48 hours in Singapore?
For an upcoming first trip to Singapore, my wife and I have carved out 48 hours of tourist time. We would really appreciate your recommendations for "must eat", "must see" places.
We have a preference for Asian/Southeast Asian cuisine on this trip. Our preliminary thoughts are these (we are staying at Raffles):
* breakfasts on Arab St. and Little India. Recommended places and selections?
* morning sightseeing in these two neighborhoods and Chinatown.
* Hawker fare for lunch. Best locations and best choices?
* Afternoons free, with perhaps a visit to the Botanical Gardens and new sculptural, greeenhouse spaces under construction.
* must see Marina Bay Sands Hotel for the view, the pool, and perhaps a drink/dinner. Your favorite place there?
* Dinners? Think we will need a sit down air conditioned restaurant or two. Looking for top design, lively atmosphere and delicious food. Flexible on price point.
Thanks very much for your thoughts.
I think 48 hours is way too little time for you to really experience Singapore, cortez! You will only get a tantalizing little taste of what's in store. Anyway, here's my two-cents' worth:-
1) Arab Street - if you must go in the morning, I'd recommend breakfast at Zam Zam Restaurant. It serves very good murtabak which is an Indian-Muslim pancake filled with curried chicken or mutton (your choice of meat), onions and eggs. Down it with a glass of hot "kopi"or "teh tarik" beverage. That will give you enough energy to start the day with.
2) Little India is, like klyeoh, says, much more colourful and has much more choices of breakfast places. If you are not into South Indian breakfast (your loss!!), then go to the food centre at Tekka Market, where you can choose from a variety of Malay, Chinese and Indian food stalls.
3) Hawker fare for lunch? It's hot, hot and hot in Singapore, although we are getting some heavy rains these few days. If you are willing to sweat it out, the 2 food centres mentioned by klyeoh are the best in Singapore, as confirmed by IS Singapore magazine's survey last year. But there are also other very interesting food centres depending on where you are:-
- in Chinatown, People's Park Complex Food Centre is the largest and best-known.
- in the leafy suburb of Tiong Bharu (with its retro 60s "Mad Men"-style of architecture), you can find the Tiong Bahru Food Centre.
- near Great World City mall, you can find Zion Road Food Centre, which is small but my personal favourite since I live quite nearby.
- Amoy Street Food Centre also deserve special mention because of its famous 'lor mee' noodles, Teochew fish porridge and steamed 'bakchang' rice dumplings.
Beware of the lunch crowds in Singapore:- very stressful as they jostle for tables, "reserve seats" using packs of tissue paper (you need to see it to understand what I mean), and queue for 30 to 40 minutes in hot, sweaty conditions for a bowl of noodles. If you must do lunch at hawker centres, go there by 11.30am!
4) Singaporeans visit the Botanical Gardens either very early in the morning or very late in the evenings. In-between, you probably risk sunstroke. If you want to do Botanic Gardens in the morning, you can have a nice breakfast at Halia afterwards:-
5) Marina Bay Sands:- the gigantic surfboard-shaped structure on the 57th floor has 2 eateries on either end, with the giant infinity pool in the middle. On one end is Ku De Ta which was mentioned by klyeoh, lovely ambience, tasteless overpriced food.
On the other end is Sky on 57 by Singaporean superchef, Justin Quek. Justin was marvellous when he cooked at Les Amis in Singapore many moons ago. He then went on to Taipei and then Shanghai where he opened one great restaurant after another. Now, he's back in Singapore. But, his latest venture's food seems to have fallen flat. I didn't quite like his upmarket interpretation of local dishes at Sky on 57. But the service was flawless, the view was spectacular and, who knows, you may like the food as, speaking as a Singaporean, we have a stronger liking for spices and chillies which is missing from Justin's cooking, butmay just suit Western palates.
6) Dinner:- oh my, just too many choices for me to recommend to you. 48 hours in Singapore translates to 2 dinners? If you are looking for something "Asian/SouthEast Asian", you can try Straits at Grand Hyatt for buffet with a Singaporean (Chinese, Malay/Indian) accent.
You can try Moluccas Room mentioned by akated as it's a beautiful restaurant serving beautiful food, with a beautiful view of Singapore's skyline outside.
You can go to Equinox on the 70th floor at Swissotel for dinner with a view you'll never forget:-
Many thanks for these wonderful recommendations. They sound delicious and fun.
Sorry we have only two days in Singapore. It's our departure location for return to San Francisco after visiting Bali and Borneo. We hope that a well spent two days will give us a "taste" that could steer us back to SouthEast Asia on future trips.
By the way, does Raffles have any bar or restaurant worth a visit?
My dear, if you're from San Francisco, think of Raffles Hotel as our answer to Pier 39, rolled up into one grand old hotel :D
Yes, it IS very touristy. Anyone from the British Commonwealth (think, ye olde British Empire) who visits Singapore will undoubtedly make a beeline for Raffles Hotel's Long Bar and order a Singapore Sling. The drink may have been invented here, but its version is very watered down and is also priced higher than elsewhere on the island. But then, people come here so they have a tale to tell afterwards:- "I went to the Long Bar at the Raffles Singapore for a Singapore Sling", so who am I to judge ;)
The Tiffin Room serves an Indian curry buffet, but you'll need to call ahead and enquire, as they sometimes restrict that to only hotel guessts or special events. There is a dress code to get in:-
The Raffles Grill is an old favourite for continental cuisine and dependable. But it's very expensive, and the food is not amongst the best you'd get in Singapore.
Seah Street Deli offers New York-style deli food, whilst Ah Teng's Bakery offers pretty average local food for much higher prices than elsewhere.
I haven't been to the Japanese restaurant yet.
Royal China restaurant is quite good for its dim sum.
Long Bar Steakhouse:- I'd not been back for a long time. As you can see, Raffles Hotel is not exactly high on the dining agenda for us locals.
" if you're from San Francisco, think of Raffles Hotel as our answer to Pier 39"
LOL! Well, having a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar would be like having an Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe then :-D
- Little India offers better breakfast options than Arab Street. In Little India, try Komala Vilas on Serangoon Rd, or Madras New Woodlands on Upper Dickson Road - both serve the best South Indian breakfast options in town.
Or trawl Syed Alwi Road near Little India's legendary 24-hour shopping centre Mustafa's for a whole row of Indian breakfast options.
Arab Street, on the other hand, comes to life in the late mornings, and is more famous for its lunch spots like Islamic Restaurant (great briyani rice) and Hajjah Maimunah's (one of the best Malay food in town). If you do want to seek out an early morning cuppa in Arab Street area, go to Kampung Glam coffeeshop at the corner of Baghdad Street and Bussorah Street for their local coffee or "teh tarik" sweetened milk tea.
- Hawker fare for lunch - go to Maxwell Rd Food Centre or else Old Airport Road Food Centre (you can find links there on this board), but try and arrive before noon if you want to avoid the lunch-time crowds;
- When are you going to be in Singapore? The "new sculptural, greeenhouse spaces" will only open in June 2012: http://www.gardensbythebay.org.sg/
- Marina Bay Sands - for the views/drinks, go to Ku De Ta. Book ahead, as it's very popular: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831107
- Dinners, try Indochine at Empress Place (pics of the IndoChinese food plus views of Singapore's CBD as seen from the restaurant). You can also try Marina Bay Sands' Osteria Mozza, DB Bistro Moderne or CUT by Wolfgang Puck.