The Singapore Grip airs tonight – the first episode in a six-part series based on JG Farrell’s satirical colonial drama of the same name. Singapore in Southeast Asia attracts hundreds of thousands of British tourists every year. So what is there to do there? Express.co.uk teamed up with the Singapore Tourism Board to find out more.
This is what they recommend to see, do, eat and drink in the city.
What to do in Singapore… if you want to explore
Singapore Botanic Gardens
The 158 year old Singapore Botanic Gardens is a lush tropical garden located at the fringe of Orchard Road and offer respite in the heart of Singapore. Since 2015, the Botanic Gardens is the first and only tropical botanic garden on the UNESCO World Heritage List. They are a testament to Singapore’s reputation as a “City in a Garden”.
Gardens by the Bay
Singapore’s remarkable blend of natural beauty and cosmopolitan living comes to life in Gardens by the Bay – a multi-award-winning horticultural destination in the centre of Singapore spanning 101 hectares. Waterfront views, diverse flora and surreal tropical landscapes merge to create this iconic Singapore landmark, home to the infamous Supertree Grove.
Chinatown is much loved for its blend of old and new, with historic temples and traditional medicinal halls sitting alongside bold new bars and trendy lifestyle shops. Chinatown’s main thoroughfare, South Bridge Road is home to a Buddhist temple, a mosque and a Hindu temple just a few metres away from each other, showcasing Singapore’s harmonious, multi-cultural society.
Neighbourhood: Little India
Little India is one of Singapore’s most vibrant districts. Walking down Serangoon road and neighbouring streets, explore their mix of Hindu and Chinese temples, mosques and churches.
Fill your stomach with South Indian vegetarian food, North Indian tandoori dishes and delicious local fare like roti prata (flat bread) and teh tarik (pulled tea in Malay).
Neighbourhood: Kampong Gelam
Singapore’s Malay-Muslim quarter is an eclectic blend of history and culture with a trendy lifestyle scene. Kampong Gelam neighbourhood has its origins as a thriving port town and is Singapore’s oldest urban quarter. In Malay, the word kampong means “compound”, while gelam is linked to the long-leaved paperbark tree, which was found and used locally for boat-making, medicine and even as a seasoning for food.
Jewel Changi Airport
Designed by Moshe Safdie, Jewel Changi Airport seamlessly integrates the outdoors with the indoors.
Visitors can marvel at the lush greenery of one of Singapore’s largest climate controlled indoor gardens and where immersive experiences are integrated into forward thinking aviation facilities.
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What to do in Singapore… if you’re after culture
National Gallery Singapore
National Gallery Singapore is a leading visual arts institution housing the world’s largest public collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian modern art. Situated at the birthplace of modern Singapore, in the heart of the civic district, the gallery is housed in two national monuments – City Hall and the former Supreme Court, which has been beautifully restored and transformed into the 64,000 square metre gallery. You can currently browse, watch and listen from the comfort of your own home online.
National Museum of Singapore
National Museum of Singapore is the oldest museum in Singapore. Its history dates back to 1849, when it was started as a section of a library at Singapore Institution and called the Raffles Library and Museum.
Asian Civilisations Museum
With its mix of races and cultures, Singapore has earned a reputation for being the cultural melting pot of Asia – and Asian Civilisations Museum is all about exploring the people from around the region that have settled on Singapore’s shores over the past two centuries. The museum has 11 galleries showcasing more than 2,000 artefacts.
Discover Peranakan culture as you stroll past heritage shophouses, quaint stores and eateries in this charming corner of eastern Singapore. Joo Chiat neighbourhood is named after Chew Joo Chiat, a wealthy Chinese landowner in the early 20th century. The area’s identity is especially shaped by its unique pre-war architecture – colourful two-storey shophouses and terrace houses with ornate facades, intricate motifs and ceramic tiles. The neighbouring Katong was once filled with coconut plantations and used as a weekend retreat by wealthy city dwellers before being developed into a residential suburb, populated by Peranakans and Eurasian by the early 20th century.
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
There are few buildings in Singapore as eye-catching as Esplanade, a world-class performing arts centre made up of two rounded glass domes fitted with over 7,000 triangular aluminium sunshades. Locals have dubbed them “the Durian”, as the twin structures resemble the spiky tropical fruit that is unique to this part of the world.
