What comes to my mind when I say Majulah Singapura? Diversity, Powerful & Thriving. While Singapore is one of the nations that top the list of world’s most expensive places to live, it has its own cosmopolitan charm and is known for its futuristic picture-perfect skylines, bustling city centre, cleanliness and greenery.
In this small but densely packed multicultural country there is an abundance of buzzing nightlife spots, shopping destinations to multicuisine food joints. I had an amazing opportunity to interview some very talented personalities from various trendsetting lifestyles, who shared insights about their perspective of Singapore – it is yummy, offbeat, thrilling and colourful.
Lisa Von Tang, Fashion Designer
I’ve lived mostly in Singapore for the last twelve years and fell in love with this place as a young girl. The Chinese side of my family has deep roots here, and I am inspired by Asian cultural fusion – which Singapore certainly represents. I like to think of Singapore as the most culturally integrated place in Asia, with a lightspeed development story, where any colour of Asian can feel at home.
I love immersing myself in the nature reserve at MacRitchie Reservoir. You’ll most certainly bump into a family or two of monkeys, and it’s a place that you can really get a feel for the tropical nature here. For lunch, my go-to place is Clan Café at private member’s club Straits Clan. They have local food which is elevated into unique, delicious fusions, and the staff are friendly and wonderful.
For happy hour, I go to Smoke and Mirrors at the National Gallery. CURE, Nouri, or Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar are some of my favourites for dinner. I’m inspired by people who live outside conventional expectations here in Singapore.
Olga Iserlis, Luxury Events Creator
Having lived in Singapore for over 30 years, I am proud to call this amazing place my home. Being an events creator, I am known as a Creator of Experiences and turning them into special memories. Given how accessible Singapore is, I find that it’s the perfect spot for conceptualizing and staging events with experiential and activity-based elements. It’s really a hard place to beat! Singapore is full of unique and unforgettable experiences, and, of course, food is one of the main attractions. Not to be missed are local eateries and Hawker Centres that offer a feast of local cuisine. Historical and charming parts of Singapore, for example, Haw Par Villa, colourful Tanjong Pagar area; Marina Bay Sands; and just simple stroll along picturesque streets of the city is a delight.
I love Japanese food and my favourite Japanese restaurant is HIRYO. There are many bars in Singapore, and the choice is immense. I enjoy going to Manhattan Bar, as well as Writers Bar in Raffles Hotel. My go-to drink is a classic Vodka Martini with extra olives! I like speciality shops, and here are some of my favourites: Candles and home gifts from ‘Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica Di Santa Maria Novella’ and BYND Artisan for my stationery and personalized gifts.
Being a classic dresser, some of my favourite pieces I have been collecting come from brands like Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Dries van Noten, Aquazzura, Gianvito Rossi, Christian Louboutin for shoes, and Vince for casual, comfortable leisurewear. For speciality food items I go to Culina and Little Farms, and for seasonal and local vegetables I enjoy shopping at local markets. My all-time favourite weekend indulgence is to get fresh flowers from local wholesalers around the Upper Thompson Road.
Sabrina Sikora, Model, Photographer & Fashion Stylist
Originally from Georgia, USA, I moved to Singapore in 2016 after spending nearly a decade in Hong Kong. Two things I love about Singapore are its food culture and fashion scene. Since moving here, I have enjoyed all the new culinary experiences. The Writers Bar is a fave spot and I love the way they have done their menus as journals. Such a great way to share a bit of history with tourists in a clever way.
My most favourite activity in Singapore is to explore the Boutiques Fair in March and November. It brings together over 300 local brands and encourages sustainability and giving back through the brands’ efforts. I always find the most amazing treasures, many created and made right in the Red Dot! There is so much talent right here I rarely feel the need to shop beyond the region. Also, the local design scene is very inspiring to me here. I love that so many businesses are built ‘by women for women’ and are also busy giving back and doing good in the community.
