Dazzled by the lifestyles of the super-rich described in Kevin Kwan’s best-selling novel? Want to retrace the footsteps of your favourite characters in ‘Crazy Rich Asians’? And want to know where were crazy rich Asians filmed? Unfortunately, Shang Su Yi’s dreamy estate in Tyersall Park doesn’t actually exist, but we’ve put together a list of Singapore landmarks mentioned in the novel that you can actually visit.

CRAZY RICH ASIANS ACTIVITY 1: FOOD-HUNTING

Mouth-watering Singaporean dishes feature so prominently in ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ that the novel sometimes feels like a local food guide. While it certainly reveals the importance of food in the Singaporean psyche, reading the novel is also a great way to learn all the “go-to” places for yummy Singaporean fare – never mind if every character has a different take on which is the best!

1. NEWTON FOOD CENTRE

NEWTON-FOOD-CENTRE-singapore

“Personally, I’ve always liked the satay at Newton,” Nick cut in.

“Newton? You’ve lost your mind, Nicky. Newton is only for expats and tourists—there aren’t any good satay stalls left,” Colin said.

– Crazy Rich Asians, Part One, Chapter 14: Rachel and Nicholas

NEWTON-FOOD-CENTRE-satay-singapore

Where it appears in the novel:

Right after Nicholas (Nick) Young and Rachel Chu landed in Singapore, they are picked up by Colin Khoo and Araminta Lee, who decide to bring them out for supper. This leads to a debate on where to find the best Satay in Singapore.

Why it’s a landmark:

Newton Food Centre is a large food centre located in Central Singapore. Designed to echo its surrounding colonial bungalows and set amidst lush flora and fauna to evoke a plantation-style setting, this open-air food centre is a favourite spot with locals and tourists wanting access to a variety of local dishes. With plenty of stalls that open till the wee hours, Newton Food Centre makes a great spot for a late night Singaporean feast.

The Singaporean verdict: Newton Food Centre is known locally as a tourist’s trap. Not many local go there because of the prices, and also because Singaporeans are pampered by neighbourhood hawker centres nearer to home.

Nonetheless, Newton Food Centre is still a good place for a good Singapore Hawker experience,  simply because it’s conveniently located near another tourist must go – Orchard Road. But if you want good satay without making a detour, you can also consider Lau Pa Sat or Satay by the Bay (near Gardens by the Bay).

How to get there:

Newton Food Centre
500 Clemenceau Avenue North 229495

By MRT: Newton MRT Station, Exit B

By Bus: 5, 54, 124, 128, 143, 162, 162M, 167, 171, 700, 700A, NR1 (Scotts Rd)

48, 66, 67, 170, 960 (Bukit Timah Rd)

2. LAU PA SAT

LAU-PA-SAT-singapore

“That settles it—we’re going to Lau Pa Sat,” Colin announced. “Rachel, you’ll get to experience your first true hawker centre. And they have the best satay.”

– Crazy Rich Asians, Part One, Chapter 14: Rachel and Nicholas

Where it appears in the novel:

After Colin Khoo wins the satay debate, the group heads to Lau Pa Sat for Rachel’s first experience of Singapore’s famous hawker centres… and her first taste of authentic satay.

Lau-Pa-Sat-archive-singapore

Why it’s a landmark:

This stately victorian building is a designated world heritage site and represents the confluence of Singapore’s colonial and ethnic heritage. Designed by James MacRitchie and opened in 1890, Lau Pa Sat once housed one of Singapore’s oldest wet markets. (‘Lau Pa Sat’ means ‘Old Market’ in the Hokkien dialect)

In 1972, the wet market was converted into a hawker center to better suit its surrounding land use. Since then, this 24-hour hawker centre has been feeding hoards of hungry office workers and tourists into the wee hours of the night.

The Singaporean verdict: This Singaporean agrees with Colin’s choice of THE Hawker Centre. Lau Pa Sat remains a place of nostalgia for many elderly Singaporeans even til today – it used to be the hangout place for paktor (dating) couples. Over here, it’s not just about the abundance of great food (both traditional and new), but it’s also about the history and ambience of the place. If you visit the place with an elderly Singaporean, you can even ask them for a tale or two of this place from yesteryears.

