Much like The Lord of the Rings and New Zealand or In Bruges and, well.. Bruges, Crazy Rich Asians is expected to cause a spike in Singapore tourism. And while the city-state is tightly packed with manmade wonders, incredible feats of urban engineering, and carefully preserved echoes of history, we’ve decided to focus on specific locations used in the movie and compile a brief guide to the Crazy Rich Asian lifestyle. Here is our pick of top filming locations that exist in real life and are actually open to the public.
Scene: Nick and Rachel arrive in Singapore
According to Skytrax, Changi has been rated the world’s best airport for six years running. Apart from being ranked best overall, the airport has also made it into multiple other top-10 airport lists, including the cleanest, the best dining, best shopping, best leisure, and a few others. The airport is packed full of entertainment, shopping, dining, and even a few tranquil spots—like gardens and art installations— where you can relax and wonder whether you’ll live to see a domestic airport matching this level of service.
Marina Bay Sands Skypark
Scene: aqua aerobics class
While hardly any exercise happens in the world’s largest infinity pool, the rooftop of the Marina Bay Sands is an actual hangout spot for affluent locals. The Skypark is equipped with an observation deck, an Instalicious infinity pool, and a couple of top-notch restaurants, of which Ce La Vi comes highly recommended. The prices are steep, but are well worth it for the view and a taste of the lifestyle.
Gardens by the Bay
Scene: the wedding party
Gardens by the Bay is a true marvel of engineering and design—there is really nothing like it in the world. While there are multiple worthwhile attractions throughout the park, Supertree Grove is guaranteed to be the highlight of your experience. Up to 160 feet tall and inhabited by over 160,000 plants, the 18 Supertree structures are impressive by day and simply mesmerizing by night, when they come alive with a show of light and sound. And yes, visitors are allowed to climb to the top of a Supertree or take a walk on a 72-foot-high and 400-foot-long floating bridge connecting two of the trees.
Scene: Nick and Rachel conversation
Commonly referred to as one of the top three most disappointing tourist sights in the world, the merlion statue in Merlion Park is just 30 feet tall and faces the sea, which means you can only view it from the side. Nevertheless, it’s still a popular tourist spot and, contrary to the stereotype, most visitors do not find themselves underwhelmed. In any case, we feel like seeing one of the world’s most disappointing sights is kind-of a bucket list item in itself, and it’s definitely worth it to experience disappointment on this scale firsthand. If you don’t agree, then an arguably better and definitely taller merlion statue can be found on Sentosa Island.
Bukit Pasoh Road
Scene: “Bawk, bawk, bitch!”
Humpback, a seafood restaurant where this scene takes place, is located on Bukit Pasoh Road on the edge of Singapore’s Chinatown. It’s a beautifully preserved low-rise area, featuring multiple shops, restaurants, and hotels. If you decide to stay true to the movie and visit the Humpback restaurant, it’s a good idea to hit the spot on Sunday— partly for the brunch menu, but mainly for the bottomless mimosas.
Scene: Nick and Rachel stay there
While the hotel is currently under renovation and due to open in 2019, its bar, famous for the invention of the now widely popular Singapore Sling cocktail, has been kept open to the public. The cocktail is both crazy good and crazy expensive, but, without the ambience of a properly functioning hotel you are getting half the experience for the full price. Not to worry—you can sample the famous cocktail in bars all over Singapore, or you can even follow the instructions of the Raffles Hotel bartender and make your own.
Scene: Nick takes Rachel for a bite
Hawker centers are outdoor food courts that feature a variety of street food from all around Asia. They are the great equalizers of Singapore, where a blue collar worker may be sitting next to a crazy rich Asian, enjoying a simple, but oh-so-delicious meal. If you want to go by the book, then head to the Lau Pa Sat, but the scene in the movie was actually shot in the Newton Food Centre, which arguably offers a more authentic experience. Time permitting, why not do both and decide for yourself. The local staples to try are nasi lemak, nasi goreng, hokkien mee, laksa, and chicken rice.
Scene: the wedding
The chapel used for the wedding is a function hall, which is a part of a large shopping and entertainment plaza. The whole area used to be a Catholic covenant, established in the middle of the 18th century, until the government of Singapore purchased the land and sold the property, which was beautifully restored and repurposed. Even though the property now serves a different purpose, much of the original ambience remains to this day.
Ann Siang Hill
Scene: Eleanor walks like she means it
This is another Chinatown location, this time in the heart of this historic area and just ten minutes away from the Humpback restaurant, so you can easily visit both. The area is full of traditional houses, now turned into boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and bars. No pointers required— just walk around, explore, and be prepared to take a ton of pictures.
Clearly, the best way to get to Singapore is to use Singapore Airlines. Round-trip award rates for an economy seat are 76,000 miles if you fly on Singapore planes and 110,000 miles if you fly with Star Alliance partners. If you want to fly like a crazy rich Asian, then business and first-class seats are 176,000 and 236,000 miles, respectively. Keep in mind that the prices are slightly higher for Houston and East Coast departures.
The great thing about Singapore Airlines is that they allow you to transfer points from four other programs: AmEx Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and SPG. If you need to rack up points quickly, your only choice is to apply for a travel credit card, earn the sign-up bonus, and transfer it to Singapore Airlines. And since no card offers a bonus big enough to cover the entire trip, you’d have to apply for at least two cards. Our suggestion would be the Premier Rewards Gold Card from AmEx and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, both of which offer a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points. To meet the spending requirements on both cards you’d probably have to do them one by one.
The bottom line
Even though Singapore is on the pricey side, many of its attractions are equally accessible to both the crazy rich and regular folk like us. Although the shopping may be accessible only to the wealthy, the gardens, the infrastructure, the architecture, and the food scene can all be experienced to their full capacity on a tolerable budget. When visiting Singapore, it’s not hard to imagine yourself in a crazy rich lifestyle, if only briefly.