Look beyond the soaring skyscrapers and you'll find the most unexpected pockets of nature, creativity and old world charm in the Little Red Dot.
Occupying a sizeable plot of land in the sprawling Kranji countryside is the organic farm bearing pineapples, bananas, starfruits, 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.
Watch a video of what goes on at the Kranji countryside at the weekends:
Stacked together like Lego bricks in the middle of the city are 19 shipping containers housing two galleries, 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 during the biennial Singapore International Photography Festival. Its fourth edition was held last November.
SAM TAT BUILDING
Beside the Kallang River, in a quiet cul-de-sac, is a nondescript building that resembles restricted government property but is home to Kilo restaurant and ground floor cafe Loysel's Toy (above). The cafe serves some of the best artisanal coffee in town. Choose your beans and how you want them brewed, whether using a French press or a traditional Syphon. Try their robust Colombian beans for an espresso shot that will give you a swift start to your morning.
66 Kampong Bugis
ANN SIANG HILL PARK
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.
BINCHO @ HUA BEE
Oh, the joy of contradictions. By day, bowls of mee pok (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.
Once home to British officers, this elegant enclave of black and white colonial buildings is where a community of local artists now live, muse and create. You can tour their studios (above) at the annual ArtWalk @ Wessex (the most recent one was in February), or make appointments with individual artists to have a gander around their workspaces at other times. Check out Dick Lim's detailed works on canvas at d'Art Studio and Joyce Loo's clay sculptures at JoyClay Studio & Gallery.
Portsdown Road, Tel: 65 8260 6967
There's a chic hidden oasis in a residential area just a stone's throw from the bustling Orchard strip. With 34 minimalistic rooms attached to semi-outdoor bathrooms, this boutique hotel, which also has a dipping pool and a garden patio, has a distinct resort-like atmosphere. Its exposed concrete body lends the whole place a raw, organic vibe. Rooms start from S$180 per night.
KAMPONG LORONG BUANGKOK
For a taste of life as it was in the '60s (before the advent of multistorey carparks and air-conditioned malls), head to Singapore's last surviving kampung (village). Some 20 families live in this sleepy hamlet of zinc-roofed houses connected by dirt paths. Here, chickens roam freely amid gardens lined with chilli, lime and hibiscus plants. Pay a small token to visit some of the rustic homes.
Off Gerald Drive in Yio Chu Kang
This article was first published in Singapore Airlines’ travel magazine, SilverKris. Go to silverkris.com for more travel stories.