Friday, 20 November 2020

Rediscover the best of Singapore and Hong Kong

The announcement of the air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong has us all re-celebrating what we love about these wonderful cities. If you are already planning your trip, make sure you head to Singapore Airlines’ website on details of the air travel bubble flights (a condensed version here). In an effort to help you make the most of your next jaunt to either the Lion City or the Pearl of the Orient, we put together a list of hidden haunts and local tips for your next big adventure.

Seek out must-try dishes

Residents from these cities take their food very seriously. Singapore and Hong Kong are considered top gastronomic hubs in the region and excel in both local and international cuisine.

One meal that has grown in popularity over the years in both cities is brunch. Check out some of the best spots to enjoy free-flow Champagne in Hong Kong, like La Rambla, Buenos Aires Polo club, or one of the other great spots featured in our guide. Over in Singapore, the bubbly brunches are also flowing, and there are many that can provide the perfect setting for a special occasion.

The cities have individual strengths as well, and in Hong Kong, the yum cha experience is a must. For the most traditional option, head to the iconic Lin Heung Tea House in Central. The 93-year-old double-storey dim sum eatery is as close as you can get to an authentic tea house experience. Those interested in seeking out high-end dim sum should visit Lung King Heen, the world’s first Cantonese restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars. Looking for more great suggestions? Hong Kong chef May Chow offers a list of her favourite places to eat and we recommend nine more restaurants that should be on your radar.

To experience Singapore’s one-of-a-kind hawker culture, start off with one of these three must-visit stalls, where you’ll find fantastic bak chor mee (minced meat noodles), braised duck or fishball noodles. For more options, we turn to the city’s best-known food experts for their top heritage hawkers, and even put together a list of six Bib Gourmand eateries. Those who are unfamiliar with what it means to chope or are unsure of how to order kopi properly should brush up on local quirks for an authentically Singaporean experience.

The local cuisine in Singapore extends far beyond the stalls and into some of the most buzz-worthy restaurants. Try scoring a table at Mustard Seed, for chef Gan Ming Kiat’s modern interpretation of Singaporean food or head to Violet Oon’s to find out why it’s important to preserve Peranakan cuisine. The rich Peranakan culture can be celebrated outside the restaurants as well, here are five ways to experience it. Do keep in mind that there is no shortage of international flavours either, so try eating your way around the world at these new global dining restaurants.

Admire art on and off the street

As the creative culture continues to grow in both cities, the Hong Kong Museum of Art and National Gallery Singapore are both a must.

After four years, the Hong Kong Museum of Art finally reopened its doors at the end of 2019. The updated building features an all-new airy glass fa├žade sporting views of Victoria Harbour, as well as an outdoor Art Square and Art Corridor along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront.

In Singapore, two historic buildings – the former Supreme Court and City Hall – were renovated to form the state-of-the-art National Gallery Singapore, which opened its doors in 2015. The 64,000m² museum is now the crown jewel of Singapore’s contemporary art scene, housing one of the world’s largest public collections of modern Southeast Asian art.

Street art has also been growing in popularity across both cities. In Hong Kong, HKwalls, a non-profit organisation dedicated to creating opportunities for artists helped transform Wong Chuck Hang, previously a grey industrial district, into an artsy enclave. The Mills also collaborated with Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation to create murals along Pak Tin Par Lane.

Back in Singapore, many of the walls are getting just as much love. Two of the most well-known artists are known as Ripple Root, made up of Singaporeans Estella Ng (Ripple) and Liquan Liew (Root). Take a look at their art-filled itinerary and head to Ann Siang Hill and Keong Saik Road to check out some of their favourite pieces.

Escape the hustle and bustle

Although both cities are known for being financial hubs with impressive skylines, they also each offer fantastic ways to escape the hustle and bustle of the madding crowd.

If you’re in Singapore, book yourself a ferry ticket and check out the offshore islands. St John’s Island, the largest of the Southern Islands in Singapore, is known for its friendly felines, trekking routes, white-sand beach and crystal-clear lagoons. The nearby Lazarus Island has a clean but undeveloped beach and a constant breeze perfect for kite flying and a leisurely picnic. If you’re into marine life, Pulau Hantu is best for scuba diving and snorkelling to catch a glimpse of local marine critters, thanks to its proximity to coral reefs.

Not much of an island person? A sojourn around the Singapore Botanic Gardens – Singapore’s first Unesco Heritage site – allows you to admire tropical flora set in picturesque verdant landscape. Quirky walking tours are another way to get to know the multicultural city intimately. Try one that allows you to explore Chinatown while attempting to solve a murder mystery.

Over in Hong Kong, join a guided tour of the Unesco Global Geopark, visit a wildlife sanctuary at Kadoorie Farm or check out one of these other recommendations for a day out in the sun.

The city is also known for its strong hiking culture, with trails that offer visitors stunning panoramic views. Beginners can embark on the relatively easy Lamma Island Family Trail – a 5km trek that spans across two piers and offers splendid views of the surrounding sights. The more ambitious options include Sharp Peak within the Sai Kung East Country Park and Dog’s Teeth on Lantau Island – proper hiking boots are recommended for both. There are many more outdoorsy options, like these wallet-friendly activities that will also allow you to break a sweat and enjoy scenic views without taxing the wallet.

Indulge in activities for all ages

Both cities are perfect for multigenerational travel, offering plenty of attractions and natural options that appeal to all ages.

Bollywood Veggies in Singapore is an enjoyable playground for adults and kids alike. The farm teaches the provenance of one of our basic food sources and offers hearty lunches in the bistro. Bonus: Hay Dairies is only a six-minute drive away, where kids can feed actual goats. Beyond the farms, gardens, parks and island-hopping options, Universal Studios Singapore, Wild Wild Wet, Gardens by the Bay and Singapore Science Centre all promise an adrenaline-pumping good time. For free but fun options, there are outdoor playgrounds such as the gigantic one at Admiralty Park (that has 26 slides!) and a forest-themed option at Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden.

Hong Kong, is of course, not short on its theme parks and family attractions. Hong Kong Disneyland on Lantau Island and Ocean Park Hong Kong – the two biggest theme parks in the city – are ideal if you’re looking for a day of thrills. Fans of Peanuts can try the smallish Snoopy’s World on top of the New Town Plaza shopping mall in Sha Tin, where you can spend a fun morning meandering around a Snoopy-themed street. Make a beeline for the Noah’s Ark Hong Kong Theme Park to catch sight of a gigantic ark and life-sized sculptures of exotic animals.

For something a little unconventional, newly launched The Grounds at Central Harbourfront is a must-visit spot for families. It’s the city’s first socially distanced, Covid-19-responsible event space and offers screenings of family-friendly films such as Frozen and The Greatest Showman, as well as stand-up comedy and live music performances . It’s all done outdoors on the grass with picket-fenced pods that include deck chairs and bean bags.

SEE ALSO: Air travel bubble to start on Nov 22: You can now book your flight to Hong Kong with Singapore Airlines

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