Travel

Singapore Travel Diary: Do, Shop, Eat, Stay

Food-obsessed luxury aficionado Truc Nguyen finds her happy place in the high-low city state

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Palm trees line East Coast Park’s beaches. (Photo: Jorg Sundermann)

On my first visits to Singapore, in 2006, I stayed just long enough to window-shop, visit a hawker market and declare the über-clean city “too boring” before jetting off to Hanoi. This time around, having read Crazy Rich Asians—the frothy bestseller about young Asian one-percenters unfolds here—and acquired a taste for laksa (a spicy noodle soup) and chili crab, I set out to eat like a local while experiencing the city’s OTT sights and next-level shopping.

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The Louis Vuitton “island” boutique at Marina Bay Sands can be accessed by bridge, underground tunnel or private boat. (Photo: Truc Nguyen)

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Singaporeans take their brunch as seriously as their shopping. Case in point: the epic Sunday spread at Edge, which features all-you-can-handle Veuve Clicquot, wagyu beef and Candian lobster alongside local specialties, including porridge-like durian pengat (about $165 Canadian per person). (Photo: Truc Nguyen)

I spent a weekend at the Amoy hotel and loved its historic charm (it was converted from shophouses and a centuries-old temple) and proximity to Chinatown’s cheap eats. It’s also a quick cab ride away from the hip Tiong Bahru area, where I browsed the vintage curios at indie shop BooksActually and stopped by Nana & Bird to check out breezy shift dresses and jumpsuits from Sing label Yumumu. From here, I rode the spotless subway to mall, exploring the cavernous Carven and Dior boutiques before picking up basics at Muji. This infamous retail stretch of Orchard Road is home to multiple other shopping centres, all boasting their own Burberry, Prada and Louis Vuitton outposts. While there aren’t bargains to be found, the sheer size and number of Singapore’s luxury boutiques means that there’s an insanely good selection of runway pieces to lust after.

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The massive Gardens by the Bay features more than half a million plants, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and the futuristic “Supertrees” shown below. (Photo: Rory Daniel)

For a nature fix, I visited Gardens by the Bay, then headed to the nearby Marina Bay Sands complex, which includes the airy ArtScience Museum, stunning views of the city from the SkyPark observation deck and the world’s biggest infinity pool atop its 2,561-room hotel.

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The lush, orchid-filled lobby of the five-star Sofitel So, designed in part by Karl Lagerfeld.

My luxe-low vacay concluded at the opulent Karl Lagerfeld–anointed Sofitel So; the Kaiser oversees the seasonally curated lobby library and staff sport pieces from his namesake collection. Between the gold-tiled rooftop pool and oversized Bisazza tub in my suite, I never wanted to leave. Until, of course, it was time to walk across the street to the Lau Pa Sat hawker market for some 60-cent curbside satay.

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Head to Singapore’s colourful Chinatown for chili, black pepper and butter crab at Momma Kong’s, or do a curry crawl through Maxwell Road Hawker Centre and Chinatown Complex, open-air food courts where you can dine for less than five bucks a plate.

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