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5 Hidden Gems in Singapore


29 February 2020
5 Hidden Gems in Singapore

Mira Mare, an adventurer passionate about people and their storiesThink 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? But there's another side to my city. Dig deeper and you will uncover a vast array of unusual places to visit in Singapore. There is a whole other world to be discovered- you just need to know where to look. So here are my five personal favourite hidden gems in Singapore that everyone should visit.  


Coney Island 


Coney Island is among the best kept secret places in Singapore and a must 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. I like to catch the train from the city to Punggol, although it is a rather long trip (an hour).  From Punggol station, 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, this is truly one of the most remarkable secret nature spots 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 and even a great place to stay. 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 


There are tons of non-touristy things to do in Singapore but as I said, you need to know where to look. For example, if you look at Google Maps you might notice a huge green dot between Chinatown and Orchard. That is Fort Canning Park- one of my other favourite nature spots in Singapore. As the name suggests, it's a natural park 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. Located in the city centre, the park is much smaller than other national parks, but since it’s in the heart of the city you can easily visit Boat Quay and the other cool things to do in Singapore.  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 food lover’s paradise. The National Museum and the Singapore Philatelic Museum are also nearby and worth visiting.

Joo Chiat Road


While trailing for unusual paces to visit in Singapore, take the time to discover our latest up and coming spot - Joo Chiat Road. This vibrant neighbourhood is a slice of multicultural Singapore and definitely among the unique things to do in 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. It is little wonder this spot makes my list of five hidden gems in Singapore.  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. 

Serangoon Gardens  


There are a number of non-touristy things to do in Singapore and some of these places not even the locals know about - Serangoon Gardens is one of the top hidden places in Singapore for photography and my favourite place to retreat to when I need to escape the bustling city life. Visiting these gardens and the neighbourhood 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 explore the neighbourhood to get a glimpse of this residential district which features many hidden gems in Singapore. 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). While out exploring the best kept secret places in Singapore, don’t forget to visit the lesser-known Serangoon Garden Markets for the local hawker delights.

Gillman Barracks 


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 arty and unusual things to do in Singapore, this is the place to be. The Gillman Barracks are recognised as the city's most respected and innovative visual arts institution and makes my list of cool things to do in Singapore. The former British outpost has been transformed into bustling art centre complex (be it local arts or international talents) of galleries, restaurants and hipster cafés. Keep a lookout for events and concerts information that can often be found on Facebook.