When you think of Singapore, a few things might come to mind. Some are towering cities flooded with international business people; others is sprawling resort complexes that essentially act as entertainment centers. These are certainly among the prevailing images of this metropole at the southern edge of Malaysia, and they maybe give a feeling that Singapore is simply a crossroads for travelers and business types.
In some respect this is true. Many people travel to Singapore for work, and millions more pass through to visit other countries like Indonesia for example.
But did you know that Singapore has a hidden sight with unique local markets, small restaurants and an art scene only locals know about. We want to reveal these hidden gems in Singapore to you when you maybe visit Singapore on your next trip.
Singapores hidden places to see
When you cut out the major resorts and urban attractions, you’ll find that you’ve eliminated much of what tends to come up on “things to do in Singapore” lists. Here Singapore’s hidden sight comes in as it also has great flea markets, vintage fashion, artisanal coffee, handmade goodies and cozy hotels.
Meet local artists at Togetherly market
This market showcases a variety of creators of craft, apparel, and accessories. Togetherly is a new on-the-move market where various creative minds and retail concepts converge seamlessly. It also offers you a chance to interact with the local artists.
Experience the true Singapore in Heartlands
‘Heartlands’ is what Singaporeans often refer to as the real Singapore. It is an area with many public housing buildings. As 80% of Singaporeans live in public housing, this is where you get a true peek into the local.
Stroll through the Toa Payoh town centre, where you will be for sure among the locals. Visit the oldest Buddhist temple in Singapire, the Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery.
Also visit Tiong Bahru, once a sleepy area, now it is full with great little shops, amazing coffee places without losing its charm. You should definitely stop by Books Actually as it is such a cute place with a broad range of books or hunt for Tiong Bahru’s elusive murals. You can find them at block 71, 73 and 74.
Get inspired by Citizen Farm
is a sustainable urban farming model that wants to connect people. Here you can join various workshops, volunteer and everybody can enter, borrow or occupy. A great getaway in a unique setting.
60 Jalan Penjara, Singapore 149375
Take a bet at Kranji Racecourse
One of the must do’s and a unique experience is visiting the famous Kranji racecourse. Described as a race that always delivers in terms of entertainment. It’s a horse racing ground in northern Singapore, where you can frequently enjoy top-notch races with excited fans and in terrific seats.
Spot some authentic style houses
Just a few yards after you step off the bustling Orchard Road, you find yourself taken back in time. At Emerald hill you can still see the traditional houses that once where dotted everywhere. If you walk further up the street the more authentic and quiet it becomes.
At Koon Seng Road you will find a row of traditional Peranakan houses as they have recently been given a splash of life with a makeover by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. One of the most beautiful houses is the Katong Bakery.
Get some fresh air at MacRitchie Reservoir
MacRitchie is a true rainforest and lake in the middle of the city. Best is to go early morning when everything is still quiet and peaceful. You can hike or rent a kayak for 15 S$ per hour.
Come for a real treat to PasarBella farmers market
At PasarBella you can find the freshest seafood, meat, cheese, but also wines and craft beers. It us such a delight to stroll over the market and taste various products. They have a wide range of both local and international products.
View some great street art
If you want to see something unique then skip the air-conditioned galleries and take a walk behind the Aliwal Arts Centre in Kampong Glam. You can see some colorful pieces in the back of the alley and if lucky even meet one of the artists.
Places to eat amazing Singaporean food
The food in this little city-state can be phenomenal, and often you need to get away from the big city establishments to realize it.
Eat cheap with locals at Marine Parade Market
Experience Singaporean street food at this little hawker center. They have a wide variety of amazing food that will fit anyones taste.
Blk 84 Marine Parade Central Marine Parade Promenade | Opposite Parkway Parade Shopping Centre, Singapore 440084, Singapore
Taste the best noodles in town
Fong Yong Wanton Noodle has an amazing range of noodles to choose from, is yummy and very cheap. You will receive plenty for only 2.50. A perfect recommendable place for a visit.
A: Block 538, Bedok North Market and Food Centre, #01-89, Bedok North Street 3
Sample chili crab at Makkansutra Glutton’s Bay
This hawker is located nearby the waterfront right next to the Esplanade Theatre. This particular option has been singled out as one of the best places to eat chili crab, which is one of the local Singapore specialties (though chili lobster is an option as well!). It’s not fancy, but it’s affordable and you’re going to love what you eat.
