11 Secret Spots In Singapore That Will Surprise You

Beyond its soaring skyscrapers, you’ll find some unexpected pockets of nature, creativity and old world charm in the country affectionately known as the Little Red Dot.

1. Smith Marine Floating Kelong Restaurant

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For a fresh seafood dinner out at sea, book your table (and a 10-minute return bumboat ride) at Smith Marine Floating Kelong Restaurant. A short stroll on the decks of this modern kelong (aquaculture farm) located off the north-eastern coast of Singapore lets you see how flower crabs, lobsters, sea bass, grouper and other seafood are farmed. You can even try fishing for your own dinner; the chefs will cook up your catch in a variety of styles. As the sun goes down, enjoy the sea breeze as you tuck into garlic lobster, sambal (chilli paste) mussels, steamed squid and of course, Singapore’s signature chilli crab.

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Nearest MRT station: Tanah Merah

2. The Parkview Museum

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Occupying 1,400 sq m on the third floor of the iconic Art Deco-style Parkview Square just two blocks from Bugis MRT station, The Parkview Museum is a private gallery showcasing contemporary art. One of the most striking features of the column-free expanse is its six-metre-high ceiling; the cavernous space currently holds the museum’s maiden exhibition entitled On Sharks and Humanity (till September 9). More than 30 thought-provoking artworks – some almost reaching the ceiling – highlight the importance of ocean conservation. The free exhibit is open to the public daily.

Nearest MRT station: Bugis

3. Gardenasia

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A surprising sanctuary ensconced in the Kranji Countryside, Gardenasia comprises a farm, bistro and remodelled black-and-white British colonial villas spread over two hectares of picture-perfect greenery. A relaxing farmstay at one of the English-, oriental- or contemporary-style villas lets you step back in time, with their classic carved wooden furniture and exposed timber roof beams. Rustic at first glance, the interiors are fitted with luxurious marble-tiled bathrooms and modern audio-visual systems. Wander amid herb gardens and fruit trees, before tucking into dishes created with freshly harvested ingredients at Bistro by Gardenasia. Try their pan-roasted lamb to accompany salad with ingredients of your choice, washed down with farm-fresh roselle or cactus drinks.

Nearest MRT station: Kranji

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4. Pearl’s Hill City Park

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Just behind the hustle and bustle of the Chinatown district lies this nine-hectare belt of greenery perched atop a 45m-tall knoll. Visitors must climb flights of stairs to get to the summit, where they’ll find the tranquil oasis of Pearl’s Hill Reservoir. This fortress-like structure was built in 1898 to supply drinking water to Chinatown, which it still does today. Along the way, relax under the shade of mature tembusu trees and breathe in the sweet perfume from the pink and white blooms of frangipani trees. On your way back down toward Eu Tong Sen Street, a little exploring will uncover more relics from colonial times – like a cannon sitting alongside a five-storey blue building. This is one of a pair of Neo-Classical-style conservation buildings built in 1935 – the Upper and Lower Barracks that once housed the Straits Settlements Police’s Sikh contingent.

Nearest MRT station: Outram Park

5. Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe

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A little-known cafe out in lifestyle enclave Seletar Aerospace Park in north-eastern Singapore, Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe serves up uncomplicated yet satisfying fare. Popular choices include the katsu don, Japanese rice in a piping hot stone bowl topped with slices of chicken, caramelised onions and runny egg; and the hearty double cheese chicken burger. The cafe also beckons hipsters looking for their next Instagram photoshoot location, teams of motorcycle cruisers making a pit-stop, and those with a penchant for vintage vehicles – pieces from the owner’s personal collection are displayed here. The biggest draw, however, is dining alfresco and watching private planes take off and land on the runways of the neighbouring Seletar Airport.

Nearest LRT station: Thanggam (from Sengkang MRT station)

6. Raintr33 Hotel

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If you’re looking for a lush, peaceful spot in Singapore to have a family staycation, this boutique hotel housed in beautifully restored former colonial military buildings in quiet Changi is our pick. Its guest rooms feature bathrooms with lovely rainshowers and private balconies looking out onto greenery. All the charming details you’d find in an elegant British bungalow in Singapore circa 1930 – like blinds, rattan chairs and shutters – are included (with fresh updates, of course), so being here is like a sojourn into another era. There’s also a bar-bistro with seats spread out on a verandah – perfect for mid-afternoon mimosas. The hotel sits near the peaceful Changi Chapel and Museum and underrated Changi Beach Park, in case you want to have a stroll.

Nearest MRT station: Tanah Merah

7. Jubilee Coffee House and Bar

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This quaint restaurant in a lesser-known part of Changi is housed in an old bungalow. Complete with stone stools, tables, and a vintage Volkswagon Beetle parked outside, you will feel like you’re visiting your grandparents’ place when you dine here. Inside, partitions and walls with latticework, wooden chairs and a fascinating collection of knick knacks complete the homely, welcoming feel. Even its menu features dishes that your grandmother may prepare, like pork chops, fried carrot cake and custard puffs.

Nearest MRT station: Pasir Ris

8. Bollywood Veggies

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Occupying a sizeable plot of land in the sprawling Kranji Countryside is the organic farm bearing pineapples, bananas, starfruit, eggplants and more. Tour the farm, learn about local culinary history at the Food Museum, then tuck into a delicious meal featuring fresh produce at the fabulous farm-to-table Poison Ivy bistro. Don’t miss the Jackfruit Lemak stew, which features chunks of sweet fruit immersed in creamy coconut gravy. You can also learn how to whip up tantalising local dishes at the on-site cooking school.

Nearest MRT station: Kranji

9. Deck

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Stacked together like Lego bricks in the middle of the city are 19 shipping containers housing three galleries – including a new one called the Print Room – an artist’s studio and more. Drop by to check out works by local shutterbugs, peruse photography tomes for inspiration at its library, or kick back with a cuppa at an undeniably hip cafe. Keep an eye out for a line-up of exhibitions and events held there.

Nearest MRT stations: Rochor, Dhoby Ghaut

10. Ann Siang Hill Park

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The ever-hip Ann Siang area is known for its cool bars and eateries tucked inside heritage shophouses, but not many people have ambled through Ann Siang Hill Park. The lush trail begins at Telok Ayer Green and ends at Club Street, passing by historic landmarks such as Thian Hock Keng temple. Try to spot yellow rain, nutmeg and cinnamon trees along the meandering path.

Nearest MRT station: Telok Ayer

11. Bincho @ Hua Bee

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Oh, the joy of contradictions. By day, bowls of bak chor mee (minced meat noodles) are tossed up in this 70-year-old kopitiam (coffee shop). It happens to be where local indie movie Mee Pok Man was shot. At night, the modest little space in the hipster Tiong Bahru neighbourhood is transformed into an ultra-cool yakitori (grilled skewers) bar. Another surprise awaits in the back of the premises: a fashionably frowzy, dimly-lit cocktail bar that resembles an underground bunker.

Nearest MRT station: Tiong Bahru

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Story originally appeared on SilverKris.

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