As more Covid-19 safety measures will be eased from 12 July, including permission to dine in a group of five, there’s no better time than now for residents of Singapore to rediscover their own backyard. In this series, we have put together a timely, varied and action-packed monthly guide to having the perfect day in the Lion City.
The places on this sprawling list offer something for everyone: spanning various sights and attractions, from nature trails and foodie gems to fun outdoor activities that can be enjoyed by the whole family. While those who are feeling particularly ambitious can aim to follow the itinerary to a tee, you can also pick and choose your spots as you wish, or stretch them out to encompass an entire weekend.
As the sunny skies reign supreme, why not take advantage of the balmy weather to experience the great outdoors? Whether you’re a fan of challenging hiking trails, activity-filled beach escapades or meandering walks through the city, we’ve got you covered with this month’s guide.
Begin your morning the local way: with breakfast at a hawker centre. Situated in the west, Bukit Timah Market & Food Centre – conveniently located right next to Beauty World MRT Station along the Downtown Line – houses over 80 top-notch hawker stalls selling all manner of classic dishes. Take your pick from the likes of fluffy carrot cake; hot and comforting fish soup; prawn noodles in a rich and umami-laden broth; and the beloved combination of crispy kaya toast with perfectly runny eggs and a cup of robust kopi.
After fuelling up for the day ahead, it’s time to check out the new and enhanced central stretch of the Rail Corridor, which extends a total of 4km from Hillview to King Albert Park. It is part of the 24km-long Rail Corridor, a former railway line that runs from Woodlands in the north to Tanjong Pagar in the south. Enter via the access point near the Bukit Timah Railway Station and proceed to walk in a westward direction. Other than the lush, forested greenery and picturesque train tracks that the trail is known for, you’ll also encounter two restored and refurbished truss bridges and perhaps even catch a glimpse of some wildlife.
If you exit at Hillview, you’ll find yourself on the doorstep of the 75-hectare Dairy Farm Nature Park. On top of a number of hiking trails, you can also explore the Wallace Education Centre. Named after British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, it features a gallery that spotlights his contributions to the biogeography and biodiversity of the region. If that’s not enough of a workout, consider heading to the nearby Bukit Timah Nature Reserve instead and attempt to conquer the steep and challenging 163m climb to the summit. There are a few paths of varying difficulty you can take to reach the top, so check the signage at the base of the hill to plan your route before ascending.
Treat yourself to a hearty lunch after all that exercise. Make your way to Ginett Restaurant & Wine Bar located on the ground floor of Hotel G Singapore. The bistro-style French restaurant serves a variety of hearty meals that are perfect for fuelling up for the afternoon ahead. Recommended dishes include the Ginett Burger, which comes with a juicy Angus beef patty topped with caramelised onions, Gorgonzola cheese, bacon, arugula and dressing; the Scottish Salmon served with creamy spinach; and the Cobb Salad with romaine lettuce, bacon, blue cheese, hard-boiled egg, tomatoes, red onions and a tart red wine vinaigrette. They also offer a two-course set lunch menu for S$15++.
For the afternoon’s activities, you have two options: either head to Sentosa for some sun, sand and sea, or take a gander to the recently opened Coastal PlayGrove outdoor play area at East Coast Park. If you plan to head to Sentosa, make your way there now and stop for a coffee break at Baristart along Siloso Beach Walk. The coffee concept, which hails from Hokkaido, serves wonderfully smooth espresso-based beverages using specially imported Hokkaido milk derived from Brown Jersey Cows (there are also plant-based alternatives for those who don’t take dairy).
Those who are east-bound can make a pitstop at Equate Coffee, tucked away on the second floor of Tanjong Pagar Plaza. The new coffee haunt boasts a cosy, industrial-chic interior and serves a range of coffee and tea-based beverages. Try their filter coffee – made using a V60 dripper – and nab a house-baked canelé or ondeh ondeh cake if either is still available.
If you picked Sentosa, you’re in for an afternoon of fun in the sun. To try your hand at various water sports including kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding, make your way to Ola Beach Club, where you can rent the necessary equipment before heading out on to the water. If you’re here over the weekend, you can also choose to go on a ride on an inflatable banana boat or donut.
For those who prefer to just slap on some sunscreen, kick back on a deck chair and bask in the afternoon rays, Rumours Beach Club is the perfect spot for you. It sports both cabana and beachfront areas and is also the only beach club in Singapore to boast three swimming pools – so you can cool off with a dip if it gets too hot.
If you opted for Coastal PlayGrove, make your way over to the East Coast Park attraction, which sits on the site of the former Big Splash theme park. The 4.5-hectare venue consists of an outdoor play area, water play area, nature garden and various amenities. The main draw is the 16m-high PlayTower, a reconstruction of the hallmark Big Splash tower that used to dominate the water park. Adults and kids alike will have fun sliding town tube slides, clambering over nets and taking on various rope-based obstacle courses.
Once you’ve tired yourself out, head home to freshen up before dinner. Those in the mood to splash out on some refined fine-dining fare can make a reservation at Sommer, a new restaurant that serves contemporary European cuisine dreamed up by head chef Lewis Barker (formerly of Vianney Massot and the now-defunct Bacchanalia). Located at The Sail along Marina Boulevard, Sommer offers three tasting menus for dinner service. We recommend the nine-course “Experience” option, which features elegant dishes such as Kuri Pumpkin (pumpkin with smoked eel, aged parmesan, grelot onion and black truffle) and Caramelised White Chocolate (served with hazelnut, medjool date and Armagnac).
For something a bit more casual, there’s Persea at Ann Siang Hill. The seasonal menu hones in on keto-friendly cuisine, with dishes that feature plenty of colourful vegetables, fresh seafood, aromatic spices and bright flavours. Start with the Greek-Style Burratina, in which the glossy cheese is ringed by a medley of vibrant vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions. For mains, it’s a toss up between the Barramundi with flower clams and saffron buerre blanc; or the Pork Belly that comes with Moroccan curry and black cardamom.
If you supped at Sommer, take a short walk to Kinki at Customs House for after-dinner drinks. The popular Japanese dining spot recently underwent a revamp and now sports a punk-chic aesthetic that helps set the tone for a fun night ahead. Make your way to the rooftop bar on the third floor, where you’ll be greeted by grungy pop-art graffiti artwork (courtesy of urban artist ANTZ), neon lights strung up on the walls and a stunning view of the bay. Cocktails include the refreshing Gin Assam Boi, in which Kyro gin and Malibu rum are mixed with umeshu and pineapple juice and garnished with Assam powder and pickled ume, as well as the Earlgroni, where the classic Italian cocktail is given a twist with the use of Bulldog Gin infused with earl grey tea leaves.
Those who opted for Persea can stroll to the new Rails Bar & Lounge, a steampunk-themed watering hole inspired by the old Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. Plenty of old-timey railway and train depot memorabilia adorns the space – including brass piping, cogwheels and gears lining the bar counter and exposed brick walls. Try the Portmanteau cocktail: a potent mixture of port, Irish whiskey, Campari, amaro and fresh orange juice; or sip on the unique Clockwork Sago, which is a spin on the local dessert burbur chacha and features tequila blanco, taro, pineapple juice, coconut water, sago and peanuts.
Once you’ve ducked out of the bar, end your evening with a tranquil nighttime stroll around Marina Bay. The latter’s still waters shine and shimmer in the glow of the evening lights, and you’ll also be treated to panoramic views of some of Singapore’s most architecturally stunning structures: including the ArtScience Museum, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Helix Bridge and Marina Bay Sands.
Some of these images were taken before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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.