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In a highly speculative and talked about census, Singapore was named 2nd to last among 32 cities in international publication Time Out’s Most Exciting Cities.

Singapore Culture

Residents across the 32 cities ranked their home grounds on criteria including culture, food, nightlife, friendliness, livability, affordability and happiness. Around Asia-Pacific, Melbourne secured the distinction for the city that’s easiest to make friends. Bangkok’s street food was recognised making it the city in which eating on your feet was enviably easy whilst Tel Aviv, Israel’s multicultural and liberal capital, was identified as the city best for partying.

To set the record straight, native as well as expatriate Singaporeans share their thoughts on how the city should reposition itself to manage these expectations and where the survey may have gone off grid.

Trusting in their own unique creativity

Singapore is often compared to mature cities such as New York or London with an international slant and diversity. Neal Moore, a film producer and long-term Singapore resident from Britain, however feels the contrary.

“I do, however, think Singapore needs to trust in its own unique creativity. We have world-class local theatre, music and films, and yet the live music scene is largely full of cover bands …”

More community engagement and involvement

“I think a lot of excitement in any destination comes from grass-roots innovation from the ground upward,” says Anna Goulding, director of the Umami Collective and co-founder and organiser of Under the Bridge, Singapore’s largest underground music and arts event.

Goulding feels the street art and freedom of expression in cities such as Berlin, London and New York have a freer rein. In Singapore, this is an area Goulding is optimistic will continue to grow but needs nurturing, especially from individuals that are experts in a discipline or passionate about causes.

Ditching a less privileged mentality

Zeng Yi, a scientist at a pharmaceutical tech firm in Singapore, believes a privileged mentality is the result of “first-world overoptimisation.” It is this mentality, Zeng feels, that makes Singaporeans feel their home country is “unexciting”. Zeng adds, “Singapore, like so many other cities known worldwide for their excitement, is just as much about its grand casinos and theme parks as it is about the drains, the neighbourhood parks, the skyscrapers, the little shops of exotic things.”

Making the effort to connect and discover

Despite Singapore’s size, not everything is made visible or advertised to the right target groups. Take the expatriate community for example, how do they consume their media? where do they look for recommendations? www.expatchoice.asia is moving ahead and expanding exponentially. Why? because it's targeted and it's content is relevant. It takes some effort to plough through social pages, check out listing pages and ask around.

“There’s so much to see and do and taste and experience, and yes, even drink, but considering how small the island is – 274 square miles (710 square kilometres), to be exact – the pockets of activity and culture and fun are fairly well spread out. You have to dig; many of the best things about Singapore aren’t spoon-fed to you upon arrival,” says John Gordon, founder and editor in chief at Choice Media.

Creativity will come gradually with diversification and incentivisation

As younger Singaporeans travel widely, model themselves after innovation seen abroad and bring new influences back with them, the city will continue to expand its horizons. “Younger generations are more highly educated, more well-travelled, open-minded and liberal, and are beginning to question the status quo in a way that did not happen 20 years ago. Pink Dot gets bigger every year and has had huge corporate and community support over the years,” says Sabina Leah Fernandez, an editor and content manager.

Despite what an international ranking observes, at Expat Choice, we’ve got all the proof that Singapore offers a best-of-breed blend of live music, food and nightlife and so much more.

About the author: Tristan Jinwei Chan is a journalist and content strategist who has written for publications in Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, Cambodia and Brunei and now writes for www.expatchoice.asia


Lakan Christian Miranda
1 comment
13 July 2019
I have traveled to more than 40 countries, and I have to agree that is not as bad as “boring”. But, it does need some time to “grow-up”. While I was in Singapore, I got to dive into the art, and the party scene. Yes, it’s not as wild, or “free”, and this is to be “expected”. The poetry, music and theatre scenes are very much patterned, outside of Singapore. It’s as if; Singapore does not have its own character. It does! The history, food, destinations, are rich and bursting with material, which has not been explored so much. The mentality does begin with the locals, first. Then, it gets refracted to everyone else, who visits the country.


Singapore is a great place to visit but it has such a long way to go when it comes to having a true identity. This will happen but maybe another hundred years - I believe most countries take a few hundred years to settle.
8 July 2019
Singapore has long been saddled with a reputation for being less exhilarating than a tureen of pea soup left outside in the rain for four days. Why? Well, its record for fastidious cleanliness - by no means a bad thing - probably contributes, in much the way that a clever pupil's neat handwriting will earn them an image as class swot. And its notorious ban on (most forms of) chewing gum - and the even more infamous fines of up to $700 for spitting the stuff on the pavement - definitely doesn't help. It makes Singapore seem to be a rigid stick-in-the-mud. Or it would do if there was any mud to stick in, in a city where street-cleaning is almost an art form.


8 July 2019
Singapore is dogged by the old suggestion that the city is, well, dull. In 2018 Singapore took the 31st spot in a ranking of 32 of the world's most exciting cities - some would even say that makes Singapore boring compared to the rest. But it was not all bad news...Singapore's dining and drinking offerings shine, with 92 per cent of people rating the city positively for eating. Of that percentage, 42 per cent believe food here is amazing. Which we all know t is....