There’s nothing wrong with wanting to experience the lifestyle of the crazy rich, even just for a few days, so that’s exactly what I did. If you haven’t seen or heard of Crazy Rich Asians, the blockbuster hit of this summer, then you’re totally missing out. This movie marks a milestone in the history of Hollywood for having an all-Asian cast since The Joy Luck Club came out a quarter of a century ago.
Another reason the movie is a big hit is because it takes place almost entirely in Singapore (although some parts were filmed in Malaysia). While most Filipino travelers like me have been to Singapore since it’s one of the few visa-free countries we can freely go to, it was refreshing to see old and new sights and sounds of the city state on the big screen. A few weeks before the movie came out on August 22, I had already booked a trip to Singapore for September 7-10 without fully realizing my timing was perfect, since I would be visiting shortly after the movie’s release date. I was really lucky to be also in time for the STGCC (Singapore Toy, Game and Comic Convention aka Singapore Comic-Con where I won two tickets to!), the 10 Years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Exhibit held at Marina Bay Sands which ends on Sept 30th, and a friend’s birthday party. Talk about a crazy productive weekend right?
In order to commence a legit Crazy Rich Asians experience, I started by planning ahead and using my Asiana Airlines Asiana Club miles to book premium class flights to Singapore. Asiana and Singapore Airlines are both under Star Alliance, which meant I could use Asiana miles to book SIA flights. Unfortunately, like many frequent travelers have complained about online, it was so difficult to search for availability. I ended booking *just* business class flights instead of First Class like the one Nick Young and Rachel Chu took from New York aboard the fictional Pacific ASEAN Airlines. I was disappointed, but Mrs. Eleanor Young would still approve though. Probably.
September 7, 2018: It was the day of my departure, and my first time in SIA’s SilverKris Lounge at Manila Airport’s NAIA Terminal 3 and I looked forward to being there. The lounge had a relaxing ambiance, but the food they served was quite confusing. It was like there wasn’t any theme around it.
In one of the first few scenes of the movie where Rachel was clearly taking a First Class flight for the first time, especially when she was holding on to the airline pajamas, you could see the amazement in her eyes. I could totally relate to her after having flown first class for the first time with Etihad back in May. Now that I was seated in business, after flying business a couple of times, I had maybe a third of that amount of thrill. Business Class seats now seemed so cramped, compared to potentially an entire suite in First Class. Oh well.
One of the most notable things on this flight was how spacious the Business Class bathroom was, and that it had Penhaligon’s (a posh London perfume brand) toiletries and SIA-branded sanitary napkins. The quality of the napkins were similar to that of the brand I normally use. I’M KIDDING
Upon arrival at Changi Airport aka the World’s Best Airport, I didn’t have friends waiting for me with balloons. Since I wasn’t really a crazy rich Asian, just someone trying to experience that kind of life, I didn’t have a limo and didn’t even consider taking a taxi to the city. Like in Tokyo, taxis in Singapore are expensive as they are even without tolls. So I became a practical middle-class Asian and took the MRT (subway) to Bugis Station for what must have been less than SGD 3.
After getting off the station, I had a difficult time looking for my hotel since I didn’t have wifi. While Nick and Rachel stayed at The Raffles Hotel (as deduced by movie viewers), I stayed at the nearby Mercure Bugis. The Raffles is currently undergoing renovation until 2019. Anyway, here’s the funny part. I became wet from the pouring rain (okay, more like slightly damp from the drizzle) and I checked in at the front desk. Fortunately (for them) they found my reservation right away. If they hadn’t, I would have looked for a phone booth outside to call my husband overseas and ask him to buy this hotel the way younger Eleanor Young did in London. LOL
All I knew about my hotel was that I was staying in a loft-type room. I didn’t know these even existed, so I was really looking forward to it. It was amazing. But the things I saw next blew me away. Apart from the uber chic lobby, the hotel had a roof deck with a skyline view and an infinity pool on the 7th floor, also with a view! The city lights looked spectacular in the evening. I was spellbound.
After I returned to my senses and realized that I wouldn’t want to stay at any other hotel the next time I’m in Singapore, I did the same thing Nick and Rachel did after leaving the airport. EAT!!! Since I was hungry. I went to the nearby Albert Food Centre where some restaurants were still open and had a meal. Then, I called it a night.
Crazy Rich Asians Filming Spots below!
I crafted this Singapore itinerary which revolves around all the popular locations filmed in the city, which can be completed in one day and four MRT stops because let’s be honest: the subway is the practical option for most of us crazy middle-class Asians. Unless you’re traveling in groups of 3 or 4, then a taxi or Grab might be the ideal choice.
