For many travelers, especially those who head over to Southeast Asia on a regular basis, Singapore will be best known for one thing: its airport. But this city has so much more to offer than just a (really pretty awesome – there’s a butterfly garden!) place to switch planes. Step outside the palm tree-decorated arrivals lounge and into the beat of the city to discover a destination that’s full of polite, friendly citizens eager to show you the best market stall to get chili crab, or recommend the restaurant that does the definitive fish head curry (food is a BIG deal in Singapore). But after it gets dark, that’s when the real action happens.
Singapore’s nightlife has grown rapidly in international acclaim over the past decade, with one bar mentioned here actually topping Asia’s Best Bar Awards list. It’s a diverse area, with millionaire playboys prowl the street in souped-up supercars in one district and then backpackers and locals cramming into karaoke dives just a few blocks over. Whatever you desire, Singapore has it in spades. Finding your way around the city is relatively easy, but it’s definitely worth checking out tourism offices such as Your Singapore to answer any specific questions you may have about travel and visas, etc.
OK, guys, it’s time to charge up that BUCKiTDREAM planner and start marking off where to go when you plan your dream trip to one of Asia’s undiscovered metropolitan delights.
Sling Your Hook at Long Bar, Raffles We’ll start with the one that you’re most likely to have heard of. Steeped in history and not just because it’s the birthplace of the Singapore Sling, a cocktail that has got sailors and lounge singers sozzled since its inception in 1915, Raffles is the must-see bar in Singapore.
Set in the iconic Raffles hotel, you’ll be instantly greeted by the sound of crunching, as your shoes step on the empty peanut shells that guests are allowed to drop on the floor after deshelling the free nuts from the large bowls on the table. All of that salt will keep you thirsty, so order a round of pink and boozy Singapore Slings and take in the Malayan plantation-esque decor as you sip your cocktails. Once you’ve had your fill, head up the spiral staircase to the upper floor, where you’re likely to find a jazz or rock band entertaining the crowd with upbeat renditions of classic tunes.
There are a few other watering holes in this illustrious hotel, namely the Writer’s Bar in the lobby, which serves as a tribute to the writers who have a connection to Raffles, and the Martini Bar in the Bar & Billiard Room, which features over 50 types of, yep, you guessed it, martinis.
Rip Off That Smart Shirt at The Cufflink Club Out on a Friday night and fancy an Old Fashioned Three Way with a Porn Star on the side? We know just the place. No, no, it’s not that sort of club; these are just a few of the raunchy and ridiculous titles on the cocktail menu at this quirky, tongue-in-cheek venue that plays pounding electro and serves potent libations.
Any fans of cult comedy icon Alan Partridge will be overjoyed when they go to the toilet and hear his dulcet tones coming through the speakers, reading from his autobiography I, Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan. A ‘boy’s bar’ for sure, but no doubt girls will love it too.
It’s just a stone’s throw from one of the city’s top restaurants, Cure, so fill up on Irish-Anglo fine dining before heading over for a night of naughtiness.
Clink Glasses in the Clouds at LeVel33 Beer fans, rejoice! Prepare to get very, very high, as you shoot up to the skyscraping penthouse that holds the world’s tallest urban craft brewery. Just watch out for nosebleeds as this bar is on the 33rd floor (not just a clever name); however, this vertiginous viewpoint will afford you the ultimate view of Marina Bay, a truly magnificent spectacle on the city skyline.
Grab yourself a paddle of tasters from the comprehensive menu and sip on wheat beers, IPAs, Blond Lagers, and Porters that are brewed in the restaurant itself. If you like the taste (and we’re pretty sure you will), raise a glass to the brewing mechanisms that created the beer, which is central to the bar’s decor, just a few meters away.
With a ‘beer dining’ and an ‘à la carte’ menu to choose from, this is one tower you really won’t mind being stuck at the top of.
Slip Through the Side Door and Into 28 Hong Kong Street This is the aforementioned Best Bar In Asia, according to Drinks International (who, to be fair, probably know a thing or two about this area) and you’ll …as long as you book ahead.
As enigmatic as it is renowned – the website isn’t giving anything away in a hurry – 28 Hong Kong Street may not have the most original name, but what this New York-style speakeasy lacks in imagination on the outside, it more than makes up for with its cocktail list.
We love the Hulk Smash but just chat to the friendly and uber-talented bar staff who will recommend a libation to suit your palate. And if you feel yourself getting a wee bit squiffy, soak up some of that beautiful booze with the truffled mac and cheese balls…just divine.
Punch Your Ticket at Employees Only Their website is another closed book but for those in the know, this place is the hottest place to mingle with bartenders, waiters, and manager who have just clocked off and are in the mood to part-aaay.
Following in the footsteps of its sister bar and eponymous New York institution, Employees Only serves devilishly decadent cocktails in a cool and chic atmosphere that will make you want to jack in your travels for a job on the Singapore bar scene.
Whilst pondering your career choices, you’d be remiss not to sample an item or two from the Modern American kitchen; why not a plate of bone marrow poppers to sit by the side of that frosty negroni?
Embrace Your Artsy Side at Hôtel Vagabond This hotel bar is a little-known treasure that attracts the most artistic punter. The hotel itself is imbued with art from the innovative paintings and superb photographs in the restaurant (our favorite is Keith Richards, of course) to the artist’s residency in the rooms above.
Pet the gold-plated rhino on the way through reception and give a nod to the Egyptian statue that overlooks the bar as you peruse the extensive bottle selection behind the bar. If you’re really lucky, you’ll meet the current artist-in-residence, some of whom program a bespoke soundtrack into the bar’s playlist for the bar.
If you’re in the area a little earlier than your usual drinking hour, why not try the High Tea, which will line your stomach for the wild evening ahead?
There are six of the best bars that Singapore has to offer but there are plenty more for you to get out there and discover; if you do find one that you can’t keep all to yourself (and why would you?!), don’t forget to share pictures of it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and with your fellow BUCKiTDREAMers travelers on the BUCKiTDREAM app!