Editors' Picks: The Local Tours and Tourist Attractions that We Love in Singapore
The Covid-19 pandemic may have kept us from travelling to our usual favourites or exploring new territories, but it has also allowed many of us to rediscover Singapore and see it through the lens of a tourist. Beyond shopping and dining, there's definitely more to the tiny red dot than what we usually see. With the Singapore Tourism Board encouraging domestic tourism through the SingapoRediscovers campaign, the Tatler Singapore team shares their favourite must-visit tourist attractions around the island and where they would like to spend their unique Singapoliday this year.
“The added advantage of being situated in Singapore is the fact that we get to enjoy 'summer' all-year-long, so exploring the great outdoors is much more accessible without having to factor in cold or unpredictable weather. It is also the main reason why I’ve been encouraged to make the most out of my weekends, considering travel restrictions over the past few months of partial lockdown. Many don’t know this, but we’re actually surrounded by a myriad of water-related activities to satisfy the explorer and thrill-seeker in you, which makes curbing your wanderlust much easier.
Together with a bunch of friends who are avid lovers of the sea, we’ve checked sailing, paddle boarding and wakeboarding off our bucket list, and are looking forward to kayaking around some of Singapore’s hidden nature reserves next—each brimming with diverse wildlife and a robust ecosystem. Most recently, we chanced upon Kayakasia, a Singapore-based eco-adventure travel company that does just that. Apart from guiding kayakers around the beautiful Southern islands that surround the mainland, they also have itineraries that take you through the Mandai mangroves that are filled with the world’s largest resident population of mangrove horseshoe crabs—who knew!”
—Amelia Yeo, writer
"When asked to think of where I'd most like to visit in Singapore, I initially struggled to think of a spot. And then it hit me—I really want to visit the ArtScience Museum again. I'm guilty of forgetting that there's plenty to do here and that my country boasts over 50 museums that have attracted millions of visitors over the years. As someone who loves visiting museums when abroad, I now ask myself why haven't I done the same at home? The ArtScience Museum holds a special place in my heart for a couple of reasons. One, the first exhibition that I went for was Harry Potter: The Exhibition back in 2012 so as a proud Potterhead, that experience was unforgettable. Another sweet memory I hold is standing outside the museum at night with my boyfriend during the early days of our relationship as we ogled at its impressive facade. To me, the Moshe Safdie-designed museum makes up the centrepiece of the beautiful Marina Bay waterfront.
Since I'm keen on being more conscious of my plastic usage and to lead a more sustainable lifestyle where possible, I intend to visit the Planet or Plastic? exhibition by National Geographic at the museum soon. It is also the ArtScience Museum’s first exhibition to launch since re-opening after Singapore’s circuit breaker period."
—Andrea Saadan, assistant digital editor
“Living in Singapore is great—we have a world-class reputation for being one of the safest and cleanest cities—but if there's one complaint I've heard from many Singaporeans, it is the fact that we don't have four seasons here and that's probably why many Singaporeans I know (including myself) enjoy travelling to colder, winter countries for their holidays. However, since jetting away to Japan or Korea is not an option in the near future, I'm looking to escape the heat at Snow City this holiday season instead.
While the indoor snow centre has been open since 2000, I've never actually included it in my recreation plans even when I was a kid. But in the spirit of rediscovering Singapore, I think it is high time to visit and make full use of my winter gear while I'm at it. Each admission to Snow City includes playtime in the snow chamber where you can snow tube, indulge in a snowball fight, or build a snowman; as well as a bumper car ride on ice. I'm particularly psyched for the new winter shooting arena, where I can challenge my friends in a shoot-out.”
—Chloe Pek, senior writer
“National Gallery Singapore is always a calming and beautiful place to head to—from the art galleries to the insightful tours about art history to architecture. My family especially enjoys the Gallery Children's Biennale. Then there’s the food: Odette is always a dream to dine at, and the National Kitchen by Violet Oon is a charming spot to hang out at.”
—Daphne Chen-Cordeiro, digital content director
“Having been stuck in Singapore for the last couple of months, I am always on the lookout for unique local experiences that would satisfy the wanderlust in me and keep me sane until we can all travel again. This search has led me to the Aqua Gastronomy pop-up restaurant at Resorts World Sentosa’s S.E.A. Aquarium, which gave me the experience of dining underwater.