How to get there:

Lau Pa Sat, 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582

By MRT: Downtown MRT Station, Raffles Place MRT Station

By Bus: 10, 10E, 70, 75, 100, 107 (Robinson Rd) 588 (Shenton Way)

3. OLD AIRPORT ROAD FOOD CENTRE

OLD-AIRPORT-ROAD-FOOD-CENTRE-singapore

“Where did you take her?” Eleanor looked at her son dubiously. “You’re practically a tourist yourself—you don’t know all the secret holes-in-the-wall like I do.”

“We’ve been to Lau Pa Sat, Old Airport Road, Holland Village—” Nick began.

– Crazy Rich Asians, Part Two, Chapter 18: The Youngs

Where it appears in the novel:

When Rachel first meets Nick’s mother Eleanor Young, Eleanor asks what they’ve been doing in Singapore. Nick then lists the hawker centres he has brought Rachel to, one of which is Old Airport Road Food Centre.

Why it’s a landmark:

While Newton Food Centre and Lau Pa Sat have their share of local detractors who consider them overhyped tourist spots, Old Airport Road Food Centre is generally loved by locals for its array of cheap and good hawker fare. Indeed, a walk amongst the perpetually busy food centre will reveal dozens of food stalls plastered with cuttings of media mentions, good reviews and dining awards – the more the cuttings, the longer the queue.

The Singaporean verdict:  While you would visit Lau Pa Sat for its history and nostalgia, it is still a hawker centre with some dressing up. Old Airport Road Food Centre is truly reflective of the typical Singaporean hawker centre. Tell any self-acclaimed foodie you are heading here for good food, you will be greeted by approvals of your fine appreciation of Singapore food.

How to get there:

Old Airport Road Food Centre
51 Old Airport Road, Singapore 390051

By MRT: Dakota MRT Station, Exit B

By Bus: 10, 16, 30, 30e, 31, 32, 33 (Old Airport Rd)

4. SMITH STREET

SMITH-STREET-singapore

“Can we go to one of those outdoor food bazaars that Singapore is so famous for? I want to eat a hundred sticks of satay while I am here.” (Kerry Chu)

“Okay, let’s all go to the Chinatown food market on Smith Street,” Nick beamed.

Alamak, Nick, Smith Street gets so crowded on Friday nights, and there’s never any place to sit,” Peik Lin complained.

– Crazy Rich Asians, Part Three, Chapter 20: Villa d’Ora

Where it appears in the novel:

At the end of the novel, Nick suggests taking Rachel’s mother Kerry Chu to the “colorful and authentic” Smith Street in Chinatown to experience Singapore’s street food scene. This is instantly vetoed by Rachel’s friend Peik Lin. Nick and Peik Lin then launch into the final food debate in the novel.

Chinatown-Food-Street-singapore

Why it’s a landmark:

Named after High Commissioner and Chinese Scholar Sir Cecil Clementi Smith, Smith Street is the only street in the Chinatown named after a European.

In the past, plenty of hawkers set up stalls along this bustling street (which was also a red-light and theatre district), making it the main food street of Chinatown. Today’s Smith Street is home to the Chinatown Food Street – a nostalgic alfresco dining set-up complete with wooden street-side stalls and rustic benches that mimic the ambiance of street-side dining in the past.

The Singaporean verdict:  There’s no lack of good food in the Singaporean’s neighbourhood. So the pampered Singaporean will tell you this is another overhyped tourist spot, dressed up with the novelty of dining on the street. For the less cynical, this can be a nostalgic experience.

For more authentic food by old hawkers, check out the Chinatown Town Complex just a stone throw away. On level 2 of the complex, you will find Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle – the cheapest Michelin Dining Experience in the world!

How to get there:

Smith Street (Chinatown Food Street)
Smith St, Singapore 058938

By MRT: Chinatown MRT Station, Exit A

By Bus: 61, 166, 197 (South Bridge Rd)

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CRAZY RICH ASIANS ACTIVITY 2: VISIT NATURE & HERITAGE

Besides food, the novel also features several cultural and natural landmarks that add an authentic Singaporean flourish to the novel. No matter if some of these references were not explicitly named – there were enough clues for us to unearth the sites they might be based on!

5. SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENS

SINGAPORE-BOTANIC-GARDENS-singapore

“The girls soon found themselves winding along the leafy back roads behind the Botanic Gardens, searching for Tyersall Avenue. ”

– Crazy Rich Asians, Part One, Chapter 18: Rachel and Peik Lin

“… The whole area behind the Botanic Gardens used to be full of great estates. The Sultan of Johore had a palace over there called Istana Woodneuk that burned to the ground many years ago. You say you were there last week?”

Dr. Gu queried.

– Crazy Rich Asians, Part Two, Chapter 16: Dr Gu

Where it appears in the novel:

Tyersall Park – the fictitious sprawling estate where Nicholas Young’s grandmother Shang Su Lin lives, is set at the edge of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. In fact, the stellar gardens described in the estate sound like they’d be right at home in the Botanic Gardens. Think starfruit groves, greenhouses filled with orchid hybrids, a lily pond and even a “French walled garden”.

In the novel, Rachel and Peik Lin spend an extended scene circling the botanic gardens, looking for the secluded Tyersall Park entrance. The value of the precious real estate surrounding the Botanic Gardens gets highlighted several times in the book, as Peik Lin’s property developer family tries to solve the mystery behind the owners of such a valuable yet unknown plot of land in Singapore.

Why it’s a landmark: 

Singapore Botanic Gardens is a Unesco World Heritage Site, the first and only tropical botanic garden on the Unesco list. This garden is more than 150 years old, spans 82 hectares and is home to a glorious array of tropical plants and well-crafted gardenscapes, making a wander through its verdant grounds a feast for the senses.

The Singaporean verdict: The verdict is out there. It’s a Unesco site (the world agrees it is unique and important), it is historical, it is full of things to see, it is a scenic place… So yes, the Botanic Garden is worthy of a detour and a special visit. 

If you’re on a ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ inspired visit, look out for Symphony Lake, a stretch of water filled with water lilies and the National Orchid Garden, with its collection of blooms that wouldn’t be out of place in Shang Su Yi’s conservatory. Also, take note of the smattering of restored bungalows nestled within the Botanic Gardens. In the past, these plantation houses were common in the area around Orchard Road. Keep an eye out for Burkill Hall with its elegant white facade, possibly the last standing Anglo-Malayan plantation style house in the world!

Traveller’s tips: It’s good to visit on a late Saturday afternoon and stay around for an evening picnic and performances at the Symphony Stage. Here are more things you can do around the park.

How to get there:

Singapore Botanic Gardens
1 Cluny Rd, Singapore 259569

By MRT: Botanic Garden MRT Station, Exit B

By Bus: 48, 66, 67, 151, 153, 154, 156, 170, 170A, 171, 186 (Bukit Timah Rd)

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Tyersall Trivia: If Tyersall Park really did exist in real life – it could be sitting on the site of the now demolished Istana Tyersall. Istana Tyersall was a real-life Corinthian-style palace owned by Sultan Abu Bakar. Built on the former Tyersall Park estate bordered by Tyersall Avenue and Holland Road (close to the abandoned Istana Woodneuk), it sits on a stretch of private land that belongs to the State of Johor. This plot of land has been uncharted on Singapore maps since the 1990s.

6. PULAU HANTU

PULAU-HANTU-singapore

Where it appears in the novel:

“They can give this resort some fancy new name, but I know for a fact the island used to be called Pulau Hantu—‘Ghost Island.’ …” Daisy Foo whispered.

– Crazy Rich Asians, Part Three, Chapter 8: Pulau Samsara

At Colin Khoo and Araminta Lee’s wedding of the year, guests are ferried off to Pulau Samsara, an island off the southern coast of Singapore for the wedding banquet. According to Daisy Foo, the island is really a rebranded Pulau Hantu – which Araminta’s family is developing into an eco-luxury resort.

Why it’s a landmark:

Pulau Hantu or “Island of Ghosts” in Malay, was named after the legend of two Malay warriors who dueled to the death on these waters. After their death, their bodies were transformed into the two islets that make up Pulau Hantu while their spirits took to haunting the island.

Despite its ominous name, Pulau Hantu’s sheltered beaches, swimming lagoons, eco-rich waters and unspoiled wildlife have made it a popular diving, fishing and snorkeling spot.

The Singaporean verdict: Not a place commonly visited. If you like swimming lagoons, check out the beaches in Sentosa.  If you like nature, check out our list of places here, or hop on one of our Nature Trails!

