Creative and Innovative: Singapore Today
by Olivia Balsinger
Singapore is an entire nation whose population is about the same as an average American city. Yet despite this, or perhaps because of it, Singapore is home to some of the most marvelous examples of modernity that continues to defy expectations on a global scale. Its airport, Changi Airport, for instance is considered to be one of the best in the world, as its architecture is stylistically groundbreaking and its culinary traditions are a curiously curated mix of those of the nations that border it.
A hub of urbanity and innovation, Singapore is also a highly creative locus for artists as its laws give them freer reigns to express themselves. Each of its neighborhoods represents a unique personality of its nation, while their proximity awards an effortless harmony between, say, the ancient shops of Joo Chiat and the chic, hipster outlets of Tiong Bahru.
The area that is perhaps the most recognizable from the skyline views of Singapore is the former British colonial port of Marina Bay, a Jetson-like scene that makes up Singapore’s business district. As the name implies, the area exists on what was an overgrown parcel of land flanking Singapore’s river, now reclaimed and converted into one of the most recognizable skylines, which hosts perhaps the newest, most popular tourist attraction in the country: The Marina Bay Sands. More than a luxury hotel, The Marina Bay Sands is an impressive complex stacked with celebrity-chef-headed restaurants, world-class shopping, exhibition centers, theaters, and a curious museum built in the shape of the lotus flower. The highlight is perhaps the Skypak, which stands on a platform that extends across the three towers that make up the hotel. The three-acre area houses an infinity-pool, and at night becomes a popular hangout for those looking to dance or simply to grab a nightcap.
Singapore is known as a City in a Garden — a moniker which is perhaps best understood with a visit to the Botanic Gardens. It first opened its doors in 1859, when the Agri-Horticultural Society transformed 60-acres of disused plantation into a vibrant, impossibly beautiful haven of verdant trees and colorful plant life. The National Orchid Garden is the largest display of orchids in the world, while its SBG Heritage Museum has some entertaining, interactive exhibits that explain the garden’s history, as well as inform on the diverse fauna it houses. Of course, the world-famous Gardens by the Bay, with its three waterfront gardens and futuristic Cloud Forest, with its 35-meter tall mountain covered in tropical vegetation and world’s largest cascading indoor waterfall, is not to miss.
Where to Stay & Eat
It seems a new hotel is built every day in Singapore. With that being said, there are some hotels that truly rise to the top. The design-centric Warehouse Hotel is a restored “godown,” or warehouse, building on the Singapore River which focuses on preserving local culture and charm. In stark contrast, The Andaz Singapore Hotel in Kampong Glam, nearby Marina Bay Sands, is a modern two-tower complex with a rooftop infinity pool and views overlooking Little India and the Muslim Quarter, where street food has a reputation for being delicious. Speaking of food, The Telok Ayer Arts Club is a must-visit for those craving a unique dining experience—the space brings together art, music, food and drink. Similarly, Kilo Kitchen, in Singapore’s bustling Chinatown district, creates a space that goes beyond the gastronomic experience with communal dining and soulful music.
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