A modern metropolis so green it earned the name ‘the garden city,’ Singapore is a rich cultural melting pot that seamlessly interweaves history with the future. The city where the idea for Relevé Fashion was born, founder Raia Gomez shares her guide to the most sustainable and stylish places to visit.
Small but incredible. Singapore may be a tiny country but there are so many places to go to, sights to see and things to do in this island nation.
Think of Singapore and you’ll likely conjure images of the hot, sunny and verdant tropics. It’s certainly a green country, which is evident from the moment you step off the plane. Singapore’s incredible Changi airport greets you with wonderful plants, flowers and trees arranged between gates, walkways, shops and restaurants. Jewel is the airport’s latest addition. It’s perfect for your first #travelgram in the country, with its rain vortex – the world’s tallest indoor waterfall right in the centre, surrounded by plush greenery.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to enjoy quite a bit of time in the country and I’m always blown away by all the trees that line the city streets and just how green it is almost everywhere you look. It’s no wonder Singapore has a reputation as a ‘city in a garden.’
It also has a well-deserved reputation for being a clean, safe and modern country. One of the many reasons I love visiting Singapore is because it’s practically guaranteed that everything in the country works. It’s really convenient to go around, with minimal traffic, efficient public services and easy transportation. The local MRT isn’t just easy to use but it’s also really clean. When it comes to taxis, the drivers are always friendly. In fact, it’s one of the few places where I’ve encountered taxis drivers who’ve refunded part of my fare when they make a wrong turn.
Singaporeans are quite known for being law abiding, courteous and hospitable and I can attest to that. Singapore is actually extra special to me because it was while I was there that I began to develop the idea for Relevé Fashion. After being inspired by the country’s socially responsible citizens, I wanted to find a way to transform the fashion experience into a form of positive social action.
Speaking of fashion, the country has a lot to offer in terms of local and international fashion, dining, cultural experiences and attractions. Along Singapore’s famed Orchard Road are hotels, stores, malls and restaurants. It’s a country filled with culinary delights thanks to the multiple cultures found within its shores.
Food & Drink
Singaporean cuisine is quite diverse and largely influenced by the Malays, Chinese, Indians and Indonesians. Some of the country’s most famous dishes include Hainanese chicken rice, chilli crab and laksa. While there’s much debate about which restaurants serve the best versions of the dishes, my personal go-to places are Wee Nam Kee for Hainanese chicken and Long Beach in Dempsey Hill or No Singboard for chilli crab.
Dempsey Hill, a former British military barracks, is now a quaint area with a wide variety of restaurants to choose from. Jones the Grocer, Chopsuey Café, Blu Kouzina, La Forketta and PS.Cafe are great for vegans and vegetarians with labeled options within their expansive menus. There are many restaurants in Singapore that cater to vegans and vegetarians with additional items in their menus or modified alternatives. Among them are Wild Honey, which is a great place for brunch, and Violet Oon for Singaporean and Peranakan cuisine.
Photographs: Chopsuey Café
Now for truly authentic Singaporean fare, as well as dishes from other cuisines, visit one of the hawker centers that are filled with food stalls. Remember that scene in Crazy Rich Asians where Henry Golding’s and Constance Wu’s characters land in Singapore and soon enjoy an array of delicious street food? Newton Food Centre is where you’ll want to go to try the dishes for yourself.
Of course, a trip to Singapore isn’t complete without having a Singapore Sling. While the cocktail was invented in the famed Raffles Hotel, you can’t quite beat having a drink and taking in the incredible view of Singapore from Spago at the top of the Marina Bay Sands. Across the water is Lantern, an open-air bar at the top of the Fullerton Bay Hotel where you can also enjoy some amazing views. Singapore is home to some of the best bars in the world. Atlas Bar was named one of the greatest places by Time Magazine in 2018 and boasts one of the largest gin collections in the world. The bar takes drinking responsibly to a new level by donating $1 per guest to a local charity.
Photographs: P.S.Cafe, Violet Oon
Things to do
Singapore is like an island playground for both adults and kids alike, albeit a hot playground with only two seasons – hot and hotter. While Marina Bay Sands, otherwise known as MBS, is one of the most popular attractions, there are also many must see places right next to it. After you’ve taken a ride in one of the indoor gondolas or watched a theatre production, head over towards the pier and visit the ArtScience Museum.
The museum hosts educational as well as entertaining exhibitions, including Climate S.O.S. – Season of Sustainability, which is a series of seasonal programmes that forges connections between our consumer habits and its impact on the climate. More importantly, it provides calls-to-action that we can all take part in. The museum also hosts Future World: Where Art Meets Science, a stimulating interactive permanent exhibition, created in collaboration with the hugely popular teamLab.
A short drive out of the city itself is Sentosa Island, which literally has something for everyone to enjoy. Kids can visit an amusement park or museum, or spend the afternoon at one of the island’s beaches. Those who crave adventure can go bungy jumping, zip lining, go up in the air on a water-propelled jetpack or enter the world’s largest themed wind tunnel. If you prefer something more laidback, visit the Auriga Spa, where only natural or organic products are used for all their treatments. You can also take a relaxing dip at Capella Singapore’s infinity pool, where you’ll likely see a peacock walk by amidst the lush greenery.
While there are so many things to do in Singapore all throughout the year, September is an extra exciting time as Formula 1 drivers take the city streets. In 2008, Singapore became the first and only country to host a night race and the first street circuit in Asia. By 2025, Formula 1 will be making all its events, including the Singapore Grand Prix, sustainable and aims to be carbon neutral by 2030.
As a country known for bright and beautiful shophouses, it’s easy to assume that Singaporeans frequent the many shops that can be found throughout the city. These days, locals and tourists alike can step through the doors of historic shophouses, as well as modern boutiques.
While Singapore is brimming with luxury shops, and there are also many local brands that you can’t find anywhere else. For a country known to have socially responsible citizens, it comes as no surprise that conscious consumers are on the rise. Consequently, there’s also a growing number of resale stores, rental shops and sustainable fashion brands.
If you’re looking for vintage or pre-loved clothing and accessories, you’ll want to check out Style Tribute. The platform allows you to buy or sell luxury items at discounted rates. If thrifting is more you’re thing, visit Refash, which has both online and physical stores. For those in Singapore for a while or those in need of lighter, summer clothing than what you may have packed, Rentadella is a rental platform where you can find an extensive selection of clothing.
Now if you want to shop for items you can keep for years to come and remind you of your time in Singapore, there are a number of sustainable brands to choose from. I personally like the wooden accessories of WoonHung, unique printed skirts by Matter Prints, and tops by Salient Label.
It’s truly remarkable how Singapore, a relatively young country that became fully independent as recently as 1965, has developed into such an advanced, organized, and sophisticated society. I can go on and on about all the things you can see and do in the country. However, you truly have to visit Singapore and experience for yourself how wonderful it is and its people are. In the wise words of its founding father Lee Kuan Yew, “A nation is great not by its size alone. It is the will, the cohesion, the stamina, the discipline of its people and the quality of their leaders which ensure it an honourable place in history.” The small island nation has certainly been carving a large and inspiring place in the global arena.