Think of Singapore and you’re probably picturing its bright lights, air-conditioned shopping malls or incredible skyline. Or maybe you’re dreaming about tasting its incredibly diverse cuisine and exploring its multicultural neighbourhoods? But once you’ve ticked Singapore’s top attractions off your bucket list, make sure you check out these hidden gems in Singapore!
Don't dismiss Coney Island if you love nature and cycling. Coney Island is situated far northeast of Singapore and underwent a re-development under the Punggol 21 Plan, an initiative to create an eco-friendly waterfront settlement. The train ride from city to Punggol is rather longer (an hour), and there are a nothing-special HDB buildings and executive condos around Punggol station. But don't stop exploring here - keep walking over to the bus interchange and hop on the bus 84 to reach the last stop; it's worth taking a trip to Coney Island! Surrounded by lush green foliage, you won’t believe you’re in Singapore. The Island offers a view down to Malaysia and Pulau Ubin (one of Singapore islets which is really close to Malaysia). So when you need an urban detox, the scenery makes the perfect escape. You can simply walk around or rent a bike at the bike shop to cycle (either way, be aware that there is the only one entrance to and from the island - don't get lost). Bicycles can be rented at a couple of stores along Punggol Promenade Nature Walk.
Fort Canning Park
Looking at Google Maps, you might be wondering what the huge green is dot between Chinatown and Orchard. As the name suggests, it's one of the natural parks which is managed by NParks (short for National Parks Board, a governmental body that strives to not only preserve Singapore’s green areas but also educate people about appreciating nature). The trails at Fort Canning can be quite steep, but they’re less challenging than the ones in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (another NPark in the west of Singapore). Located in the city centre, the park is much smaller than Singapore’s other national parks, but since it’s in the heart of the city you can easily visit Boat Quay and other major tourist attractions from the heart of the park. In the neighbourhood is also an area that was once used as a British military barracks, which is now home to music events and is a foodies’ paradise. The National Museum and the Singapore Philatelic Museum are also nearby and worth visiting.
Joo Chiat Road
Photo credit: thefashionistastraveller.com
Discover Singapore’s latest up and coming spot - Joo Chiat Road. This vibrant neighbourhood is a slice of multicultural Singapore. Consisting of the colourful Peranakan Shophouses, this street offers something to eat for everyone. From local dishes to western cuisines, Joo Chiat Road caters for the tastes of different communities who call the area home, and uses recipes from their diverse heritages. Be they expats or locals, you’ll escape daily life and get lost in the magic of Joo Chiat Road. The beauty of Joo Chiat is that it’s a snapshot of the long-lost Singapore that was once filled with rickshaw drivers and Chinese merchants. While you need to take a long bus ride from the city to get there, it’s worth the trip.
There are a number of places in Singapore that even the locals barely know about - Serangoon Gardens is one of them. Visiting these gardens is one of the authentic local experiences you shouldn’t miss while you’re in Singapore. Locals hang out here with their close friends and chill out after a long day of work, but you should also explor the neighbourhood to get a glimpse of this district, it’s neon jungle and shops. In the evening, head over to the MyVillage shopping mall to check out the luxury restaurants and the rooftop cinema. There’s also a karaoke box out there that only charges you SGD 10 (the majority of karaoke boxes in Singapore costs you SGD 30). Don’t forget to visit the lesser-known Serangoon Garden Markets for the local hawker delights; it’s not just only Chomp Chomp hawker centre in this neighbourhood, which is well-known amongst locals and one of the best in the city!
Think Singapore is all about food and shopping? Think again! If you are an artist at heart, and if you want to know more about the artsy side of Singapore, this is a place to be. The Gilman Barracks area is recognised to be representative of Singapore’s most respected and innovative visual arts institutions. The former British outpost has been transformed into bustling art centre complexes (be it local arts or international talents) and hipster cafés. Keep a lookout for events and concerts information that can often be found on Facebook.