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5 Fun Facts About Singapore That 'Crazy Rich Asians' Fans Will Appreciate

Aug. 25, 2018
8 min read
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Romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians hit the box offices last week, wowing millions of moviegoers worldwide with its stunning depictions of Singapore at its finest. The film is lush with vivid, sensory-provoking scenes of traditional Perenakan decor, designer clothing galore, and the rich, saturated colors of Singapore's tropical climate.

Singapore Changi airport offers far more than just “a movie theater and a butterfly garden”

When main character Rachel Chu sets eyes on Changi International Airport (SIN) for the first time, she exclaims that JFK is just “salmonella and despair” in comparison to the tiny island’s mammoth airport. We understand that the movie isn't about Singapore's airport, but can't help giving Changi a little bit more love as one of TPG's favorite airports in the world. Recipient of the Skytrax Airport of the Year award for the last six years in a row, Changi's level of luxury is, for lack of a better description, “crazy rich.” In addition to the aforementioned movie theater and butterfly garden, Changi boasts a zoo, multiple nap rooms, a 39-foot slide, 24-hour luggage storage, kinetic sculptures programmed to move to classical music, and a rooftop pool in Terminal 1... for starters.

Terminal 3 at Changi Airport in Singapore.
Terminal 3 at Changi Airport in Singapore.

And that's just the airport itself. If you're looking for a luxe Asia experience, Singapore is prepared to bring it. Supercars, private planes, and choppers-for-hire are plentiful throughout the movie – not surprising for a country which launched the first Formula 1 nighttime race as well as the first street circuit in Asia in 2008. Although the movie doesn't depict Singapore's famed Orchard Road, fashionistas will be able to live vicariously through Araminta's bachelorette posse during their all-expenses paid shopping spree at the Fashion Boutique. (As Amanda Ling says, "Nobody loves free stuff more than rich people.") Throughout the movie, the theme of lavish excess is highlighted in fun, ridiculous ways.

If you decide to replicate Astrid's shopping habits while in Singapore, don't forget to utilize a credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees – unless you're crazy rich and simply don't care.

Singapore boasts the world's cheapest Michelin-star dining experience

You don't have to be crazy rich to eat crazy well in Singapore. The hawker food stall scene from the movie was filmed at Newton Food Centre – just one of more than a hundred similar street food centers where you can choose from dozens of vendors at each location, each specializing in just a single type of delectable food.

Singaporeans put such a high emphasis on good food that the world's two cheapest Michelin-star restaurants are both located here. Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle landed itself on the global map in 2016 when the iconic Michelin reviewers first came to Singapore and included the hawker stall's $1.47 signature chicken rice dish in its inaugural guide. Malaysian-born owner Chan Hon Meng subsequently opened Liao Fan Hawker Chan just a few steps away in order to accommodate the greatly increased numbers of daily patrons the Guide directed his way.

SINGAPORE - JULY 02: The Supertree Grove is illuminated during the Gardens by the Bay, Light and Sound show on July 2, 2012 in Singapore. The free nightly light and sound display which sees the massive man made Supertrees lit up with spotlights and neon lights officially opened tonight in the 54 hectare south section of the Gardens by the Bay. The Gardens by the Bay was opened on June 29 and features over 220,000 plants, the vertical gradens of the Supertrees, the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest and a Skywalk. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Nearby Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles is Singapore's other Michelin-star street food stall, best known for its bak chor mee, a delectable fried-noodle dish that combines minced meat, seafood, pork liver, mushrooms and small bites of deep-fried lard. Here, you'll pay $4.50 for your world-class meal.

Crazy Rich Asians is the brainchild of a serious AvGeek

AvGeeks no doubt spotted the Airbus A380s parking at Changi, sporting the livery of fictional airline Pacific Asean Airlines, and laughed in agonizing empathy over the tight aisles in the economy-class scene. But did you know that Kevin Kwan, the author of the original Crazy Rich Asians book trilogy, clearly is one of us? In the first few chapters of the book, Kwan waxes eloquent over the “buttery hand-stitched Poltrona Frau leather” upholstering of the Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 first-class seats with a level of attention to detail that suggests intimate familiarity – at least with the brand hype, if not personally with the seats themselves.

Photo by Goh Rhy Yan via Unsplash)
(Photo by Goh Rhy Yan via Unsplash)

Kwan’s characters are no less well-acquainted with the world of luxury travel. Members of Colin Khoo’s bachelor party bicker over their families’ private planes, pitting a Gulfstream G5 against a Falcon 7X against a Bombardier G6000 and a Gulfstream G650. Colin and Nick, fed up with the constant one-upping, charter a Cessna Citation X to escape the bachelor party at 600 miles per hour.

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Kwan’s “Crazy Rich Asians” aren’t unfamiliar with the world of coach class, either, although they wouldn't be caught dead mingling with the common herd. During one family argument, flying “economy class on China Airlines” is used as an insult for a family member who isn’t considered highbrow enough, while Astrid's husband complains of returning home from a tech start-up business trip in the "middle seat of the last, reclining row on an older China Eastern Airlines plane." In contrast, the family of Astrid's college boyfriend, Charlie Wu, used to "buy up the entire first-class cabin of Singapore Airlines" for privacy until the family began chartering private aircraft.

Booking out the Marina Bay Sands for a private rooftop party would probably cost a cool $1.25M

For most travelers, snapping an Instagram photo in the infinity pool on the 57th floor of Singapore's famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel is #poolgoals enough. But Crazy Rich Asians characters took it one step further by booking out the entire rooftop bar and pool area for a private party. (They also booked out the historical CHIJMES for a $40 million wedding and the Gardens by the Bay for the reception following. NBD.)

We can only imagine how much it would cost to book out the entire rooftop, since the pool is only accessible to hotel guests (the observation deck can be accessed by any visitors for around $17 per person). Just to be on the safe side, the family probably would have booked out the entire hotel to ensure that the rooftop would be theirs alone. With 2,561 hotel rooms each averaging between $355-580 per night, let's hope someone in the family booked the hotel using a half-decent credit card. Think of the points! (Yes, Singaporeans have their own points and miles currencies.) If nothing else, cousin Oliver will figure out a way to spend them, right?

Nick Young's hotel is the original birthplace of the Singapore Sling

If the flashy Marina Bay Sands isn't so much your scene, the movie showcased a couple of other hotels for our vicarious enjoyment. The 130-year-old Raffles Singapore hotel is one of Singapore's most illustrious lodgings for VIPs, although it has been closed since December 2017 for renovations. In keeping with the privileges enjoyed by the Young family, the Crazy Rich Asians filmmakers actually booked an entire wing of the temporarily-closed Raffles to film the movie, where you'll see Nick Young and Rachel Chu snuggling up in luxury. The Raffles hotel was the original home of the Singapore Sling cocktail, which was invented at its very own Long Bar. As yet another sign of its historical classiness, the Raffles hotel boasted the first restaurant with a French chef back when it opened in 1899, according to Lonely Planet.

If the Raffles hotel still isn't fancy enough for your crazy rich taste, you could always just buy up a hotel of your own... like Eleanor Young did with the fictional Calthorpe in London.

Additional reporting by TPG Community Manager Wallace Cotton.