By Anton Constantinou
Singapore is an international city and sovereign state located in Southeast Asia. Otherwise known as the Lion City, it’s made up of 63 islands – the main one of which, Pulau Ujong, is diamond in shape. North of Singapore is the equator, while to the south lies Indonesia’s Riau islands.
A major transport and finance hub, Singapore’s been ranked the ‘easiest place to do business’ by the Work Bank Group for the last ten years running. It’s also been named the most ‘technology ready’ nation, and has one of the highest per capita incomes.
The city is home to roughly 5.6 million residents, 50% of whom are between the ages of 25 and 54 years old. Mandarin, English, Malay and Tamil are the main national languages. Cantonese and Hokkien are also spoken too.
Central Singapore is a mixture of commercial and residential developments, made up of Chinatown, Marina Bay Sands, Helix Bridge and the Downtown Core, among other districts. The vast majority of the city’s skyscrapers are in the Downtown Core, including One Raffles Place and the Republic Plaza.
In Tower 1 of the Marina Bay Financial Centre you’ll find law firm, Baker & McKenzie, Standard Chartered and the Wellington Management Company. Tower 2, likewise, contains multinational institutions like Barclays, ICAP plc, ServCorp, and software company, Murex. Other businesses in the area include 2C2P on Tras Street, and investment advisory firm, Capital Dynamics.
Most of the city’s transport is land based, given how accessible it is by road. Expressways provide connections between Changi Airport and areas like Tuas, Toa Payoh and the Central Boulevard. The Mass Rapid Transit is a major railway network covering the entire city-state, with 102 stations in operation, and an average daily ridership of 3.031 million in 2015. MRT lines run from 5:30 am to 1:00 am daily (excluding public holidays and special occasions).
Public buses are just as popular. Over 4,200 buses currently run through Singapore, providing everything from Short Working Trips (SWT’s) to Cross Border Services. City Direct is the service of choice for people travelling to and from the central business district. Better still, all buses are air conditioned.
Singapore is best observed from a height, so, if you can, venture to a rooftop bar. Some of the city’s best include the Loof Bar – housed inside the Odeon Towers complex-, 1-Altitude, Kinki, and, for a slightly off the beaten path drink with a view, Prelude. Rhubarb, Colony, and Fratini La Trattoria are just a few of Singapore’s top restaurants, which combine fine dining with first rate hospitality.
For a great steak, try CUT by Wolfgang Puck in Marina Bay, which takes its name from world class chef, Wolfgang Puck. Floor-to-ceiling wine displays and leather seating lend a sophisticated air to the meaty “rough cuts menu”, and guests have a selection over 500 different wines to choose from.
Ristorante Amarone is a strong choice for business meetings, given its location in the finance district. Homely Italian cuisine and attentive waiters, provide a cosy ambience appropriate for just about any function.
Sometimes a tourist haunt won’t cut it, so if you’re after something more low-key, try a speakeasy. Employees Only is a prohibition era bar on Amos Street which squeezes quality cocktails and mouth-watering small plate dishes into a dinky, neon lit space. First launched in New York this year, it’s been ranked among the world’s 50 best bars.
Similar in mood and theme is The Other Room, again, a 1920’s style venue, concealed away and with limited capacity. Casked finished spirits and classic cocktails take precedence over modern mixology gimmicks typically found in mainstream bars.
Salt Tapas & Bar is located right inside the Raffles City Shopping Centre, making it a great option for city workers. A three course set lunch can cost as little as S$26+pp. Also inside the shopping complex – and with a good reputation to its name – is Din Tai Fung, famous for its steamed pork dumplings.
In the 1950s and 1960s, cooked food centres, or hawker centres, were setup by the government to replace alfresco dining areas. Permanent stalls in open air buildings were seen as a more sanitary alternative to mobile food carts, and today provide high quality food at affordable prices.
You can get decent Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian and Thai meals for as little as S$3 or S$4; a couple even have Michelin stars. Chinatown Complex, Old Airport Road and Maxwell Road are three of the best hawker centres, and popular with expats and locals alike.
Must-see experiences in Singapore include the 165m observation wheel, Singapore Flyer, along with the Sri Mariamman Temple and the Victorian style food market, Lau Pa Sat.
Animals lovers have the opportunity to experience the world’s first nocturnal zoo at Night Safari, while at the Perankan Museum, visitors can delve into artefacts and cultural traditions from one of Southeast Asia’s most exciting communities.
If you’re not already staying there, Sentosa is well worth a day trip. The popular island resort – which is great for families – is accessible by bridge and contains all range of attractions, including Universal Studios Singapore, Dolphin Island, and the Adventure Cove Waterpark.
Places to stay
Apartment sizes: Studio, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments
The name may suggest a prize draw, but Raffle’s Place is far from a gamble.
Warm earth tones and fine interiors give this restored art deco building luxury and sophistication, while the prime location grants swift access to Singapore’s businesses and financial institutions.
In touching distance are entertainment and shopping districts, international restaurants and Raffles Place MRT train station.
Each of the apartments boasts full kitchen facilities, designer fittings and fixtures. On-site facilities and amenities for guests include a business centre, meeting rooms, a full gym, a lounge and grocery shopping services – some of which are chargeable.
Round the clock security and video surveillance is also on hand for added peace of mind.
Costs: S$380 – S$500 per night (1 bedroom)/ S$700 – S$800 per night (2 bedroom)
Apartment sizes: Studio, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments
These apartments are slightly further out from the business district, but sacrifice none of the luxuries.
Wangz Apartments come equipped with kitchenettes, electronic safes, built in air conditioning and large floor to ceiling windows. The one and two bedroom apartments also have a washer/dryer and access to a private balcony.
For your viewing pleasure, in the living areas, is a flat screen TV with 30 channels and a soundbar home theatre system. Netflix addicts fear not – free Wi-Fi is available 24/7.
A maid service and a complimentary continental breakfast are provided Monday – Saturday (excluding public holidays).
Guests looking to unwind can go for a paddle in the infinity edge lap swimming pool, take a pew in the communal gardens, or get their blood pumping in the fitness centre – for an additional cost.
And for those with cars, there’s free on-site parking.
Costs: S$184 per night (Studio apartment)/ S$207 per night (1 bedroom)/ S$390 per night (2 bedroom)
With plans in place for further growth in the region, serviced apartments like these will only multiply as the Asia Pacific market expands its business travel portfolio.
For further details of the 15 property partners SilverDoor currently have in Singapore, click HERE.