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Business Travel Guide: Singapore

Singapore Skyline at Night
Singapore Skyline

Every five years, The World Bank publishes an Ease of Doing Business index of 183 countries, and since 2002, Singapore has consistently ranked number one. What does this mean? Across ten relevant categories, the Southeast Asian nation offers the regulatory environment most conducive to business of any country in the world. With an ethnically mixed population of about 5.2 million made up mostly of Chinese, Malays and Indians, the city offers a rich cultural life alongside its pro-business environment. Visitors whose work and travels coincide with any number of dazzling cultural festivities, ranging from Chinese New Year celebrations and Hari Raya to the famous Orchard Road Christmas light-up, will surely leave with Technicolor memories. For more on where to stay, dine and play in this busy port city, continue reading the Gayot guide, below.

Facts to Know Before You Go

Currency: Singapore's unit of currency is the Singapore Dollar (S$), which is divided into one hundred cents. It's managed against a trade-weighted basket of currencies, constituting an exchange rate that allows for fluctuation within a policy band.  ATMs that dispense S$ can be found at the airport in the arrivals terminal and throughout the city. Foreign exchange facilities are available at the airport, hotels, large department stores and licensed moneychangers — the latter normally providing a better exchange rate than most banks or hotels.

Transportation: Singapore's Changi Airport is located about twelve miles from the Central Business District. Numerous modes of transportation, including bus, MRT (Mass Rapid Transit system) or taxi can whisk you from Changi Airport to the city center. For maximum efficiency, head for the taxi stand (taxi signboards are abundant in the airport terminal). A metered taxi ride to the city will take about 15-25 minutes and cost around US$18-25 (inclusive of up-charge). Note that all taxi companies charge additional for trips starting from Changi Airport, advance phone booking, trips between midnight and 6 a.m., peak traveling hours and entry into the Central Business District.

Information: Straits Times is the official English language newspaper in Singapore that provides a comprehensive spread of local and international news. For business-angled content, as well as after hours info and vacation pursuits, check out Business Times. Channel News Asia is a dedicated news channel that provides round-the-clock updates on the latest happenings in Singapore and throughout the region.

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Where to Stay

Capella Singapore
1 The Knolls
Singapore 248 646
(65) 6377 8888

www.capellahotels.com

Capella Singapore Premier Room
For the executive who has a day or two to relax, this property, located on Sentosa (not Singapore) Island was once a British military barracks from the 1880s and was redesigned by Sir Norman Foster as a 112-room hotel on 30 waterfront acres. It offers strategic perks such as the South China Sea-facing Bob's Bar, where Asia's top business types gather over the signature Kaffir Lime Mule, a jolting concoction of homemade ginger beer, fresh lime and vodka. Pampering at this CEO-centric address commences upon booking with a phone call and email from your multilingual Capella personal assistant. You can rely on this person to arrange otherwise-impossible-to-get dinner reservations, translation services, and Thai or Balinese massage appointments at the hotel's Zen-calm Auriga Spa. At 828 square feet, Premier rooms are Singapore's largest entry-level accommodations. All rooms come with high-speed wireless Internet, executive desks and ergonomic chairs, plus around-the-clock service from your PA. Longer stay guests should consider the well-equipped villas and manor houses, each one perched above the sea.

Fairmont Singapore
80 Bras Basah Rd. (Stamford Rd.)
Singapore 189 560
(65) 6339 7777

www.fairmont.com

Fairmont Singapore Hotel Deluxe Room
What really makes this hotel work for business travelers are its 27 meeting rooms of varying sizes and configurations, all equipped with modern technology and around-the-clock support. The fact that it sits right above the sprawling Raffles City shopping mall, doesn't hurt. Standard guest rooms are reasonably spacious at 415 square feet, with crisp modern interiors, a comfortably firm mattress and a broad, glass-top desk where you'll find a dual-line IDD telephone with speaker and access to high-speed Internet (complimentary for Fairmont President's Club members). Upgrades to Raffles Inc. rooms add panoramic urban vistas, glistening white marble bathrooms and access to the club lounge with meal service and private gym. Plan to work long hours in your room? Here, you'll enjoy the benefit of ordering room service from any of the sixteen dining outlets, including JAAN, serving inspired French cuisine, and Mikuni, a favorite destination of Japanese food connoisseurs.

