Come to the gateway of Southeastern Asia for its cosmopolitan flair and ease with the English language, stay for a melting pot of cultures and some of the best food on the planet.
A sculpture titled "Les Oiseaux (The Birds)" by Cedric Le Borgne stands beside foliage in the arrival hall area during a media preview of the new Terminal 4 (T4) at Changi Airport in Singapore, on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The terminal, which is scheduled to open later this year, will feature an array of "fast and seamless travel" (FAST) technologies to speed people-processing without the need for human supervision, from face-recognition software to automated bag-tagging and checking. Photographer: Nicky Loh/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Flights from the U.S. land at Singapore Changi Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world. It’s also one of the best, regularly topping the SkyTrax top 100, thanks to its cleanliness and unusual perks. (Try the slide in Terminal 3.) Unlike many peer facilities Changi was built with vehicular traffic in mind, so hail a cab and you’ll find yourself speeding along the East Coast Parkway on a 15-minute ride to the center of the city-state. When you’re ready to explore, the public transportation system is “probably the best in the world,” according to Francesco Galli Zugaro, Singapore resident and CEO and founder of luxury river cruise company Aqua Expeditions. “Nothing compares—it’s clean, timely, modern and safe.”
Best business hotels
Hyatt’s hip Andaz brand just opened last month in one of the honeycombed concave towers of the DUO Singapore development in Kampong Glam. Designed by André Fu, whose portfolio includes Hong Kong’s Upper House and Four Seasons Seoul, the 342 taupe-and-tangerine rooms start at 409 square feet and include complimentary minibars (nonalcoholic only—sorry) and floor-to-ceiling windows. For something more boutique in scale, executives check in at the luxurious, 100-room Fullerton Bay, which has a happening rooftop bar, live piano performances and dim sum brunch.
Where to take clients
“Singapore is a foodie’s paradise,” according to Doris Goh, CMO of Singapore-based Alila Hotels and Resorts. She meets clients over cocktails at Atlas, a dapper Art Deco-style bar with hundreds of gins and its own Juniper Society you can join for a $100 lifetime membership, then heads to the Dempsey Hill neighborhood for dinner. At the Disgruntled Chef, you won’t be with dishes like onion brioche lathered in foie gras butter, miso hamachi collar and grilled Wagyu served in a former 19th-century nutmeg plantation.
Glittering malls and luxury labels are easy to find in Singapore, but the island is also filled with indie designers and shops like the funky Farm Store on Waterloo Street—chili crab coasters and “Singlish” phrase-of-the-day calendars are musts—Gallery & Co in the National Gallery museum, which sells accessories and apparel by Southeast Asian artists. Also check out homegrown department store Naiise; its half a dozen locations around town sell everything from cufflinks and stationery to locally made Singapore Sling marmalade.
Opened in 2010, the tri-tower Marina Bay Sands is borderline architectural cliché at this point—when will Michael Bay film a movie here?—but it’s worth checking out the Gardens by the Bay (and its 40 sculptures) spread out below the hotel like a huge green blanket. When you need to cool off, head into one of Singapore’s dozens of museums. There’s something for every interest, from Buddhism (Buddga’s Tooth Relic and Museum) and Singaporean history (National Museum) to stamps (Philatelic Museum) and vintage toys (MINT).
Extending your stay
Changi serves over 350 destinations and can get you to Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok and Jakarta in two hours or less. Got more time? Tack on the Maldives (four and a half hours to the bucket-list archipelago’s gateway in Malé), or use Singapore as a jumping off point to Australia; there’s daily nonstop service (just under five hours) to Darwin, in the Northern Territory. If you’re shorter on time, Goh suggests catching a ferry to Bintan, an Indonesian island just an hour across the South China Sea, where you can golf, visit ancient temples or snorkel in turquoise lagoons.