Your essential guides to Singapore

Guide
Find your bearings

 

Asia’s lion city is spotlessly clean and refreshingly green, and after more than 50 years of statehood, it has most definitely arrived on the scene, with a slew of hot restaurants, hip bars, chic shops, excellent museums and knockout attractions to rival any in the region. In the thick of the action is one of the best luxury hotels in the city-state, Mandarin Oriental, Singapore, located in the Marina Bay business district. Here, you’re strolling distance to the mega entertainment complex of Marina Bay Sands, the futuristic Gardens by the Bay – with its giant trees and cloud forests – and the city’s old colonial centre, where historic landmarks have been repurposed as world-class cultural institutions. In fact, just about everywhere on a visitor’s wish list is never more than a short taxi ride away.

 

Feed your mind

 

An ambitious restoration project transformed two grand neoclassical buildings – the former Supreme Court and City Hall – into the singular National Gallery Singapore, home to the world’s largest collection of southeast Asian art and good drinking and dining options. Also in the area is The Arts House in the Old Parliament Building, which hosts a rotating roster of performances and exhibitions, as well as the Asian Civilisations Museum for a crash course in local and regional history. For art that’s in the here and now, hop in a cab to the STPI, a terrific gallery that partners with leading contemporary artists such as Doh Ho Suh and Ryan Gander to create original works in print and on paper.
Shop like a local

 

Singapore is mall central, with nearby Orchard Road a concrete and glass retail canyon. Shop instead at Tiong Bahru, a recently gentrified neighbourhood filled with independent boutiques. Books Actually is crammed with all manner of literature for the curious mind and Woods in the Books specialises in picture books. Nana & Bird carries independent international womenswear; Floral Atelier bursts with gorgeous bouquets and blooms; Maissone is a treasure trove of covetable bedding, homeware and objects; and Curated Records will satisfy rare-vinyl enthusiasts. The Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre is a great place to sample hawker fare, such as chicken rice and har mee prawn noodles.
See some sights

With the world’s largest glass greenhouse, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and towering supertrees that resemble a film set from Avatar, it’s no wonder Gardens by the Bay is one of Singapore’s most popular attractions. It’s an easy walk from the hotel and is great for a jog, quiet contemplation or entertaining the family. Also ideal for families is the Night Safari, where kids can get up close with lions and tigers and bears. Want to see cows lazing about in Chinatown? Then visit the vibrant Sri Mariamman Temple, a Hindu house of worship where bovine sculptures lie on top of the temple’s walls.

 

Toast your arrival

 

If it’s cocktail time, head for Employees Only, in the Chinatown district, is the first international outpost of the cult New York cocktail bar.

Make time to unwind

Dine in style 

 

You’re never far from great food in Singapore and there are a myriad of great choices at Mandarin Oriental, Singapore. Dolce Vita is the perfect place to relax by the stylish outdoor pool, with a menu that features traditional Italian cuisine reinterpreted with creativity and passion. The weekend brunch is a particular highlight.

Corner House, set in the UNESCO World Heritage Singapore Botanic Gardens is another of the city-state’s best restaurants. Befitting of its special historical location, it thrills with a delightful Gastro-Botanica concept.


And finally...

You don’t need to leave the comfort of your hotel room to enjoy spectacular views of the nightly light and fountain show, which takes place in Marina Bay.