The Top 10 Things To Do in Singapore When You Think You've Done It All!
The Top 10 Things to do in Singapore When You Think You’ve Done It All
A friend who has been here four months recently proclaimed that they had done and seen everything there was to see and do in Singapore already. It’s not an uncommon theme, and I can only assume he was referring to all the big tourist attractions that feature heavily in travel brochures, like the Merlion, Marina Bay Sands, Sentosa and the like. Personally, it’s an attitude that puzzles me as the longer I’m here the more I realise there is to see!
While Singapore may be a small country there is much to do and see once you move away from the main tourist areas. It’s only when you do move away from the big tourist attractions that you can begin to gain an appreciation of the Asian heart underneath the Western veneer.
So, when you think you’ve seen and done everything that Singapore has to offer, try one of these:
1. Pulau Ubin is an island off the north of Singapore. You reach it by taking a boat (called a bumboat) from Changi Point Ferry terminal. Once on the island you can hire bikes and explore this undeveloped piece of Singapore. In my couple of visits I’ve seen spitting cobras and wild boars! After burning some calories you can grab a meal and drink at the restaurants near the jetty. Bumboats depart to Pulau Ubin from Changi Point Ferry Terminal and cost $2.50 per person. The boats operate between 6am until about 8pm daily.
2. Kebun Baru Birdsinging Club. Most Westerners will not have ever considered birdsinging as a hobby, but in Asia it’s quite a popular past-time and the Kebun Birdsinging Club at Ang Mo Kio is the place to experience a real taste of local life. The large field has a forest of 20 foot high poles permanently erected and people bring their caged birds daily to sing, with competitions held regularly to find the bird with most beautiful song. Kebun Baru Birdsinging Club is at the open field behind Block 159 Ang Mo Kio Avenue. Admission is free.
3. Visit a park. Singapore is dotted with parks and green spaces. For a coastal walk try Labrador Nature Reserve. If you’re after a walk through the jungle the 11km trek around Macritchie Reserve will challenge you, with the Treetop Walk being a highlight. East Coast Park for the cyclists or roller-bladers. Ang Mo Kio-Bishan Park for a great running tracks and wide-open spaces. Information on all the parks in Singapore can be found on the National Parks website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/
4. Sembawang Hot Spring. This is a very unique place. A natural mineral spring in the north of the country where locals come to bathe and soak in the piping hot water. Grab a chair, fill a bucket and revel in the ages old practice of “taking the waters”. Sembawang Hot Spring is at Gambas Avenue, Sembawang. Operating hours are 7am until 7pm.
5. Japanese Cemetery Park is tucked away in the back streets near to Yio Chu Kang Road. It was established in 1891 by a Japanese brothel owner as a resting place for destitute Japanese girls. Despite being taken out of Japanese hands after the Japanese occupation of World War 2, ownership was eventually handed to the Japanese Association in 1969. Despite the last burial occurring here in 1973 it’s a well-tended cemetery and a fascinating insight into the long (and not always pleasant) relationship between the Japanese and Singapore. The Japanese Cemetery Park is at 825B Chuan Hoe Ave, 549853. Gates are open between 7am and 7pm daily. Admission is free.
6. The Old Ford Factory was where the Allied forces formally signed the surrender to the Japanese in World War 2. Today it’s a museum that details the Japanese occupation of Singapore. Admission will cost $3 if you’re not Singaporean but it’s $3 well spent in order to understand what life was like here during the period of time that Singapore became Syonan-to. Memories at Old Ford Factory is at 351 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Singapore, 588192.
7. Joss Stick Man. Joss sticks are traditionally burnt during religious ceremonies, and Mr Tay (AKA The Joss Stick Man!) and his brother are the last joss stick makers in Singapore. The Tay brothers are very happy to explain their craft to visitors and help to keep this ancient craft alive. Tay Guan Heng (Joss Sticks Manufactuer) 4001 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, #01-25, Singapore, 569622.
8. Old Malay Cemetery. Perhaps I have a fondness for cemeteries as there are two on this list! The Old Malay Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Singapore with mention of it in a map dated from 1836, which records it as “The Tombs of the Malayan Princes”. There are no information signs in the cemetery but it’s a great place to explore, particularly as it is very different to Western cemeteries with its apparent lack of order and small head and footstones. The Old Malay Cemetery is between Rochor Canal Road and Victoria Street and is intersected by Jalan Kubor. Admission is free.
9. Local waterparks. The newest waterpark in Singapore, Adventure Cove, will cost a family of four $124SGD, but if you head out to the council run swimming complexes in the heartlands you can have just as much fun and save $118SGD! No, that’s not a typo. Jurong East Swimming Complex costs on a weekend $2 and adult and $1 per child and features a lazy river, a wave pool, a little kids waterpark, 3 waterslides and a 50 metre pool. Sengkang Swimming Complex is the same entry cost as Jurong East and has 8 waterslides, a Jacuzzi and a kiddie waterpark. Information on all the public swimming complexes in Singapore can be found at http://www.singaporeswimming.com/pools/
10. Kampong Bangkuok. This cluster of about 20 houses is also called “The Last Kampong” and this way of living was the typical lifestyle of Singapore before HDB’s. Be aware this isn’t a tourist attraction and that real people live here so please be respectful of the resident’s privacy. Once again there’s no charge for this slice of Singaporean history. Kampong Buang Kok is located on Lorong Buag Kok.
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Contest Comments » There are 4 comments
A great piece and had given me plenty of more places to add to my ever increasing list
Our Big Expat Adventure is a very well written blog. There are a few on here to add to my 'to do' list. Keep up the good work!
if only i knew half of this when we were in Singapore two years ago! absolutely essential reading for anyone planning a visit. xt
Great pointers for those of us "doing" Singapore. The Joss stick men are my particular favorite, this is a dying art in Singapore so definitely worth a visit. Thanks for sharing.