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Day 1: Culture shapers

Little India traditional trades wall mural
1. Little India

Singapore is a nation made up of many cultures, be they rooted in ancient tradition or modern trends. And one of the best places to start discovering this multi-faceted city is Little India. In the neighbourhood that’s traditionally the home to the local Indian community, old and new come face-to-face.

Follow an art walk trail that takes you around the district, and discover several wall murals that were created by students of LASALLE College of the Arts. Each mural tells a story of the neighbourhood’s proud heritage. For instance, Traditional Trades of Little India by Psyfool depicts parrot astrologers, dhobi (washermen) and other labourers who once thronged the streets of this heritage enclave. Many of these trades have all but disappeared, although another mural along Chandler Road pays tribute to the present-day migrant workers who have raised our skyline on their backs.

Woman eating banana leaf nasi briyani with hands
2. Lagnaa

After meandering through Little India, you would have worked up enough of an appetite for lunch. Head to Lagnaa Barefoot Dining to indulge in a feast, the traditional family-style way. As its name suggests, you’ll be sharing platters of North and South Indian dishes while seated, sans shoes, on the floor. Dig into the food like the locals do: with your hands.

Top down shot of Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall façade
3. Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall

Once you’re done with lunch, satisfy your inner culture vulture at the Civic District’s clutch of museums and art galleries, which are only about 15 minutes away by taxi. The Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall is our oldest performing arts venue and home to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO). If you’re lucky enough to be in town when they’re playing, do yourself a favour and grab tickets to the show. You won’t hear anything like it elsewhere: The SSO is internationally renowned for its performances that mix Western and Chinese compositions.

Yugnes Susela pouring a cocktail at Smoke & Mirrors
4. National Gallery Singapore

A stone’s throw away is the National Gallery Singapore. You can easily spend an entire day in the gallery’s grand halls, and be an art aficionado as you take in the world’s largest collection of Southeast Asian art. But your experience doesn’t end at the last artwork you admire.

Climb up to the gallery’s rooftop and slip into Smoke & Mirrors, a cocktail bar where bartender Yugnes Susela is shaking up concoctions inspired by the art you’ve just admired. Yugnes himself is representative of how the city makes passions possible: From a part-time dishwasher, he has gone on to become one of Singapore’s top bartenders, renowned for his boundary-pushing cocktails. Grab a table on the al fresco terrace while soaking in some of the best views of the Singapore skyline.

Day 2: Collectors

Cross junction of Orchard Road at night, facing ION Orchard and Tangs
5. Orchard Road

In a city where shopping experiences abound in any neighbourhood you’re in, start your day at the epicentre of our retail scene: Orchard Road. Awaken your inner fashionista at ION Orchard’s gold mine of luxury, cult and high street brands. Or, channel hipster inspiration at orchardgateway and its fleet of multi-label boutiques that stock local threads, accessories and homeware.

Break for lunch at MUJI’s first flagship store in Southeast Asia, found in Plaza Singapura. Among the Japanese brand’s trademark ‘Super Normal’ clothes and homeware, you’ll find Café&Meal MUJI, which specialises in wholesome rice dishes.

Bussorah Mall at Kampong Glam with Sultan Mosque in background
6. Bugis

Hop on a quick subway ride to Bugis for a markedly different shopping experience: one without malls. The Kampong Glam neighbourhood is dominated by an eclectic mix of Muslim stores, hip fashion boutiques, old-school sundries shops and time-worn textile stores where you can tailor your own sari or baju kurung, the traditional garb of Indians and Malays, respectively.

Duck into Sup Clothing on Haji Lane, where you’ll find limited edition pieces of streetwear, from snapback caps to graphic tees. Many of these pieces have been designed by artists—even our very own Mark Ong, an internationally recognised sneaker designer better known as “SBTG”, had worked on a collection with the local brand.

For dinner, be pampered like an aristocrat from a bygone era at Mamanda. Located within the compound of the former Sultan’s (a Muslim sovereign) palace, the upmarket restaurant issues out refined takes on classic Malay dishes within an elegant, handsome setting.

