Bikes, Sights and Culture
Just as you can’t truly savour a meal without eating it, you can’t experience a city without strolling its streets. I’m as guilty as anyone of this sin: flying into a new country, cabbing it like a madman, and then heading home complaining I don’t feel like I connected with the place.
The solution, of course, is simple: go walkabout. But hey, let’s start your off easy. How about a nice bike ride? Get things rolling by getting in touch with Biking Singapore, an award-winning bike tour company with packages like Evening Singapore and Pulau Ubin Island. But its bestseller — wait for it — is the Best of Singapore tour, allowing you to zip by Gardens by the Bay, say hi to the Merlion and hit the Chinatown streets.
Along the way, you’ll soak up historic and cultural tidbits from the local guides. Biking Singapore’s co-founder Tony Loo told me that among other things, guides share the story behind Singapore’s currency:
“We talk about our one-dollar coin, and why it has an octagon shape. There was a legend that we had an economic downturn a few years back, and the Prime Minister consulted a feng shui master to find out how to help the country’s economy. One of the prescriptions was to have everyone carry an octagon shape on them. It’s a good luck charm in terms of feng shui.” Hence why, legend has it, there is an octagon shape engraved on the coin. Best of all, you won’t just walk away with memories on this tour: for an extra fee you can hire a GoPro to capture your ride.
Food, Life and Dinosaur Drinks
I always tell visitors that leaving Singapore without exploring its hawker centres would be like touring Sydney and never visiting a pub. These bustling food spots showcase Singapore’s history and culture with every bite. Don’t believe me? Take a tour with Wok n’ Stroll’s Hawker Centre Discovery, and let the experts guide you through the best flavours in town (and how to order them in Singlish, the local patois), one signature dish at a time.
Belly full? Good — now you can burn off the calories with a tour that explores one of Singapore’s most iconic districts: Chinatown. The Passages of Life — Chinatown Walking Tour packs in the history of China’s migrant population and their beliefs, from birth to death. You’ll get your fortune told, learn why a red umbrella is usually present at a funeral, and master the principles of yin and yang in traditional Chinese medicine.
Finally, when in Singapore, do as the locals do. Or rather, drink like they do. Tribe Tours will have you sipping teh tarik (“pulled” tea, poured dramatically and deliciously from a height), knocking back a chocolate “Milo Dinosaur” (addictive stuff, I can tell you) and finally, ending the tour at “sunset on a rooftop with a drink in hand” at Singapore’s first stand-alone rooftop bar — not with a tired old Singapore Sling, but a sweet, sweet, Singapore Sour you made yourself. Cheers to that!