While lazing on the couch and starting on our umpteenth Netflix series seems like a great way to spend the weekend, with phase three about to begin in Singapore on 28 December, there’s no better time to spend a weekend outside soaking in the holiday festivities.
It’ll be some time before international borders reopen and we’re able to kick back on a white-sand beach in the Maldives, embark on a languorous wine tour through the south of France or revel in the bright neon lights of Tokyo. So why not play tourist in your own country for a weekend? Who knows, you could discover aspects of the Little Red Dot that you may have previously overlooked.
Just be sure to mask up, practise safe distancing at all times and keep your group to a maximum of eight people. When dining in, only remove your mask when consuming food or beverages, and try to head to attractions during off-peak times. Be sure to check the venues’ websites or social media accounts before heading down to confirm opening times and admission details, as you’d most likely be required to make a booking beforehand.
Start your weekend bright and early at the Singapore Botanic Gardens – the first and only tropical botanical garden to be named a Unesco World Heritage Site. Highlights include the Ginger Garden, which showcases a few hundred species of the eponymous plant and its relatives; and the famed National Orchid Garden, which is dedicated to our national flower. You can also check out the CDL Green Gallery for botanical- or greening-related exhibits that will be changed every six to nine months.
Exit through the Gardens’ Tanglin Gate and take a short stroll across the road to Dempsey Hill for breakfast. The hilly, jungle-festooned enclave offers plenty of alfresco dining options, so you can enjoy your croissant and coffee with a side of fresh air. Consider dropping by Tiong Bahru Bakery Safari to sample their freshly baked pastries or head over to PS.Cafe if you’re in the mood for a classic big breakfast or serving of fluffy pancakes.
Now that you’re sufficiently fuelled up, make your way over to Gardens by the Bay to meander through the open-air areas, gaze up at the striking Supertrees and visit the Flower Dome. The latter has launched Pocket Gardens Surprise, a rotating series of mini garden displays that will change every fortnight. Currently on display is the Poinsettia Wishes that brings a slice of European-holiday cheer to the tropics with a reimagined Gouda City Hall and Christmas nutcrackers. There’s also the fascinating Orient Express pop-up exhibition at the West Lawn where you’d get to see two original train carriages and precious antiquated items, as well as the Walk of Lights by Christmas Wonderland, a scenic 370m self-guided tour to view eight light installations, including a spectacular 17m tall Spalliera.
Make your way to Marina Bay Sands, for its highly lauded signature restaurants. You can get your fill of burgers and fries at Black Tap, tuck into modern British grub at Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen, treat yourselves to a hearty steak at CUT by Wolfgang Puck, sample the fried chicken at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar or indulge in modern Chinese cuisine at Mott 32.
The ArtScience Museum is a great place to while away the afternoon. Get intrigued by key exhibitions such as Future World: Where Art Meets Science, an interactive digital odyssey into the future created with interdisciplinary art collective teamLab; and Planet or Plastic? which takes a look at the global plastic pollution crisis through powerful photographs. Don’t miss Margins: drawing pictures of home, which showcases the works of 15 Singapore photographers and offers deeper insights into our surroundings.
Head back outside and meander your way along the coastal walking path towards East Coast Park. Along the way, you’ll pass picturesque sights such as the Bay East Garden and Marina Barrage – perfect for taking a short break and snapping a couple of photos as the sun sets. Once you’ve reached the edge of the park, make a beeline for the beach and enjoy a few moments of calm as you gaze out into the ocean.
For dinner under the stars, you can head to riverside restaurant Summerlong, which brings to mind tropical beachside vibes, or opt to head further east to Little Island Brewing Co at Changi Village. The former is a breezy, fully outdoor restaurant specialising in Mediterranean nosh (we recommend the selection of skewers that are charcoal roasted to perfection). Meanwhile, the latter is a casual brewery and smokehouse with craft beers on tap and a menu filled with hearty options such as wood-fired pizzas, burgers and meat platters.
Begin your day with breakfast at Wildseed Café & Bar, a spacious and picturesque restaurant at Seletar Aerospace Park. Sample the smashed avocado toast with either mushroom or bacon (both come on toasted ciabatta bread and are dressed with marinated tomatoes and pea shoots) or the Atas Kaya Toast (which comes with sourdough, kaya, butter, gula melaka, fresh coconut and a sous vide egg) if you prefer something sweet. Wash it all down with a long black or iced latte.
Take a 20-minute drive or cab ride over to Mandai, where you can visit either the Singapore Zoo or the River Safari. Although some offerings at both venues remain suspended, it’s a great time to get a closer look at the animals without having to jostle with the crowds. Both attractions have a time-based entry system, so be sure to purchase your tickets online and select a specific time of entry before your visit.
From Mandai, travel down all the way down to Sentosa for lunch at Panamericana, which has outdoor seating that overlooks the Sentosa Golf Club greens and the Singapore Strait beyond. There’s something for everyone here: meat lovers can feast on Mexican beef brisket tacos, a whole Colombian chicken to share or seven-hour wood-fired lamb; while vegetarians can choose between the Panamerican Sofrito Rice (saffron, scamorza cheese, grilled asparagus, string beans and baby corn) and the British Columbia salad (red cabbage, fennel, apple, beetroot, dates and seeds).
Stave off the food coma by visiting either Universal Studios Singapore or S.E.A Aquarium. While the former won’t be relaunching all activities at this time – for instance, parades, shows and street entertainment are still on hold – you’ll be able to take advantage of shorter waiting times for the rides. S.E.A Aquarium, on the other hand, is where you can get a closer look at over 100,000 marine animals across 50 different habitats. Be sure to book advanced tickets for both venues online.
After a non-stop day, take a moment to rest, recharge and take in the sunset at Tanjong Beach Club. Have a leisurely swim in the pool or grab a seat on one of the beachside daybeds and order up a sundowner. For something refreshing, go for the Tanjong Spritz (Aperol, vanilla, orange, fresh lemon and bubbles) or the Porto Summer Spritz (white port infused with rosemary, apple, pear, tonic and homemade orange bitters). Both can be ordered as either a glass or a pitcher and are best paired with nibbles such as truffle fries, yellowfin tuna crackers and crispy calamari. Reservations are highly encouraged.
Perhaps one of the most-anticipated new restaurant openings of 2020, Lucali BYGB – a partnership between Mark Ioacono of famed New York pizza joint Lucali and BYGB Hospitality’s Gibran Baydoun – has taken over the Kampong Bugis space formerly occupied by Kilo Kitchen. Diners can expect everything from lasagna loaded with beef, béchamel, mozzarella and Parmesan to a hearty salad made with radicchio, asparagus, salami, provolone, olive and tomato to, of course, their signature pies. Don’t leave without trying the famed Lucali pizza, which features a special “four-hour tomato sauce” recipe passed down from Iacono’s grandmother.
Cap off your weekend by putting up your feet and enjoying cocktails from your favourite local bars in the comfort of your home. Since many establishments without a food license have yet to reopen their doors – and those that have aren’t able to serve alcohol past 10.30pm – cocktail delivery services are still in full swing. You can choose to order directly from your bar of choice, or through consolidated delivery platform Wheels on the Bars that offers cocktails from the likes of Operation Dagger, Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall and Komyuniti.
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours as well as booking and seating requirements before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.