Day 3: Explorers

7. The Roti Prata House

Before exploring MacRitchie Reservoir Park, head to The Roti Prata House on Upper Thomson Road for a robust breakfast of roti prata (South Indian flatbread) and curry—you’ll need all the fuel you can get.

Subaraj Rajathurai with eco-tour group at MacRitchie TreeTop walk
8. MacRitchie Reservoir

You’re now within walking distance of MacRitchie Reservoir Park. Spend the rest of the morning as a safari explorer as you venture into the lush rainforest, home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna such as long-tailed macaques and flying lemurs.

Wide day shot of Henderson Waves
9. The Southern Ridges

After exploring the nature reserve, take a train from Marymount Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station to Telok Blangah station, where you’ll be able to embark on the Southern Ridges. It’s a ten-kilometre trail that will take you through three parks and one nature reserve. Your eagle eyes will immediately spot the iconic Henderson Waves bridge, a 36-metre-tall pedestrian bridge that’s emblematic of the way the city manages to harmoniously integrate modern architecture with unspoilt nature.

On the raised platform that skirts around forest canopies, you’ll chance upon fellow nature lovers and eco-tourists. Look out for their nature guide: if he’s a white-bearded, barrel-chested man, that’s probably Subaraj Rajathurai, a wildlife consultant who gave the Southern Ridges its name and occasionally leads tours in the area.

10. Mount Faber Park

Take the easterly route from the Southern Ridges to pass through Mount Faber Park and on to Faber Peak Singapore. From here, you’ll be able to hop on a cable car to Sentosa—but first, break for dinner at Spuds & Aprons. The restaurant, perched at the top of Mount Faber, offers an expansive view of even more lands to conquer during your trip.

Day 4: Action seekers

Fandi Ahmad coaching the youth football team at National Stadium
11. Singapore Sports Hub

Singapore is the healthiest nation in Asia, according to a study by Bloomberg, and a large part of this stems from our addiction to sports. There’s nowhere better to understand this than at the Singapore Sports Hub. Here, you can live out your athletic dreams at the Sports Hub’s many facilities, including water sports at the Water Sports Centre and wave-riding at Splash-N-Surf.

The jewel of the Sports Hub is the National Stadium. The state-of-the-art stadium is the home of the Lions, our national football team, and has witnessed many glorious nights of sports. Make your way to the Singapore Sports Museum within the stadium grounds to relive the feats of our athletes through the years. Among the exhibits, you’ll surely find a few dedicated to Fandi Ahmad. Fandi is our most famous footballer, having played for the Eredivisie’s FC Groningen, and is currently the coach of the national youth division. His son Irfan is an up-and-coming footballer, too.

A plate of hokkien prawn noodles
12. Old Airport Road Food Centre

At the legendary Old Airport Road Food Centre, queue for bowls of solid hawker fare. Order their specialty, lor mee (noodles in a thick, vinegary gravy) or hokkien prawn mee (stir-fried prawn noodles), then dine with the many locals who frequent the hawker centre.

Advanced boulder wall at Onsight Climbing Gym
13. Onsight Climbing Gym

Work off those calories at Onsight Climbing Gym, the largest rock climbing facility in the city. You can defy gravity on bouldering walls and climbing lanes that go from easy to nigh impossible. Besides casual climbing that even kids as young as five can attempt, you can also be a bona fide extreme sports athlete by taking certification courses in sport climbing and abseiling.

Woman jumping mid-way at Sentosa, AJ Hackett, overlooking Siloso Beach
14. Sentosa

There’s no time to catch your breath, now. Take a taxi ride to Sentosa, where plenty more adrenaline-pumping activities await. Fly down Mega Adventure Park – Singapore’s 450-metre-long zip-line, jump off AJ Hackett’s bungee platform, or careen down slopes on the Skyline Luge. You’ll also find iFly Singapore on the isle. The skydiving simulator puts you in the shoes of ‘indoor skydivers’ such as Kyra Poh, a local 14-year-old who has been crowned “the world’s fastest flyer".