How to get there:

There is no regular ferry service to Pulau Hantu. To visit the island, either charter a boat from West Coast Pier (Singapore NRIC or foreign passport needed) or contact a local dive company to enquire about their Pulau Hantu dives. Camping overnight requires a camping permit.

Note: Pulau Hantu is currently closed for asbestos removal works until early 2019.

7. FORT CANNING PARK

FORT-CANNING-PARK-singapore

Where it appears in the novel:

“As the wedding guests began filtering into the park behind First Methodist Church for the reception, more gasps of astonishment could be heard… But as Victoria passed through the gates at Canning Rise, even she was momentarily silenced by the sight of the great lawn.”

“No, this is the gatehouse. When the British came in the nineteenth century, they built a fort here,” Nick explained as they approached the structure and the pair of massive iron doors under the archway.

– Crazy Rich Asians, Part Three, Chapter 5: Fort Canning

 

After Colin and Araminta’s church wedding, the guests head up to the lawn at Fort Canning Green for an over-the-top Mad Hatter meets Marie Antoinette themed wedding reception. Halfway through the reception, Nick takes Rachel to show her his childhood hideout at Fort Gate.

Why it’s a landmark:  

You’ll find nature, history, arts and culture at the 18-hectare Fort Canning Park. Many leaders ruled Singapore from this hilltop site – from Malay royalty in medieval times to the British governors in the colonial period. The area today is a beautiful park filled with lush vegetation and historical landmarks – old fort remains, underground bunkers, sombre gravestones, elegant gothic gates, even an archeological excavation site.

The Singaporean verdict: Not a must-see-must-do for a 3 or 4 days itinerary. However, if you have ample time or staying in Singapore for a longer period, this is a beautiful park for portrait photography and a secluded park if you like sometimes away from the bustling city.

How to get there:
Fort Canning Park
River Valley Rd, 179037

By MRT:

Dhoby Ghaut MRT (Canning Rise)
Fort Canning MRT (Foothills)

By Bus: (Canning Rise) 7, 14, 14e, 16, 36, 64, 65, 77, 106, 111, 124, 128, 139, 162, 162M, 167, 171, 174, 174e, 175, 190, 700, 700A, 850E, 951E, 971E, 972

(Foothills) 32, 54, 195, 530

8. WESLEY METHODIST CHURCH

WESLEY-METHODIST-CHURCH-singapore

Where it appears in the novel:

“Rachel had secretly been dreading the wedding all week, but as she followed Nick’s aunties up the slope toward the Gothic redbrick church, she found herself succumbing to the festive air.”

– Crazy Rich Asians, Part Three, Chapter 4: First Methodist Church

 

In the novel, Colin and Araminta’s wedding is held at First Methodist Church, a red-bricked Methodist church located right beside Fort Canning, along Fort Canning Rise. It is described as the church of choice for the old money crowd of Singapore, where church-going is a form of social networking.

Why it’s a landmark:

There is no First Methodist Church (FMC) in Singapore, but the location and history of Wesley Methodist Church match the fictitious FMC, right up to the description of Fort Canning Park behind the church. Like FMC, Wesley Methodist Church has a red-brick facade. And even though it is only the second Methodist Church to be built in Singapore, it is the first Methodist church in Singapore to have an English-speaking congregation. 

Movie Trivia: Instead of filming at the Wesley Methodist Church, the movie seems to have shot the Church wedding scene in the nearby CHJIMES instead.

WESLEY-METHODIST-CHURCH-wedding-singapore

The Singaporean verdict: Wesley is a beautiful community church. However, for movie fanatics who like an Instagram trail of the movie locations, we suggest going to the beautiful CHJIMES which is open to the public. CHIJMES, an integrated lifestyle complex, is only a short walk from Wesley Methodist Church. It’s definitely worth a visit for its unique heritage (it was once a convent school), carefully restored gothic architecture, the beautiful chapel, and a variety of dining options.