Four Seasons Hotel Singapore
190 Orchard Blvd.
Singapore 248 646
(65) 6734 1110

www.fourseasons.com

Four Seasons Hotel Singapore guest room
Located at a tree-lined nook off Orchard Boulevard, the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore offers easy access to the Orchard Road malls — less than a five-minute walk — and the business district, only fifteen minutes away by car. Some 1,500 pieces of the owner's collection of contemporary Chinese and Western artworks hang throughout the hotel, which resembles the opulent residence of a wealthy tycoon. Expect each of the hotel's 255 rooms to contain comforts such as the signature Four Seasons pillow top mattress, plus complimentary fruit baskets, terrycloth bathrobes, remote control drapes, 42" flat screen television and CD/DVD/MP3 players. Busy executives will be pleased to know that each room has two-line speakerphones with data ports and voice mail, as well as in-room high-speed wireless Internet access. The well-equipped gym includes an outdoor swimming pool and the adjacent spa is one of Singapore's finest, featuring the organic Sodashi brand. Make an impression on that important client with dinner at the luxurious and expensive Jiang Nan Chun Cantonese restaurant where one of the specialty dishes is a braised abalone with kailan. For a lavish breakfast spread with fresh fruits, homemade granola and yummy Chinese dumplings, One-Ninety will get you energized for the day's business ahead.

The Fullerton Hotel Singapore
1 Fullerton Square
Singapore 049 178
(65) 6773 8388

www.fullertonhotel.com
 

Room at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore
In a city flooded with branded luxury hotel chains, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore stands out prominently for its grandeur and old-world charm. Built in 1928, the Fullerton building was once home to the nation's General Post Office. After a makeover costing $250 million in 2001, this historic building was converted into a 400-room luxury business hotel with much of its Palladian-style architecture and façade intact. White washed floor-to-ceiling bay windows in the snug, but comfortable guest rooms provide sweeping views of the marina city or the hotel's peaceful atrium. High-speed Internet access, data ports and voicemail are standard features in all guest rooms. What this property lacks in direct access to Singapore's hub of retail therapy on Orchard Road is more than made up by its strategic position in the heart of Singapore's central business district and cultural life. Perhaps best of all, guests lounging by the 82-foot outdoor pool can look up at skyscrapers filled with envious office workers.

Grand Hyatt Singapore
10 Scotts Rd.
Singapore 228 211
(65) 6738 1234

www.singapore.grand.hyatt.com
   

Grand King at Grand Hyatt Singapore
For lodging in the heart of Singapore's Orchard Road district and reliably excellent service, Grand Hyatt is the place to be. Choose from one of two spacious wings: the Grand Wing with 399 rooms fronting Scotts Road and the Terrace Wing with 264 rooms, which overlooks the hotel pool and garden. All rooms are detailed with inviting touches, including the standard 515-square-foot rooms that are clad in stylish blond wood furnishings and warm hues with a long work desk, aerodynamic chair, wired and wireless broadband Internet access, personal voice messaging and a dual-line telephone with fax capabilities. If you need to host an informal business meeting, a room at the Grand Wing comes with a separate living area. The Grand Club offers complimentary use of the Club boardroom for the first hour, in addition to other perks like suit pressing and packing/unpacking services. For a smart casual dinner, check out mezza9 restaurant, the jaw-dropping buffet at Straits Kitchen or choose from seven other dining venues, following by a night of live music at BRIX.

Mandarin Oriental, Singapore
5 Raffles Avenue
Marina Square
Singapore 039797
(65) 6338 0066