Nida Shay, Fashion Designer
I was born and raised in Abu Dhabi, and I have lived in the United Kingdom as well as Paris for my university degrees. My husband and I relocated from Dubai to Singapore towards the end of 2009 and both our sons were born here. Having lived in different parts of the world, I strongly feel Singapore has a lot to offer. I love the efficiency with which every single department works and no other place compares to the system they have in place here. From law and order, varieties of good quality food, to its amazing tourist attractions which put it on the top of the map.
I love The St. Regis Hotel, because of so many memories attached to my time there. My favourite spot to visit is Sentosa. I love nipping off to staycations there, it instantly recharges you and makes you feel like you’ve been on a mini-break. I also love the variety of shopping experiences that Singapore offers; however, Paragon and Marina Bay Sands happen to be my favourite shopping destinations.
In recent times my favourite restaurant here has been Koma and Tatsuya for Japanese; I also love CUT, my favourite mocktail is Double Happiness. Spago is my favourite rooftop scenic restaurant for Italian cuisine.
Sharon Wong, CEO, Motherswork
Known as Mama Sharon and self-taught baker, my family has been living in and out of Singapore; however, this time it has been ten years. I love the alfresco bars, greenery, and the hawker food in Singapore. Clifford Pier overlooking Marina Bay Sands is my most favourite spot. I love taking pictures with the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands in the background and having a drink at the many alfresco bars along Marina Promenade.
As a family, we love to eat, and each year, we try to visit 50 food and beverage places we haven’t been before and rate them. And in Singapore, there are always new places to explore. The Capella in Sentosa is my favourite hotel, and Fatcow my favourite restaurant. I enjoy anything in gin and favourite bar is Tess bar. I love shopping at Ion Orchard and Takashimaya.
One aspect of Singapore that I like is the presence of several women entrepreneurs, some half my age. Their energy and tenacity to continuously reach for greater heights inspire me and motivate me to keep going and continue to support and empower other women.
Valley Arora, CEO, Photophactory
Photography has always been my passion; I am a self-learned photographer. We moved to Singapore in 2008 and since I arrived here, I was always curious about Peranakan culture and its history. I decided to explore more of Singapore on foot and click pictures along the way.
With the Peranakan culture slightly fading in Singapore today, I thought it was more important than ever to preserve it. I decided to re-endorse this culture with my lifestyle products and merchandise imprinted with these photographs.
I love to discover Peranakan culture in the Joo Chiat area in Singapore as I stroll past heritage shophouses, quaint stores, and eateries in the charming corner of eastern Singapore. I also love visiting Kampong Glam area, also known as Arab Street.
My favourite aspect of Singapore is its cleanliness. The mural art on every other street, a strong sense of community, confidence to embrace their culture, and how people are fashion-forward, ambitious and driven are different facets of Singapore I am in love with. My two favourite bars are Atlas, a Great Gatsby inspired bar and Long Bar at Raffles Hotel. I love the food at Koma and Bakalaki Greek Taverna.
Dr Jade Kua, Paediatric Emergency Specialist and Life Coach
I consider myself lucky growing up in Singapore as I love food. Singapore is particularly famous for her diverse food scene. Since we live in a multi-racial, multicultural city, it is quite natural to have various types of cuisines, something that Singapore takes pride in as there are no natural resources here other than our people. It is also not just about high-end restaurant scenes; we have many Michelin star restaurants and an abundance of local street food available at hawker centres. Many of us love hawker fare for the sense of nostalgia attached to these dishes.
My favourite restaurants are National Kitchen by Violet Oon, as I relish Peranakan food. Dishes at Violet Oon represent Singapore’s rich history at the crossroads of the world.
When it comes to tourist attractions, I love bringing my kids to the Zoo which is almost like a Safari because of the smart way the animals’ habitats are built. It is a good way to show the kids about the rest of the world through their animals.
As for shopping, I like FUNAN Digital Mall for the cool shops within, such as Carrie K for cool jewellery, and Minor Miracles for uniquely printed clothes. ◼
© This article was first published online in Aug 2020 – World Travel Magazine.