From the Movie:

Crazy Rich Asians Movie – CHJIMES Exterior. Photo from Crazy Rich Asians Movie Trailer

Crazy Rich Asians Movie - CHJIMES

Crazy Rich Asians Movie – CHJIMES Hall. Photo from Crazy Rich Asians Movie Trailer

How to get there:

CHJIMES
30 Victoria St, Singapore 187996

By MRT:

City Hall MRT, Bras Basah MRT (Circle Line)

By Bus: 7, 14, 14A, 14e, 16, 36, 36A, 36B, 111, 128, 131, 162, 162M, 175

And for the BOOK fanatic, if you insist on staying true to the book:

Wesley Methodist Church
5 Fort Canning Rd, Singapore 179493

By MRT:

Dhoby Ghaut MRT

By Bus: 7, 14, 14e, 16, 36, 64, 65, 77, 106, 111, 124, 128, 139, 162, 162M, 167, 171, 174, 174e, 175, 190, 700, 700A, 850E, 951E, 971E, 972

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CRAZY RICH ASIANS ACTIVITY 3: GLITZY HANGOUTS

Curious about the lifestyle of the rich and famous? Head to the following landmarks to see if you can spot the wealthy in their natural habitat.

9. SENTOSA COVE

SENTOSA-COVE-singapore

Where it appears in the novel:

“Sentosa Cove was so isolated, and anyone reading the gossip rags knew Colin Khoo and Araminta Lee were away on their fabulous honeymoon yachting around the Dalmatian coast.”

Crazy Rich Asians, Part Three, Chapter 16: Sentosa Cove

 

Nick hides out at Colin Khoo’s glass Sentosa Cove residence after things fall apart with both Rachel and his family. It’s also where he gets a pep talk from Colin spurring him to get Rachel back.

Why it’s a landmark:

Sentosa Cove is Singapore’s most coveted address, one that comes with a hefty price tag. After all, it offers privacy, glistening waters, modern amenities and even a world-class Marina to dock your yacht! When you’re here, rent a bicycle or take a slow stroll to explore homes in every style you can think of – think futuristic houses, tropical bungalows, even a kitschy Egyptian house that looks like it was carted right out of a theme park!

The Singaporean verdict: The beautiful cove is great for sunset and yacht photos. If you are curious about how the uber-rich live in Singapore, you can just pop into this secluded neighbourhood and watch the rich go about their daily routines.

How to get there:

Sentosa Cove, Sentosa, Singapore

By MRT: Harbourfront MRT. Exit and follow the signs to Sentosa Express at level 3 of Vivocity. Board the Sentosa Express to Beach Station. Transfer to Sentosa Bus B and get off at W Hotel, located in Sentosa Cove.

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10. SANDS SKYPARK

sands-sky=park-singapore

Where it appears in the novel:

“That’s where we’re going. At the top is the world’s highest man-made park—fifty-seven stories above ground,” Nick said.

“You’re not seriously taking us to the SkyBar at Marina Bay Sands?” Peik Lin grimaced.”

-Crazy Rich Asians, Part Three, Chapter 20: Villa d’Ora

The Sands Skypark gets a brief mention when Kitty Pong (Alistair Cheng’s starlet girlfriend) complains about not getting a suite in the “cool new hotel with the huge park on the roof”. It’s also where the last scene of the book takes place – with Nick, Rachel, Peik Lin and Kerry getting drinks at the Skypark’s rooftop bar, right by the famous Marina Bay Sands infinity pool.

Why it’s a landmark:  

The Marina Bay Sands Skypark is one of the most frequently seen images of Singapore. A trip to the top offers a beautiful 57-floor-high view of Singapore’s glittering skyline, complete with high-end restaurants and a gravity-defying infinity pool. Countless celebrity photoshoots have taken place at the Skypark’s infinity pool, and even North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a stop at the Skypark during his brief time in Singapore for the Trump-Kim Summit in 2018.

The Singaporean verdict: Most people who have been to the MBS’s infinity pool will say it’s a sight from the top of Singapore, well worth the cost of getting there (you need to be a hotel guest to have access to the pool). If you aren’t ready to fork out SGD400 for this, you can still have a walk around the sky park by paying SGD$20 for access or dine at one of the Skypark restaurants. 

How to get there:

Sands SkyPark Observation Deck

10 Bayfront Ave, level 57 tower 3,
Sands Sky Park, Singapore 018956

Ticket Price: $17 – $23 (Free for hotel guests and diners)

By MRT:

Bayfront MRT

By Bus: 97, 97e, 106, 133, 502, 502A, 518, 518A

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