www.mandarinoriental.com

Bay suite at Mandarin Oriental, Singapore
Whether you're in town during the annual Formula 1 race, which takes place every September, or not, a stay in the Marina Bay-facing suites are great any time of year with views of the Moshe Safdie-designed Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Flyer ferris wheel and even the Merlion, Singapore's 'lion mates with mermaid' mascot. Even the standard Premier rooms among these earth-hued 527 guestrooms feel wonderfully comfortable with pillow-top beds, roomy closets, sizable work stations, wireless Internet access and ergonomic desk chairs. Rooms with Club Lounge privileges allow guests access to the top-floor spread complete with private meeting spaces, computers with printers, panoramic views and complimentary cocktail hours with delectable snacks. Those whose expense account is not quite hefty enough for this indulgent penthouse pass should head to the Axis Lounge after a busy day to enjoy its unobstructed harbor views. En route to the small, yet serene spa or sprawling resort-like swimming pool, notice the brand's signature fan shape designed by John Portman in the soaring atrium. For an international mix of dining destinations, choose from authentic dim sum at Cherry Garden, hearty steaks at Morton's Steakhouse, Italian cuisine at Dolce Vita or a melding of all at Melt, The World Cafe.

The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore
7 Raffles Ave.
Singapore 039 799
(65) 6337 8888

www.ritzcarlton.com

Deluxe Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore
If you have time for only one night in Singapore, award-winning The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore is a savvy choice. Strategically located in the heart of Marina Centre, this 32-story designer hotel oozes luxury, beginning with the sublime views from each of the 608 bigger-than-average, über-plush guest rooms and particularly via the oversized octagonal window next to a deep soak bathtub. All rooms feature high-speed Internet access and a two-line speaker telephone with multi-lingual voice mail, while Club Suites have added fax machines for enhanced connectivity. This hotel's Chinese restaurant, Summer Pavilion, is the one to pick if you are on a corporate expense account and seek to impress that all-important business partner. Art aficionados may rejoice for the self-guided podcast tour of the hotel's priceless collection of 4,200 pieces of museum-quality modern paintings and sculptures; this alone puts The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia a high cut above the rest.

Shangri-La hotel, Singapore
22 Orange Grove Rd.
Singapore 258350
(65) 6737 3644

www.shangri-la.com

Tower Wing Horizon Club Premier Room at Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore
Located just five minutes from the bustling Orchard Road shopping district and fifteen minutes away from the central business district, the Shangri-La hotel is often referred to as Singapore's second botanical garden. Resting on fifteen acres of lush greenery, the hotel houses 750 tastefully furnished guest rooms and suites. For sheer exclusivity, we strongly recommend the 136 elite rooms and suites in the Valley Wing, which boasts its own private driveway, entrance and reception, as well as an elegant function room. Designed by British interior designer, Charles Robertson, rooms are furnished with Queen Anne chairs, Italian-made bed linens, Wedgwood tea sets, and tropical rain showerhead fittings in the bath facilities. A private fax machine, broadband Internet access and an ample supply of stationery (including a stack of customized business cards for guests in residence) make for a professional home office touch. The panoramic Summit Room serves a complimentary private breakfast, while the Champagne Bar offers unlimited Champagne, wine and canapés throughout the day. If you're in the mood for fine dining, take your pick from the legendary Shang Palace for Cantonese cuisine, Nadaman for the reliably good traditional Japanese food or The Line for Singapore's most stylish and hip buffet spread.

See our list of Singapore Hotels


Where to Dine


Iggy's
581 Orchard Rd.
Hilton Singapore Hotel
Level 3
(65) 6732-2234

www.iggys.com.sg
 

Iggy's at the Hilton Singapore Hotel is one of Singapore's dining hot spots
Local-boy-goes-gourmet sommelier Ignatius Chan moved his acclaimed 40-seat restaurant in 2010 from The Regent Hotel to this spot inside the Hilton Singapore Hotel, doubling the size, yet holding the same number of diners — you'll still need to reserve far ahead to eat elbow to elbow with Singapore's top tycoons. Chef Akmal Anuar prepares a set lunch tasting menu and a gastronomic dinner menu that might include foie gras mousse with sesame, followed by white truffle linguine and charcoal grilled Wagyu strip loin with seito tomatoes, garlic confit and truffle mousseline potato, before a luscious fig tiramisu made even creamier with homemade rocky road ice cream. As you would expect at a restaurant owned by the island's most accomplished sommelier, Iggy's wine list showcases French viniculture, with an emphasis on Champagne, Burgundy and Riesling wines.


