Thursday, 29 October 2015
The buzz and the bites: Everything you need to know to visit the delicious and dazzling Asian hotspot of Singapore
What do you think of when you think of Singapore?
The city state is known for being a major transport hub - Changi Airport connects the west to the rest of Asia, as well as Australasia - and vice versa, with 54.1 million passengers passing through the airport each year.
If you're flying to Kuala Lumpur, Sydney or Phuket, there's a chance you'll pass through Singapore.
Changi Airport connects the west to the rest of Asia, as well as Australasia - and vice versa, with 54.1 million passengers passing through the airport each year. If you're flying to Kuala Lumpur, Sydney or Phuket, there's a chance you'll pass through Singapore
Lighting up the sky: From the towering structures at Garden by the Bay to a sea of skyscrapers hosting bars and restaurants, Singapore has so much to offer
But what lies past the busy airport? This was my question, and this is why I visited Singapore: there was no connecting flight onwards for me.
I came to see, taste and immerse myself in Singaporean culture - and boy, am I glad I got to explore Singapore and all its delights.
Nestled between Malaysia and Indonesia, Singapore's been an independent state since 1965, and its a relatively 'new' place terms of being a modern city, it also retains a rich cultural history that's evident in its famous hospitality and fusion cuisine - mixing Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, Japanese and Indian cuisine.
Foodies, this is one place you must visit.
Where to stay
Rosie stayed at the opulent Shangri-La Hotel on Orange Grove Road, a five-star affair with the service, space and immaculate gardens that you'd expect from a beautiful, top-rated hotel
The vast, magnificent marble lobby was filled with huge displays of fresh flowers - and there was a grand piano being played - old school charm at its finest
The hotel has a large outdoor pool within the hotel's lush, tropical gardens - perfect for cooling off in the daytime with the mercury can hit in excess of 35C
My flight got into Singapore at around 9:00pm, to baking climes of 28C or so (remember, this is in the evening!) but our taxi to our hotel was quick - and importantly, air conditioned.
I stayed at the opulent Shangri-La Hotel on Orange Grove Road, a five-star affair with the service, space and immaculate gardens that you'd expect from a beautiful, top-rated hotel.
The vast, magnificent marble lobby was filled with huge displays of fresh flowers - and there was a grand piano being played - old school charm at its finest.
Rosie's huge double room was filled with goodies such as a box of Shangri-La chocolates and a Nespresso machine - but she sank straight into the huge bed and nodded off - after a glass of champagne
Life of luxury: Her room came complete with L'Occitane toiletries in the huge, marble bathroom
After our hosts presented us with dendrobium orchids (told you the service was good!) I headed to my room in the Valley Wing of the hotel.
Which is where President Obama stays here when he's in Singapore, don't you know?
My huge double room was filled with goodies, from L'Occitane toiletries in the huge, marble bathroom to a box of Shangri-La chocolates and a Nespresso machine - but I sank straight into the huge bed and nodded off - after a glass of champagne.
We were very much looked after during our time at the Shangri-La - guests at the Valley Wing get complimentary champagne, wine and juices at the Champagne Bar, a delicious continental breakfast at the private Summit Room, as well as high tea in the afternoon (complete with finger sandwiches, scones and more champagne).
And don't forget the outdoor pool within the hotel's lush, tropical gardens - perfect for cooling off in the daytime with the mercury can hit in excess of 35C.
Where to eat
Dinner at Adrift in the city's famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel was one of the highlights of the trip. US celebrity chef David Myers has created an intimate, modern, relaxed space that's just a little bit romantic, too
Culinary delights: Rosie found the food in Singapore to be one of the city's most impressive features. Pictured is her meal at The Waterfall restaurant, Shangri La hotel (left) and cashew chicken from Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre (right)
Where to begin, more like! From traditional street food in Singapore's hawker centres to fine dining, the city state has it all - and more.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the foodie element of my trip by far was a visit to the Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre - one of the city's many indoor markets.
The places are lined with traditional Chinese, Malay, Indonesian and Thai stalls, and there's a delicious, sweet and spicy aroma in the air. Fresh food is cooked there and then to order.
Street food is a way of life in Singapore, and you can pick up one of the tastiest meals of your life for as little as 5 Singapore Dollars in one of the hawker centres (that's around £2).
My fellow travellers and I played a game where we took 10 Singapore Dollars and saw who could get the most, and best for their money.
I plumped for cashew chicken and sugar cane juice, followed by black bean and Chinese dough pudding. Trust me, you're not going to go hungry in Singapore.
Dinner at Adrift in the city's famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel was one of the highlights of the trip. US celebrity chef David Myers has created an intimate, modern, relaxed space that's just a little bit romantic, too.
The Marina Bay sands Hotel has many restaurants, including Adrift and a luxury Japanese restaurant Ku De Ta (pictured) on the skypark at the top of the building
We started with Tuk Tuk Thief cocktails (aged rum, fresh pineapple, lemon and frenet branca) and couldn't resist trying the Beekeeper, too (bourbon, honey, absinthe and lemon).
David's small plate sharing concept meant we got to try a little of everything on offer - from delicacies such as wagyu beef and crispy fried chicken to Iberico pork and wild Masu salmon - of course, we were stuffed.
And if you're looking for a little more European fare then you'll be in luck in Singapore, too - the Waterfall restaurant at the Shangri-La is run by a Neapolitan chef.
My mozzarella salad and Diavolo pizza were possibly the most un-Singaporean dishes in town, but a wagyu beef salad added an Asian edge back to the meal.
Don't bother dieting in Singapore. That's just my advice.
What to see
Why not check out the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, a Buddhist temple and museum complex located in the Chinatown district of Singapore
A guided tour of Singapore is well worth it - our tour guide took us to the trendy Yong Siak Street, which is known as hipster Singapore.
We trawled the street's trendy bookshops, including Books Actually, and coffee shops, such as 27 Hands - and stores full of vintage knick-knacks (including tea sets, parasols and, er, loads of Robbie Williams biographies if you're that way inclined).
Then we headed to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple near Chinatown.
The stunning Chinese Buddhist temple is open to the public, and is a fascinating and beautiful place, reminding us just how close to China Singapore is.
And if it's shopping you're after, head to Bugis Village - a flea market made up of hundreds of different stalls selling everything you could imagine, from jewellery to clothes, at bargain prices.
Where to party
Unique sights: Rosie enjoyed the spectacular city skyline views from the Marina Bay Sands hotel
One of the most spectacular features about the Marina Bay Sands hotel is its famous infinity pool, which overlooks the urban landscape
Along with the incredible swimming pool, there is also a casino and many bars, including the impressive Sky on 57
The staggering Marina Bay Sands is Singapore's premier night spot - as well as hosting a beautiful infinity pool, it's got a casino and, um, 2,561 hotel rooms (just in case you can't find your way home from the bar after a long night of drinking).
In the lobby you'll see an Anthony Gormley sculpture - make of it what you will, it's called Drift and represents weather and space.
We then headed to Sky on 57, at, you've guessed it, the 57th floor of the hotel.
Heading up at dusk was the perfect time to see the entire cityscape light up. Those with a touch of vertigo might find it too much, but view is one of the most amazing I've ever seen.
We then partied until dawn at Flight, one of the hotel's clubs.
The bar has a unique concept for its drinks, with each spirit coming paired with a speciality mixer, like gin with pomegranate hibiscus or rum and ginger lemongrass.
And don't forget to try a Singapore Sling - the city's trademark gin drink. As if you hadn't already.