Explore both the city centre and heartlands with ease when you travel along the North-South MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) Line—you’re in for museums, theatres, parks, local grub, and more.
Alight here to explore the Civic District, a must-visit for cultural aficionados. Head to the National Museum of Singapore, the oldest museum in Singapore, and explore its two main galleries, Singapore History Gallery and Singapore Living Galleries. Then, check out the Peranakan Museum—this ten-gallery venue houses the world’s largest overview of Peranakan* life. Here, you’ll learn more about Peranakan food, spirituality, and traditional arts such as embroidery and beadwork.
For dining and entertainment in the heart of the city, make your way to Capitol Theatre & Piazza. First built in 1930, then revamped and reopened in 2015, the Capitol Theatre is a meeting point of old and new. While its art deco exterior still remains, it now boasts a modern shopping wing and refurbished facilities. Spruce up your wardrobe with a new suit from CYC Made To Measure, grab a milkshake and hot dog from Capitol Milk Bar and peruse a range of elegant timepieces at Cortina Watch.
*The term is an Indonesian/Malay word that means “local born”, which generally refers to people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.
If you’re in town around the time of public holidays, be sure to head to the presidential grounds of the Istana, which is occasionally open to the public. The main Istana building was completed in 1869 and the picturesque gardens contain an old Japanese artillery gun, a deeply-wooded grove area, and lily ponds. Pro tip: sign up for guided walks to make the most of your visit there.
If you’re up for a short trek, be sure to make a stop at Fort Canning Park for even more lush greenery, with an extra peppering of history. Attractions to check out include the Battle Box (a World War II museum), and the Fort Canning Green, which makes for a great picnic space when it’s not playing host to music festivals.
Orchard and Somerset
Naturally, you can’t miss Orchard Road—Singapore’s most famous shopping district. Head to either Orchard or Somerset MRT station (alight at one station and walk the shopping street till you reach the other—do wear your most comfortable pair of shopping shoes), and be wowed by the myriad of retail options available.
If you’re starting at Somerset, make a beeline for 313 Somerset and Orchard Central. The latter boasts a whole range of fashion boutiques—including Uniqlo’s global flagship store— while the former is home to Love Bonito, an iconic local fashion label.
For more stunning architecture and great views, head to ION Orchard. This striking mall is your go-to destination for a shopping spree, with iconic fashion labels like Alexander McQueen, CK Calvin Klein and Fendi. Don’t forget to drop by ION Sky on the mall’s 56th floor for a panoramic view of the neighbourhood.
The one attraction you can’t miss at Newton would have to be Newton Food Centre. Come armed with a healthy appetite and tissue packets (you’ll need them to ‘chope’ or reserve your tables), and get ready to tuck into some of Singapore’s best local fare. While all the grub here will guarantee you a good meal, local favourites include the chicken or duck noodles at Kwee Heng, popiah from Bee Heng Popiah, and barbecued seafood from Sheng Da BBQ Seafood.
Toa Payoh and Braddell
Travel a few stops further along the North-South MRT line and you’ll be heading into the heartlands—where the pace of life slows down and the daily lives of locals come to the forefront. Think kopitiams (traditional coffee shops) and Housing Development Board (HDB) flats. You may also virtually explore the HDB flats and immerse yourself in a truly local experience.
Hop off the train at Toa Payoh and make the pilgrimage to Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Market and Food Centre, where you can join the queues at popular stalls such as Guan Kee Kway Chap and Changi Village Fried Hokkien mee. Or, swing by other favourite eateries in the neighbourhood (and nearby Braddell) such as Kelly Jie Seafood (formerly known as Mellben Seafood), Creamier ice cream café and Kim Keat Hokkien mee.
Once you’ve eaten your fill, go for a relaxing stroll through the neighbourhood and take in the rustic charm of Toa Payoh’s old HDB flats. Find your way to the famed Dragon Playground (named after its iconic dragon-shaped slide), so loved by locals we’d call it an unofficial national landmark—here, you might also get a glimpse of the neighbourhood’s many roaming feline friends.
For a scenic way to explore Yishun, opt for the Yishun-Sembawang Heritage Trail, a historic walking trail that takes you around the old neighbourhoods.
There are plenty of picturesque landmarks on the trail—such as Sembawang Hot Spring, which was first discovered by Chinese merchants way back in 1909, the historic last kampong mosque in Singapore, Masjid Petempatan Melayu, as well as the scenic waterfronts of Lower and Upper Seletar Reservoir.
Take a peek into the everyday lives of locals and learn about the evolution of public housing in Singapore with the Housing and Development Board’s LIVINGSPACE Gallery.