Besides an array of attractions, the Lion City is home to a whole host of hidden gems, tranquil spots and amazing green spaces for moments to slow down, unwind and get a dose of sunshine to uplift your spirits for the day.
If you’re not a fan of jam-packed travel itineraries or just looking to take your activities down a notch, this guide to slow travel in Singapore is for you.
While our city in a garden is certainly home to endless attractions, you can experience them at your own pace. From serene nature getaways to urban tours that’ll have you reflecting on history and heritage, our city is ripe for a bout of mindful exploration.
With memories of recent restrictions fresh in our minds, mindful travel with intent is one of the best ways to both discover new horizons and stop to smell the roses.
Tranquil nature hideaways
Located in the north-eastern part of Singapore, the pristine white beaches and unexplored trails of Coney Island make lovely getaways from the bustle of city life and the perfect escape into tranquillity.
When planning for your trip, you’ll want to devote an entire day to exploring this idyllic island, discovering boardwalks leading into lush mangrove forests, and spotting rare birds, squirrels and other creatures in their natural habitats.
As you stroll through Coney Island’s green spaces, keep your eyes peeled on tree boughs and towards the canopy. Coney Island Park is home to over 80 species of birds, including rare red junglefowls and the Oriental Magpie-Robin, the latter known for its melodious birdsong.
Rent a set of wheels from the nearby Punggol Point Park for a cycle around this scenic island. Given the secluded locale, you’ll want to pack sunscreen, insect repellent and water in advance.
If you’ve worked up an appetite during your hike, consider taking a short 15-min detour to the nearby Punggol Settlement, a seafront dining destination serving delectable seafood and zi char (traditional dishes infused by home-cooked Chinese food).
Coney Island. How to get there: From Punggol Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station, head to the bus interchange (Exit C). Get on bus 84 and alight at Punggol Road End. Walk to Punggol Settlement, and follow the signs towards Coney Island.
The Southern Ridges
A hidden gem that stretches across the hills of Singapore’s lush southern region, the Southern Ridges is a 10-kilometre stretch of emerald greenery, connecting beautiful parks and gardens such as Mount Faber Park, Hort Park and Labrador Nature Reserve.
Escape from the urban bustle and go on an adventure—it’ll take about three to five hours to complete the entire route.
Spend the morning and early afternoon amidst the chirping of cicadas, as you explore the lush greenery of Marang trail, which winds up to the peak of Mount Faber. This short 350-metre trail takes you from Mount Faber Park to Bukit Chandu in about 15 to 20 minutes – remember to snap a photo of Singapore’s southern coast before you descend.
Meanwhile, look out for the beautiful Henderson Waves. This wood-panelled pedestrian bridge suspended 36 metres above the ground offers beautiful vistas of our ‘city in a garden’. We suggest visiting around sunset for a breath-taking view. The bridge is well-lit in the evening, making it ideal for a stroll after dinner.
More adventurous travellers can attempt a hike at Forest Walk, which takes about 2 hours to complete. The 1.3-kilometre trail starts from Telok Blangah Hill Park and takes you through the Singing Forest—an area with more than 200 bird-attracting trees—and across various bridges, including the majestic Alexandra Arch bridge.
As you find yourself elevated above the Adinandra Belukar forest canopy, do pause, take in the fresh air and enjoy the cool breeze above the trees.
The walk continues as you meander along Berlayer Creek, one of two remaining mangroves in the southern part of Singapore. Keep your eyes peeled for the more than 60 other species of birds as well as the beautiful flameback woodpeckers.
The Southern Ridges. Singapore 099203. If you go on the route from Mount Faber Park to Telok Blangah Hill Park and Labrador Nature Reserve, you should start from Harbourfront MRT station and end at Labrador Park MRT station.
Thomson Nature Park
Officially opened in October 2019, Thomson Nature Park is one of Singapore’s newest green spaces. With five compact trails varying from 350 metres to one-and-a-half kilometres, this park is perfect for visitors looking to take a quick jaunt into nature.
More than just a natural sanctuary, this 50-hectare space is also a window into the past. The Ruins and Figs trail will have you marvelling at Jalan Belang, a ruined Hainanese village that hearkens back to the 1930s.
For travellers who love tropical wildlife, this verdant sanctuary is bound to be up your alley. Look out for rare creatures like the spotted tree frog as you pass by the park’s Stream and Ferns trail, and keep an eye for the Raffles Banded Langur in the trees.
