The Hidden Singapore

In The Art of Travel by Just Oscar & Bello1 Comment

Everyone is singing about Singapore, it seems to be the new frontier of fabulous travel to the far east, a place where the fun of the future collides with the cultural depth of the past. Singapore is sensory overload; glittering skyscrapers caked in neon lights stand side by side with 19th century temples and heartbreakingly beautiful mosques.

The streets pulsate with people and the scent of hybrid cuisine spills out of every shopfront. Yet duck away from the wild energy of the city and you find a prism of peace and quiet in the numerous green parks, botanical gardens, and bespoke manmade islands. Apart from the cliche recommendation to “shop your way through Orchard Road”… The millionaire’s playground is the perfect place to try an authentic Singapore sling, to take a trip through Chinatown, and go for gold with glutinously good food.

Searching for a foodie paradise? Forget New York and Paris, the gourmet traveler has a new destination – Singapore! A wealth of culture crashes head on in this exotic city, and as with all melting pots – the proof is in the pudding. Indian spice, Malaysian magic, Chinese delicacy, and the finest Indonesian ingredients. From five-star dining to rusty street shacks – every morsel is truly tantalizing.

It may look humbly enough like toast, but to the trained eye, this fare is nothing ordinary. Ya Kun Kaya Toast, with it’s traditional savoury eggs to start (a salty tang of soy sauce and dustings of pepper)…Followed by charcoal grilled toasts slathered with kaya, a rich traditional coconut egg jam. As Bello aptly observed, if you like salted caramel, you’ll love this traditional breakfast- with it’s salty sweet kick!

Adventurous eaters will be bowled over by the choice of street food. At the top of the must try list is the famous chilli crab. Mud crabs are stir fried whole in lashings of spiced chilli sauce before being handed over so you can pull out the sweetest meat made fiery with a chilli kick. Served with golden puffs of piping hot “Mantou”, don’t forget to order this very tasty, donut-esque side dish. A traditional pastry that is crispy on the outside and fluffy within, the “Mantou” is the perfect dipping companion for that irresistable chilli gravy.

We are still narrowing down our Chilli Crab Hit List so stay posted!

If you want to blend street food exploration with Michelin starred magic, then Singapore is the place to be. A new concept has been launched that brings these far flung culinary worlds together. Personally, for us, it is Wanton Mee that has us weak at the knees. Fortunately the streets are brimming with places to chow down on glorious variations of the popular noodle dish. As the dedicated research enthusiasts we are, we can say that we love Nam Seng’s Wanton Noodle.

With its delicate flavours, succulent wantons, springy al-dente noodles, and gloriously juicy broth…we trawled the recommendations of each cab driver, hotel concierge and store attendant to narrow our Wanton Mee Hit List down to our single top pick…and it seems we aren’t the only ones! With a string of awards including a feature in the “CEO’s Hawker’s Guide”, it was no surprise to us when a few months later, Nam Seng picked up a Michelin Star Award for its acclaimed Wanton Mee!!!! Looking for a Michelin Star Lunch date that costs you less than ten bucks!? Well here it is!!

Want to explore another big name on the foodie street scene? Try Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle, a back alley hawker stall that was also recently awarded the highly coveted Michelin Star!


If you want to skip the street vendors and go straight for the white linen restaurants, then Singapore has a plethora of celebrity chef restaurants.

Justin Quek is the chef over at Sky on 57 whipping up wonders like Maine Lobster Hokkien Mee.

Cat Cora’s Ocean Restaurant is another must on the foodie bucket list of swinging Singapore. The ocean inspired restaurant offers a divine dining “beneath the sea” concept, or rather, in the midst of a glass walled aquarium.

You can dine on Lobster Milk and Duck Foie Gras whilst watching thousands of exotic fish, sharks and rays float past your eyes. The pristine aquarium surrounds and refraction of light through water, creates a dreamy iridiscent glow for the diners, and it is easy to bask the hours away in this beautiful space. Accompanied by food plated as art, the gentle classical acoustics perfectly choreographs to the rays at play, as they turn somersaults through the bubbles. Read more here, at Love Bites.

