Singapore

Singapore Travel Tips: Where to go and what to eat in 48 hours | The Independent

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travel essentials

Why go now?

Singapore’s food scene is like no other. From hawkers passing down family recipes from generation to generation, to restaurants in relatively unknown parts of Southeast Asia, to experimental addresses peddling molecular gastronomy or focusing purely on desserts, its multicultural (Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian A mix of Chinese, Peranakan and Western) is best savored through its food.

And, as the city-state marks its 50th anniversary of independence next year, now is the time to stop.

landing

British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com) and Singapore Airlines (020 8961 6993; singaporeair.com) fly direct from Heathrow, and Singapore Airlines also offers a one-stop service from Manchester. Changi Airport (00 65 6595 6868; changiairport.com) is 20 kilometers east of the city centre. It takes about half an hour to get to the city center by taking the East-West MRT Line (S$2.20/£1) or by taxi (about S$25/£12).

know your bearings

The island of Singapore is located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, and the population is concentrated in the south. The Central District is clearly demarcated, through which the Singapore River runs: in the Colonial Quarter to the north, you’ll find the Raffles Hotel (1), named after Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore. The financial district is located south of the river around Raffles Place (2). Orchard Road, lined with shopping malls, lies to the west of the Colonial Quarter, with Little India and the Islamic quarter of Kampong Glam above it. Chinatown and Telok Ayer – which used to be the waterfront before land reclamation – are to the south-west of the financial district. On reclaimed land east of Telok Ayer is Marina Bay, bordered by the Marina Bay Sands Hotel (3) and the majestic Gardens by the Bay (4). To the south is Singapore’s “happy land”: Sentosa Island (5), home to family-friendly attractions, resorts, man-made beaches and Universal Studios (sentosa.com.sg).

The main visitor center (6) is located at the junction of Orchard Road and Cairnhill Road (00 65 6736 2000; yoursingapore.com; 9.30am-10.30pm daily). Buy a Singapore Tourist Pass here for S$10 (£4.90) per day, S$16 (£7.80) for two and S$20 (£9.80) for three. It offers boat and bus tours and unlimited use of public transport. An inexpensive and efficient metro network is complemented by buses to all corners of the island.

check in

Sofitel So Singapore (7) at 35 Robinson Road (00 65 6701 6800; sofitel.com) opened earlier this year, transforming a historic building into a luxury Karl Lagerfeld-designed hotel with a gilded rooftop pool. Delicious rooms from S$348 (£170) per night, excluding breakfast.

It was originally a British army barracks, but Fort Canning Hotel (8) at 11 Canning Walk (00 65 6559 6770; hfcsingapore.com) has shed its utilitarian past with sleek, modern rooms – some with private gardens. Doubles start at S$259 (£127), excluding breakfast.

No two rooms are the same at The Sultan (9) at 101 Jalan Sultan (00 65 6723 7101; thesultan.com.sg), one of the most beautiful buildings in Kampong Glam converted from a shophouse . Doubles from S$140 (£69), including breakfast.

Click here for a larger version of the map

first day

take a look

Skypark at Marina Bay Sands (3) at 10 Bay Drive (00 65 6688 8826; marinabaysands.com) dominates the city skyline, with the Singapore River on one side and the Singapore Strait on the other. Enjoy unparalleled views from the Eagle’s Nest at a height of 200 metres. The entry fee is S$23 (£11). In the evening you can return to Ku De Ta’s Sky Bar, just next to it (00 65 6688 7688; kudeta.com), no entry fee.

take a ride

Board the River Explorer commuter cruise (riverexplorer.sg) at Bay North Pier (10) next to Marina Bay Sands. Boats sail the Singapore River daily from 7am to 11pm, up to every 10 minutes; tickets cost S$4 (£2). Get off at Raffles Landing (11) and take a pleasant three-block walk through the Colonial Quarter to City Hall MRT (12). Take the East West Line to Bugis (13), just one stop away.

