Sevenwaystolive like a Crazy Rich Asian
Inspired by the box-office hit, Katie Wright heads to the prosperous island city of Singapore for a taste of the high life
Crazy Rich Asians has been a global cinematic smash, topping the US box-office and becoming the highest grossing romantic comedy film in almost a decade. It centres on Nick Young (Henry Golding), who brings girlfriend Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) over from New York to meet his extremely affluent family in Singapore, and attend the wedding of his best friend, Colin.
The movie has been praised for its hilarious script and fantastic cast, but it’s not just the actors who shine in this romcom. Singapore, with its epic skyscrapers, vibrant street-food scene and lush parks, positively gleams.
And the good news is you don’t have to be one of the super-rich to experience the luxury lifestyle, because lots of the film’s locations are easily accessible and cheap, or even free to visit, as I discover when I spend three days in the city-state.
Here are seven ways to live like a multimillionaire in Singapore, even if you’re on a shoestring budget...
1. Eat at a hawker centre
The first thing Rachel and Nick do after landing in Singapore is head to Newton Food Centre, one of the many bustling hawker markets that heave at lunch and dinner time with hungry locals chowing down on plates of chilli crab, chicken satay and ‘carrot cake’ (the misleading name for a savoury radish-based fried dish). Everyone I speak to agrees that Newton isn’t actually the best hawker centre. I was taken by a native Singaporean to Tiong Bahru. My favourite bite? The mound of tasty seafood noodles. If you’re pushed for time, lively Lau Pa Sat is walkable from the central Marina Bay area and serves all the culinary classics.
2. Marvel at Gardens By The Bay
Colin and Araminta’s wedding reception takes place in Gardens By The Bay, which isn’t a wedding venue at all, but a sprawling park filled with plants that represent the different elements of Singapore’s heritage, along with two domes (the Cloud Forest, which has its own waterfall, and the Flower Dome), plus a grove of huge, man-made supertrees.
You have to pay to get into the domes but entry into the main grounds is free. Here, you’ll find the supertrees, which come alive every night at 7.45pm and 8.45pm with an incredible light and sound show.
3. Get a bird’s-eye view from Marina Bay Sands
Singapore’s most recognisable modern landmark, Marina Bay Sands is the massive three-tower skyscraper with a boat-shaped rooftop that serves as the backdrop for a major scene in the movie.
It’s truly the holy grail hotel if you want to live the Crazy Rich Asian lifestyle as the famous 57th floor infinity pool is only open to hotel guests, so checking in for at least one night is the only way you can guarantee that all-important cityscape Instagram pic. Rooms start from around £213 per night. But there are other ways to summit the five-star Sands. Tickets to the observation deck (also on level 57) are around £13 for adults, or you could grab a drink at one of the three bars at the same level.
4. Wander down Bukit Pasoh Road
When Rachel and Peik Lin have a heart-toheart over lunch in the film, they do it at seafood restaurant Humpback on Bukit Pasoh Road, a pretty stretch near Chinatown that’s lined with colourful old-style ‘shop houses’ now converted into hip eateries.
Straits Clan is a chic private members’ club that the Crazy Rich Asians cast visited when they were in town for the premiere. The ground floor Clan Cafe is open to non-members and is the perfect spot for a sightseeing pit-stop.
5. Stay at a high-tech hotel
Located in leafy Robertson Quay, uber-cool M Social offers a stylish and innovative alternative to the ostentatious hotels of the Bayfront area, and is popular with Singaporeans enjoying a ‘staycation’ weekend in the city. The converted warehouse building is peppered with modern art, has an infinity pool and is home to two in-house robots. Aura will deliver amenities to your room while Ausca will whip you up an omelette or fried eggs in the morning. Compact but impeccably designed rooms start from around £134 a night.
6. Unwind on Sentosa Island
While there are beaches on the island — which is less than two square miles in total and is reached by bus, car or cable car — there are also a host of theme parks and other fun attractions, and that’s why it’s known as ‘Asia’s favourite playground’. But the most popular pastime for the wealthiest visitors is, I’m told, pampering time at one of the island’s luxury spas, such as Auriga Spa.
7. Hang out at the airport
No, really. Changi isn’t your average airport. Here, you’ll find art installations, a swimming pool, koi pond, cinema, 12-metre high slide, cactus garden, water lily garden and orchid garden (all gardens are free to enter), plus a huge array of high-end shops and dining options.
So, even if you’re not flying by private jet, you can ensure your departure experience is first class.
CRAZY BEAUTIFUL: The view over Singapore from the Marina Bay Sands infinity pool. Above, Katie Wright visiting Humpback restaurant on Bukit Pasoh Road and Gardens by the Bay Supertrees