One Week Notice: Singapore

Singapore — orderly Singapore, where errant gum-chewers and reckless litterers face hefty fines — may be the easiest city in Asia for Western travelers to wrap their heads around: none of Beijing’s all-encompassing smog, Hanoi’s motorcycle chaos or Tokyo’s overwhelming (if sublime) sensory overload. It is not, however, its most fun…unless you’re there for Formula 1 weekend. Which is next weekend, which means it’s time to cash in all those points and hop on a flight. 


Lodging in Singapore over F1 weekend is no joke: your correspondent showed up half-a-day early for the inaugural Formula 1 race in 2008 and ended up sitting in a McDonald’s for nine hours, until “early check-in” could be stretched to its earliest, most ludicrous extreme. Ordinarily we’d stay nowhere but Raffles, where Rudyard Kipling wrote on the veranda and the Singapore Sling was invented. It’s a masterpiece of colonial architecture and a Singaporean National Monument. Given the late notice, however, we’ll need to go with our back-up: The Four Seasons, which still has availability. 


Watch the races, which include three days of practice and qualifying sessions leading up to Sunday night’s big event. Grandstand tickets are still available. Wonderfully, for those who fly 10,000 miles but still want nothing more than to hear Bon Jovi sing “Living on a Prayer,” the band will headline Sunday’s concert, requiring only a one-day “Walkabout” ticket (around $135). 


Happy to stay on in Southeast Asia a bit? Singapore’s a hub for the region’s famously low-cost travel. Think: sub-$200 round-trip tickets to Bali, or easy connections to China, Myanmar, India, the Philippines, Cambodia, Malaysia — you name it. Personally, we’d fly Tiger to Phuket and check in to the Paresa (above). Vacation: sorted.