The perfect tropical retreat for those serious about shopping and sipping cocktails
Look at any rule book to Singapore and you’d be forgiven for thinking you can’t do anything fun without being arrested. The law clamps down on everything. No chewing gum. No kissing. No excessive drinking. Instead, all the pent-up energy for fun is filtered into shopping.
They say it would take you two weeks if you were to walk all the shopping malls end-to-end, there’s so many. Although we don’t recommend you try it. Singapore is a city that’s also a country, with a compact network of streets. The plus side of all this is you’re never lost for a shopping fix. Such is the interest, there’s even a World Shopping Championship in summer, where teams are briefed on what items to buy, then battle it out in a day, for a trophy more coveted than an Alexander McQueen original. Although it’s not all a wilderness of malls and skyscrapers. The city also boasts historic quarters, including an Indian Quarter and Chinatown worthy of a visit. Go to Arab Street to find a selection of shops selling basketware, leather and gemstones.
Some of the best activities in Singapore happen at night, including the recommended Night Safari, where a train sneaks you behind the scenes at Singapore Zoo, within breathing distance of rhinos, giraffes, tourists, and other wild beasts.
Where to stay?
The Meritus Mandarin, is more like The Orient Express, but in hotel form, with Art Deco styling. At On the Club Lounge on Level 42, enjoy sumptuous views across the city while being served breakfast, then head up to the top floor restaurant where it’s rumoured the chef cooks up the most delicious example of the city’s signature dish, Mandarin Chicken Rice. Raffles Hotel is famous for its invention of the Singapore Sling, while Shangri-La showcases nouveau style and is the touchdown choice for Bill Clinton and David Beckham when they’re in town.
Where to shop?
Stay in Singapore for just ten minutes and you won’t need to ask. Shops are everywhere, selling anything. The aspirational place to go is Orchard Road, packed with malls featuring labels from Jimmy Choo to Richard Mille and Van Cleef & Arpels. Head to Vivo City for the most recent retail offering, with over 300 outlets, covering over 1 million square metres. It has its own harbour and houses sculptures by architect Toyo Ito. One of the most novel shopping experiences comes courtesy of the Mustafa Centre in Little India, open 24 hours and selling everything from curry powder to iPhones.
Where to party?
Locals say the club scene took a nosedive when the Ministry of Sound closed last year. Now the hot ticket in town is a converted Army Barracks on top of a hill, called House at Dempsey Hill, but it’s a long drive. In the centre you can head to Clarke Quay which is packed with cocktail bars and restaurants and also one place in the city that has 24-hour licensing. Loof Bar nearby, lets you relax under the stars, if you can see them through the Singapore smog.
The Mandarin Marina has a luxuriant spa and swimming pool which offers sanctuary from the hectic city. Or you can head to Sentosa island, accessible by cable care from Vivo City, a favourite Singapore weekend getaway with beaches, jungle, and tropical gardens.
Most flight carriers fly to the city, including Singapore Airlines, from £395 return, £450 return with Emirates Airlines. Budget traveller can fly for around £250 return with Air Asia, to Kuala Lumpur, which has many connecting bus and train services.