Travel

Return to SG: A Curated Guide to 48 Hours in Singapore 

When in Singapore, live as the locals do. 
IMAGE ANRI ICHIMURA, UNSPLASH
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Borders are open, and quarantine is no more. Get ready for a two years’ worth of revenge travel. First on our bucket list: Singapore. 

After what feels like a lifetime in lockdown, Filipinos can finally visit Singapore without having to quarantine or even take a test. As the Lion City reopens for tourists, the Singapore Tourism Board has come up with an initiative called “Made With Passion” that celebrates the local lifestyle businesses that enrich the local culture. What better way to experience the culture of the city than to visit the MSMEs, brands, and restaurants that embody the eclectic and dynamic society that is Singapore. 

If you’re already familiar with the city’s staple attractions, here’s a curated guide to Singapore, designed with the discerning traveler in mind. 

SATURDAY

11 a.m. Dive into Singapore’s hawker culture at Keng Eng Kee. 

Photo by Anri Ichimura.

This Michelin-recognized restaurant is so quintessentially Singaporean—and the best place to start. Created by immigrants, the restaurant is now in the hands of the family’s third generation, all of whom take their customers’ experience seriously. Don’t be surprised to find one of the Liews walking between the tables, eager to answer any questions about the delectable dishes or to gush about his grandparents’ recipes. 

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We recommend: Chilli Crabs with Steamed Buns, Homemade Platter (Mingzhu Rolls and Prawn Rolls), and Butter Cereal Calamari. 

Visit Keng Eng Kee at 124 Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-136, Singapore. 

12 p.m. Learn all about Peranakan Cuisine at The Kitchen Society.

Photo by Anri Ichimura.

Keng Eng Kee is just a taste of what Singapore’s culinary world has to offer. For a full crash course on the food and history that define Singapore culture, reserve a cooking class with master chef Christopher Tan at The Kitchen Society. As you cook desserts and dishes, learn all about Peranakan cuisine and Peranakan culture, Singapore’s multi-racial ethnic group comprised of Chinese and Malay descendants. In many ways, Singapore’s history is similar to that of the Philippines—we’re both a hotpot of cultures that we’ve made our own. Learn all about the cultural parallels at The Kitchen Society.

Visit The Kitchen Society at 41 Tessensohn Road, Singapore. 

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3 p.m. Concoct your own perfume at Sifr Aromatics.

Photo by Anri Ichimura.

Instead of buying a ready-made perfume, why not make your own? Guided by Sifr’s perfumer Johari Kazura, you can concoct your own perfume blends completely to your liking. Whether you’re trying to recreate a scent to honor a childhood memory, a family member, or a lover, Sifr Aromatics can help you blend a unique scent through its traditional perfumery methods. Step back in time into this perfumer’s apothecary and learn all about the rich craft of perfumery.

Visit Sifr Aromatics at 42 Arab Street, Kampong Glam, Singapore.

7 p.m. Continue Your Peranakan Journey at True Blue Cuisine. 

Photo by Anri Ichimura.
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Heritage is at the heart of the Peranakan food served at True Blue Cuisine. Entering this establishment will make you feel as if you’re being welcomed into someone’s ancestral home, complete with family portraits, vintage vases, and glass cabinets full of memories. Aside from its nostalgic atmosphere, True Blue Cuisine promises a rich experience in Peranakan cuisine. 

We recommend: Ayam Buah Keluak, Rendang Sapi, and Chendol.

Visit True Blue Cuisine at 47/49 Armenian Street, Fort Canning Park, Singapore. 

10 p.m. Relax with drinks at Smoke and Mirrors.

Photo by Anri Ichimura.

End your first day with a toast at Smoke and Mirrors. Located in the National Gallery Singapore, Smoke and Mirrors pays homage to its host with a menu that resembles museum art brochures. Drinking is, after all, an art. Treat yourself with the bar’s carefully curated cocktails, all of which have a special story behind them. 

We recommend: Smoke on the Water (distilled wine, cognac, cherry, aperitif, and jasmine smoke). 

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Visit Smoke and Mirrors at 1 St. Andrew's Road, #06-01 National Gallery Singapore, Singapore.