First MRT Stop: Esplanade or Bugis
Bugis is such a central location for shopping, dining, and filming locations, as I eventually found out. The next morning, the first C.R.A. spot I went to was (1)THE CHIJMES (pronounced chimes) where Colin and Araminta’s epic wedding was filmed. I was pleasantly surprised there were few to no people in the area.
Almost right beside it was (2) THE RAFFLES HOTEL being renovated, as I mentioned above, but they were still selling their famed snow-skin mooncakes outside their property.
Second MRT Stop: Outram Park
Next stop was (3) HUMPBACK BAR on Bukit Pasoh Road, where the bok bok bitch scene was filmed. This is where Rachel was speaking to her bff Peik Lin about her potential-future-mother-in-law troubles. This was a pretty outdoors area, but again no one seemed to know about it or care. Good for me and my photos, I thought. It was daytime so all the establishments were closed.
A short walk away was (4) ANN SIANG HILL. Go up the road, then the exact place is located to your left after walking past a big pub called Oxwell & Co. This is where I finally found other film location hunters like me. After I identified the spot, I saw these two girls who were suspiciously loitering in the area like I was and immediately exclaimed, “YES, IT’S HERE!” I found out they were from Malaysia and we talked about visiting the other filming spots.
Third MRT Stop: Esplanade or City Hall
I met up with friends and they insisted we go to the (5) ESPLANADE where the proposal scene between Nick and Rachel were filmed.
I have been to Singapore at least once a year every year since (6) GARDENS BY THE BAY was opened in 2012, but I never really felt like going there since I felt it was too touristy. So I’ve never really seen it up close or even from afar, until this trip. There is a viewing deck outside the Marina Bay Sands hotel which lets you see it in all its towering glory. Even from afar, it looked majestic and out of this world. Be sure to stay until dusk to see it light up!
Last MRT Stop: Newton
After a day of exploring the city by subway and on foot, you would be famished like I was. Thankfully, the last stop is (7) NEWTON FOOD CENTRE. It gets really crowded here, so if you’re alone like I was good luck finding a seat. Although, you can always leave a personal item to “chop” or reserve the seat like the locals do.
BONUS! I realized that the bathroom mirror at the Mercure Hotel Bugis looked like the one in the last scenes of C.R.A. which Astrid used as a hiding place for her jewelry. She taught me not to hide your expensive jewelry from people who can’t recognize your worth because of their insecurities.
“It’s not my job to make you feel like a man. I can’t make you something you’re not.” – Astrid Leong Teo
YOU GO GIRL!!
(End of Crazy Rich Asians Filming Spots)
On my last day, I took the MRT back to Changi Airport and checked in, then I took the shuttle bus to take a look at the new Terminal 4 since there was this hype surrounding it, but I was disappointed to find out there was nothing much to see and that it was the budget airline terminal for the most part. So I just made my way back to my terminal. It always amazes me that there is never a line longer than 2 people at immigration when departing from Changi Airport. Efficiency at its best!
It was also my first time being in the Singapore Airlines Lounge. The staff approaches passengers to warmly welcome us. The right side led to the area for First while the left led to Business.
The thing with expectations is that they are hard to lower once they have risen. That being said, I honestly found the “new regional business class product” of SIA on their B787 Dreamliner to be quite cramped. I felt like my shoulders couldn’t move and my legs had to go inside the small space allotted in order to lie down flat.
Super lucky that I Feel Pretty was showing on KrisWorld since I missed it in the movies. I find Amy Schumer HILARIOUS.
And just like that, my weekend of the Crazy Rich Asians experience was over and I was back in Manila again.
END OF MY CRAZY RICH ASIANS EXPERIENCE, but if you would like to read about other highlights on this trip just scroll down further!
Colorful and historical Keong Saik Road
Ah Chew famous desserts
Hipster Haji Lane
Tong Cheng Yuan Soya Bean shop and laksa with chicken cutlets at Albert Food Centre
KOI cafe and LiHO milk teas
Mini Wok Zhi Char salted egg rice toppings
Lao Ban super silky tofu
Marvel Studios The First Ten Years – Marina Bay Sands Singapore Exhibit
Inside STGCC Singapore Comic Con 2018
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Hi! I'm Kevin, a published travel writer, and this is my travel blog about first and business class flights, airport lounges, shopping, visa information and local travel credit cards for mileage programs. In 2017, I fulfilled my personal goal of visiting over 30 countries before I turned 30 years old and I would be more than glad to help you achieve your own #travelgoals too. ;)