Southeast Asia’s Republic of Singapore is well-known for its famous street food, including two Michelin-starred Hawker stands. It also has swanky shopping centres, copious gardens, and an intriguing mix of modern affluence with old-world cultures. But the island city-state’s reputation more recently was catapulted to ultra-stardom thanks to blockbuster summer hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” a screen adaptation of author Kevin Kwan’s 2013 best-selling novel of the same name.
The film is a triumph in many ways, including that it is the first Hollywood film with an all-Asian cast since 1993’s “Joy Luck Club.” Raking in $34 million within five days of its opening night, it also proves that diversity sells at the box office. Warner Bros. announced plans to develop a sequel to Kwan’s book “China Rich Girlfriend “.
Last, but not least, “Crazy Rich Asians,” shines the spotlight directly on Singapore and other locations in Southeast Asia. The rom-com’s positive message is already making fans want to travel to the exotic and diverse country to live the good life.
The following are some locations where “Crazy Rich Asians” was filmed. They are worth exploring off the silver screen. Warning: There may be spoilers if you haven’t seen the movie yet. )
Singapore Changi Airport
In the Film: Traveling from New York, Rachel and her hunky beau, Nick Young, arrive in Singapore via this remarkable airport.
In Real Life: Consistently earning accolades as a top international airport (including World’s Best Airport for the sixth consecutive year by Skytrax), Singapore Changi Airport is a worthy destination in and of itself. It is known for its high-quality service, efficiency, and aesthetic appeal.
For example, visitors can marvel at a tropical butterfly habitat, which is home to 1,000-plus butterflies belonging to 40 species, lush foliage and a nearly 20-foot-tall waterfall. Visitors can also take a walk through the sunflower garden, swim in the rooftop pool, or watch a free movie (“Crazy Rich Asians” perhaps?). at a 24-hour movie theater.
And there’s even more to come: In 2019, Jewel Changi Airport will open as an addition to the airport and will feature a “Rain Vortex” (the world’s tallest indoor waterfall at 131 feet); five stories worth of lush greenery to walk or hike through; “Discovery Slides” set within a mirrored art installation; a 75-foot-high Canopy Bridge with a glass bottom; and much more, including retail shops and restaurants.
Newton Food Center
In the Film: Rachel and Nick join their soon-to-be-married friends, Colin Khoo and Araminta Lee, on a joyful eating spree through one of Singapore’s celebrated hawker centers. It’s basically a scene that makes people hungry. )
In Real Life: A trip to Singapore is incomplete without paying a visit (or several) to Singapore’s lively culinary hubs of delicious and affordable food. You will find many cuisines, including Chinese, Malaysian and Indian.
Author Kwan mentioned in interviews that Newton Food Center is his favorite place to eat street food. This is also where the “Crazy Rich Asians” scene is held. To start, order hokkien Mee (stir-fried egg with rice noodles), satay, and sambal Stingray.
And though Singapore’s renowned street-food scene includes myriad must-try establishments, two stand-out spots have earned a Michelin star each: Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle (which added a brick-and-mortar restaurant in 2016) and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle. The former is famed for offering the world’s cheapest Michelin-star meal; its popular braised chicken and rice dish clocks in at just $1.50.
In the Film: Nick and Colin escape an over-the-top, cringe-inducing bachelor party onboard a container ship in favor of sweet solitude, a cooler full of beers and the gorgeous scenery of “Rawa Island.” Meanwhile, Rachel attends Araminta’s extravagant bachelorette party, which takes place in the bride-to-be’s family-owned private island resort in Indonesia.
In Real Life: Though Rawa Island is indeed an island in Malaysia, both scenes were actually filmed in Langkawi, an archipelago made up of about 99 islands in Malaysia. What about the extravagant hotel where Araminta and her friends go on a shopping spree that costs nothing? The luxurious Four Seasons Resort Langkawi in Malaysia is a five-star property that’s nestled within Southeast Asia’s first UNESCO geopark.
The recently renovated 91-room property features pavilion- and villa-style accommodations, as well as two pools, a stunning thatched-roof spa with floor-to-ceiling windows (the spa has a cameo in “Crazy Rich Asians”) and 48 acres of beachfront tropical gardens.
Gardens by the Bay
In the Film: After the elaborate affair that is Araminta and Colin’s wedding ceremony, it makes complete sense that they would host their reception at a venue with otherworldly tree-like structures soaring up to 160 feet.
In Real Life: An initiative led by Singapore’s National Parks Board, the award-winning, fantastical urban oasis of Gardens by the Bay is a must-stop for any itinerary to Singapore. Roughly 250 acres of reclaimed land were transformed into waterfront gardens, which include the abovementioned solar-powered “Supertrees” that are also 18 innovative, vertical gardens.
Don’t miss the light and sound show featuring the Supertrees, held twice-nightly at 7: 45 and 8: 45 p.m., or the lofty OCBC Skyway, an aerial walkway that offers guests a closer look at these astonishing structures.
Additionally, cooled conservatories (the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest) have won accolades for their energy-efficient sustainability and building technologies, and the Heritage Gardens tell the story of Singapore’s history and culture through four themed gardens.
Marina Bay Sands
In the Film: During the magnificent final scene of “Crazy Rich Asians,” tidy rows of synchronized swimmers dance in the fabulous infinity pool of this Singapore luxury hotel. Nearby, Nick, Rachel and the rest are celebrating a very romantic gesture (exact details are withheld). Moviegoers enjoy glitz, glamour, and stunning views of Singapore’s skyline.
In Real Life: More than 2,500 room and suites make up the iconic Marina Bay Sands — the biggest and perhaps most recognizable hotel in town. It spans three sloping towers that are joined at the 23rd floor as well as the 57th-floor Sands SkyPark, a roughly 133,472-square-foot tropical sanctuary (big enough to fit three football fields); here, guests will find the aforesaid infinity pool and observation deck, as well as gardens and restaurants.
But that’s not all: The hotel also features access to Banyan Tree Spa Marina Bay Sands, Sands Theatre, ArtScience Museum, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Marina Bay Sands Casino, Sands Expo & Convention Centre and more than 80 restaurants in total.
I’m Michelle, and I love to travel. As a former hotel expert for one of the world’s largest hotel chains, I’ve stayed in nearly every type of room imaginable (including many that were not so desirable!). Nowadays, I am fortunate enough to be able to explore the world on my own terms. From international flights to learning different languages, there is nothing too far out of reach!