SUNDAY

11 a.m. Enjoy a farm-to-table brunch at Open Farm Community.

Photo by Anri Ichimura.

Sustainability is a common theme on our itinerary. What better way to celebrate sustainable local businesses in Singapore than dining at Open Farm Community, a farm-to-table, open-concept kitchen that serves freshly harvested greens and locally sourced food. Since Singapore is a city-state, restaurants like the Open Farm Community take urban farming seriously. Perfect for vegans and vegetarians, the restaurant also has a number of gluten-free options for diners.  

Visit Open Farm Community at 130E Minden Road, Singapore.

1 p.m. Craft your own bags at GINLEE Studio.

Photo by Anri Ichimura.
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Time to put those hands to good use again. After a cooking class, dive into a crafting class at GINLEE Studio, a unique local fashion brand supported by Singapore’s Made By Passion campaign. Champions of slow fashion, GINLEE Studio is part of a growing movement that advocates for sustainable design in this fast fashion world. The brand is best known of its signature pleats, which you can help create under the tutelage of the store’s founders Gin Lee and Tamir Niv. It’s a master class on Singapore craftsmanship. The best part? They ship to the Philippines. 

Visit GINLEE Studio at #01-145, 1 Kim Seng Promenade, Great World City Shopping Centre.

3 p.m. Create your own gin at Brass Lion Distillery.

Photo by Brass Lion Distillery.

Happy hour is every hour when you’re on vacation. There’s plenty of science and experimentation that goes behind making spirits, and the Brass Lion Distillery is here to answer all your burning questions. A pioneer in local liquor, Brass Lion Distillery was made as a love letter to Singapore as each bottle toasts unique local ingredients. To learn more about all things gin, sign up to the distillery’s 45-minute tour or three-hour gin-making school. Get acquainted with the world of botanicals and distilling, and most importantly, drink up. 

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Visit Brass Lion Distillery at 40 Alexandra Terrace, Singapore.

6 p.m. Dine at Coriander Leaf at CHIJMES. 

Photo by Anri Ichimura.

What would a vacation be without at least one photoshoot? CHIJMES is undoubtedly one of the most IG-friendly spots in the city. This former convent was repurposed into a lifestyle hotspot where bars and restaurants can enjoy the church’s stunning architecture as a backdrop. When you’re done with your obligatory photoshoot, drop by Coriander Leaf so you can end your trip with a five-star meal. Dubbed a “Pan-Asian” restaurant, Coriander Leaf brings together all the flavorful cultures of Singapore to create a unique menu that blends the very best of the city. 

We recommend: Nepalese minced chicken mom dumpling, braised beef briskets, steamed seabags fillet, and samba’s signature frontier chicken.

Visit Coriander Leaf at 30 Victoria St, #02-01 Singapore Chijmes, Singapore.

8 p.m. Bid Singapore farewell with quality products at The Shirt Bar.

Photo by Anri Ichimura.
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Just before you depart, make sure to stop by Jewel Changi Airport and splurge at one of Singapore’s most underrated menswear brands—The Shirt Bar. This hidden gem merges fashion with innovation as each piece is as practical as it is fashionable. Another champion of slow fashion, The Shirt Bar has lived up to its sustainable mission by creating a bamboo shirt line that reduces waste and pollution; spill-resistant shirts and ties that utilize nanotechnology; and blazers that incorporate advanced RFID-blocking technology to protect your credit cards from data theft. And that’s just the innovation side—fashion wise, each garment is as dashing as advertised. And yes, they do in fact ship to the Philippines. 

Visit The Shirt Bar at B1-240, Jewel Changi Airport, Airport Blvd, Singapore.

While an antigen test and quarantine are no longer required to visit Singapore, there are still plenty of requirements (and apps) for travelers visiting Singapore. For a hassle-free vacation, contact Travel Warehouse Inc.  For the cheapest flights, visit Cebu Pacific. For the latest updates, visit Singapore Tourism Board.

Discover the best of culture, business, and style from Esquire Philippines. Visit Quento for more stories and subscribe to our YouTube channel for new videos. 

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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