Not far from the southern tip of Malaysia sits the island city-state of Singapore. Known for its urban centers dotted with lush botanicals, unbeatable street food, and the stunning Marina Bay skyline, if the city isn't already on your travel bucket list, it certainly should be.
As if the destination weren't enticing enough before, the release of Crazy Rich Asians has catapulted it into the spotlight. Set in Singapore, the film features spots like the Changi Airport, the Singapore Botanic Gardens, CHIJMES, and Sentosa Island, but if you want to see the destination like a local, Fiona Xie knows the best spots. The Crazy Rich Asians actress was born in Singapore and certainly knows her way around the city. Whether it's dining in the National Gallery or wandering beneath the Supertree Grove, she's revealing all of her favorite local haunts.
Ahead, Xie shares her favorite hotels, restaurants, shopping neighborhoods, bars, and must-see attractions. Here's everything to do when visiting Singapore like a local.
Capella Singapore: This island resort is comprised of two Tanah Merah colonial bungalows that date back to the 1880s and have since been restored. The property leads to lush gardens framed by the South China Sea and is perfect for a relaxing, restorative stay.
Raffles Singapore: Open since 1887, Raffles Singapore is an iconic spot worthy of a visiting (so much so that it made a cameo in the film). According to Xie, the famous "Singapore Sling" cocktail originated at the hotel. Although the luxe property is currently undergoing restoration, it will be open again at the end of the year.
Odette: This chic restaurant is currently situated where the registration room of the Supreme Court once stood, Xie explains. Now, the National Gallery Singapore, many restaurants have popped up in this urban center. Odette is just one eatery in the historical building. It's a quirky spot with stunning interiors that serves modern French cuisine.
National Kitchen by Violet Oon: Located in the historic City Hall building, this restaurant pays homage to Singapore's Peranakan roots, according to Xie. Stop in for lunch, dinner, or even high tea.
Tai Hwa Pork Noodle: The city is well regarded for its amazing street food, and this is one of the best stalls to eat at when visiting Singapore. "Be prepared for long lines, springy vinegary goodness, and a rather happy belly," she says.
Haji Lane: The best spot for shopping local designers is Haji Lane. "It’s a little quirky street lined with shophouses and colorful graffiti walls in the Kampong Glam area of Singapore," Xie says. Spend the day window shopping, people watching, and drinking Teh tarik—a hot milk tea beverage—along the way.
Mal Maison: For something a bit more upscale, visit Mal Maison. There, you'll find luxe watches, fragrances, clothing, and accessories.
Dempsey Hill: This local spot is undeniably hip. What used to be old army barracks has been transformed into shops, cafes, and restaurants. You could easily spend an entire day exploring this local spot.
Zouk: This nightclub gets its name from the French Creole word for party, and rightfully so. According to Xie, it's an iconic spot that's even won awards for its lively atmosphere.
Lavo: For something a bit more low key, head to Lavo at Marina Bay Sands. The Italian restaurant and rooftop bar is just the place to grab a drink while watching the sunset over the city.
Kilo Lounge: Xie calls this spot a "haven for music lovers." If you're looking for a place to dance the night away, this is it.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel: One of the most famous attractions in Singapore, the infinity pool atop the Marina Bay Sands Hotel can't be missed. You'll be greeted with an unbeatable view of the city while taking a dip in a seemingly endless rooftop lagoon.
Supertree Grove: Another must-see is Supertree Grove, where vertical gardens standing an impress 25 to 50 meters high provide shade during the day and light up at night.
Newton Circus: This famous hawker center is essentially an outdoor food court. "[It's] burgeoning with yummy, delish delights like fried carrot cake (a savory fried radish-based egg stir fry), chili crabs, and fishball noodles," Xie says.