Talk about foresight. Armed with a London education and a powerful vision, Singapore’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, elected in 1959, took the former British colony from “Third World to First” in just half a century. Once a land of jungle and swamp, the city-state has been transformed by high-rises, an increasingly international population and an economy envied the world over.
This remarkable growth shows little sign of slowing. Below ground, the MRT – the local subway system – continues to steadily expand. Looking up, cranes are a permanent fixture of the skyline, whether they’re working on ever more ambitious projects or keeping Singapore’s port – the second busiest on the planet – ticking over. Factor in a pro-business culture and one of the world’s most well-connected airports and its reputation as a global business hub remains rock-solid.
Word of mouth
Coffee pit stop
My Awesome Cafe
Yes, that really is the café’s
name and the coffee certainly
lives up to it. The location, close to vibrant Amoy Street Food Centre, offers opportunities galore to compare a Western-style flat white with the thicker, sweeter local kopi.
202 Telok Ayer Street
Common Man Stan
This fresh café’s combination
of engaged staff and on-trend brunching – croissant croque monsieur or sautéed kale with scrambled eggwhite, say – makes an ideal backdrop for wheeling and dealing. And the coffee is excellent; not surprising, considering parent company Common Man Coffee Roasters is a big player in Singaporean caffeine circles.
11-12 Stanley Street
While many hit Wolfgang Puck's rooftop lounge for the views, there’s substance behind the breezy, pan-Asian style. Burgers, Japanese fried chicken and pot-
sticker dumplings are ideal
light meals for one and the sociable bartenders are just
as good at dispensing chat as they are great cocktails, wines and other libations.
Level 57, SkyPark Tower 2, Marina Bay Sands
An edible “rose” comprising interwoven pieces of raw Japanese yellowtail. Pen shell clams with a shimmering white dashi jelly. A perfect candied unripe whole Mikan orange. Chef Sam Aisbett has a knack
for dreaming up satisfying, bold-flavoured dishes that are almost too pretty to eat. Almost. Operating out of a photogenic dining room in Chijmes – a former convent and school
in the heart of the city – the one-time head chef at Sydney powerhouse Quay is winning over Singapore diners with equally camera-ready dishes. Drop by during the day for a lunch-hour-friendly set menu or, if you want to impress a client, push the boat out after dark with a seven-course “discovery” dinner with wine pairing.
#01-26/27 Chijmes, 30 Victoria Street
Drinks with clients
As far as places to sip cocktails go, Singapore punches way above its weight. Of the current crop of high-end bars, Native
is the island’s most interesting prospect, bringing a locavore sensibility to cocktails. Butterfly pea flowers, ants and other Asian ingredients – many collected in the wild – star in
the imaginative beverages.
52a Amoy Street
If you have a couple of hours…
From street art to a deep dive into the Marvel comics universe, ArtScience Museum celebrates creative thinking in fresh, often unexpected ways. Although the feature exhibitions are ticketed, many of the displays and events at this contemporary, lotus-shaped gallery are free.
If you have half a day…
A former British military base, Sentosa Island has been reborn as a resort getaway for tourists and locals. Open to the public, the rainforest-themed Away Spa at the luxury, 240-room W Singapore – Sentosa Cove makes a fine way to recharge. How you spend the afternoon is entirely your call. A workout at the well-equipped fitness centre? Outdoor yoga? Or maybe you just want to catch up on reading in a zero-stress environment? Treatment rooms feature outdoor showers, while post-spa snacks and drinks in a private garden help soften the return to reality.
If you have a day…
Take the 10-minute boat ride from the Changi Point Ferry Terminal to the island of Pulau Ubin and you’ll find one of the last vestiges of the Singapore of old. About 100 villagers call the mangrove island home, along with many species of native flora and fauna. On the eastern tip, the Chek Jawa wetlands teem with marine life while 10 kilometres of mountain-biking trails can be found at Ketam Mountain Bike Park (bicycles are available for hire across the island). Hiking trails ensure risk-averse visitors can still reconnect with nature.
If you have a weekend…
An hour north by plane, the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur is a popular weekend getaway for Singaporeans. Unsurprisingly, shopping and street food are strong draws, with comparisons between Singaporean and Malay dishes a hot topic of discussion. At the other end of the spectrum are dining rooms such as Dewakan, Darren Teoh’s modern Malaysian restaurant that takes a Noma-esque approach to native ingredients. For a handy place to stay, try Container Hotel, an environmentally sensitive boutique establishment built primarily out of – you guessed it – shipping containers.
1. The scenic jogging and walking track at nature park Gardens by the Bay is popular with visitors and locals. The hawkers at nearby food centre Satay by the Bay offer plenty of motivation to work for your supper, plus you can catch free music and light shows at the Supertree Grove (7.45pm and 8.45pm daily).
2. Inspired by the group’s signature Bali property, Como Shambhala Urban Escape wellness centre takes the brand’s focus on health and wellbeing and repackages it for time-poor city folk (most classes run for 60 or 90 minutes). Massage? Of course. Pilates? Done. Yoga? Choose from group classes or private sessions.
3. When it opened in 1973, there was no bigger picture house in Singapore than Golden Theatre. The historic cinema has been reborn as The Projector, a hip bar and movie theatre showing new releases and art-house classics. After a movie, go to the fifth-floor car park for rooftop bar The Great Escape, where DJs often perform on weekends.
Best co-working space
From high-tech meeting rooms and gourmet pantry staples to a central location at OUE Downtown, The Work Project makes it easy for business travellers to stay productive. Day passes start at $S45 and private offices from $S700 per month.
SEE ALSO: A Perfect Stopover in Singapore