SPONSORED BY SINGAPORE TOURISM BOARD
The world has been abuzz for the better part of the last year thanks to the bubbly magic of the delightful film, Crazy Rich Asians. Equal parts Pretty Woman and Roman Holiday and wholly pertinent for representation in modern times, it is a quintessential watch for any fan of the romantic comedy. While the on-screen chemistry and antics in the film are enough to captivate even the sternest critic of the genre, the true gem that elevates the story beyond what’s been tried-and-true to instead be something new, is the setting.
Singapore is a bastion of opulence and excitement, a sprawling city-state located on a small tropical island at the tip of Malaysia—but, to the western world, it often goes unnoticed. With affluence being one of the primary points of contention in the narrative arc of this movie, it’s particularly difficult not to notice now. And while Crazy Rich Asians is the perfect jumping-off point for a vacation into a world of luxury, you don’t need a glamorous billionaire swooning over you to enjoy this hotbed of excitement—you too can enjoy the life and times of Singapore’s elite, no matter your budget.
Eating Like Royalty
As a melting pot for just about every culture in Asia, the culinary scene of Singapore is rich—flavors and spices converge on plates in a manner unmatched much elsewhere. With this bevy of influences and ingredients, talent and acclaim have naturally followed. There’s plenty of fine dining fit for royalty here: the difficult decision is picking just one. The Mediterranean fare of gastro-botanica Corner House; the revered sushi of Shinji by Kanesaka; the tender Keralan-spiced lamb shanks of The Song of India and the delectable pairing of dim sum with yam dumplings at Jiang-Nan Chun have all garnered much-warranted Michelin stars—it’s simply a choice of which shines brightest the moment your stomach growls.
But, while fine dining certainly has its place, it doesn’t take a fortune to enjoy the flavors of Singapore. When Nick and Rachel first land in the movie, you might remember that they head to a food court and feast on an endless stream of decadent plates. This wasn’t movie magic: it was a hawker centre.
Abundant all throughout the city, hawker centers are home to the heart and soul of Singapore’s culinary scene. A magical blend of food court and street market, hawker centers make for one-stop hubs designed for feasting: chili crab, fish-head curry, Hainanese chicken rice, carrot cake and minced pork noodles are all prominent staples of a delicious meal, with no need to pick just one option.
Partying Like a Rockstar
You don’t need to charter a cargo ship and buy a rocket launcher to party like the Singaporean elite thanks to the flourishing of the city’s bar scene. Six of the World’s 50 Best Bars called Singapore home, and as a result, all of Singapore’s other bars have upped their A-game. A night out on the town is likely to include numerous stops, if only to sample the atmospheres—but the concoctions come highly recommended.
28 Hong Kong Street
For a hideaway that’s equal parts sleek, sumptuous and surreal, pay a visit to the ever-cool speakeasy 28 Hong Kong Street. Hidden amongst old shophouses, this den of sip-able debauchery is rooted in American cool: much of the menu (and soundtrack) pays homage to American Hip Hop and geography. The 6 Foot 7 Foot is a delectable marriage of rum, cognac and banana foster honoring the cocktail culture of New Orleans. Between that, the Pandan Churros and the strict ‘no-photos allowed’ policy, an evening at this speakeasy speaks for itself as to why it earned the distinction of 34th best bar in the world.
For an innovative take on tonics, a visit to the Tippling Club is a must. High-concept drinking distilled to its purest, you can sample cocktails from the concept menu ahead of time as their gummy-bear equivalent—either form of Supercar (comprised of gin, lemon, white wine, butter and ‘petrol’) is a rush for the palate.
The final can’t-miss of Singapore’s bars is arguably the most authentic—Native. Using only local spirits and produce (with much of it foraged solely by the owner of the bar), Native succeeds in both sustainability and elevating the unconsidered flavors of the country: it’s not often that you revel in finding local weaver ants in your drink. Any and all beverages will prove why it garnered the ranking of 13th best bar in the world.
Nightlife Beyond the Bars
If your idea of a fun evening doesn’t usually include a posh drinking-den, fear not: all of Singapore thrives in the evening, not just the bars. The Night Safari claims the title of World’s First Nocturnal Zoo and proves to be as memorable as any bar. A stroll along one of the park trails provides a chance to glimpse some nocturnal big cats, as well savor the evening air. If the strolling is more interesting than witnessing nocturnal animals, your night doesn’t have to stop at the Night Safari—there’s an abundance of lush parks and verdant gardens worth checking out. The Gardens by the Bay should be particularly familiar for fans of the film: the extravagant wedding reception takes place at the base of the Garden’s iconic towering neon ‘trees.’ Besides hosting the movie’s wedding reception, the Garden also plays host to the nightly spectacle of Garden Rhapsody—a light and sound show in which the Supertrees flourish in jaw-dropping spectacle, making for quite the night and some soon-to-be favorite memories.
Living Like Crazy Rich Asians
Finally, no trip to Singapore is complete without stopping in at least one of Singapore’s luxury malls. While you may not be trying to impress a disapproving mother-in-law like Rachel, the boost of a shopping spree is universal. There’s no shortage of shopping centers to peruse, but for breathtaking ambiance fit for discovering elegant wares, you’ll want to head to Orchard Road. Home to the most quintessential of Singapore’s shopping, centers like ION Orchard, Plaza Singapura and Orchard Central offer an influx of authenticity and refinement in the form of luxe architecture, art and cuisine. Whether you’re shopping for a formal gown or window-shopping for a few spare hours, Singapore’s shopping centers are the cherry on top of a trip that’ll leave you feeling like you’re on top of the world.
ENJOY A DELICIOUS CUP OF KOPI
While the love of coffee (kopi) runs deep in Singapore, arriving equipped with Starbucks-slang won’t do you much good—if you order “coffee,” you’ll promptly be handed a cup of Nescafe. For constructing your order, here’s a handy guide to ordering at a kopitiam.
- Kopi – black coffee with sweetened condensed milk
- Kopi C – black coffee with unsweetened evaporated milk and sugar
- Kopi O – black coffee with sugar
- Kopi O Kosong – black coffee, no sugar or milk (kosong means empty in the Malay language)
- Kopi Peng – Iced black coffee with condensed milk (peng means ice, add it to the end of any order to make it an iced coffee)
Additionally, you can order your kopi strong (gao) or weak (poh), as well as more (gah dai) or less (siew dai) sweet. So, your order might be:
- Kopi O Gao Peng – Iced strong black coffee with sugar
- Kopi C Siew Dai – black coffee with unsweetened evaporated milk and sugar, but less sweet
Whatever your order is, know that it pairs perfectly with kaya toast (kaya being a delectable jam made of coconut, sugar, and egg) for an excellent start to your day.
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