City Guide: Visiting Singapore
I’m about to head off on a work trip to Asia. My first stop is Singapore. This city/country is unlike any place I’ve been – the diversity of the people, the variety and quality of the food, the heat and jungle-like atmosphere (it’s illegal to chop down trees without permission – that is how they keep the island from drying up and becoming unbearably hot)…it’s a treat to be there. It’s also one of the most difficult places to look polished – though locals seem to have it to a science! Below are a few of my favorite Singapore things, and you can also check out this great piece from the Wall Street Journal with an insider’s view of the city.
What to Pack
Despite the year-round heat, Singapore is a business-hub and therefore calls for a business wardrobe. I posted here about the particulars of dressing for the culture and climate in Singapore, but really these principals can be applied to any part of the world where it is exceptionally humid. Traveling in a warm climate such as this, you will want to pack multiple changes of clothing per day. And, because it can often be quite chilly inside, it’s a good idea to dress in layers.
I also find it especially important to pack downtime clothing options.
Where to Stay
The St. Regis is as luxurious as it gets. Located on popular shopping destination, Orchard Lane, and a short walk away from the beautiful Botanic Gardens, the St. Regis is a favorite of international heads of state. Service is impeccable, the beds are incredibly comfortable and the overall experience is incredibly enjoyable. Duck in the bar for a Singapore Sling and order the Nasi Lemak (fragrant coconut rice served with curry chicken, egg, vegetables, peanuts and fried anchovies) via room service for breakfast – you won’t regret it!
The Hilton – just down the road from the St. Regis – this is another good option. If you are in the market for more of a resort type of experience, the W Sentosa Island is fun and has incredible cocktails using local ingredients at the bar!
What to Do
Gardens by the Bay
An incredible experience, Gardens by the Bay feel like you are visiting another planet. A very beautiful (air-conditioned!) one. Take a break from the Singapore heat (or rain) and spend a few hours wandering between these structures. Stunning.
Marina Bay Sands – hotel rooftop and shopping mall
Marina Bay Sands hotel is hard to miss – it’s one of the tallest buildings in Singapore and looks like it has a boat on top.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
For such a warm place, Singapore has a surprising number of outdoor activities. The botanic gardens are beautiful and a great place to stretch your legs after the long trip with a run or walk.
Where to Eat
In Singapore, it’s almost not as much where to eat, but what to eat – there are some amazing local dishes that you should keep a lookout for. Laksa, chicken rice and carrot cake (NOT related to the Western dessert) are just a few of the tasty traditional local dishes you should try during your stay. Unlike in the United States, food courts in the (numerous) shopping centers tend to be high-quality and good options for trying local flavors. Hawker centers are also incredible – I find it best to have a local to guide you, though, as it can be overwhelming.
There are many places to get chicken rice, but this is the best I’ve had. And I’ve made it my mission to try it as much as possible.
Delicious Chinese food! Order the duck, Szechwan style and a few noodle dishes and prepare to enjoy!
Kopitiam literally means coffee shop. While there are many Kopitiams, the best is Killiney. Take the time to visit their original shop at 67 Killiney Road to dine with the locals. Try the kaya toast breakfast set – soft cooked egg served with kaya toast (kaya is a coconut jam) and sweet, thick, creamy coffee. It’s also a good place to try Laksa and other local fare.
Strange that one of my favorite places in Singapore is actually a Parisian shop, but it is fantastic. Just a block from the St. Regis Hotel on Orchard Ln, stop in for the best latte in town along with pastries and other delicious treats. The shop is a place I always make time for – perfect for finding specialty foods for gifts, or to enjoy yourself!