Peckish nature lovers feeling hungry after their visit can drop by Casuarina Curry to enjoy classic Indian fare like prata (South Indian flat bread) and aloo gobi (vegetarian dish made of potatoes and cauliflower). Alternatively, head towards Sembawang Hills Food Centre to pick from a variety of eateries serving local staples like popiah (spring rolls) and laksa (spicy coconut milk-based noodle soup).
Thomson Nature Park. 832 Upper Thomson Road. Daily 7am-7pm.
As parking space is limited, you are recommended to take public transport. Take bus 138, 167, 169, 860 or 980.
Artistic awakenings in our museums
National Gallery Singapore
Escape into the world of art and spend the day searching for inspiration at the National Gallery Singapore. Housed in twin buildings that were once Singapore’s Supreme Court and City Hall, this iconic art gallery boasts the world’s largest public collection of modern art from Singapore and Southeast Asia.
New exhibitions and tours in small groups are available on a regular basis, and visitors travelling with children can sign up for drop-in art classes, which will make for a great family bonding session.
The gallery’s current line-up include Time Passes—an exhibition that poignantly captures the passage of time—and Between Declarations and Dreams: Art of Southeast Asia since the 19th century, which presents over 300 works of art from across the region.
The gallery is a work of art in itself, so make sure to pause, marvel and snap a photo of its unique architecture before wandering the vast interior at your leisure.
If you’re looking to take home a memento or grab a quick bite, Gallery & Co—the establishment’s museum store—offers both Western-style comfort food and charming art-themed souvenirs like tote bags, stationery and notebooks.
National Gallery Singapore. 1 Saint Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957. +65 6271 7000.
Mon-Thu, Sat & Sun 10am-7pm; Fri 10am-9pm.
Drop by the ArtScience Museum™ and lose yourself in the traditions of art and the technological possibilities of the future.
You’ll be able to take things slow and spend an entire afternoon exploring this beautiful space, located along the waterfront of Marina Bay, and just a stone’s throw away from the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands®. The worlds of science and art intertwine at this establishment, and the exhibitions here are bound to help you forget your day-to-day worries.
FUTURE WORLD: Where Art Meets Science—the museum’s most iconic permanent exhibition—boasts interactive art installations themed around nature, science and urban architecture. Visitors should complete the trip with a relaxing stroll along the futuristic Helix Bridge. We recommend timing your walk for sunset, so that you can snap a photo of Singapore’s iconic skyline at dusk.
ArtScience Museum™. 6 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018974. +65 6688 8888.
Cultural insights on walking tours
Sultans of Spice Tour
Take a walk down memory lane and be enthralled by poignant stories from our past with the Sultans of Spice Tour. This immersive tour will have you uncovering the heritage of Kampong Gelam, the history of the Spice Trade Route and tales of the British India Company’s forays into our region.
Soak in the grandeur of Sultan Mosque—with its onion-shaped domes decorated with glass bottle ends—explore the narrow byways and graffiti-adorned streets of locales like Haji Lane, and delve into the craft of tradesmen and artisans who call this district home.
While taking in the sights on this enthralling tour, do remember to abide by social distancing measures, and to keep your masks on at all times!
To book this tour, click here.
Red Clogs Down The Five Food Way™
With its lantern-bedecked streets, cheerful street vendors and traditional boutiques, Chinatown is truly a feast for all senses. To really soak in the details of this charming heritage district, you’ll want to dive deeper into its lesser-known stories and vibrant past with Red Clogs Down The Five Foot Way™.
This comprehensive tour will educate you on the facets of Chinese culture, from the intricacies of medicine and culinary traditions to the fascinating nuances of ancestor worship and other religious customs.
The tour takes about two-and-a-half hours on average and includes a visit to Thian Hock Keng Temple—one of Singapore’s oldest Chinese temples.
To book this tour, click here.
Tea & Tiffin Tour in Little India
If you find the bold tastes of Singaporean cuisine alluring, you may want to delve deeper into the intricacies behind our iconic dishes such as roti prata (South Indian flatbread).
Helmed by the intrepid storytellers of Culture Curious, the Tea & Tiffin Tour will take you through the vibrant cultural district of Little India.
Snack on 7 local delicacies while exploring some of the neighbourhood’s most fascinating landmarks, including the majestic Abdul Gafoor Mosque, the multi-hued Tan Teng Niah Houe and the bustling Jalan Berseh Food Centre.
Asian food culture is all about sharing the love, and communal dining is a big part of the experience. While on this tour, do remember to wash your hands before and after your meals, and to use serving utensils when sharing dishes.
To book this tour, click here.