In Crazy Rich Asians , Victoria Loke co-stars as Nick’s cousin Fiona, who doesn’t care what people think of think of her or her family. Newsweek spoke with Loke, who was born and raised in Singapore, about her favorite places in the Lion City.
One of her top spots actually has a prominent role in Crazy Rich Asians : the iconic Marina Bay Sands . Designed by architect Moshe Safdie, the resort opened in 2011 and and billed as the world’s most expensive casino.
The sprawling complex boasts a 2,561-room hotel, a 1.3 million convention center, celebrity chef restaurants, shops, movie theaters, two “floating” crystal pavilions, the world’s largest infinity pool (above), and the breathtaking 1,120-foot-long SkyPark, which hangs over the north tower by more than 200 feet.
“The architecture is so epic it really takes a big Hollywood production to do it justice,” says Loke, 27. “It’s just built for something this spectacular.”
Another of her favorite locales also pops up in the movie: Ann Siang Hill is home to Singapore’s iconic shophouses, dating from the first half of the 20th century.
The narrow, colorful rowhouses reflect an eclectic mix of Chinese and European architectural elements, including the characteristic Peranakan tiles.
“It’s a historic neighborhood and there’s been a lot of effort to preserve the houses,” says Loke. “But there’s also lots of bars and nightclubs. It’s one of my hangout spots when I’m out on the weekend. It’s great — people just spill out into the streets.”
More off the beaten path is Wheeler’s Yard , a coffeehouse and café hidden inside a massive bicycle shop in the heart of the Balestier neighborhood.
“They moved the shop outside, and you actually have to come around the back to get to the café,” Loke tips us off. “Balestier is a little bit in the middle of nowhere—there’s lots of retirement homes and lighting shops—so it’s very peaceful. My best friend lives there, which is how we found the place.”
Singapore is an urban wonder, but it also offers something for nature lovers: “I grew up near the Botanic Gardens and they’re one of my favorite places in Singapore,” says Loke. “It almost feels like you’re in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. I love going on walks there. ”
The 158-year-old green space, the only tropical garden named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is emblematic of Singapore’s efforts to be a “Garden City” in deed as well as name. Each year, some 4 million visitors marvel at the world’s largest collection of orchids (above), including the national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim.
Crazy Rich Asians put Singapore in the spotlight and, Loke predicts, will continue to spur interest in international travel to the storied city as new audiences discover the film. “There’s so much beauty and culture here,” she says. “Plus everyone speaks English and it’s very easy to navigate. I like to call Singapore the ‘starter pack’ for visiting Asia.”
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