Planning a night out in Singapore can be a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. You start researching the latest hang-outs, coolest bars, hippest clubs and most fabulous restaurants, only to discover a myriad of horror stories from recent visitors. Overpriced, over-touristy and over-rated being the main concerns here. But not all is doom and gloom.
Singapore nightlife offers a never-ending list of unique and memorable activities; yet it helps to have a few insiders’ hints as to what to definitely do and what to avoid at all costs. Having a crappy night out at home is bad enough, but having one during a holiday to Singapore risks ruining your vacation, your budget and your enthusiasm for discovering new places.
So heads up! Here’s our cunning list of do’s and don’ts when out and about in Singapore at night. We put the hard research work in (sometimes unwillingly) so you can enjoy the very best nightlife this city has to offer.
-Splurge for at least one incredibly expensive cocktail at a rooftop bar. If you’re going to do that, then may as well make it the best. In Singapore, that would be 1 Altitude http://www.1-altitude.com/, the world’s highest rooftop bar and winner of multiple industry accolades. Aside the fact that your ears will pop in the lift on the way up (63 floors are a lot), what we loved most about this bar is that we went expecting a snooty crowd and consequential snobby atmosphere (somehow attitude and altitude seem to exist in symbiosis)…yet both were surprisingly missing. The staff are friendly, the choice of cocktails as head spinning as the views, and the whole atmosphere purely fun. You’ll have to pay $25 to get in, which includes a free drink, so get here just before the sunset, and you’ll be too blinded by the awesome view to even bother looking at the credit card slip. The exorbitant price will be well worth it. Once.
-Head out to a funky bar if you’re female and here on a Wednesday. Ladies’ nights means free drinks!
-Sip your daily sundowner at one of the many riverside bars; the atmosphere is casual, views gorgeous and the almost infinite amount of bar-choices means prices are honest and clientele mixed. It may not be 1 Altitude, but at least here you can really quench your thirst, several times.
-Plan to join a Nightime Zoo Safari whilst in Singapore. The original moonlit animal experience is rather bewildering. More like a jungle trip than a zoo visit, the Singapore Zoo is regarded as one of the world’s best, yet visiting it at night adds a whole other dimension. Add the stench of elephant dung and indecent amount of dust and you’re in Africa! Sort of…well more like a Disneyland version of Africa, but great nonetheless. The East Lodge Walking Trail will see you rub ankles with hyenas…and you don’t even get to do that IN Africa! Choose from tram rides, walking trails, culture shows and dinner out too. Yes, it can seem touristy, but validatingly so in this case…it’s great!
-Whatever you do, don’t make your one splurge cocktail a Singapore Sling from the Raffles’ Long Bar, no matter how romantic or nostalgic you think the experience will be. Almost 30 bucks later you’ll realise that you’ve tasted way better Slings elsewhere (ones with alcohol in them and stuff), the barman will suddenly ignore you (probably because he knows you’re about to bolt) and finally, you’ll see the long row of cheap plastic souvenir shakers with ‘Raffles’ printed on it. GET.OUT.FAST. or, better still, don’t go there in the first place. The good old days are no longer, face the facts and go have a martini somewhere else.
– Don’t play it safe…or rather do stay out all night, even if you’re female. This is one of the safest cities in the world, and the only one we’ve experienced where women can wonder the streets at 4am and not have to watch their backs. Unless you’re planning a drug deal in which case…oh, wait…you’re probably not reading this guide…never mind.
-Don’t start your night out with a cheap and cheerful meal at Newtown Hawker Centre! Pick any other great locals’ fave like Zion instead. Newtown seems to be geared for hapless first comers and will charge $30 for a stir-fry and a local beer. Well, it seemed good to us at the time, until we realized it was about 600% overcharged. Suckers….don’t be one.
-While you’re at it, don’t assume that Singaporeans are a forgetful lot just because you see random packets of tissues or brollies on hawker tables; in Singapore, that’s how local reserve tables. Don’t pocket the tissues and plop down on a chair like some people (gulp); you’ll be forced to do the walk of shame right outta there. Bummer.
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William Cho via Flickr
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William Cho via Flickr