Singapore-born Concierge Ali Aktar has worked at Carlton Hotel Singapore, a member of the WorldHotels Collection, for almost two years, having been in the hotel industry for 18 years. One of the things he loves about his role is sharing traditions and cultures with people, “and learning about theirs in the process”. Well, today it’s Ali’s turn to share his so, let’s go…
Favourite locale when enjoying a day off
During my off day, I enjoy walking around the city and would visit a particular museum if there is any special event or exhibition. If I have a craving for certain cuisine, I would also take the chance to visit a new restaurant so that I can share and recommend it to our guests if I had a great time there.
Where he takes your own guests when they visit
If my guests are food lovers and enjoy authentic Cantonese cuisine, I will bring them to our hotel’s award-winning Cantonese restaurant, Wah Lok. We serve one of the best Cantonese cuisine and Dim Sum selection in Singapore. For sightseeing, I will usually bring my guests to the Merlion Park and explain to them its significance. Other places would include Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It’s a rainy day but we want to explore, what we should do
Gardens by the Bay is one option as there are two indoor areas – Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. Other suitable places include S.E.A Aquarium in Sentosa that houses 800 species of marine life in a variety of habitats. For those who love history and appreciate the arts, a must-visit would be the Singapore National Gallery. Other museums include National Museum Singapore, Asian Civilisations Museum and Singapore Art Museum.
Recommendations as night-time entertainment
I recommend Boat Quay and Clarke Quay as they are well-known for their nightlife, interesting mix of bars and clubs as well as dining or relaxing by the waterside.
Other recommendations include:
- Night Safari
- Singapore Flyer
- Haw Par Villa Twilight Walking Experience
- Stargazing at the Science Centre
- Bugis Village (Bugis Street Market)
A key phrase visitors should learn
“Shiok”, which means expressing admiration or approval like “cool” and “great”.
The best shopping and souvenirs
Head to Orchard Road, Singapore’s most famous shopping street. From international luxury brands, stylish home-grown labels to trendy high-street fashion collection, there is always a little something for everyone. Other shopping havens include Bugis Village and Chinatown for souvenirs and great buys.
For souvenirs, one could consider Merlion figurines, gold-plated Orchid (Singapore’s National Flower) pendants and pen holders, as well as pressed pennies of Singapore.
A child-friendly thing to do or place to go
I would recommend the Universal Studios Singapore in Sentosa. Children will have the opportunity to experience cutting-edge rides, shows and attractions based on their favourite blockbuster film and television series. Alternatively, they could visit S.E.A Aquarium, also in Sentosa, or simply play on the beaches and build sand castles there.
His best kept secret or favourite hidden treasure
Pulau Ubin would be my favourite hidden treasure as it is considered the last “kampong” (village) in Singapore. Besides seeing cycling trails, lush forests and abundant wildlife, visitors get to be transported back in time to 1960s Singapore. I would encourage visitors to take the opportunity to interact with the locals who are still residing on this tiny island.
The best way to get to the airport
The most common way is to take a taxi. However, for those who are more adventurous, I would recommend taking the train (MRT). Not only is it convenient, the experience would also be an eye-opener as visitors will get to see different types of housing, buildings, schools, etc., on their way to the airport.
The best time of the year to visit
Singapore is great to visit anytime of the year as there are many festivals and events happening all year round. For festive periods, late January or February will be suitable for the Lunar New Year celebrations. For those wanting to soak in the festive cheer and view the annual Christmas light-ups along Orchard Road, November and December will be ideal. However, this is also our rainy season.
If you’re interested in the history of Singapore, you may want to visit in July or early August as we celebrate Singapore’s National Day on 9 August. This will be a good time to find out more about Singapore’s history, culture and enjoy the fireworks display. The weather is also great during this time of the year for sightseeing.
Anything else we should know when visiting
Singapore is not just warm, it is humid. Remember to pack light and throw in some cotton t-shirts, shorts and be prepared to perspire.
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