Most guides to Singapore will recommend visiting Marina Bay Sands, taking the family to the night safari and going to Raffles for a Singapore sling. While certainly interesting, clearly these aren’t activities the locals do on an every day basis, so what are they up to instead?
Get out to nature
Some may think of Singapore as a concrete jungle but hidden on the island are a number of walking trails and large green spaces. If you’re looking to trek while in Singapore, consider heading to Bukit Timah (particularly the Green Corridor, a re-purposed old railway line) or the Southern Ridges. Here you’ll be able to wander through nature and get away from the busy streets and malls associated with a typical Singaporean break.
The best thing about getting away from the hustle of the city is that you don’t have to leave behind all the conveniences. Bollywood Veggies (Neo Tiew Road) is a farm-based attraction with a bistro, cooking school and food museum onsite.
While Sentosa Island is visited in huge droves, some of the other islands around the main one are a lot quieter. St John’s Island and the nearby Lazarus Island have some of the nicest and cleanest beaches in Singapore while being mostly ignored by tourists, meaning you’ll get ample room to spread out.
Pulau Ubin is another option for nature lovers, and you can hire bikes once you arrive to get around a bit more quickly. Coney Island is another option which, unlike its New York namesake, is full of natural diversity.
While tourists fill up the (often overpriced and overcrowded) bars at Clarke Quay, the locals are heading to areas around Ann Siang Hill, Club Street and Duxton Hill. Some bars to consider include the whisky-rich B28 and the mixology experts at Operation Dagger (both Ann Siang Hill), the craft beers of Tippletown (Club Street) and the inventive cocktails of Tippling Club (Duxton Hill).
Rooftop bars are also becoming popular in Singapore. Fabrika on top of the klapsons hotel is one option while big spenders may want to go for a meal at Salt Grill on top of the ION tower.
Best time to book: Enjoy a saving of $82 (9% cheaper than the average price paid over the year) if you book your flights 11 weeks in advance).
Whether you need a coffee to recover from the night before or you just need a bit of caffeine to get you going, Singapore has plenty of boutique and specialty cafes that trump the chain stores you likely recognise. Some names to look out for include Curious Palette (Prinsep Street), One Man Coffee (Upper Thomson Road) and Hyde & Co (North Bridge Road).
The truly unique
While you may not be able to avoid tourists or crowds at Haw Par Villa, it’s a must-see for all visitors to Singapore. The highlight here is the Ten Courts of Hell exhibition which, using small figurines, tells the gruesome story of what happens to sinful people in Chinese mythology. With crimes often looking extreme for the crimes, the attention to detail puts this onto another level.
Another unique feature Singapore has is The Projector (Beach Road). This independent cinema has two screening rooms, and shows a mixture of indie, arthouse and classic films.
See it all
Viewing towers are popular the world over and many of the big hotels will have expensive platforms or restaurants to draw in visitors. In Singapore you can get a bird’s eye view of the city for just $5. Head to The Pinnacle@Duxton (Cantonment Rd) and on the 50th floor you’ll find a sky bridge that’s open to the public.