Looking to venture off the beaten path to discover more authentic parts of Singapore? Walking tours led by experienced local tour operators are some of the best ways to discover the island on foot. Whether you’re a culture vulture with a penchant for theatrics or simply a food lover curious about the hawker scene, these seven tours are bound to pique your interest.
Discover Singapore in the 60s through this unique theatrical tour
Looking for a tour with a bit of dramatic flair? Check out New World’s End, OH! Stories’ unique street-immersive audio story experience created by some of Singapore’s most prominent creatives and storytellers.
Armed with a map and headphones, you’ll take an evening stroll through Singapore’s back alleys and discover hidden fantasy rooms. Through the lens of ill-fated lovers, Kiran and Rosa, you’ll have a glimpse of Singapore’s grittier underbelly as it was in the 60s.
The tour begins in Desker Road and explores nearby locations like Jalan Besar. The sensitively-wrought narration allows you to appreciate just how much the neighbourhoods have evolved since the 60s. The tour ends with a drink at a secret pop-up bar in a mysterious painter’s studio.
Explore Singapore’s most iconic destinations for free
If you’re a first-time visitor to Singapore and want an informative overview on some of the city’s most iconic neighbourhoods, Monster Day Tours is right up your alley. The group offers six free walking tours.
Its heritage tours explore the culture and traditions of the Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam neighbourhoods. There’s also a trio of urban tours that explore City Hall and Orchard Road, the CBD and Marina Bay. While walk-ins are welcome, those with bookings are prioritised. Explore a customised paid private group tour if you prefer not to mingle.
Eat your way through three heritage neighbourhoods
While Singapore might be a veritable foodie paradise, newcomers to Singapore might just find themselves flummoxed by the endless offerings. Singapore Foodsters is a hawker-focused group that organises tours to some of the city’s most iconic dining destinations – and some local secret spots for good measure.
The tour’s licensed guides will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. During this five-hour tour, you’ll eat your way through the local food of Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam – and maybe wash it down with a Tiger beer or two. Be sure to come hungry!
Tour an abandoned WWII bunker hidden in the jungle
If you’re looking to (quite literally) go beyond the beaten path, this adventure tour by Beyond Expeditions is sure to excite. The expedition begins in urban Marsiling in the northern reaches of Singapore. Here you’ll venture into the nearby jungle and make a short trek to the Marsiling Bunkers. This structure was originally part of a Royal Air Force fuel reserve depot that was built in 1942. The system of bunkers had been taken over and modified by the Japanese occupiers during World War Two. Time and nature have since reclaimed it.
Equipped with powerful headlamps (provided by your guide), you’ll explore the bunker’s tunnels and fortifications and discover just how difficult it was to live and work beneath the earth. The guides will also document your trek and offer photo souvenirs to commemorate your adventure.
Get into the thick of nature at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
If you are a nature lover, make a beeline for the Sungei Buluh Wetland Reserve Tour, organised and run by the National Parks Board. Deep in the northeastern part of Singapore, this nature reserve – which is also Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park – teems with flora and fauna. Mudskippers, otters, water snakes, monitor lizards and herons abound at every turn, but watch out for the estuarine crocodiles.
The free guided walk is suitable for all ages, including children, and takes place every Saturday morning between 9.30am to 11am.
Dine at dusk at Katong’s best food spots
Katong is one of Singapore’s most well-known foodie enclaves, so those after a memorable culinary experience should check out Singabites’ Sunset Street Eats food tour of the area. Embark on an atmospheric, golden-hour gander through the colourful heritage neighbourhood as you sample delicacies from 10 different vendors. Potential highlights of the three-hour tour include slurping on a piquant bowl of the famous Katong laksa; sampling different varieties of kueh; and dining on a Hainanese chicken rice feast. You’ll also get to meet various hawkers and vendors and hear their unique stories about how they’ve moulded their businesses over the years.
Uncover Sentosa’s rich military past
While better known for its beach clubs and attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore and the S.E.A. Aquarium, Sentosa also has a fascinating military history. The My Mount Faber & Sentosa Heritage Tour – which spans Sentosa, Mount Faber, Keppel Hill Reservoir and the Southern Ridges Conservation Area – will take you through military encampments, tunnel complexes and secret reservoirs that were erected by the British to defend their naval base during the Second World War. The four-hour walking tour includes trekking over hilly terrain, so be sure to wear appropriate footwear and comfortable clothing and bring a bottle of water.
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This story was first published in Nov 2023 and updated by Dinesh Ajith in July 2023.