(One of our Proposal Spot Picks !! Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora has the perfect ambience for your big moment! Just remember, to let the restaurant know ahead of time to avoid peak crowds and as well, have a trusty video rolling instead of just a camera for the big moment. The light through the water flickers moment to moment so cameras may not capture the moment with the resolution intended! Another idea? See below and consider a dip with the dolphins before popping the question here! )

Finished with a Greek Yoghurt and Grand Marnier “Mango Sphere” with Cocoa Nib Tuille and Tarragon Gelato… Our lunch date that was more like a work of art, came to a perfect close.

When it comes to perfection in Singapore, fine dining establishments are never far away. Our final two loves we would be remiss to omit is Spago (see The Proposal) and Gunther’s…simply click for the full account of our wonderful experiences.

Gunther’s Cold Truffle Angel Hair Pasta with Caviar

Spago’s Ever Changing Dessert Adventures

Gardens By the Bay, the lines can be long for this visual extravaganza! Grab a cheeky E-ticket to skip the line!

Singapore may not boast any beaches or mountains, but the city is certainly progressive when it comes to curating glorious greenspace. The Gardens by the Bay are a spectacular sight, especially if you choose to visit by night and witness the whole place glittering like a thousand stars thanks to the fairy lights. This futuristic botanical garden is a pure fantasy land with its supertrees skyway, fabulous flower dome, exquisite sculptures and wonderful water features.

Consider a Flexi Attractions Pass to save up to 50% on admissions and Skip all the lines!

The Botanical Garden is another spot for sore eyes, a UNESCO world heritage site, you can wander through the endless color of exotic flora, picnic beneath romantic pavilions, and fall in love with the world’s largest orchid collection.

Witness the wonder of Singapore from up high as you ride around the Singapore Flyer. This gargantuan Ferris wheel boasts breathtaking views, not only across the razor sharp skyline of Singapore, but as far as the exotic spice islands of Indonesia and straits of Malaysia. Picking up awards from Trip Advisor and Red Coral Awards of Asia Tourism, the flyer also offers Premium Sky Dining with an in flight butler and your choice of four course dining menus. Or, consider a Private Sky Dining experience that takes you from Sentosa Island to Mount Faber in your own private dining cable car. With dazzling reviews this is another way to take in Singapore’s stunning night skyline.

Back on the ground, be sure to wander over to the infamous Merlion. The symbol of Singapore is a mythical statue perched on the waterfront of Marina Bay Sands and seems to attract visitors from near and far. Half fish, half lion – there is nothing more rewarding than watching this majestic stone statue spurting water out towards the fiery glow of the setting sun.

Across the Sentosa Walkway from one of Singpore’s most lively and happening shopping megaplex, VIVO City, lies the entrance to Resorts World. A resplendant carefully crafted man made island housing acres of theme parks, palm fringed beach fronts, world class hotels, spas and casinos, as well as the world’s largest oceanarium- it is the ultimate Millionaire’s Playground.

Chilled Beats & Beach Cocktails

Then at the iconic Siloso Beach !!

Families and couples flock to Singapore to enjoy the endless array of activities. From swimming with dolphins to taking night safaris, to its own Universal Studios, Resort World is geared towards one of a kind activities. At the amazing Adventure Cove, you can wade with rays, whizz down endless slides, make waves in the lazy river, and go on a sea trek adventure where you even have the chance to come face to face with sharks. If you prefer dolphins to sharks, then head to Dolphin Island where you can interact with beautiful bottlenoses. Book online for the best prices (like we did!) for an interactive Dolphin Adventure Package.

Us with beautiful boy Rui Rui! A special thanks to his lovely trainer Eliza for spending time with us and sharing her exceptional knowledge, passion and care about the welfare of these gorgeous animals.

