Cocktails aren’t the only attraction that makes Singapore a little gem

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SINGAPORE has always been a handy stopover and its incredible Changi airport is a great place to spend a few hours before heading on to Australia or New Zealand.

But this tiny country — half the size of Greater London — promises much more for those who spend a night or two exploring.

The sling is a sweet, gin-based cocktail meant to look like fruit punch so female guests could drink at the bar at a time when it wasn’t the done thing for women
Getty – Contributor

I took up a challenge to squeeze in as much as possible in 72 hours, starting with a Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel’s famous Long Bar.

The storied hotel reopened this month after a two-year restoration. Though the hotel has long been a byword for luxury, its Long Bar started out as a watering hole for plantation workers who would drop in after a day’s toil in the fields.

The bar has embraced its humble beginnings. Each table has a bag of nuts to crack open over the cold drinks and guests are encouraged to brush the shells on to the floor.

This tradition from plantation days makes the Long Bar perhaps the only place in pristine Singapore where you are encouraged to litter.

Start your trip with a Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel’s famous Long Bar
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Qin even even drank coffee with her own face cleverly recreated in the foam

The Sling is a sweet, gin-based cocktail meant to look like fruit punch so female guests could drink at the bar at a time when it wasn’t the done thing for women.

I made the most of my time with guided tours I could get easily from my hotel, the Mercure Singapore Bugis. My favourite was a food tour of the Kampong Glam district with Wok ’n’ Stroll.

This historic neighbourhood was home to Malay royalty before Britain colonised Singapore. Now it is home to a vibrant Malay-Muslim community with food influenced by all over the Indian subcontinent. Our three-hour tour gave us a small insight into the amazing food on offer.

A highlight was the flakey murtabak, a stuffed pancake, with some seriously flavourful fish curry.  At another stop, we shared huge portions of grilled fish and beef rendang.

Sentosa has some of Singapore’s best beaches
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No visit to Singapore could be complete without seeing the hawker centres

There were sweet treats, too, such as the pandan rice cakes. I even drank coffee with my own face cleverly recreated in the foam. The walking tour was full of tasty historical titbits. Book a night tour to sample the city’s buzzing jazz bars.

Next was a four-hour Chinatown By Night tour via bookings site Isango. The tour is great value and lets you tick off plenty of Singapore “musts”.  We started with dinner in Chinatown before a trishaw ride through Bugis and Little India.

Next was a boat ride to a great spot to catch the Marina Bay Sands light show.  The tour ended at Clarke Quay and while some stayed on to enjoy the nightlife, I headed to Chijmes, the church where THAT wedding in 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians took place. Naturally, an extravagant wedding was taking place when I happened to visit . . . at 11pm.

No visit to Singapore could be complete without seeing the hawker centres with dozens of street-food stalls. The set-up is basic — you might get ceiling fans and seats if lucky. But the food is incredible.

Book a night tour to sample the city’s buzzing jazz bars
Getty – Contributor
The illuminated trees at Garden By The Bay are just fantastic
Getty – Contributor

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Pay a visit to Universal Studios if you’re in Sentosa[/caption]

I headed one near my hotel, the Albert Centre Market. With so much choice, I followed my nose and joined the longest queue. Dishes range cost between £1 and £3 — and with so much competition, the stallholders have to deliver.

My last stop before a late flight back to London was Sentosa, Singapore’s staycation destination. If you have time, it is easy to spend a week on this resort island.
It has a Universal Studios and nearby is Adventure Cove Waterpark.

Explore the S.E.A. Aquarium or pose with the waxworks at Madame Tussauds.  Golfers will find plenty of options and Sentosa has some of Singapore’s best beaches. The weather is always warm here. With so much to pack in, I wanted a place where I could kick back and relax.


The new adults-only hotel The Outpost was perfect. A few hours splashing in its infinity pool, a quick nap on its comfy bed and a light dinner in the restaurant had me ready for my journey home.

And the first leg could not have been easier. Singapore is so small that Sentosa is just 20 minutes’ drive to the airport. Not a minute of my break was wasted in traffic.

Honestly, London, you’re too big. Bijou Singapore is where it’s at.

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