Why we love Singapore
With just about 720 sq km to its name, Singapore is represented by a small spot on the world map. But despite its tiny size, the "Little Red Dot" — as Singaporeans affectionately call their city-state — has a reputation for punching above its weight, offering world-class infrastructure and a high standard of living.
Home to a multi-cultural society and teeming with attractions, Singapore is where foodies, culture vultures, explorers and trailblazers can come together to discover and live their best lives.
We ask familiar faces making waves locally and abroad what they love about the city, and to share their personal favourites of what Singapore has to offer.
“Singapore can be really cool if you know the right people to do the non-touristy stuff with. Check out Maison Ikkoku in the Haji Lane area for a good dose of local culture and amazing customised cocktails."
“If Singapore is a dish, it would be Char Kway Teow. It seems to be the dish that cuts across all ethnic, age, gender and social differences in Singapore. This is because of its sheer versatility. It can be prepared to suit the vegetarian, the voracious meat-eater, even the scrupulously religious eater; it can be cooked as simply as possible or garnished extravagantly.”
“Watch something at retro movie theatre The Projector. I really appreciate the diversity of films shown there, and it is always buzzing with people who love good films. I think The Projector is one of the best things to have happened in Singapore in the last 10 years.”
“The movie Crazy Rich Asians has put our little garden paradise, Gardens by the Bay, on the wish list of millions of fans around the world. The movie stirred so much interest and curiosity in the place I call home.
The technicolour futuristic Gardens by the Bay where the ‘wedding of the century’ was held and the infinity pool of Marina Bay Sands with its cityscape view is all real! People thought it was CGI and didn’t really exist!”
Founder of Om & Away
“The Canopy Café at Marina Bay Golf Club. This little-known al fresco café has the most amazing views of Marina Bay and the Central Business District area. I bring my guests here to enjoy the best Hokkien Mee in town and a view of the Sands and the fireworks on National Day.”
“The one dish that represents Singapore to me is rojak, just like how we speak! The way we speak Singlish to each other is so distinct that when we are overseas and hear even a murmur of it, we feel connected somehow.”
Architect of Jewel Changi Airport
“A mandatory stop for out-of-town guests is The Botanical Gardens and the SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands. I now would add Jewel, in the evening, during the light show on the waterfall.”
Culinary director of Lo & Behold Group
“Orchard Road offers a nice feel of how much Singapore has progressed — for instance, Ion compared to Lucky Plaza.”
“We are a nation made up of different racial backgrounds yet one thing connects us all — Singlish. It is truly our own language and nothing can describe the kinship I feel when I hear a fellow Singaporean during my travels.”
Actor and FLY Entertainment artiste
“Tiong Bahru — a perfect tableau of past, present and future, just the right amount of bohemian and not very much boujee. Go for the food, stay for the architecture and art.”
Brand consultant and adjunct faculty at Singapore Management University
“Singapore offers much more culture than it gets credit for, and I do go for the occasional classical concert or an art house movie at The Projector. But theatre is my biggest love, especially local plays with a contemporary theme. My absolute favourite is Ivan Heng and his troupe at [local theatre company] Wild Rice because they manage to combine current and meaningful content with a very high level of craft.”
“I get an inspirational boost from the ArtScience Museum. It has a fantastic array of exhibitions, popups and presentations — in particular, the ArtScience on Screen programme, which explores the intersection between art and science using moving images, video and film.”
Singer and actor
“Holland Village is always a nice getaway any day of the week. The Botanic Gardens and Henderson Waves are great for a beautiful morning walk. Seletar Airbase also has a bunch of really nice spots that are spacious and far from the bustle.”
Jewellery designer Carrie K
“Singapore is still a very young country and our design culture is still a baby but I would look for ways to grow appreciation, awareness and local pride in our talent and designs. Our visual identity plays a great role in national pride, and appreciation for good design, arts and culture will make our souls so much richer.”
“I notice it even more now that I travel often and have lived overseas: Everyone here calls other people ‘Uncle’ and ‘Auntie’, whether it’s a parent of a friend, an older relative, a food seller at a Hawker Centre or even a stranger on the bus. It really makes you feel like the whole nation is one big family.”
Partner at Lekker Architects and chief designer at Rocket Eyewear Company
"Nasi Warung Pariaman on Kandahar Street. This is an institution that I believe has been in the same location since the 1960s. My mum froze beef rendang and ayam bakar from here and took it to Cape Town to feed guests at my pre-wedding dinner!"
TAN KHENG HUA
Actress and FLY Entertainment artiste
"I go to the HDB void decks where I find my favourite kopitiams (traditional coffee shops), wet markets, bakeries and sundries shops. That never fails to remind me of who I am, where I come from and what is real."
Actor and FLY Entertainment artiste
"You won’t find better local food than at a cross-island hawker centre-crawl comprising Adam Road, Newton Circus, East Coast Lagoon, and Changi Village."
TV presenter and host
"One thing I would never change about Singapore is its cultural diversity. Apart from the people who make up the roots of this country, we have a constant influx of people who come from all sorts of backgrounds, nationalities and cultures. It is eye-opening to learn from them and it really broadens my horizons."