a stroll through the Gardens by the Bay, Singapore’s 21st-century botanic garden full of high-tech “Supertrees” and a man-made Cloud forest.
Explore Little India
Parts of Singapore feel like the ultra-sanitised, no-chewing-gum-allowed metropolis it’s often made out to be. Then there’s Little India. The city’s frenetic former self lives on in this neighbourhood, easily the most interesting, awe-inspiring part of the city.
Here you can get lost in the smells, sights and sounds of the Tekka Centre, the bustling hawker centre home to many a biryani and sari vendor; or poke around the breathtaking Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple then kick off your shoes and sit down for a meal at Lagnaa Barefoot Dining. Little India is totally intoxicating and a Singapore must-do.
Shop ’til you drop
Singaporeans love to shop and when in Rome, right? Upmarket shopping centres line the world-famous strip of Orchard Road, while cute vintage shops (and coffee stores that will print your selfie *in foam* on your flat white) dot the hipster haven of Haji Lane.
Nearby the latter is the Bugis Precinct, home to everything from Sephora to Japanese export Genki Sushi, while hip boutiques like The Green Collective and For The Common Goods can be found in the former red light district of Geylang. Just pick your flavour, pack your credit card and make a day of it.
(Lead image: Raffles Hotel Singapore / Facebook)