MT Business Travel

Steve Broughton's guide to Singapore

by
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

How to get there
I prefer to fly with Singapore Airlines. Direct flights from Heathrow to Changi airport take about 13 hours. In business class, it's possible to 'book the cook' – order your food before you fly.

Airport to town
I take a taxi, which takes 40 minutes and costs about £7. The MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) train leaves from terminal 2 every 12 minutes and takes 27 minutes to the town centre.

Best Hotel
The Goodwood Park Hotel (22 Scotts Road, tel: 00 65 6737 7411, www.goodwoodparkhotel. com.sg) is an old colonial building with just two floors – a welcome change from the harsh high-rise monoliths often found in Asia Pacific cities. It has a beautiful courtyard and swimming pool and its tower is a national monument.

Best Room
Ask for a ground-floor room – they open onto the courtyard and pool.

Best Business Restaurant
Raffles (1 Beach Road, www.raffleshotel.com) is a bit of a tourist trap, but everyone likes to take a look at it. It has an excellent curry restaurant – The Tiffin Room – on the ground floor. The Lady Sophia Suite, next to Raffles' lush gardens, is ideal for private dining with clients. The Tanglin Club (5 Stevens Road, www.tanglinclub.org.sg) is an old colonial social club, ideal for business meetings and famous for its roast beef. Equinox (Swissotel The Stamford, 2 Stamford Road) is a revolving restaurant and bar at the top of Swissotel. The 360-degree views of Singapore and adjacent Malaysia and Indonesia are stunning. The Chijmes complex (30 Victoria Street, www.chijmes.com.sg) is an atmospheric collection of restaurants and bars sited in a former convent, complete with gothic chapel and stained-glass windows. It's popular with locals and tourists. For atmospheric al fresco dining, visit Boat Quay, Clarke Quay or Robertson Quay, all in buzzy downtown Singapore.

Best Bars
Many of Singapore's best bars are in hotels, where they function as bars in their own right. The Highland Bar at Goodwood 1 is ideal for after-dinner drinks. The open-air Satay Club at Clarke Quay (River Valley Road) is a popular hangout for beers and boasts some of the island's best satay. The Oriental Lounge Bar at the Mandarin Oriental (5 Raffles Avenue) is great for drinking and soaking up the sights.

A few hours to kill?
Take the 12-minute cable-car ride from Mt Faber (Mount Faber Road) to Sentosa Island, for dramatic views of the city and Sentosa. There's a lot to do on the island, but the underwater oceanarium (80 Silosa Road, Sentosa, www.underwaterworld.com.sg), is a must. I'd recommend a visit to Singapore Zoo (80 Mandai Lake Road, www.zoo.com.sg), where the animals are kept in large enclosures rather than cages. Go on the Night Safari for a view of animals you wouldn't see during the day. If you prefer shopping, Orchard Road has great shopping centres, including Lucky Plaza and Wisma Atria. If you get there very early you might get a good deal on prices, as it's believed the first sale is good luck for the rest of the day.

Business Etiquette
Let Singaporeans take the lead. Don't try to force an outcome; you will achieve more through suggestion and encouragement. The dress code is quite smart, Singaporeans typically wearing light suits. They'll often conclude a meeting by relaxing over a quick bite or drink. They're also not massively decisive, and would rather make six careful decisions than 10 quick-fire judgments. Singapore is a clean city with quite a strict regime – you can even get fined for not pulling the handle after using the WC. It's quite
a safe city, for women as well as men.

Secrets of the jet set
There's a lot to see and do in Singapore and it's rare to start and finish the night in one place. It's perfectly possible to have a drink downtown, go to Sentosa Island for dinner, then have a nightcap in Clarke Quay. Get around by Singapore's cheap and plentiful taxis.

Steve Broughton is UK managing director of intelligence software company Business Objects

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