Les Amis
1 Scotts Rd.
#02-16 Shaw Centre
Singapore 228 208
(65) 6733 2225

www.lesamis.com.sg
 

Timelessly elegant Les Amis in Singapore
In this city obsessed with newness, this timelessly elegant restaurant founded in 1994 has retained its lofty position as Singapore's venerable French fine dining institution, making this the top spot to celebrate a professional or personal milestone. Try the lightly smoked eel delicately laid upon a rich pork crisp, then dappled with horseradish and Dijon mustard emulsion. Follow it with entrées such as Maine lobster with chanterelles and fluffy potato gnocchi and the char-grilled beef tenderloin served with thick slabs of truffled French fries. At any one time, Les Amis stocks about 2,000 labels of wine. This is the place to impress and be impressed.


Mag's Wine Kitchen
86 Circular Rd.
(65) 6438 3836
Singapore 049438

www.magswinekitchen.com
 

Mag's Wine Kitchen in Singapore boasts an impressive wine selection
In this unassuming two-story Chinese shop house just a few blocks from Singapore's soaring financial towers, owner Magdalena Tang was forced into the kitchen on opening night in 1996 when her chef failed to show up. She's since made a name for herself among the area's business elite for her impressive wine collection and the dishes she lists on a chalkboard inside her intimate duplex eatery. Mainstays include the Hiramasa kingfish ceviche in which Mag substitutes punchier yuzu for the expected lemon and pan-roasted Boston lobster risotto with asparagus cooked in vegetable stock and white wine. Abandon any diet for Singapore's finest chocolate fondant that really does flow.


Min Jiang at One-North
No. 5 Rochester Park
Singapore 139216
(65) 6774 0122

www.goodwoodparkhotel.com
 

Min Jiang at One-North in Singapore's chic Rochester Park is renowned for its authentic Beijing duck
An excellent choice for celebrating successful cross-border business deals, this Cantonese-cum-Szechuan restaurant inside a historic British colonial house in chic Rochester Park is best known for its authentic Beijing duck. The oven-roasted fowl is prepared by chefs trained in China according to age-old recipes, roasted in a custom-made wood-fired oven, then carved tableside and served three different ways: crisp skin dusted with sheer sugar; Cantonese style — crêpe with sweet sauce, leek and sliced cucumber; and Szechuan style — crêpe with chopped garlic, white radish and Tientsin cabbage.


Wild Rocket
Hangout Hotel
10A Upper Wilkie Rd.
(65) 6339 9448

www.wildrocket.com.sg
 

Wild Rocket at the Hangout Hotel in Singapore
Your business associates will think you're very much in the know by choosing this "Mod Sin" eatery where humble local ingredients, such as dried shrimp chili paste and laksa paste get a gourmet upgrade by lawyer-turned-chef Willin Low. Come with a curious appetite and a willingness to open your mind and palate to this East-West mélange, where you might encounter a roast potato soup with blue cheese century egg fritters, the latter a quintessentially Chinese taste. Try Low's laksa pesto linguini with white prawns and quail eggs and the quirky dish that combines a confit of chai po (salted chopped radish) atop a well-roasted Chilean sea bass with local-style congee on the side.



Off the Clock

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
www.nparks.gov.sg

Steps to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in Singapore

Need some green space and fresh air for inspiration? Take a break from board meetings and head to this 405-acre nature reserve, Asia's only primary rain forest within city limits. Here, you'll not only find piece of mind away from the bustling streets of Singapore with its shopping malls, skyscrapers and high-level business status, but you'll also get a chance to see some of the 840 plant and 500 animal species that reside in the conservation area. Watch for forest birds like the striped tit-babbler, fairy bluebird, drongos and bulbuls along clearly marked hiking trails designated as easy, medium and challenging, and keep an eye out for the resident long-tailed macaque monkeys. Bukit Timah literally translates to "tin hill," but you won't find any metals in this retreat, unless of course you bring your laptop, which is not recommended — take this time to unwind.

Chinese New Year
Annually during January or February

Holiday Season at Orchard Road in Singapore

Multi-cultural Singapore celebrates a wide variety of festivals — Hari Raya for the Malays, Deepavali for the Hindus, Chinese New Year for the Chinese and Christmas for Christians. If you're fortunate enough that your company sends you here on business during the time these latter two are celebrated, you'll witness fanfare with fireworks. From early November on, the shopping malls and storefronts of Orchard Road undergo a stunning transformation with magical holiday décor rivaled only by Disney. Brace yourself for massive traffic jams and walkways packed with pedestrians as you browse bazaars brimming with foodstuffs and house wares offered in preparation for the big day.

