Stopover no more: A guide to Singapore
Take in the best this island nation has to offer, including Michelin-starred street food stalls, with new direct flights from London
Singapore has a reputation for being a boring stopover of skyscrapers and little more. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find futuristic wonders here; delve deeper still and pretty temples, street food to get the most cynical foodie purring and near-Amazonian amounts of greenery reveal themselves. And Norwegian is now flying direct from Gatwick.
What to see
Get your bearings courtesy of the Singapore Flyer; this 165-metre-high observation wheel even offers views into Malaysia and Indonesia. Then, courtesy of one of the world’s best public transport systems, whizz over to the superb Singapore Zoo, whose rainforest enclosures are enhanced by an unusual Night Safari option.
Where to shop
Want designer purchases? Try the mammoth casino-resort Marina Bay Sands, water park-slash-mall VivoCity or three-mile Orchard Road. More authentic offerings are available along Little India’s ramshackle, incense-spiced streets, in between the temples, while narrow Haji Lane’s pastel-hued stores are a mecca for creatives.
Where to relax
Forget any suggestion of a concrete jungle; Singapore is handsomely swathed in tropical vegetation. Most impressive are the UNESCO-protected Botanic Gardens – look out for complimentary tai chi classes – and Gardens by the Bay, home to solar-powered, Avatar-style ‘super-trees’. Get ready to gawp.
Where to eat
Choose between Michelin-starred fine-dining and street food – or have both at once. The top restaurant is Andre, a ‘Best list’ regular whose ‘octaphilosophy’ incorporates the eight elements of gastronomy. Then there are the hundreds of hawker centres, selling everything from frog porridge to BBQ stingray. The Chinatown Complex’s epically-named Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle is one of two stalls to boast a Michelin star.
Where to drink
First, stop at the original Raffles Hotel, in whose Long Bar the Singapore Sling cocktail was invented a century ago. Then join the cool kids in Potato Head – a four-floor traditional shophouse-turned-dive in Chinatown – and its rooftop tiki garden. You could be in Bali.
Where to stay
Marina Bay Sands and Raffles rank among the swankiest addresses – but for something more in-vogue, stay at The Warehouse. This former spice warehouse promotes local artists, serves ace food and has a pink-tiled infinity pool.