Movie lovers will be blown away by Singapore’s very own Universal Studios. With seven zones covering everything from fairytales to blockbuster films – entertainment has never been so extravagant. Lose yourself in the prehistoric playground of Jurassic Park and battle the forces of evil alongside the Transformers. Or find yourself some sunshine in Madagascar or Far Far Away! Step into the History of Ancient Egypt for a very different kind of roller coaster experience and find lively photo ops with live performances and costumed actors in “New York New York” and “Hollywood”.

Our favourite binge rides? The Mummy, Transformers and our very top pick, the Battlestar Galactica CYLON Rollercoaster!! We recommend a Universal Studio’s Day Pass online. After some research, we found online to offer the best competitive prices and a “queue-jump” entry to Dolphin Island and Universal Studios. The 2,3, or 5 day Ultimate Attractions Pass is also pretty great for savings of up to 50% off! For Universal, we highly recommend the VIP rides pass because the invisible queues are all inside the rides. Why waste an hour when the VIP pass zips you through in five minutes?!

CYLON: We LOVE this ride!! Our vote for Best Ride!

Be ready for a soaking! Bathers, singlets and shorts!

Red for the Humans, Blue for the Cylons… Lines are exceptionally long for THE CYLON so queue at the perfect time, or grab a VIP pass!

Given we are slightly dinosaur obsessed ( plan b profession, become Indiana Jones )! We practically bee-lined for Jurassic Park!

Lockers for Dolphin Island are free, but for Universal it will cost $12 for 4 hours or $15 for the day if you brought a rucksack to stash. As with all theme parks, food and drink are a little pricey but not that exorbitant. After a decent (and not too badly priced $20–30 SGD) lunch at Jurassic Park, we would personally only pack a large drink bottle for our next visit.

The Singapore Rainforest Zoo is another spot to see an incredible array of wildlife, beneath the jade and emerald canopies of a rainforest like habitat. Using natural elements to create an ‘enclosure free’ open concept ambience, watch the orangutans swinging freely overhead. Admire the breathlessly beautiful white tigers cooling in the clear waters, and duck into the giant panda forest to see some of the world’s most peaceful creatures. Consider a Breakfast with the Orangutans Behind the Scenes Package, or, jump aboard the Zoo’s new attraction, the River Safari to spot the once very endangered Manatee in their new home, “The Amazon Flooded Forest Enclosure”.

The Amazon Flooded Forest Enclosure, and it’s resident expats, the Manatees!

If you prefer to catch exotic creatures after dark, then the Night Safari is simply unmissable. A tram guide will take you through seven geographical zones of the world to see an array of wildlife in their nocturnal habitats. From slinking leopards to trundling elephants, this safari park beneath the stars will have you imagining you are traversing the wild.

Our recommendation? The SuperSaver, double entry pass to the River Safari and Night Safari with preferential entry and a drop off to your hotel after a late night of Safari, these are welcome creature comforts for a great value!

A touch of history can’t be overlooked in Singapore’s colonial quarter. Explore the legend that is Raffles Hotel Singapore. For more than a century Raffles has been the iconic centrefold in this bustling city. Each of the 103 suites displays 14-feet high ceilings that soars over elegant colonial furnishings exuding the warmth and character of the period. Ceiling fans spin lazily overhead, with a calming hum to dispel the muggy stillness of tropical air. Lush teakwood beams, polished to a high shine pair with oriental carpets, in the ultimate collision of East meets West styling. The very birthplace of the “Singapore Sling”, boasting a trail of famous guests and complete with its own museum of precious antiques and artefacts, “a stay at the Raffles promises to be legendary in its own right.”

Witness the legacy of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore and explore the island’s rich colonial history. Take a step back in time to the beautiful 1800’s to follow in Sir Raffles’ footsteps as he first stepped ashore at The Raffles Landing Site. For a truly historic experience, select the High Tea option to especially experience the iconic and opulent Raffles High Tea, that has been famously served since 1899.