Long Bar
Raffles Hotel
1 Beach Rd.
(65) 6337 1886
www.raffles.com

Raffles Hotel in Singapore

No trip to Singapore is complete until you've paid a visit to the Long Bar at the iconic Raffles Hotel. The design of this two-story lounge, whose walls are lined with drawings of flappers and bon vivants in top hats and tails, is inspired by the Malaysian plantations of the 1920s. Put your tie in your pocket and sip a Singapore Sling in the birthplace of this famed drink. Businessmen in suits, expatriates clad in khaki and eager tourists wearing cameras around their neck come to taste. (You get to keep the glass.) Tradition dictates that you toss your peanut shells on the floor — it's the only place in Singapore where you can litter without being fined.

National Museum of Singapore
93 Stamford Rd.
(65) 6332 3659
www.nationalmuseum.sg

Behind this neo-Palladian façade, a state-of-the-art 52-foot-high addition of glass and steel galleries allows the country's oldest museum to mount cutting edge exhibitions on topics somewhat unexpected for this conservative city-state. In 2006, the museum underwent a complete renovation in preparation for its 125th anniversary in 2012. Here, you can see multiple permanent displays on Singapore's history, including antique ethnic costumes and a rotating calendar of lectures and cultural events, or catch a film at the Cinematheque.

Newton Food Centre
Clemenceau Avenue North

Arguably Singapore's most famous and priciest food mart, the Newton Food Centre is an essential stop. The best time to go is late at night, when the city's nocturnal bustle is at its height. You and your colleagues can enjoy a glass of beer and popular fast fare such as Hokkien prawn noodles, satay and oyster omelets. Steer clear of the barbeque seafood stalls, which have made a bad name for themselves fleecing tourists with high prices. About half of the patrons here are locals, so this place can hardly be branded a "tourist trap."

Night Safari
Mandai Road
(65) 6269 3411
www.nightsafari.com.sg

Naracoorte Cave at the Night Safari in Singapore

A good choice for the traveler who has been in business meetings all day long, the Night Safari is the world's first and only night zoo. Featuring more than 1,200 animals that represent more than a hundred different species, the park recreates eight geographical regions on 40 hectares of land. Visitors can take the 40-minute tram ride, with live commentary provided by an experienced guide, or explore the three walking trails on foot. Don't miss the awesome giraffes by the reservoir, the rare clouded leopards and the endangered Asian rhinoceros.

Orchard Road
www.orchardroad.org

Orchard Road shopping center in Singapore

About a mile long and lined with about a half dozen Louis Vuitton shops, not to mention numerous other luxury brands, Orchard Road is a haven for any shopping fiend or business traveler interested in seeing commerce in full play. Block after block of towering glass and steel, you'll find everything you could possibly want in this multitude of malls —like the shiny new Ion, ultra posh Paragon and luxury brand-filled Mandarin Gallerythat — that stretches the entire road. Better value on local goods can be found at TANGS, Wisma Atria and Lucky Plaza for everything from housewares to kimonos. Time your visit around the Great Singapore Sale, eight frenzied summer weeks from May into July when shopping really proves to be Singapore's national sport, with discounts and extended hours at all the malls along this retail road.

Singapore Botanic Gardens
www.sbg.org.sg

Botany Centre at the Botanical Gardens in Singapore

Before your business day and Singapore's swelter get underway, take a morning jog, or join one of the tai qi exercise classes conducted amidst this sprawling 183-acre tropical refuge. After exploring the landscaped gardens and admiring the swans and turtles in the palm fringed ponds, drop by Casa Verde near the visitors center for breakfast of spicy rice noodles, curried laksa or authentically French croissants and sweet Danish pastries.


For more information, visit the Singapore Tourism Board at www.visitsingapore.com and at www.stb.com.sg

Going to Singapore? Check out our Guide

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P090106
(Updated: 03/21/13 CT)

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