Hailed as both the most clean and safe country in South East Asia, the cosmopolitan city-state of Singapore is a melting pot of culture. With its population of five million people being a unique mix of Chinese, Malays, Indians and Caucasians and the highest number of millionaires per capita in the world – Singapore’s diversity makes it a fascinating and unique place to visit.
Singapore is known for shopping, mainly based around the central Orchard Road area. Here you can find a wide range of shops – from high street chains to haute couture designers, with names such as Salvatore Ferragamo and Ballenciaga included in this ever growing area of luxury stores. The biggest malls in the Orchard area are ION Orchard and Ngee Ann City, with their multi level array of fashion and range of both international and local food – a combination that cannot be complained about. While you’re in this area, be sure to check out Far East Plaza. Although sizes are typically very small, like most places in Asia, new designers and ‘blog stores’ showcase their talent here, exposing you to the latest local fashion trends.
If you want to visit the biggest mall in Singapore, Vivocity also hosts European designers, but additionally has native stores such as m)phosis as well. To get there, just hop on the either the North-East line or Circle line of the MRT and get off at the Harbourfront station.
The MRT (Mass Rapid Transit System) is not only an efficient and easy way to get around Singapore but very clean as well; a welcome change compared to train systems in other countries. To help you find your way around Singapore, head to www.gothere.com.sg – a helpful website which will tell you the fastest transport option to use to get you to your destination.
Singapore may be only 49km wide and 25km long, but due to the mass population, if doesn’t matter if you are in a westernised riverside bar in Robertson Quay or at a Kopitiam (local food court) in the more local heartland areas, this city state is constantly buzzing with people and activity. Whether you’re a fan of Korean or Australian food, karaoke or rooftop bars – Singapore’s range of restaurants and nightlife activity caters to every niche market and will leave you delighted with your holiday here.
Singapore has a range of well-developed nature parks, run to a very high standard throughout the small nation. One of the most popular by far is the Night Safari, the world’s first safari park for nocturnal animals. Within the park, you have the option of either walking around or taking the guided tram ride, which takes you across 7 geographical zones of the world and the animals within them – such as the Asian Riverline Forest and Himalayan Foothills.
The tram ride is highly recommended as it allows you to a get a close encounter with the animals including elephants and tigers amongst a total of 2500 endangered species. Don’t miss one of the cleverly crafted performances that are regularly scheduled – worth a special mention is the “Creatures Of The Night” show.
Due to the 35 degrees that Singapore can reach during the day, the Night Safari is an ideal tourist attraction for first time visitors to Singapore as you can comfortably enjoy the park without the heat tiring you out.
There are also dining options at the park, including Ulu Ulu Safari Restaurant where you can enjoy Singapore’s national dish Chicken Rice, as well as another local favourite, Chili Crab. However there are also western alternatives if you are travelling with children, such as Bongo Burgers and Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream – always a crowd pleaser.
To find out more information and book tickets online to enjoy a five percent discount, head to www.nightsafari.com.sg
If you’re thinking about trying something different while in Singapore, one of the most interesting areas to eat out is the Arab Street area. This area is definitely worth more than a fleeting visit while in Singapore, with its collection of silk shops and mosques as well as its Muslim cuisine. It has a wide range of Mediterranean restaurants and bars, from Moroccan to Egyptian. The atmosphere here is electric, and choosing to sit outside whilst at a restaurant to soak it all in and do some people watching comes fervently endorsed. Compared to the slick and luxurious ambience that most places in Singapore have, if you want to get a sense of a local Singapore, this area is a fascinating and more alternative nook of the city to be explored.
Atop the tastiest list of restaurants in this area is Alaturka, a little cheap and cheerful gem nestled amongst the busyness of Bussorah Street. It’s not much to look at from outside, but once you try the food you won’t regret choosing this restaurant out of the many choices in the area.
Start the meal with the homemade mezze platter with “balloon” bread. The complimenting Turkish dips and appetisers are incredibly moreish and a great starter to share between two or with friends. Those that haven’t tried balloon bread should sample it here. It’s a feast for the eyes and as a quirky twist on chapatti, is the perfect companion to Alaturka’s homemade condiments. The main event however, is the Moussaka and whether you prefer a lamb or vegetarian version, this is a truly authentic Turkish dish that will satisfy any palate. All round, Alaturka’s atmosphere plus its delicious yet reasonably priced cuisine make for an undeniably unique experience whilst in Singapore.
If you are looking to book a table at Alaturka in advance – let them know if you want to drink alcohol or not, as being a Muslim restaurant the seating areas are divided into alcohol and non alcohol service areas. Give them a call on (+65) 62940304 to make a reservation.
TANJONG BEACH CLUB
If you want some relaxation whilst on your city break to Singapore, Sentosa Island will be able to help you achieve it.
This is biggest beach area in Singapore and a popular choice for staycations. Sentosa is where everyone who’s anyone goes to take some time away from the hustle and bustle of Singapore life.
The easiest way to get to Sentosa is via the cable car from the top level of the Vivocity mall, or it’s about a $20 taxi ride from central Singapore. Visitors coming to Singapore commonly choose Resorts World Sentosa and the hotels within it to stay at. If you are staying at one of these hotels or somewhere else in Sentosa, the best place for a bit of pampering is ESPA – a 10,000 metre leisure environment where you can indulge in a range of treatments including Hammamm cleanses, personalized facials and detox rituals.
For a different type of daytime recreation or early-evening fun in Sentosa, try Tanjong Beach Club. This “sun kissed playground” is right on the Sentosa beach and on a fine day is the perfect place to relax in the sun, play beer pong or beach volleyball if you’re feeling more active. Renown for their Sunday ‘Smack my beach up’ sessions; the chilled beats plus the flowing champagne (Cristal if it tickles your fancy) will help you get in the right mood on your weekend away. They also have a tempting menu of seafood from around the globe- and their truffle fries are a regulars’ favourite. As the day turns into night, this holiday hideout turns up the volume and hosts fun fuelled full moon parties – so if you’re up for it, you can also party the night away without leaving the beach.
Head to www.tanjongbeachclub.com to check out their sumptuous food and drink menu or make an online table reservation. Note: can only be made 14 days in advance but walk-ins (even if you’re wearing not much more than your swimming costume) are always welcome.
The talk of the town in Singapore is Bar Stories located down the end of Haji Lane. Voted as one of the top 5 cocktail bars in the country, don’t let the dark alley way and people smoking shisha put you off – this tiny bar is definitely worth a visit. They also serve delicious desserts, a perfect combination to tantalise your taste buds after dinner.
The individual concept behind this bar is that you let the bartenders know your favourite flavours or a story, and they will creatively come up with a cocktail that they think you will like. The friendly waiters always come back with the most interesting concoctions – you can tell they have been trained well as the service level is of a high quality. The best part of the experience is that the staff are always up for a challenge, and they seem genuinely enthusiastic to make you the best cocktail (even if it’s late into the night), try asking them for a ‘Trip to Japan’ to be impressed by their skills. This bar is always buzzing but also has an intimate feel as the maximum the place can hold is around 30 people – perfect for a romantic date for two. They also make normal cocktails if you have a favourite that you like – if you’re a rum fan, you cannot go amiss in trying their classic mojito. Finally, if you’re seated outside, make sure you peek in to see the bar tenders at work in their tiny but efficient bar, some creations include fruit lit on fire and are bound to impress you and your date.
Find them on facebook www.facebook.com/barstories.sg to learn more, or give them a call from the afternoon onwards on (+65) 6298 0838 to make a reservation.