Business Travel: the glorious double edged sword. At first you’re like “yay!” Then you actually arrive and it’s all work with little play, you’re trying to keep up with other work emails and needs, and you realize that packing your suitcase two hours before departure created some interesting outfit choices. This is actually the ultimate torture for me.
This past week I spent time in Singapore to work with a local design team on sourcing materials for an upcoming project there. Although I was booked from 9-5 working with the team, I took every opportunity during lunches and after work to see the city.
If you find yourself in Singapore for only a few days, or perhaps for work as well, here are my recommendations on what to check out.
By far, my favorite part of Singapore are the old shophouses. Many years ago, they were filled with shops of all kinds and residences above- usually inhabited by the shopkeeper. Now, they are all head-to-toe restaurants and retail as they have become too expensive to live in. The architecture is a great mix of English Colonial influence on Malay culture. The bright colors distinguish one house from the next and are adorned with contrasting shutters, green clay awnings and highly patterned tile on the floors.
My favorite areas to see these were Duxston Hill and Haji Lane. (I also heard Emerald Hill is a lovely little area but I did not get the chance to see it).
To not try a Hawker Center is like going to Texas and not eating BBQ. It’s essential. But also intimidating. Hawker Centers are essentially grouped street stands in an interior setting. Singaporeans go here for so many of their meals. It’s packed during the lunch and dinner hours almost every day. And for the price, I can see why. The friendliest one (which happened to be a block away from me) is Lau Sa Pat. As you walk around the radial plan you pass by Thai, Indian, Indo, and unfortunately American (yes… pizza).
When you need some peace from the crazy work day and have a few hours to spare, go up to the Botanical Gardens and have your mind blown by the incredible landscaping of this 180 acre park. It’s all free and it’s open until midnight, so it’s perfect if you can only go after the work day. The only downfall is that the Orchid garden closes at 7:00 and it’s definitely the show stopper.
If you’re in Singapore on a weekend and are desperately needing a break from the city streets, head over to Sentosa Island. It’s a quick cab ride and provides the beaches that Singapore main island cannot. We went to the Tanjong Beach Club . It’s got a fun scene happening, with a pool to dip in and a bar to order refreshing drinks from. You’ll practically forget you’re in Singapore.
Lastly, Marina Bay Sands is an incredible place, don’t get me wrong. It is also, unfortunately, a total sh*t show of people with selfie sticks paying way too much for drinks and dinner. The place is set up like a little city, and it feels very self contained. Is it cool? Sure. Is it skippable? Definitely.