While nothing beats experiencing Singapore in real life, there are opportunities aplenty to experience its charms from home.
The Lion City’s colourful culture, architecture and fascinating history has long sparked the imaginations of film makers, writers and artists, leading to its portrayal in various works of literature, television and film.
While overseas travel may temporarily be on hold, you can still discover Singapore from the comfort of your living room. So sit back, relax and let these local and international storytellers transport you to the Lion City and beyond.
Local Literature—Words to stir the soul
Edwin Thumboo—A Gathering of Themes
Experience Singapore through the eyes of one of our most celebrated poets. Often dubbed the unofficial poet laureate of Singapore, Professor Edwin Thumboo’s works employ nationalistic themes and mythological imagery to create a vision of Singapore through its post-colonial years.
The titular work of his celebrated anthology—Ulysses by the Merlion—sparked other luminaries of local literature like Alfian Sa’at and Alvin Pang to pen their own Merlion-centric poems.
The Cultural Medallion recipient’s latest collection, A Gathering of Themes, contains his latest works as well as some of his most beloved poems.
A Gathering of Themes is available for purchase from Books Actually.
Ng Yi-Sheng—Lion City
Surreal worlds inspired by Singapore’s culture and cityscape await you in Lion City.
Winner of the 2019 Singapore Book Awards for Best Literary Work, this compelling collection of fiction was written by acclaimed playwright, poet and storyteller Ng Yi-Sheng.
The author has weaved a wondrous tapestry of short stories, telling tales of robotic animals, a prince falling in love with a crocodile and a world-famous airport visited by deities from across the globe.
Other notable works by the author include Eastern Heathens—a collaborative retelling of Asian legends with the internationally-acclaimed Amanda Lee Koe—and Loud Poems for A Very Obliging Audience, a collection of both spoken and written poetry.
Lion City is available for purchase from Books Actually and Epigram.
Suffian Hakim—The Keeper of Stories
One of the local literature scene’s most artful storytellers, Suffian Hakim’s work effortlessly meshes together scintillating threads of fantasy and comedy.
The Keeper of Stories—Suffian’s latest work—is set in post-independence Singapore, and tells the tale of a pair of siblings who’re plunged into a strange new world. Separated from their father, they find themselves enmeshed in a secret community called The Children of the Earth, where they learn the power of stories.
The author’s previous novel—a supernatural jaunt entitled The Minorities—showcases the author’s keen wit, whimsy and deep sense of empathy, with tongue-in-cheek references to local norms and culture. If you’re interested in Singaporean folklore, you’ll definitely want to make space for this title on your bookshelf.
The Keeper of Stories and The Minorities are available for purchase from Epigram.
Noteworthy films by local directors
Antony Chen—Ilo Ilo
The first Singaporean film to win the prestigious Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Ilo Ilo is a poignant drama that’s bound to tug on your heartstrings.
Set in Singapore’s heartlands during the 1997 financial crisis, the film explores the relationship between a domestic helper and the family that employs her.
Besides being an intimate character study that transcends cultures, this cinematic gem also offers viewers a heartfelt glimpse into the inner lives of a Singaporean family.
Click here to purchase and watch Ilo Ilo on Google Play.
Eric Khoo—12 Storeys
One of Singaporean cinema’s most celebrated filmmakers, Eric Khoo’s movies have widely been credited with revitalising the local film scene in the 1990s. With equal doses of the sinister and the surreal, his works are bound to linger in your imagination long after you’re done watching them.
First shot in 1997, 12 Storeys was the first Singaporean film to make it to the Cannes Film Festival, and is a touchstone of local cinema.
Relationships and their tragicomic intricacies take front and centre stage, as Khoo explores the nuances of a fraught marriage, a tense sibling relationship and the isolation of an adopted daughter.
Click here to purchase and watch 12 Storeys on iTunes.
Set in the Lion City—Scenes from Singapore
With its thought-provoking science fiction premise, taut action sequences and philosophically tantalising themes, Westworld is one of the hottest TV series in recent memory.
Season 3 of this global phenomena was partially shot in Singapore, with showrunners praising Singapore’s spectacular architecture and unique blend of heritage, nature and modernity.
Keep your eye out for scenes shot in Chinatown, Orchard Road, National Gallery Singapore and Esplanade Park—and be sure to pay these locales a visit the next time you’re in town!
Watch Westworld—Season 3 on HBO or purchase it on Amazon.
Crazy Rich Asians
A feel-good rom-com that took the world by storm when it first launched, Crazy Rich Asians is a window into the glitz and glamor of the Lion City.
Based on the novel by Singaporean author Kevin Kwan, the movie is told from the perspective of protagonist Rachel, who ends up falling for the heir of an ultra-affluent family.
Constance Wu and Henry Golding may be the stars of the show, but Singapore’s beautiful cityscape comes close to stealing the spotlight on numerous occasions, with iconic attractions like Gardens by the Bay, CHIJMES and Changi Airport gorgeously depicted onscreen.
Click here to purchase or rent Crazy Rich Asians on Google Play.
Embark on a fun-filled adventure through the Lion City with Singapore: Globetrotter, a book that bounds to ignite a love for travel in your kids.
Suitable for children aged 6-12, Singapore: Globetrotter takes a hands-on approach to learning about Singapore’s culture, history and city scape. The book is filled with charming illustrations, fascinating facts and myriad activities like colouring, drawing and connect-the-dot puzzles.
Discover the district of Little India while matching mandala patterns with your child, create your own illustration while learning about the heritage of Kampong Gelam, and express your imagination by colouring an iconic Chinatown shophouse.
Regardless of the activity, this shared learning journey is bound to kindle curiosity in your children.
Singapore: Globetrotter is available for purchase from Epigram.
Looking for more ways to experience Singapore’s charms from home? Check out the Virtual Experiences page for guides, immersive videos and a host of stories from our shore.