A One Week Getaway… In Singapore!

Can’t go abroad this year? Don’t feel depressed. Singapore offers a great variety of fun things to do, even from the point of view of a local.

Singaporeans often moan about our country being boring with nothing but shopping and food. But that’s not true! Coming up is a list of places to keep you occupied on a week-long holiday. They show case the different faces of Singapore and are based off attractions that tourists rave about.


Escape City Life – Singapore Botanic Gardens

School’s out, leave takes effect, you’re free from hours of confinement working or schooling in a concrete air-conditioned building! Time to take a break from the city to enjoy some rare fresh air and greenery!

A widely circulated email copied to http://oddemail.com/2010/10/28/most-beautiful-botanical-gardens-in-the-world/ names the Singapore Botanic Gardens as one of the world’s most beautiful gardens, ranked ahead of the Versailles Garden in France!

At the Singapore Botanic Gardens, visitors stand to learn about a large variety of plants, trees and flowers from themed gardens, as well as catch of glimpse of swans, birds, some monkeys and even squirrels if you’re exceptionally sharp-eyed. You can capture beautiful pictorial memories of yourself with your loved ones against a backdrop of gorgeous lakes and pavilions. The Orchid garden is highly acclaimed for its comfortable environment and rich variety of orchids.

Wear light clothes, walking shoes and bring your water bottles. Do look up the weather forecast beforehand as it’s not much fun admiring flowers in the rain.

Further information: http://www.sbg.org.sg


Get in touch with your roots – Cookery Magic at Pulau Ubin

Cookery Magic Chef Ruqxana teaches how to cook classic Indian, Malay, Indonesian, Chinese and Singaporean dishes to small groups in her own home, a 100-year-old Kampong House on Pulau Ubin. Classes are not cheap ($100 and above for a few hours and dishes), but the classes consist of cooking lessons from an expert, delicious food, interactions with tourists and a unique experience all in one! Cookery Magic has been recommended by a number of renowned travel-related organizations and publications, including the Singapore Tourism Board, The Independent newspaper of UK and Lonely Planet.

As it’s located in Pulau Ubin, you can also take a bumboat ride and walk or cycle to indulge in the pleasure of exploring an island stuck in the 1960s era.

Further information: http://www.cookerymagic.com


In Memory of their Bravery – Changi Chapel and Museum

Museums, Fort Canning and the Kranji War Memorial come to mind on the topic of attractions about Singapore history. Another less-known but highly recommended attraction is the Changi Chapel and Museum.

This small but comprehensive museum is a rich source of information about life in Singapore during the Japanese occupation in World War Two. Visitors learn, or refresh their knowledge, about events leading up to the invasion of Singapore in 1942, the subsequent surrender of the Allies and the sufferings of the prisoners-of-war. It can be quite overwhelming for the emotional.

What makes this attraction stand out is its audio guide feature, which comes with numerous personal stories, many told from the prisoners themselves. They cost $8 per set, $6 if shared.
After a heavy-hearted experience, head to the nearby Changi Beach Park and let your spirits soar with the sea breeze! Don’t forget to pop by Changi Village, famous for it’s myriad of delicacies loved by foodies and gourmet shows!

More information: http://www.changimuseum.com


Exotic shops at Arab Street

Arab Street is not just about carpets. It also boasts a variety of shops selling clothes, crafts, books (mostly Islamic books) and fabric. It’s a haven for collectors, and an eye-opener for everyone else. Various restaurants and café in Arab Street sell authentic and delicious Arabic dishes.

Inside Arab Street is a tiny lane called Haji Lane. It takes a sharp pair of eyes to spot it, making the visit more thrilling. With shops stocking indie brands, quirky few of a kind items and stuff that you basically don’t see in the mainstream shopping districts of Singapore, Haji Lane is a haven for stylish people who dress to be different.


Enjoy Singapore’s unique river view – Clarke Quay

Situated near the scenic Singapore River and many beautiful buildings, Clarke Quay in the day is a great place to take photos or a leisurely stroll and admire the scenery. Elegant colonial architecture such as the Supreme Court and Parliament Building, and well as colourful shophouses, are within walking distance. Singapore’s architecture is certainly not limited to squarish HDB flats and office buildings!

At night, Clarke Quay is even more beautiful and vibrant as pubs, clubs and restaurants open for the night. With the weather being cooler than it is in the day, a riverside stroll under the moonlight, accompanied by music and jazz is highly romantic. Even if you aren’t a night owl, having a hearty meal by the river or people-watching is a great way to enjoy life.


Reminisce the joys of being a child – Universal Studios

The pride of the local tourism industry, Universal Studios Singapore has been open for years, yet many Singaporeans have yet to visit, or only visited once or twice, this famous theme park that originated from the US. One of the reasons is because the theme park is rather pricey and extremely crowded with tourists on weekends, with throngs of long queues at the attractions.

However, the experience offered is worth the queues and costs. It has seven different zones, each with different attractions and realistic backdrops and buildings to suit their respective themes, to whisk you into different worlds.

Go on a weekday if you can, preferably in the middle of the week. It’s cheaper, and you won’t have to jostle with the working adults or tourists who made a weekend stopover.

Apart from thrill rides, the theme park offers relaxing rides, live shows and gorgeous scenery and photo stops, providing ample entertainment for young and old.

More information: http://www.rwsentosa.com/Attractions/UniversalStudiosSingapore


Chill and soothe your senses – Singapore Art Museum

It’s the last day of your holiday! Unwind yourself so that you are well-rested and recharged for work! But why the Singapore Art Museum?

Well, what other place in Singapore has air conditioning, large spaces, a peaceful environment, modest crowds, ample seating and intriguing exhibits to keep you occupied? The Singapore Art Museum is home to one of the world’s largest public collection of modern and contemporary Southeast Asian artworks. Apart from the regular exhibits, it also brings in famous international exhibits and short films. Best of all, admission is now free.

More information: http://www.singaporeartmuseum.sg

Top attractions chosen based on feedback and popularity on http://www.tripadvisor.com.sg

– This article first appeared in a travel issue of a lifestyle magazine