Join the jubilee and hit the ‘new kampong’ like a local as the lion city celebrates 50 years of independence. Singapore, a former fishing village, has transformed itself into a stylish powerhouse with rooftop gardens, gourmet burgers, indie flicks and nightclubs.
Start off your stay with a fresh ginger ninja soda on the hippest new block in Singapore, Keong Saik Road, located on the fringes of Chinatown. The area was once a gangster-filled red light district and is now one of the city’s hottest hoods, full of boutique hotels and bespoke bistros. Three Buns Kitchen by Potato Head Folk is located inside one of the most interesting historic buildings on the street, with an eclectic crew crowding in for Asian-style gourmet burgers. If you touchdown late at night, checkout Singapore’s ever-changing skyline from the bohemian oasis of the 4th floor rooftop garden bar.
Next, pop into the Mustafa Centre in Little India, a glimmering treasure chest filled with anything and everything you could imagine. Gold jewelry by the gram nests along souvenirs and exotic beauty products. Open 24 hours, many a jet-lagged insomniac can be seen poking around the crowded aisles.
Following the flurry of retail therapy, stop and smell the baobab inside Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay. The cooled conservatory complex is a sculptural masterpiece, winning the title of World Building of the Year in 2012. The two hectare verdant wonderland is an enchanted world veiled in mist. Succulents from around the world surround bulging baobabs, known as the tree of life. A mountain covered in lush vegetation shrouds the indoor waterfall, showcasing plant life from tropical highlands.
As the sun sets, down a Tiger beer and catch an indie flick with the locals at The Projector, the island’s coolest movie theatre. An illustrious old theatre was revived by a group of Singaporean design professionals through a crowd-funded initiative. The space is an oasis for alternative films and thought provoking creative events such as a panel discussion with controversial academic and writer Cherian George, deliberating the freedom of expression in Singapore.
Lay your head down for the night at the sumptuous Fullerton Hotel. Once the general post office of Singapore, the opulent interiors and clever design celebrate historical charm. Book a loft suite for views of the dazzling nightly light show across Marina Bay.
Head to Haji Lane for a serving of unique Singaporean fashion brands and neighborhood bars. Cocktail joint Long Play serves up innovative tipples and fresh-off-the-turntable tunes. On “Bring Your Own Vinyl Sundays,” old school collectors can drop the needle on their own favorites.
Get into party mode full blast at Zouk Club, Singapore’s most popular nightclub and the host of some of the biggest and most cutting-edge acts around. Friday nights deliver hip-hop and electro swag. On Saturday nights, get ready for beat-heavy dance electronica — put your hands in the air, fist pump and prepare to drop it down hard.
After the dance-off, devour a 3am crispy pancake and spice loaded curry at Mr Prata on Evans Road. Prata, a south Indian flatbread, is stretched dough, flipped, and pan-fried until it’s crispy outside and fluffy inside. With over 40 kinds of prata on the menu, at just $2.20 a serving, it’s a no-brainer to dip into more than one piquant pleaser.
As a last stop, get a few hours of shut-eye at The Crowne Plaza Changi Airport before you climb back onto the plane. Many departures to Europe and the US leave in the very early morning. This luxe resting place recently won the title of World’s Best Airport Hotel and connects directly to the terminal by foot. No need to stress about getting to the airport on time and makes leaving Singapore just a tad easier.