Destinations

Singapore travel guide

Not an island to rest on its laurels, ever-evolving Singapore is revamping its increasingly vibrant food and shopping scene, writes Lara Dunston.

By Lara Dunston

STAY
Hotel Clover
A handsome 1950s building and two historic shophouses have been joined to form this new boutique hotel with compact light-filled rooms in Kampong Glam. Retro furniture, antique sewing machines and old barbers' chairs celebrate the history of the neighbourhood in an otherwise contemporary interior. Opening soon is a second arts-themed Hotel Clover at Clarke Quay. 769 North Bridge Rd.

Naumi Liora
In the heart of Chinatown, this handsome row of Chinese shophouses harbours one of the city's best new hotels. Tangerine-toned soft furnishings match the bold exterior, enlivening rooms otherwise in neutrals. There's a speakeasy, The Library, accessed by a hidden door with a secret password (ask hotel staff). Two of the city's hottest restaurants, Esquina and Burnt Ends, are an easy stroll away. 55 Keong Saik Rd. 

SEE
Gardens by the Bay
One of Singapore's star attractions since it opened a few years ago, these spectacular gardens have two new green spaces. The Children's Garden has a water-play area; the Sun Pavilion contains 1,000 desert plants. First-timers should make a beeline for the magical Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. 

Chinatown
Street food was moved into hawker centres in the 1950s to improve hygiene, and now it's back on the bitumen at the new Chinatown Food Street. While undeniably touristy, the $4.35 million project has quickly proven popular with locals, too, drawn to some of Singapore's oldest and best hawker stalls. Start with kopi, kaya toast and eggs at Nanyang Old Coffee, then admire the renovated shophouse façades, before lining up for oyster omelettes. Smith St, Chinatown.

SHOP
Kampong Glam
Once the seat of Malay royalty, this traditional Malay and Arab quarter is known for its colourful old shophouses and the gold-domed Sultan Mosque. Singapore's hipsters hit Kandahar Street and Haji Lane for shopping, coffee and cocktails. Seek out serenity at café and yoga studio Going Om, and Japanese bicycles at Tokyobike. At retro Ogopogo take Toby's Estate coffee with puffs on a shisha pipe or take bespoke cocktails at Bar Stories and Maison Ikkoku; the latter has a boutique and mosque views.

EAT
Tippling Club
One of Singapore's hottest restaurants - having catapulted onto this year's Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list at number 23 - Tippling Club's "affordable avant-garde" cuisine by Ryan Clift, formerly of Vue de Monde, is more accessible in its new location. There's a bar offering snacks with killer cocktails, and a lunch menu, too. 38 Tanjong Pagar Rd.

Bacchanalia
If you didn't know that former chefs of The Fat Duck, Ivan Brehm and Mark Ebbels, were working the tweezers, you might forgo their exquisitely executed dishes to drink cocktails at the dramatic bar of this clubby bar-resto in a former Masonic Hall. Don't. 23A Coleman St.

Ujong
Expect Singaporean food with a twist in this new casual all-day eatery at Raffles hotel by local chef Shen Tan, whose beef rendang at now-defunct Wok & Barrel was among Singapore's best. Don't miss the slow-cooked bak kwa pork ribs and the kaya sticky buns. Raffles Hotel,**1 Beach Road.

SHAREPIN
  • Author: Lara Dunston