For those of you who haven’t visited this small island in the last few years you might be in for a shock. Since I arrived in Singapore towards the end of 2011 I’ve felt the snowball effect of a city gaining a personality. As many other parts of the world have floundered in recession, Singapore has seen some growth and is actively seeking to build the country into a world class destination. International talent is being recruited to bring new ideas and Singapore is looking to the creative industries to bring the city alive. I’m not saying Singapore has the edge that you find in parts of London or New York, but it’s character is developing and the city is deservedly losing its reputation as a ‘boring’ destination.
The food scene
Food has always been a strong theme for Singaporeans and visitors. And the thriving restaurant scene is at the forefront of Singapore’s transformation. There are multiple restaurant, café and bar openings that we are seeing every week. It is fair to say that some of the restaurant growth has been fuelled by an influx of foreign chefs and corporations that have infiltrated the restaurant scene and have successfully created some great concept restaurants that are deservedly popular. There are also many entrepreneurial expats who have seen gaps in the market and have successfully created the creature comforts from their homeland in the main streets of Singapore. English pubs
, sandwich bars
and Spanish tapas
feature heavily on the Singapore food scene. And there are of course the brilliant local chefs, from hawkers to internationally trained and acclaimed kitchen geniuses. Some specialise in local cuisine but we are also seeing restaurants run by local chefs that are cooking French
or Italian inspired cuisine with an Asian twist.
Coffee, coffee, coffee
One of the most welcome improvements in the short time I’ve been here is on the café and coffee shop scene. There are now so many good coffee shops on the island that I can honestly say I’m almost spoilt for choice. For coffee lovers in Singapore a few years ago this was definitely not the case. Keep an eye on my blogs
for more on the best coffee shops you can find in Singapore, or email me
if you’re looking for coffee in a particular area.
Bars and clubs
Having discussed the renaissance phenomena with several friends who have lived here for more than 5 years, there is absolute agreement that there has been a step change in the ‘cool’ factor for Singapore. This is not only from an expat point of view. To take a walk down Club Street on the weekend (which was pedestrianised for a 3 month trial between April and June 2013, reminding me somewhat of Soho in London on a warm Friday night in summer) you will find local and expat revellers, young and old, sober and drunk (although not as drunk as Soho on a Friday night!) all enjoying the endless warmth and the great vibe. There are now a host of cocktail bars around town and I’ll be writing more about these in the coming weeks so keep an eye on the blog
or sign up for the newsletter on the top right of this page.
Challenging the popular sites
Headlining the famous tourist attractions designed to lure foreign visitors to the island are the Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands, Raffles Hotel, Clarke Quay and now Gardens by the Bay. But every week there are new attractions and events being added to the calendar. And some of the lesser known attractions can provide a glimpse of Singapore that is a lot more local and colourful. My last visitors didn’t even make it to Marina Bay Sands because we were too busy wandering the markets in Tiong Bahru
, eating and drinking in Club Street
or enjoying a leisurely brunch on Sentosa Island
. And they didn’t leave feeling like they missed out on anything.
The music scene
There is also a thriving music scene that has seen big name acts finally including Singapore on their tour itineraries. There are now several weekly events that have a good following. DJs can be found all over the island, from The Training Shed in Labrador to tunes at The Spiffy Dapper on Boat Quay. The music matters global music convention was held in Singapore during May 2013 and saw over 45 bands performing throught various venues during the week. The 2013 F1 Grand Prix in September will also showcase massive overseas acts including The Killers, Justin Bieber and Rihanna. Check out my resources
page for websites that have up-to-date info on events to hit town.
What the future holds
There has never been a better time to visit Singapore. If you like your food and eating out and you’re looking for a vibrant city atmosphere, with warm weather all year around, Singapore is the perfect destination. Not to mention that it’s an extremely safe country to travel in, Singaporeans are friendly and English is spoken by everyone.
Have you visited Singapore recently? What did you think?