How to holiday like 'Crazy Rich Asians'

Warning: Minor movie spoilers ahead

You don't have to be crazy or Asian to live it up in the Lion City like the main characters in new Hollywood blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians, but it does help to be rich.

What the island city-state lacks in size, it more than makes up for in image-enhancing luxury hotels, boutiques, restaurants, bars, clubs and high-tech attractions.  

But you don't need a seven-plus figure savings account to have fun in Singapore - even street food stalls hold Michelin stars here.

So whether you're a "crazy rich" Nick Young (Henry Golding) with a lifelong appreciation for the finer things in life, a working-class Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) beginning to acquire a taste for them or just want a glimpse of how Singapore's wealthiest citizens live, there's plenty to fill your days (and credit card statement) with. Here are seven key sites featured in the film to check out. 

Singapore Changi Airport

<i>Jewel at Changi.</i>

Jewel at Changi.

Airports aren't generally associated with luxury, gourmet, recharging experiences unless you have a lounge pass but Singapore Changi Airport treats even penny pinchers like passengers of honour. Rachel isn't the only first-time visitor to be impressed - it is best airport in the world by Skytrax for six years running.

As the gateway to the "Garden City", it's fittingly filled with plants. Check out cycads from the dinosaur era in the rooftop cacti garden, make like you're in the Provencal countryside in the sunflower patch and see some 1000 tropical butterflies flit past flamboyantly coloured flowers and a six-metre-high waterfall in the butterfly garden. Fill up on quality hawker-style or gourmet cuisine, catch a complimentary movie, take a dip in the rooftop pool, find consumer nirvana in the luxury duty-free stores and your inner child on the four-storey slide or chill on one of the plush armchairs or couches with charging outlets.

From next year, there'll be another incentive to get to the airport early. New development Jewel, connecting three of the four existing terminals, will feature walking trails through a five-storey garden complete with animal-shaped topiary, 40-metre-high waterfall, glass-panelled suspension bridge and 250-metre long bouncing net. 

Newton Food Centre

<i>Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle stall </i>

Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle stall Photo: Alamy


You don't have to have been born into one of Singapore's wealthiest families to eat some of its best food - even hawker stalls have Michelin stars here. Nick, as it soon transpired in the film, did happen to be from one of Singapore's wealthiest families, but street food held a special place in his heart.

The couple and their soon-to-be-married mates had their first meal together at the Newton Food Centre, a few minutes' walk from the shopping mecca of Orchard Road. Sample classic local dishes such as Hokkien mee (egg and rice noodles with egg, pork, shrimp and veggies) and satay or something more adventurous. Sambal stingray (sambal-doused stingray served on a banana leaf), popiah (soft spring rolls stuffed with jicama, daikon, lettuce, peanuts and hoisin sauce) and rojak (a fruit and vegetable salad with a punchy sweet and sour dressing) are among the many, many choices.

Alternatively, check out the first two hawker stalls to receive a Michelin star: Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle at Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle on Crawford Lane.

Raffles Singapore

<i>Raffles, Singapore</i>

Raffles, Singapore

Rudyard Kipling might have had mixed feelings about the hotel, describing it in his 1889 book From Sea to Sea as "a place… where the food is excellent and the rooms are bad", but these days it's officially a national treasure - it was designated as a national monument by the Singapore Government in 1987.

Aside from Rachel and Nick, the posh 19th-century hotel, named after the so-called father of modern Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles, has hosted the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Its pearly white halls are closed for renovations until the end of 2018, but you can still order a Singapore Sling, the cherry brandy-spiked cocktail said to have been invented at the hotel, at the pop-up Long Bar next to the gift shop. It's still acceptable to drop the shells of the complimentary "monkey nuts" on the floor.

Marina Bay Sands Skypark​

<i>Marina Bay Sands</i>

Marina Bay Sands

Prime rich person territory, the "park" atop the tri-towered Marina Bay Sands building encompasses a cocktail bar and lounge, fine dining restaurants and the highest, largest and surely among the most Instagrammed infinity pool in the world.

Chances are it won't contain a pack of synchronised swimmers as it did at Araminta Lee (Sonoya Mizuho) and Colin Khoo's (Chris Pang) engagement party, but the views of the city skyline and designer swimwear of the moneyed-up guests are spectacles in themselves (amusing proof, should you need it, that money can't buy style).

You have to be a guest of the hotel to take a dip, but anyone with a spare $S23 ($A23) can ascend the 57 floors to the public observation deck and admire the views. If you have the cash to splash, book a table at Spago, a Californian-style restaurant designed by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, or Ce La Vi, where signature modern Asian dishes include Hokkaido scallop and oyster ceviche and grilled "black market" beef tomahawk. Keep the party going with well-crafted cocktails at the club lounge, where resident and guest DJs entertain guests from sundown.



Chijmes Photo: Alamy

The skyscraper-backed Gothic chapel where Araminta and Colin held their garden city-themed wedding could be said to be symbolic of the continual colliding of old and new in Singapore; of tradition and ultra-modernity.

I'm not sure if this will change after the movie's release, but when I visited the colonial-era Chijmes dining and shopping complex, in which the chapel is located, in 2017, it felt like a peaceful oasis amid the controlled chaos of the CBD. The chapel is just as Instagrammable inside as out with intricate Belgian stained glass windows and frescoes.

Gardens by the Bay


Photo: Shutterstock

A futuristic botanical wonderland on 101 hectares of reclaimed land downtown, Gardens by the Bay epitomises the eco-minded ingenuity which makes Singapore such a surreal place to visit - and has made some of its citizens so wealthy.

As the happy couple's wedding reception in the grove of "supertrees" shows, it's the perfect place for an intimate gathering with a hundred or so of your closest mates if you can afford to hire it out, but it puts on a pretty good public show seven nights a week featuring colourful sequential lighting and classical music.

Standing up to 50 metres tall, the supertrees are a sight to behold at any time though. The steel and concrete "trunks" sprout epiphytes such as orchids, ferns and flowering vines and are as practical as they are pretty - one serves as an air exhaust for the conservatories and others harvest solar power through photovoltaic cells.

Make sure you also have time to check out the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest: a land of perpetual springtime with ever-changing blooms and an Avatar-esque forest featuring the world's largest indoor waterfall. Make sure you take plenty of snaps to serve as inspiration for your landscape designer back home. 

Villa d'Oro


Keen to see how new money in Singapore really live? Express interest in purchasing Villa d'Oro, the OTT mansion that Rachel's Singaporean BFF Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina), her property tycoon dad and Pekinese pooch-mad mum call home.

The real house in Cluny Park near the Botanic Gardens doesn't contain the Goh household's tacky gold leafing and multiple Grecian and marble columns, but is still fun to explore. Currently, up for sale, the gates are sometimes unlocked if you want to take a cheeky peek. Failing that, make an appointment. If you've become accustomed to living like a member of Singapore's billionaire boys' and  girls' club, you'll need somewhere to base yourself after all.

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