#01-15, 8 Raffles Ave, 039802, Singapore
Gather at the Luxe Singapore
Luxe is set in a big cozy house with a Scandinavian feel. They have a couple of long communal tables where you can have dinner. The design is tasteful and classy.
1 Keong Saik Road #01-04,Singapore 089109. Open 11:00-late (Tues-Fri); 09:30-late(Sat); 09:30-16:00(Sun); Closed Monday
Connect with local farmers at Open Farm Community
Open farm is sitting on 35,000 sqft of green-land. It has the goal to connect local farmers, chefs and other likeminded people. Farm to table is the right concept here.
It has a large terrace with plentiful of outdoor seats where you can enjoy the serenity and the lush views around.
130E Minden Rd, Singapore 248819
Sip amazing cocktails at Oxwell & Co
In the heart of Chinatown nestled atop Ann Siang Hill you will find Oxwell & Co. Oxwell combines a great bar and dining experience in one. Enjoy their amazing house-made elixirs while overlooking the scenic Chinatown at their rooftop bar surrounded by an edible garden. The menu is British contemporary.
5 Ann Siang Road, Chinatown, Singapore 069688. Open Mon: 16:00 – 00:00 Tue – Sun: 12:00 – 00:00
Good coffee at The Lokal
This very popular spot serves some great coffee and tasty food. With its minimalistic design and wooden furniture, it has a warm and cozy ambiance.
136 Neil Road Singapore 088865, open weekdays 08:00-18:00(Mon); 08:00-22:30(Tues-Fri), Weekends 09:00-22:30(Sat); 09:00-16:00(Sun)
Vintage vibe at CreatureS
CreatureS is hidden and located in a two-level-shop-house. The design is colorful and warm with a vintage touch.
120 Desker Road, Singapore 209639. Open Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Sunday: 12.00 noon –10.30 p.m.
Experience Dutch Colony Coffee Co.
If you want to get a good cup of coffee, then this is the place to be. The interior design is amazing with its glass ceiling roofs. This combined with their divine lunch selections, makes it a perfect place for a relaxed start of your day.
Dutch Colony Coffee Co., 113 Frankel Ave, Singapore 458230, p. 6448 5852.
Relax at the terrace of the Wheeler’s Yard
This bicycle themed café is located in a sleepy alley within an industrial-warehouse. A very unique setting. It has an indoor and outdoor space with plenty of room.
28 Lorong Ampas, Singapore 328781, p. 6254 9128. Open Tues-Thurs: 1030am-10pm, Fri-Sat 1030am-11pm, Sun 1030am-10pm.
Places to sleep with an ambience
It’s largely the accommodation in Singapore that can make it feel “touristy” at times. Famous resorts like Hard Rock Hotel, Marina Bay Sands, and Resorts World Sentosa generate a great deal of attention, and take away the charm of the city. But there are other accommodation options in Singapore that will make you feel at home right away.
The place of Eddie and Susan is a lovely and set in a quiet neighborhood with a stunning garden and is beautifully decorated. It is safe, close to public transportation, and easy accessibele day or night. Susan the housekeeper will serve a delicious breakfast of coffee, tea, toast, fruits, eggs, and cake.
This is a really cool place near the outskirts of the city, in Chinatown. A travel guide site for Singapore referred to it as a thoughtfully restored 1920s shophouse, which ought to give you an idea of the somewhat unusual nature of the building itself. But it’s now a cozy and attractive little place that makes for a wonderful retreat as you explore the area.
This is a small hotel in the heart of the city that serves as a reminder of the beautiful natural surroundings beyond the man-made metropolis that dominate modern Singapore. It has a luxurious vibe with minimalist design with a beautiful view of the lush green garden.
Hopefully this begins to paint a picture that Singapore is far more than a complex of resorts and skyscrapers and a perfect place to stay for a few days when on transit to Indonesia or any other country in South-East Asia to explore more off-the-beaten-path places. There’s plenty to do there even for travelers who prefer to seek out Singapore’s hidden gems and unexpected thrills.
Are there any hidden gems that I have missed out on? Please share it with all of us below!