lunch on the run

Opposite the gold-domed Sultan Mosque (14) in Kampong Glam, Rumah Makan Minang (15) at Kandahar Street 18 (00 65 6294 4805; minang.sg) serves superb Minangkerbau (West Sumatra) at its al fresco tables gourmet food. Mixed plates cost around S$5 (£2.50).

shop

Behind the fabric stalls of Arab Street, Haji Lane is packed with independent shops – a welcome respite from Singapore’s bland malls. Most sell clothes, but Mondays Off (16), at 76 (00 65 8200 7100; mondays-off.com; closed on Mondays), offers a wide range of locally-made products, from in-house designed posters to cushions and cactus terrariums . Nearby Sifr Aromatics (17), at 48 Arab Street (00 65 6392 1966; sifr.sg), is a modern take on Kampong Glam perfumery, using traditional ingredients to create innovative blends.

aperitif

Bar Stories (18) at 55/57A Haji Lane has no menu (00 65 6298 0838; facebook.com/bar stories.sg). Instead, choose a spirit and a flavor (sweet, sour, salty or spicy), flag any allergies you may have, and they’ll invent something to suit your taste. In Chinatown, Library (19) 47 Kung Seok Road (00 65 6221 8338) is a cocktail bar accessed through a secret door inside the tailor’s shop. To get in, you either need the weekly password (announced on the Facebook page of its sister restaurant, The Study – facebook.com/thestudy49), or you just need to tell the doorman a good joke. Drinks at both bars cost around S$22 (£11).

dine with the locals

Candlenut (20), at 331 New Bridge Road (00 65 8121 4107; candlenut.com.sg) is a Peranakan restaurant that mixes tradition and modernity: beef rendang served sous-vide, and buah keluak— — a signature dish of the Peranakans — for dessert. Power costs about S$16 (£8).

Across the street is Majestic Restaurant (No. 21) at 31-37 Bukit Pasoh Road (00 65 6511 4718; restaurantmajestic.com), despite its modest location in the hotel (New Majestic). A six-course tasting menu costs S$68 (£33).

the next day

Sunday morning: go to the temple

You’ll find three places of worship along South Bridge Road in Chinatown. eau de nil-coloured Jamae Mosque (22) at 218; Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple (23) at 244; the gigantic Temple of the Tooth Relic (24) at 288 (00 65 6220 0220; btrts.org.sg) doubles as museum. Open 7am-7pm, free.

go out for brunch

Tong Ah (25) at 35 Kung Seok Road (11am-2.30pm and 5pm-10pm daily) is a great spot for kaya toast: thin toasted sandwiches coated with thick A thick homemade coconut sauce with a pat of cold butter in between. Kopi (sweetened coffee, filtered through a cotton sock) and toast cost S$3 (£1.50).

travel by walking

Start at Ann Sian Hill (26). Turn right on Ann Siang Road, a small part of old-style Singapore. You emerge in an alley behind Amoy Street – turn left when you get there. On the right is Telek Ayer Green, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. Many Hokkien Chinese are here for the first time; Tian Fu Gong (27) on your right was built for them. To the left of the green is the Nagore Durgha Shrine (28), which doubles as Singapore’s Indian-Muslim Heritage Centre. Stroll among the shophouses and temples along Telok Ayer Street before reaching Tanjong Pagar Park (29).

cultural afternoon

Get a taste of the melting pot culture through food hawker stalls. Subway makes “hawker hopping” easy. Try Ah Tai Chicken Rice at Maxwell Food Center (30), Golden Mile Food Center (31), Fishball Story at 505 Beach Road and Alhambra Padang Satay at Glutton’s Bay (32).

icing on the cake

2am Dessert Bar (33) at Lorong Liput 21a (00 65 6291 9727; 2amdessertbar.com) is open every day except Monday to 2am; it opens from 11am on weekends and 3pm on other days , which has experimental puddings such as wasabi meringue for around S$18 (£9).

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