I got to dine in this dreamy pod facing the Open Ocean Habitat, home to over 100,000 mesmerising marine creatures. Even better, I was able to tuck into a delicious seafood-inspired menu with creations such as Shining Seas, a dish of Kühlbarra sea bass bathed in a luminous Shiitake sauce. Bookings are currently full until October 31, but the resort has extended the pop-up until the end of the year with a new festive menu. That said, when I need to take another underwater trip without leaving the island, you know where to find me.”
—Dudi Aureus, digital dining editor
“One of the few things I enjoy as passionately as I do a fine meal is a well-staged performance—be it a musical or a dance. And while there is much to be savoured virtually or even via a crafty documentary, like food, there is no substitute for the magic of a live performance. No doubt, there is a decent digital programme for this year’s da:ns festival, which includes live streams, talks and workshops. I’ve already bought tickets to a documentary about the delectably gifted Friedemann Vogel, which follows the principal dancer for leading German company Stuttgart Ballet around the world for over half a year in 2018.
But, suffice it to say, I would not think twice about splurging on a chance to watch him perform Béjart’s Boléro live at the Esplanade. Or perhaps he could do a duet with Dada Masilo or Rocío Molina (I still get goosebumps recalling Molina’s Bosque Ardora for da:ns festival 2017). The Esplanade is currently closed until further notice but if Phase 3 allows for safe live performances—by local and eventually international artists—I’ll most certainly be craving to follow an early dinner with an evening at the ballet.”
—Don Mendoza, dining content director
"For every friend visiting Singapore for the first time, I would always recommend they put the Night Safari on their travel itinerary. But guess what? I’ve never been there myself.
Nonetheless, I have fond memories of family weekends spent at the Singapore Zoo, especially waking up bright and early to make the “trek” (and I say this with much affection) to Mandai from our home in the Eastern part of Singapore so that we could get there before the park opens, picnic lunch in hand. We would take our time exploring the rainforest zoo, before stopping by the gift shop on our way out to purchase a memento of a day well spent.
The last time I was at the zoo was probably more than 10 years ago. So I would definitely take some time to experience the Night Safari next, to discover native species such as pangolins and binturongs, as well as nocturnal residents such as the clouded leopards. What’s even better, 50 cents from every ticket purchase goes towards wildlife conservation in the region. Like many other modern zoos, Wildlife Reserves Singapore has dedicated itself to protecting biodiversity.
The thing about the pandemic is that it offers us time to explore what’s in front of us. While we lament the cancelled year-end trips overseas, why not make it a holiday at home and discover the charms of our sunny island? Excuse me while I dust off my #touristathome updates on Instagram. And to the offshore islands, I’m coming for you next!"
—Hashirin Nurin Hashimi, sub-editor
"We’ve all had to be a bit more creative with the ways we spend our day-offs this year, and I’ve still yet to visit Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum even though it’s been five years since its opening; so it’s definitely on the top of my mini checklist of attractions to explore. Besides the news-making three sauropod dinosaur fossils that the museum had acquired, it also houses specimens from the former Raffles Museum, some of which that date as far back as 1849.
Designed by W Architects, the venue’s cliff-like concrete facade is as noteworthy. I love how the vertical greenery are integrated into the building itself, while featuring both a mix of common and endangered plant species indigenous to Singapore."
—Hong Xinying, managing editor, Tatler Homes Singapore
"I’ve been exploring Singapore on my new bicycle and especially enjoy when I chance upon hidden enclaves with black and white houses. One of these weekends, I’d love to do a proper walking tour of these charming colonial bungalows like the award-winning Black and White Houses tour by Jane’s Singapore Tours, which takes micro-travellers through the Adam Park Estate, Goodwood Hill Estate, or Alexandra Park Estate sharing the history, architecture and stories of their former owners.
I’ve also been looking at the immersive experiences of homegrown travel company Blue Sky Escapes and their Pedals and Port Landings tour is definitely up my alley. However, I’m also curious about their newest curated experience called The Last Village, which is a visit to Singapore’s last surviving kampong at Lorong Buangkok. It’s literally getting a glimpse into the past, and the itinerary includes speaking to the friendly village landlord over kueh and tea. The authentic kueh alone makes it worth booking."
—Kissa Castañeda, editor-in-chief
"The Jurong Bird Park was one of the most popular attractions in Singapore back when I was a student, and I also remembered memorable school excursions to the aviary, which still features one of the few manmade waterfalls in the country. But with the bird park due to relocate to the upcoming Mandai Nature Precinct soon, I think it is about time I brought my children to visit Asia’s largest bird park before it becomes yet another piece of history."
—Terence Lim, editor