With a rooftop pool (plus jacuzzi), multiple gardens (including both orchid and butterfly varieties) and enough luxury labels to inspire a serious fly-in-fly-out spending spree, Changi airport is practically a destination unto itself. Indeed, Singapore’s national aviation hub has just been rated the best airport in the world by Skytrax for the sixth year in a row, based on extensive customer satisfaction surveys. Not about to rest on its laurels, the airport is currently working on a new terminal to open in 2019, which will come complete with the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
As transit hubs go, the case for flying through Changi is a strong one. But why stop at FIFO when you can stay a while and experience more of the country itself? A true melting pot, Singapore is a place where the past meets the future, and the urban jungle bumps up against tropical vibes. In honour of Changi’s latest accolade, here are a few places to witness the best of the country’s contradictions.
Get back to nature at Gardens by the Bay
Positioned just a fraction north of the equator, Singapore is a true tropical paradise wrapped in a suit of urban armour. One of the best places to experience the tropical vibe is at Gardens by the Bay, a sprawling 250-acre wonderland that’s home to more than one million plants. While it’s undeniably a tourist magnet, the Gardens’ three separate sites and multiple themed areas mean it’s still possible to find yourself alone with nature. But it’s not just the magnificent plants that are awe-inspiring: the giant Supertrees unite nature with technology, combining vertical gardens with high-tech panels that harvest solar energy, collect rainwater or recycle air.
Go luxe in the city at Atlas Bar
For sheer urban grandeur, it’s impossible to surpass Atlas Bar at Parkview Square. It’s inspired by the Jazz Age of 1920s Europe, and the Art Deco styling is unabashedly flamboyant. From the opulent gold-and-burgundy colour scheme to the 100-plus bottles of gin on the menu, there’s a reason it’s been named one of the world’s best bars by everyone from Drinks Magazine to Forbes.
Glimpse the past on Koon Seng Road
With their gelato colours and filigree details, the heritage-listed shophouses on Koon Seng Road have become an Instagram mecca. The architecture is a legacy of the Peranakan community who lived in the area during the 1920s and 30s, the descendants of whom occupy many of the houses even today. Soak up the pastel rainbow, snap the obligatory pictures, and then take a stroll around the local shops to experience more Peranakan culture, including some exquisite beaded textiles.
See the future in the d’Leedon complex
The late Zaha Hadid worked on very few residential projects and her d’Leedon complex, near Orchard Road in District 10, is a standout. With more than 1700 units spread across seven towers, it’s a massive development but is executed with Hadid’s signature futuristic flair. Each tower tapers in to a narrower base, minimising the building’s footprint and maximising the space available for well-manicured private gadens. Meanwhile, the units themselves are designed to mimic a series of unfolding petals as they curve skyward, and the overall result is truly picturesque.
Written by Michelle Bateman