How to Plan a Flawless Trip to Singapore

Where to stay, dine and drink in the Lion City.

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The island of Singapore, also known as the Lion City, is considered a gateway to Southeast Asia. Its natural beauty and green spaces, culinary delights and vibrant neighborhoods teeming with culture draw expats and visitors from all over the world. From 1819 until 1963, Singapore was largely held under British control, and then briefly became a part of Malaysia, although that was short-lived. After two years, Singapore gained independence and complete sovereignty in 1965, and it didn’t take long for it to become the modern city it is today, with concrete skyscrapers, a robust transportation system and arguably one of the most beautiful airports in the world. It’s an attractive destination for both expats and visitors alike, and with so many new developments on the rise, an exciting culinary scene and enticingly warm temperatures year-round, Singapore should be on everyone’s bucket list. Here’s a guide to Singapore to help plan your next trip.

Where to stay

Mandarin Oriental, Singapore

  • 5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square, Singapore 039797

The Mandarin Oriental debuted the results of a massive renovation at the end of 2023, including a fresh interior color palette inspired by Peranakan-style architecture and 527 updated accommodations. The 42 hotel suites were re-positioned to face the marina and take advantage of the Singapore skyline; the city’s main attractions, such as the Flower Dome, ArtScience Museum and Marina Bay Sands can all be viewed from the floor-to-ceiling windows. Guests who book a suite or Marina Bay view room get access to the exclusive Haus 65, a social lounge on the 21st floor (co-curated with the members-only Mandala Club in Chinatown), which offers a complimentary champagne breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails. The partnership also grants suite guests access to Mandala Club for the duration of the stay. The hotel group’s signature Mandarin Cake Shop in the lobby is a tempting pit stop in the morning for fresh pastries made in-house, or a swanky, mid-day caviar and champagne afternoon tea.

The Mandarin Oriental. The Mandarin Oriental

The Singapore Edition

  • 38 Cuscaden Road, Singapore, 249731

Located on upper Orchard Road in Singapore’s retail district, the newly opened Edition hotel, spearheaded and designed by Ian Schrager in collaboration with Cap Atelier, pays homage to the city’s verdant greenery with a minimalist lobby design adorned with over 300 local plants. The jungle-themed conservatory blends seamlessly with the hotel’s main dining outlet, Fysh, headed up by Australian chef Josh Niland, who is best known for his dry-aged fish technique. Take a dip in the rooftop pool and catch a glimpse of the lush courtyard garden below from the central transparent acrylic oculus. For evening debauchery, the discreet Punch Room bar and lounge, designed in a monochromatic Yves Klein blue, is the perfect place for a stiff drink.

The Singapore Edition. The Singapore Edition

Marina Bay Sands

  • 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore

With over 2,500 guest rooms, a casino and a luxury shopping mall (The Shoppes), some might compare Marina Bay Sands to Las Vegas on steroids. The three-towered resort, which recently announced plans to add a fourth tower, is a popular landmark destination and has arguably become emblematic of Singapore as a whole. The infinity edge rooftop pool offers sweeping views of the Singapore skyline, and is only accessible to hotel guests. If you’re not staying at the property, you can still enjoy an al fresco lunch at Spago on the 57th floor and take in (partial) views.

Marina Bay Sands. Stephen Chin Siong Liung

What to do

Gardens by the Bay

  • 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore

You don’t have to have a green thumb to appreciate these 250-acre waterfront gardens. Perhaps best known for the architecturally stunning Flower Dome, which holds the Guinness World Record for largest glass greenhouse, and the sustainable supertrees (known as the Avatar trees), the award-winning Gardens by the Bay will leave visitors of any age awestruck. It’s easy to spend an entire afternoon here with several attractions within the garden including the Cloud Forest, the Supertree Observatory, Floral Fantasy and the aforementioned Flower Dome, where you can gawk at native flora from five continents and beautiful blooms like dahlias and orchids (the national flower).

Gardens by the Bay. Victor/Unsplash

Haji Lane

In the heart of Kampong Glam, this short block replete with colorful storefronts is chock full of cozy cafes, textile shops, boutiques and Middle Eastern restaurants serving piping hot kebabs. Fuel up on caffeine at the Japanese-born % Arabica cafe, then head to Hygge, a gift shop stocked with paper products, jewelry and housewares. When the humidity gets overbearing, quench your thirst with a cocktail at the intimate Bar Stories.

Haji Lane. Rifki Fajar Hadiawan/Unsplash


2024 is the Year of the Dragon, as seen throughout the city’s vibrant decor. Stop by Chinatown, the bustling neighborhood rich in history and culture, and stock up on gifts at the souvenir shops or try delicious street food. Visit Potato Head for an evening of dancing and libations. Studio 1939, the venue’s hidden speakeasy bar, serves cocktails that are (almost) too pretty to drink.

Chinatown. Adrian Jakob/Unsplash

Mandala Club

  • 31 Bukit Pasoh Rd, Singapore

This members-only club is located in a heritage building on the edge of Chinatown. By day, you’ll find people tapping away on their laptop keyboards under clusters of shiny disco balls, but by night, Mandala Club turns into a high energy bar and lounge. There are several dining outlets, depending on your mood, but don’t sleep on Mori, an intimate omakase concept serving fresh fish, inspired by Hokkaido. Reserve one of 12 seats at the U-shaped bar and leave it to the chefs. 

Mandala Club. Mandala Club

Where to eat and drink

Jumbo Seafood

  • Various locations

A telltale sign of any good restaurant is a long line of loyal customers, and chances are, you’ll see one at any one of many Jumbo Seafood locations. The no-frills seafood restaurant is popular amongst locals and visitors alike; you can’t go wrong with the signature Chilli Crab—bibs and claw crackers included. Giant tanks of live lobsters and other local fish are an indication of how fresh the seafood is; plus, family-style portions make this a great spot for groups. Head to the Riverside Point location in the Central Business District for outdoor seating along the Singapore River.

Lau Pa Sat

  • 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore

Outdoor food markets, or hawker centers, are one of the best ways to explore authentic Singaporean cuisine. Lau Pa Sat, located in a historic building downtown, is one of the more popular hawker centers, best known for satay. Order a sampling of the meat and seafood grilled skewers at one of the outdoor stalls, then head inside to try traditional Singapore street food and international fare.

Lau Pa Sat. Singapore Stock Photos/Unsplash

Bar Spectre

  • 120 Tanjong Pagar Road, #02-01, Singapore

A bar might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of mental wellness, but that’s just because you haven’t been to Bar Spectre yet. This apothecary-style cocktail bar in Tanjong Pagar draws inspiration from kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing. Guests partake in a welcome ritual where they’re prompted to write down whatever is currently on their mind, and then instructed to burn the paper to (temporarily) forget about their woes for the evening. Musician (and MasterChef Singapore competitor) Inch Chua and mixologist Andrew Pang teamed up to craft inventive cocktails (zero-proof drinks are also available) and a Southeast Asian comfort food menu with seasonal dishes like sambal smoked duck, spicy popcorn chicken and watermelon sashimi.

Bar Spectre. Bar Spectre

MO Bar

  • 5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square, Singapore 039797

This hotel bar, named one of Asia’s 50 Best Bars in 2022, is a popular watering hole for both locals and visitors. The sexy yet sophisticated spot features a menu of craft cocktails intended to be paired with the extensive food menu, featuring comforting local fare and dessert for that late night sweet tooth.


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