48 HOURS IN SINGAPORE
Don’t miss this six-mile hike that takes you over a suspended bridge nestled in the treetops.
Whether your travel plans are motivated by an athletic event (the BNP Paribas Women’s Tennis Association championships in October, the marathon in December) or the luxe side of the country showcased in Crazy Rich Asians, it’s worth booking a trip to Singapore this fall.
You can easily spend several days on the island, but if you need to make the most of a quick trip, here’s how.
WHERE TO STAY
Check into Fullerton Bay, a posh hotel built on stilts over Marina Bay with a rooftop pool and spacious rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies. The hotel bar is an after-hours hot spot for locals while the lobby is welcoming and well-lit with gilded chandeliers and lanterns.
Or book a room at Vagabond Club, designed by Jacques Garcia (his résumé includes five-star hotels like La Mamounia in Marrakesh). The boutique hotel—themed after Parisian salons—is dimly-lit, moody, and sexy, dressed in various shades of velvet. Rooms are decorated with framed art and paintings as well as hand-painted screens.
Start your morning at Ronin Cafe, a local favorite tucked away on Hong Kong Street near Raffles Place. It has an industrial feel and serves up delicious and healthy breakfasts like scrambled eggs on toast with avocado and spinach.
Choose Your Afternoon Adventure
OPTION 1: CULTURE
Explore the country's famous museums, like The National Museum of Singapore. Established in 1887, it has a popular permanent exhibit showing Singapore in the 1920s and 1930s with its British influence. Within walking distances are the National Gallery (the former Supreme Court and City Hall with 8,000 pieces and a great rooftop bar) and the Peranakan Museum (showcasing artifacts and period clothing of the Southeast Asian Peranakan community). Athletes should also visit Singapore Sports Museum, which showcases various unique sports in the country’s history and inspiring exhibitions.
OPTION 2: FITNESS
Singapore is referred to as “City in a Garden” for good reason. While there’s very little ascent (the tallest peak here, Bukit Timah, is 500 feet high), there are plenty of places to hike, like MacRitchie Reservoir, known for the six-mile round trip TreeTop Walk, which will take you across a suspended bridge over forestry. Check out Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, which has four hiking trails snaking through the lush forest landscape. Windsor Nature Park has three trails through different flora and fauna, like jackfruit and bananas, but the main attraction is the 56 different species of dragonflies.
Singapore is renowned for its hawker stands (essentially, street food), and Maxwell Food Centre is its most famous. Head straight to Tian Tian, which serves Singapore’s national dish, Hainanese chicken rice cooked in chicken stock, garlic, and ginger.
End the night with a Singapore Sling, a gin-based cocktail with pineapple juice, Grand Marnier, and lime juice, at its birthplace: Raffles, a luxury hotel built in 1887. The hotel is currently under renovation but its Long Bar is open in the meantime.
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Grab an outdoor table at Sarnies, a 10-minute walk from Fullerton Bay Hotel. The Aussie-owned cafe serves all natural and organic when possible. Order the avocado toast with feta and roasted cherry tomatoes or fuel up with the “breakfast of champions” that includes grass-fed steak or salmon, scrambled eggs, mixed greens, guacamole, and tomatoes.
Choose your Afternoon Adventure
OPTION 1: CULTURE
Allow several hours to peruse Chinatown (either hotel can set up a walking tour with a guide if you prefer). Experience the street market, tea houses, the famed Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, and Thian Hock Keng Temple. Pop into Thye Shan Medical Hall, a traditional Chinese medicine shop that sells herbs, teas, and ingredients known for healing (including ones you can’t get in the U.S., like edible bird’s nest). Get another taste of Singaporean street food (skewers, noodles, and rice dishes) at one of the 260-plus food stalls at Chinatown Complex.
OPTION 2: FITNESS
Take the cable car from Faber Peak on the mainland to the beaches of Siloso, just 15 minutes away. The three beaches are close together so you can easily visit more than one. Palawan Beach is known for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding; Silosa Beach offers thrills like flying trapeze, ziplining, and a ropes course; and Tanjong Beach is more secluded and a magnet to millennials thanks to Bali-style Tanjong Beach Club. End your excursion at the latter and refuel with fresh seafood and a lavender-infused peach bellini at the club’s restaurant.
While the best authentic meals will be at the hawker stands and food halls, locals love Western cuisine, and many ex-pats have opened notable places. Eat a modern Australian dinner at Whitegrass. Artful, bite-sized dishes embrace flavor and texture, like Japanese yellowtail with caviar and white vereduna beetroot and slow-roasted pork jowl with fermented cabbage, braised lotus seeds, and scallop cheong fun.
Have a nightcap to toast an unforgettable trip at Ce La Vi Skybar with sweeping, 360-degree views.