Vagabond: Art enthusiasts will love this place. Vagabond is a newly opened luxury boutique hotel located in the heart of Singapore and although rather pricey, it is definitely worth a stay. Already the arrival is quite an experience, as you are pointed towards a gigantic golden hippo to proceed with your check-in. The lobby, restaurant and bar are located in the very same room, the so-called Salon, which could be easily mistaken for an arts gallery.
WHERE TO DINE?
Lau Pa Sat: Definitely my number one place to eat. Lau Pa Sat, also called Telok Ayer Market, is a popular local food centre situated in Singapore’s central business district. The market represents Singapore’s multiculturalism as it combines all sorts of cuisines. The best spot, however, is an al fresco area at the back of the food court where the street is closed during the evening and simple folding tables and chairs are set up. This is where the best satay sticks in town are to be found!
Jumbo Seafood: If you are looking to enjoy a relaxed evening with friends, Jumbo Seafood is THE place to go. Located at East Coast, right by the sea, the restaurant is known for its chilli and pepper crab. Make sure you don’t forget to wear a bib around your neck as cracking open the crab may get very messy.
WHERE TO BRUNCH?
Group Therapy: Have you been in Singapore for a while and miss home? There’s no better way to cure nostalgia than with a delicious brunch at hip and trendy Group Therapy. FYI, the waffles are to die for.
Red Star: If you are looking for something more authentic, I highly recommend this traditional Cantonese restaurant where my boss took me one morning to have dumplings, roasted duck, jellyfish, and many more traditional dishes. And yes, we did go for breakfast.
WHAT TO VISIT?
Gardens by the bay: A must-visit. Located right in front of the Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the bay is composed of 250 acres of reclaimed land and provides the perfect spot to stroll around and forget the fact that you are in the middle of a concrete jungle. You can walk along the Skyway to oversee the Marina Bay skyline, visit the conservatory domes, or dine at the top of the iconic man-made Supertree. The best time to visit the Gardens, however, is in my opinion by night when the trees come to life through a magical lightshow.
Chinatown: Are you keen on experiencing a more traditional part of Singapore? The narrow streets of Chinatown and its teahouses, temples, and antique shops give a great insight into the Chinese history. It is also a great place for souvenir shopping in case you are looking for a small keepsake to take home with you.
WHERE TO SHOP?
Singapore is a shopping mecca; I don’t even know where to start. Rule number one: even though you think you know your way around in a mall, you don’t. Accept it and get a map or else you may end up searching for your favourite store on the wrong floor and in a complete other section of the mall, desperately believing it has magically disappeared.
Bugis: A great area for shopping lovers. There are many small boutiques situated in Bugis Street and no matter what you are looking for you will find it here.
Charles and Keith: My favourite brand for shoes, bags, and accessories. The items are great value for money and the only thing you need to worry about is to not visit this store too often as you hardly ever leave empty-handed.
WHERE TO RELAX?
Tanjong Beach Club: There’s no better way to recover from a tough workweek than spending a day at the beach. Situated on Sentosa, the beach club offers comfortable sunbeds, good food, beer and cocktails, and great music, which provide for the perfect atmosphere to just lay back and savour the moment. Occasionally, the club organises fun events such as dress-up and fluo parties, which are not to be missed!
MacRitchie Reservoir: For those of you who like to unwind through sports: check out Singapore’s oldest nature reserve, MacRitchie! In addition to a beautiful lake, perfect for kayaking and canoeing, there are several running tracks through the jungle. The run may even get adventurous, as it is not unlikely to meet snakes and other creatures along the way. A highlight is a huge tower overtopping the century old trees and offering a picturesque view over the reserve. Make sure to visit either in the morning or towards the evening to avoid the boiling heat.
WHERE TO GO OUT?
1-Altitude: No matter the occasion, be it for a couple of drinks or to dance the night away, 1-Altitude is THE place. Located on top of the highest building in Singapore, the open-air bar takes your breath away with a 360-degree view of the city.
Going OM: If you feel more like having a chill evening, you should definitely pay a visit to Arab Street. After dark, the street is closed for cars and hip pubs and bars set up their tables outdoor and allure customers with live music and good drinks. My personal favourite is a small restaurant called Going OM that features excellent live cover artists.
ZoukOut: If you happen to be in Singapore during December, don’t miss out on one of the biggest annual music dance festivals in Asia: Zouk Out! The two-day event takes place on the beach of Sentosa Island and showcases not only the best international DJs but also the most incredible firework I have ever seen.