To really claim you have seen Singapore right to her very soul, dining at the Raffles’ Tiffin Room is an essential experience . Ranking amongst the World’s Best, High Tea at Raffles is served in classic English tradition. Delicate morsels are arranged on gleaming-silver tiered tea cosies, sandwhiches are pillow light with delicate fillings and Nyonya, Chinese, Malay and Indian influences create the unique menu blend that a Raffles High Tea is famous for.

In true Singaporean hospitality, the delectable spread extends beyond tea cosies and is displayed as a buffet for a welcome refreshment after the morning’s tour.

Assorted sandwiches: tuna with mayonnaise, salmon with cream cheese, turkey ham and chicken, to name a few). Pastries: Strawberry Pistachio and Dragon fruit tartlets, Banana Crumble and Scones. Oriental: Dim Sim Buffet Station and Peranakan Kuehs (Traditional Colourful Tea Cakes) *Dairy- and gluten-free high tea menus also available.

Tiffin translates into “a light mid-day meal”. Enjoying high tea traditions with a spot of curry on the side was a Sunday practice in the colonial life of the early 20th century.

The blend 1837 Black (described as black tea with berries and caramel notes) and the Raffles Valrhona Chocolate Millefeuille are some of the top highlights of the Raffles’ menu, but in truth, each patisserie is so beautifully presented… with chocolate dipped glace oranges, hand cut marshmallows, and picture perfect fruit pieces adorning the fruit platters. The spread is as beautiful on the eyes as it is for the palate.

(Tiffin Room Dress Code: Smart casual. Pool attire, blue jeans, slippers, shorts and baseball caps are not permitted. Gentlemen should be in collared shirts, long trousers and close-toed shoes.)

After your wonderful experience of life in colonial high-society, roll up your sleeves and climb aboard a rustic traditional bumboat for a cruise on the Singapore River! Soak in the city sights on the traditional vessel that was once used to transport cargo from ships in port. The cruise bypasses a lovely mix of colonial buildings and sleek, contemporary architecture for the photography aficionados. As you glide into Clarke Quay, marvel at what was once a historical riverside village that is now a buzzing world-class dining and entertainment district.

Have some time after your half day tour? Well apart from exploring the headiness of Clarke Quays Bars and Restaurants, how about one more romantic adventure for the day? With a 5:30pm pickup from any Singapore Hotel or residence, go on a magical Fireflies Night Tour to Kota Tinggi Firefly Park. On a 45-60minute boat ride, meander along the river. Be mesmerized by the natural lights of the fireflies flickering among mangrove trees in the pitch darkness that surrounds you. Like a million flickering stars around you, it is the perfect nightcap and an unforgettable highlight for a romantic getaway.

(One of our Proposal Spot Picks !! Set the mood with a boat cruise amongst the fireflies, but don’t bring your precious cargo on the precarious boat ride! Instead… make a cheeky plan with your hotel staff to scatter rose petals, run a refreshing hot tub, light some candles and leave chocolate and chilled champagne for your return to the room! Pop the question after your magical evening together ) .

For an ultra-cheeky option? She may well be suspicious when the room is overflowing with rose petals! Present an alternate gift (necklace? bracelet?) as a cheeky decoy, so that once you have dampened her hopes… you can catch her off guard with the real proposal minutes later!

Cruise the scenic Singapore River for fantastic photo opportunities in a rustic traditional bumboat.

As always, thank you for reading! To all of you out there looking for a cosmopolitan foodie adventure that also gives you a chance to explore wildlife wonderfully up close…Consider the hidden romance of Singapore! Do you have a wonderful destination that you have discovered a magical hidden side to? Well, we would absolutely love to hear all about it, so please share!

With Love ,

xox Just Oscar & Bello

P.S- Our G♡♡FY Universal Studio’s souvenir got us loads of crooked smiles at the airport. AutoBots ∞ !!

Read more…
Before the proposal ♡

Read more on packing travel tips for your next adventure!


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