After boomeranging between home and Singapore with my family so often during the past few years, the Lion City has sunk its teeth into me. It’s become a second home.
Packed with landmark architecture, state-of-the-art attractions and action-packed theme parks, there’s also gorgeous green spaces and an incredible diversity of culture, cuisine and tradition. From the bizarre to the beautiful, Singapore has more than anyone could hope to enjoy on a mere stopover. Here's some family-friendly favourites to explore the lesser-known sights of Singapore.
Singapore’s most distinct cultural neighbourhoods are within easy reach of the CBD by foot or MRT. Enjoy the buzzing chaos of Chinatown with its Peranakan shophouses, temples and hawker markets, and culturally vibrant Kampong Glam, Singapore's oldest urban quarter and home of the impressive Sultan Mosque. Little India’s vividly hued temples, markets packed with heady spice stores and flower-garland vendors and fiery food, are also not to be missed.
Feast of flavours
With cuisine rich in Chinese, Indian and Malay influences, Singapore is one of Asia’s great food capitals. Whether you prefer to dive in with forks, chopsticks or fingers, the best way to sample the food is at one of its hawker centres and markets. We can’t resist barbecue pork buns at Tiong Bahru Market, luscious laksa at Sungei Road, oyster omelettes at East Coast Lagoon Food Village or the spicy curries and fluffy rotis at the Tekka Centre in Little India.
Harry Potter in Singapore? You read right. There's a magical slice of Hogwarts where Singaporean muggles head to pay homage to Harry. We love the menu of wizardly potions and Potter-esque cakes at Platform 1094 on the corner of Serangoon Road and Beng Wan Road.
Art and about
Singapore boasts many world-class galleries but if you’re like my family and prefer your art on the street, you can also take a 'wall crawl' through the laneways of Little India, Kampong Glam, Everton Park and Chinatown to see incredible installations and murals.
Take a bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal to Pulau Ubin, a little island that's big on adventure. The former quarry is dotted with ramshackle kampong houses and timber boats, plus 10km of international-standard mountain bike trails to get the heart pumping. For action of the watery kind, Singapore Wake Park, in the city’s East Coast Park, amps up the adrenaline with cable wakeboarding, kneeboarding and water-skiing.
From heritage-listed Botanic Gardens to the futuristic Gardens by the Bay, Singapore isn’t called the Garden City for nothing. Our favourite way to go green is on a bicycle ride along the long, meandering river in Central Singapore’s Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.
Take the MRT to the surreal Haw Par Villa in Pasir Panjang where, among the statues of ancient gods and gory scenes of trial and torture, there’s a quirky boat ride and performances of Chinese legends.
All images: Aleney de Winter
This article originally appeared in Flight Centre's Travel ideas: Asia magazine, available in stores and to read online.