Where to eat in Singapore
Singapore’s obsession with food is legendary and your tastebuds overwhelmed with delicious flavours. Like Singapore, the local cuisine is a tantalising mix of flavours from various racial ethnicities including Chinese, Malay, Indian, Eurasian and Peranakan. From Michelin starred restaurants to local hawker fare you will uncover Singapore’s taste obsession at every turn. Try chilli crab, roti prata, popiah and kueh pie tee before finishing your meal with a sweet dessert such as chendol or a selection of kuehs (bite sized desserts).
Candlenut is the world’s first Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant. Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine comes from the Peranakans, descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Singapore, and other Straits regions. They married local Malays and the cuisine combines Chinese, Malay and other influences. Candlenut serves up refined Peranakan cuisine that preserves the essence and complexities of traditional food, with astute twists that lift the often rich dishes to a different level.
Corner House is a contemporary restaurant located within the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The restaurant is named after botanist E. J. H. Corner, who resided in the property for 13 years during his 16-year tenure as the Assistant Director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. “Gastro-Botanica” is the style of contemporary cuisine created by Chef Jason Tan, which emphasises refinement and quality and gives equivalent weight on the plate to protein and botanical elements. Corner House features one Michelin star and ranked 49th in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019.
Housed in National Gallery Singapore, Odette serves modern French cuisine that is guided by Chef Julien’s lifelong respect for seasonality, terroir and artisanal produce, which results in artistic and refined food presentations. In less than two years since its opening in 2015, Odette earned two Michelin stars and a place on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Odette currently ranks first in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 and 18th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019.
Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle
Serving the famous “chicken rice” for S$2 – this is the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal. Located within Chinatown Complex Food Centre.
Lau Pa Sat
Built in the 19th Century, Lau Pa Sat has long dominated the local landscape and food scene with its striking presence and eclectic mix of local food. From chicken rice to murtabak, the flavours and smells will convert you into a foodie within minutes. Each night the street is closed off to traffic, tables are set up outside and the road becomes known as Satay Street. Be sure to indulge in the variety of satay on offer.
Established in 1976, Red House Seafood is one of Singapore’s oldest seafood restaurants and is synonymous with Singapore cuisine. With this strong reputation of pairing fresh seafood with Asian flavours, Red House and its signature lanterns have been instantly recognised by patrons.
Chin Chin Eating House
A very local restaurant famed for its Hainanese Chicken Rice, one of the national dishes of Singapore. The menu at Chin Chin Eating House consists of Hainanese, Singaporean and South East Asian influenced dishes.
Mr. Prata is a famous spot for a traditional breakfast of roti prata (Indian flatbread) with curry and Teh Tarik (pulled tea!).
Keng Eng Kee
Famous for its coffee pork ribs, claypot duck rice and fried hor fun amongst many, local favourite Keng Eng Kee has been in business for almost forty years, and has passed through the generations to current head chef Wayne.
Where to drink in Singapore
Singapore’s Jigger & Pony
Singapore’s cocktail bar, Jigger & Pony, boasts a fun-time ethos and relaxed style of hospitality, which is complemented by an excellent classic drinks list – the Ramos Gin Fizz is a must. Jigger & Pony is currently Asia’s Best Bar in the Asia’s 50 Best Bars Awards.
Atlas is number five in Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019 and takes your breath away from the moment you step in. First, there’s the setting: a 7,400sq ft Art Deco jaw dropper that looks like it was plucked straight from the jazz age, furnished in marble, velvet, copper and gold. The highlight, for the drinks-minded, is a gin tower that houses a whopping 1,100-bottle collection.
Located on Singapore’s Amoy Street, Native is a cocktail bar committed to using only locally forage products and supporting local and regional craftsmen – from the ingredients (such as jasmine blossom, and turmeric leaves), cocktail list to the drinking vessels and music. Native is number six in Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019.
British chef/owner Ryan Clift’s brand of modern gastronomy is recognised at Tippling Club for its innovative ultra progressive cuisine paired with cocktails that imbue the social experience with a sense of excitement by pushing the extremes of ingredients and textures to create an ever evolving experience.
For further information on Singapore go to www.VisitSingapore.com
Getting to Singapore: There are direct flights to Singapore from London & Manchester with Singapore Airlines and British Airways from London. As current travel to Singapore may be paused, please check with your travel agent or airline for the latest updates.
Weather in Singapore: Singapore is hot, humid and sunny year-round with average temperatures of 25 to 30°. Dress in light, comfortable clothing and bring an extra layer for indoors as the air conditioning can be a stark contrast to the heat.
Currency: Singapore dollar (S$)
Transport in Singapore: Visit here for more information.