We are well into 2015 and the Indian summer vacation is just around the corner. Which only means one thing – we at Urban Eye begin to showcase all our top luxury destinations from the past few months so help you get geared up for your vacation. We have shortlisted SINGAPORE on our must-visit list for summer 2015 (along with France, New York and Australia). I have made almost two dozen trips to Singapore in the past few years, both on work and on vacations and I have to say that I feel perfectly at home. For me, the Singapore travel experience is effortless and seamless. The city seems to go all out to welcome tourists and make their stay as comfortable as possible. Needless to say, the food and the shopping options are matchless. You can, literally, find something great to eat at every few metres. And even the inexpensive street food is of such good quality. So, I’ve tried to come up with MY five recommendations on your Singapore travel guide. I hope you enjoy the read.
1. Satay at Lau Pa Sat – Take this as a personal recommendation. Many people ask me which place in Singapore serves the best satay. Opinions are largely divided. Especially in Singapore, where people take their food so seriously. Lau Pa Sat is an iconic food court, in a beautiful colonial structure, in perfect contrast to the glass skyscrapers surrounding it. Every evening, the street adjoining Lau Pa Sat food court is cordoned off to traffic and it becomes what I like to call ‘satay street’. (Notice the ultra-luxurious building of Sofitel’s newest property So Singapore, right in the midst of satay street). Out in the open, you take a table, attendants from different stalls come to you, order a few dozen satay sticks (chicken, lamb, beef), doused in divine peanut sauce, washed down with local Tiger beer. That’s the quintessential Singapore evening – food court, local food, open-air and beer. PERFECT!
2. The Singapore Sling – This cocktail, invented and immortalised at the iconic Raffles Hotel Singapore, has become somewhat of an unofficial national cocktail (though I’ve seen more tourists enjoying it than locals). On the first floor of the poshest hotel in town, The Raffles Hotel, step into the Long Bar, where the Singapore Sling has been delighting tipplers for decades. This really is the best place in Singapore to try this cocktail, which is a fruity concoction of gin, cherry liqueur, Cointreau, Dom Benedictine and pineapple juice. I will do an entire blogpost on this, so watch out. If you don’t get a chance to visit the Long Bar, and are flying Singapore Airlines, to or from Singapore, remember that the airline serves fairly decent Singapore Slings to its passengers across all classes.
3. Cycle at East Coast Park – One of my favourite things to do and yet one of the least explored options by tourists. East Coast Park is a picturesque and expansive park along the, well, east coast of Singapore. If you’re driving to the city from Changi Airport, you will see it on your left. Once you get to the park, look for one of the many inexpensive cycle renting shacks, which give out bicycles by the hour. Once you’ve got your bike – small sized bikes are also available – you can ride on the dedicated trails through the park, along the waterfront. It is MAGNIFICENT! And if you go to the far end of the park, and are an airplane enthusiast, you’ll be just under the landing path of the airplanes coming in from the sea. There are food courts, cafes, gardens and places to sit by the sea. It really is a must do.
4. Gardens by the Bay – I have to admit that this was a complete discovery for me. Gardens By The Bay is the latest addition to Singapore travel guides. At first, I thought it would be just another boring park, meant for tourist hordes. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Vast expanses of green spaces showcasing different varieties of plants and trees, as well the magnificent climate-controlled greenhouses are breathtaking. Gardens by the Bay changes their plant display themes on a regular basis, so do look up what’s on display before you set out. My MUST-SEE recommendation: the OCBC skywalk. As you drive through different parts of Singapore, you might see these tall, modernist tree-life structures. Those are the ‘supertrees’ of the Gardens. The OCBC skywalk is a 128-metre-long elevated walkway connecting these trees. It really is quite breathtaking. And the views of the Marina Bay and the city of Singapore are unparalleled.
5. WALK – Singapore is a city designed for walking. I walk EVERYWHERE in Singapore, whenever possible. (Of course, I try to avoid strolling around in the afternoon as it can get quite hot and humid). The streets are green, the pavements are spotless and the cityscape is manicured to perfection. Whether it is walking through the glitzy, but crowded Orchard Road (lots of fun in the evening, when everything’s lit up) or through the underground CityLink Mall and Raffles City, there’s always so much to do. My favourite Singapore travel tip, and I recommend this to all of you – a walk starting at the Merlion, all the way along the Esplanade, and then onwards to Marina Bay Sands. The photo ops at every point are breathtaking. I also really enjoy walking through East Coast Parks and different cultural neighbourhoods like Little India and China Town.