Beneath Singapore’s prim-and-proper exterior, there lies a stylish, cosmopolitan city just waiting to be discovered. You just have to venture beyond the endless shopping malls, bumboat rides and other tourist traps in order to find the city’s hidden gems. If you’re heading there in April to check out the World Street Food Congress or the World Gourmet Summit, our list of what you should skip and what you absolutely must see will come in handy. Happy travels!
Skip: A Singapore Sling at Raffles
Yes, we know Raffles’ Long Bar is where the iconic Singapore Sling was invented, but unless you’re very good with crowds (and we mean very good with crowds) you’ll be better off enjoying a more low-key alternative at this beautiful hotel.
See: Afternoon Tea at Raffles
A delightful afternoon tea around the corner at The Halia at Raffles, which is adjacent to the hotel and serves high tea on the weekends. Sit outside in the lovely courtyard and take in the surroundings of this historical building while you indulge in buttery scones, miniature sandwiches and delectable bite-size pastries.
The Halia Restaurant at Raffles
Skip: Marina Bay Sands Hotel
A stay at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and its ridiculous price tag. Yes, their guests-only rooftop pool is out of this world. But don’t worry, we found you a fab alternative.
See: Sky Park at Marina Bay Sands
Pay a few dollars for access to the hotel’s rooftop observation deck where you can take in the same breathtaking views as hotel guests, sans pool access. Then pop into the Cheese & Chocolate Bar on the 55th floor to indulge in one of their 40 (yes, we counted) decadent desserts. Be sure to grab a cup of their black ivory coffee, made with the world’s most exotic beans – harvested by elephants, no less!
The Cheese & Chocolate Bar
Skip: Le Claire Café Hookah
Yes, Le Claire is touted as a must-visit in all those guidebooks, but Le Claire is no different from all the other hookah cafés in the Arab District. And you want to go off the beaten path, right?
See: 21 Bussorah
Pay a visit to 21 Bussorah for a teh tarik (pulled tea). 21 Bussorah is simply the address, as this charming little stand has no name. Not that it needs one, as it’s practically a Singaporean institution. Watch as the elderly man with the white beard effortlessly “pulls” your tea between vessels, which is the secret to teh tarik‘s frothy top. A tip: Grab both a hot and a cold version, sit down at a table out front and chat up one of the locals. These older gents have some captivating stories to share.
CC image couresty of kiwinky on Flickr
Skip: Singapore Flyer
Why? It’s just another ferris wheel. Say no more.
1-Altitude just happens to be the world’s highest al fresco bar, so you can only imagine what kind of the view you’re going to get from the rooftop patio .Almost 300 meters above sea level, 1-A occupies the top three floors of the One Raffles Place building, and houses a swanky outdoor lounge, a teeny-tiny café, a luxe European restaurant and Altimate, a VIP club with 360-degree views of the city.
1-Altitude Al Fresco Bar
Do you really need a photo opp with the Merlion statue? It’s cute and all, posing with a half-man, half-lion statue. But our suggestion will look way better on Instagram.
See: Geylang District
This foodie’s paradise is where you’ll find some of the city’s best noodles, Penang seafood dishes and the legendary crab bee hoon. But it’s also a good place to take a walk on the wild side, with stinky tofu, durians, fish head curry and frog porridge. Whatever you decide on, make sure to leave room for some tasty rice and palm sugar nibbles from Famous Mian Jian Kueh for dessert.
CC image by lricharz on Flickr