Ride out your adrenaline high over dinner at Tanjong Beach Club. The laid-back restaurant and bar is right on the sands, overlooking the Straits of Singapore and, if you’re around while the sun’s still up, dozens of people playing beach volleyball.

Day 5: Socialisers

Lau Pa Sat food centre at Central Business District
15. Lau Pa Sat

We’re a city that brings people together, no matter their creed, culture or career. Find evidence of this when you breakfast at Lau Pa Sat, one of the city’s oldest hawker centres. Here, you’ll be jostling with Singaporeans from all walks of life—from suited office workers to uniformed service staff—as they queue up for breakfast staples of roti prata and kaya (a traditional jam made from coconut and eggs) toast.

Two men playing Chinese Chess at a clan association
16. Chinatown

Make your way west, towards Chinatown, and break for lunch at 1KS. The café serves up gourmet salads and sandwiches—but you’re really here to mingle with the members of the local creative community who frequent it.

From the entrance of 1KS, turn left and walk down Keong Saik Road until you reach a cluster of mixed-use buildings. In the many public spaces here, you’ll find local seniors gathering around tables to watch and play games of chess, Chinese chess, and checkers. The friendly competitive atmosphere is addictive, so challenge them to a round if you’d like, but be warned: They’re that good.

Bespoke smoky cocktail from Native
17. Native

Once night falls, Chinatown and the Central Business District take on a different mood. Cocktail bars and hip restaurants transform the area into a socialiser’s paradise, and one of the best places to see and be seen is Native, one of the top 50 cocktail bars in the world. Owner Vijay Mudaliar is a firm believer in using local produce: He even deploys into his drinks ingredients that have been foraged from his neighbourhood, including ants. 

As you nurse your tipple well into the night, you’ll realise that you’d have spent the entire day in the Chinatown end of the Central Business District. Then it’ll become clear why local crooner Nathan Hartono considers it one of his favourite neighbourhoods in Singapore, thanks to its mix of old and new, trendy and traditional.

Day 6: Foodies

A plate of Singapore fried kway teow
18. Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre

You know our reputation as a culinary capital, and you’ve seen countless mouth-watering images of our food. Now, go forth and cram as many delicious morsels as you can in your mouth—one of the best places to start is Tiong Bahru Market & Food Centre.

For a light breakfast, go for chwee kueh. They’re pucks of melt-in-the-mouth rice flour cakes, whose subtle flavours are elevated by a heap of preserved turnip so rich in umami you’ll be picking at every last bit. You’ll find many of the neighbourhood’s more senior residents doing the same as they read the morning papers. And don’t miss the market section, too. You’ll be grocery shopping the local way, with butchers, fishmongers and other purveyors shouting out the bargains of the day.

Spend the rest of the morning strolling around Tiong Bahru and taking in its eclectic architecture, a blend of heritage shophouses, early public housing flats and strikingly modern wall murals.

19. Nylon Coffee Roasters

Walk in a south-easterly direction until you reach Everton Park, a cosy residential area that’s home to a number of cafés and restaurants. There’s Nylon Coffee Roasters, which sells all manner of arcane coffee paraphernalia and merchandise that will let you be (or pretend to, at least) a barista at home. Ji Xiang Confectionary is also situated here—it’s famous for handmade ang ku kueh. The red Chinese pastry is the perfect teatime snack: Within a sticky, chewy rice flour skin sits a sweet filling of either mung bean, ground peanut or red bean.

Father and son statues outside Peranakan Museum
20. Peranakan Museum

Everton Park is a short bus ride away from the Peranakan Museum, which is dedicated to the local Peranakan (Straits-born people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage) community. The community is famous for, among other things, food—and the museum dedicates one entire gallery to the history, influences and evolution of their cuisine. Remember to bring your cameras for the immersive experience that transports you into a Peranakan kitchen from decades past.

Meat dish from Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant Candlenut
21. Candlenut

Now that you’ve learnt about them, step into the shoes of a local Peranakan when you have dinner at Candlenut. The elegant restaurant is built upon recipes that chef-owner Malcolm Lee mastered from his grandmother, and has now won international acclaim as the world’s only Michelin-starred Peranakan joint.

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