Best Day Ever

A Jam-Packed Day of Food, Shopping, and Dancing in Singapore

by Anna Chittenden
Potato Potato Head Folk in the middle of 1930s Chinatown. All photos by Anna Chittenden.

Anna Chittenden relocated from the UK to Singapore in 2014 and now shares secrets to the best destinations in Asia on her blog, . She took us on a virtual, jam-packed tour of food (of course), shopping, and outdoorsiness in her new home country.

SINGAPORE – When I first arrived in Singapore, I immediately felt that I had moved to the most modern of cities. Then I found (and fell in love with) my current neighborhood, Tiong Bahru, one of the country's oldest housing estates. Before WWII, this was where the affluent citizens lived. Today you'll find a sprinkling of expats who feel at home in the low-rise Art Deco apartments and appreciate the kampung (Malay for "village") community feel. I'll start my day here and show you some of my favorites spots around this tiny island.


Tiong Bahru wet market

Fresh fish at the wet market.

BEGIN THE DAY AT THE MARKET

Singapore is a country famous for its street food, and is one of the best hawker centers in the city. Enter the Art Deco building through the lovely flower stall and walk upstairs. Wander through the countless stalls serving delicious local cuisine, all at just about $4 each. Some stalls have been at the market for more than fifty years. General rule of thumb: Go to the stall with the biggest queue — the long wait is worth it.

After a hearty breakfast, pick up a fresh coconut to drink and explore the wet market downstairs. This is the best place to buy everyday groceries such as fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat.


Tiong Bahru Bakery

The revolving door to get into the always packed Tiong Bahru Bakery.

LEAVE SPACE FOR SECONDS

A classic French bakery in the heart of this hipster neighborhood, Gontran Cherrier's fills the big gap for fresh croissants, bread, and desserts in a country where the wok is king. Come here for a coffee and pastry after the hustle and bustle of the wet market.


Book Actually

BooksActually is a literary and stationery lover's dream.

PICK UP YOUR MORNING READ

is a wonderful independent bookshop a few blocks dow where the owners curate a wide range of work from local writers and artists as well as global publications. On the shelves are volumes on poetry, history, and art mixed with cookbooks and independent magazines. They publish a nice series of photo essays under their imprint, . Venture to the back room for vintage knick-knacks and old-school local stationery. While you are on the street, grab a coffee from before your next stop.


Plain Vanilla Bakery

Indie vibes at Plain Vanilla Bakery.

Plain Vanilla Bakery Cakes

The spread for the sweet tooth.

GRAB A TREAT FOR THE ROAD

On Yong Siak Street, just a few shops down from BooksActually, is arguably the best cupcake shop in Singapore, , which wins for taste and design. Wander past the blue Dutch bicycles and wooden swing and into the café/bakery where all the magic happens. Fresh cakes are made in front of your eyes using what they describe as the best of ingredients: French butter, pure Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, bittersweet Belgian chocolate. My favorite flavors include earl grey and strawberry with white chocolate. I like to sit at one of the wooden tables outside, relaxing with a cupcake and tea while the world goes by.


MacRitchie Reservoir Treetop Walk

The suspension bridge at MacRitchie Reservoir.

MacRitchie Reservoir canopy view

The sweeping vista of Singapore's largest reservoir.

TAKE A HIKE FOR A VIEW

Get your hiking gear on and drive ten minutes from the city center to . Start your hike at Venus Drive, through the lush greenery of the tropical forest. A couple of kilometers in, you'll find , a free-standing suspension bridge 250 meters in the air. You get a bird's-eye view of the forest canopy and reservoir from here.


Orchids at Singapore Botanical Gardens

Orchids at Singapore Botanical Gardens.

PICNIC IN THE PARK

Steeped in more than 150 years of history and known as a timeless tropical eden, the famous and National Orchid Garden are the pride of Singapore. This peaceful escape is only a stone's throw from busy Orchard Road. Walk around the expansive land (74 hectares in total) to the Ginger Garden, Swan Lake, Evolution Garden, and , where you can see more than a thousand species of orchids and catch a glimpse of Singapore's national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim. The shaded lawn by Symphony Lake makes for a great afternoon picnic, and, if you're there at the right time, you might spot a few families of turtles.


Potato Head Folk Rooftop Garden

Art explosion in the stairwell and sunset on the roof. Photos courtesy of Potato Head Folk.

CATCH SUNSET FROM THE TOP

You may have heard of on the Seminyak shoreline in Bali. The sister site has now opened its door on four floors of a beautiful 1930s Chinese shophouse along Keong Siak Road in Singapore. has something for everyone. The burger joint Three Buns on the first and second floors feels like someone's living room for its low-slung sofas and colorful artwork. Burgers with names like Burning Man and Truff Ryder are dangerously addictive. Don't leave without heading up to The Rooftop Garden for a rum-heavy cocktail menu in a fairy lights-filled bohemian oasis.


Burnt Ends

When dinner is a show. Photo courtesy of Burnt Ends.

BBQ FOR DINNER IN CHINATOWN

Tucked away on Teck Lim Road in Chinatown and just a minute's walk from Potato Head Folk, is a modern Australian barbecue joint that sets an intimate scene for a theater-worthy performance by chef Dave Pynt and team. Settle in for the evening on one of eighteen seats in the restaurant and prepare to be entertained. The menu is updated daily on their with highlights like smoked quail eggs, whole baby snapper, and leeks with hazelnut and brown butter. They don't take reservations, so get there early to avoid disappointment.


PARTY BY THE RIVER

is located along the Kallang River in the Kampong Bugis area. At first you might wonder why you have been sent to this old and worn-down office block in the middle of nowhere. But if you walk into the manually closing elevator and head up to the eighth floor, you'll be delighted to find Kilo Lounge — where pro mixologists and emerging DJs provide libations and music all night long.


2am Dessert bar art

Art for dessert anyone? Photo courtesy of 2am: Dessert Bar.

LATE-NIGHT DESSERT

For a post-party hangout, head to , hidden above a bar in Holland Village. You'll need to order at least a few dishes by award-winning pastry chef Janice Wong: blood orange and salted caramel chocolate tart, and the hojicha sesame with pear vodka sorbet. It's a fitting end to a perfect day.

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