In honour of this month’s Singapore Festival of Fun – a family-friendly spectacle of comedy, performance and children’s activities – today is earmarked as a journey for the young at heart.
Catch a late breakfast at Flor Patisserie in Capitol Piazza. The newest outlet of this Japanese-style bakery has lots of foliage and natural light and serves delectable treats such as strawberry shortcake and the signature gula melaka (palm sugar) roll cake.
Take full advantage of your sugar rush at Amped, a quick ride away. This trampoline park offers an indoor bonanza of bouncing, with a slam-dunk section, a parkour wall and 35 interconnected trampolines.
“Stroll to Bedok Jetty after dinner at East Coast Lagoon Food Village, [and watch the] twinkling lights from the ships in the distance.” — Tan Sue Lynn, co-founder of Cat Cafe Neko no Niwa
Suitably stretched, do a bit of sightseeing by taking a 20-minute stroll over to the Old Hill Street Police Station, now home to government offices. Its exterior is a famous landmark, thanks to the rows of wooden window louvres painted in the hues of the rainbow.
Lunch at popular hotpot restaurant HaiDiLao, which has a Clarke Quay branch. It’s known for its complimentary manicures, hair ties and handphone stands among other freebies, as well as its signature noodle dance — a cheeky performance that involves staff swinging strands of noodles to a beat.
After lunch, enjoy a boat ride with a Singapore River Cruise departing from the nearby Clarke Quay jetty. The 40-minute trip takes in Singapore landmarks such as the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands, while informed commentary details the area’s unique history.
For an afternoon pick-me-up, grab a tea or coffee at Cat Cafe Neko no Niwa. Here, the playful felines roam freely around the premises.
A short walk upstream and you’ll come to Clarke Quay for the Singapore Festival of Fun, running from 12 to 22 March. You can expect international street performers and cartoon characters like SpongeBob and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as well as a diverse line-up of standup comics.
Red House Seafood, also at Clarke Quay, is an ideal spot for dinner. In the high-ceilinged upstairs section, you can get as messy as a toddler with various dishes, including the signature chilli crab.
Those in need of a nightcap can walk over to Boat Quay for Deadfall, a watering hole inspired by San Francisco’s Gold Rush era, part of the multi-level Barbary Coast. The menu’s five cocktails are playfully named according to colour. Green, for instance, features tequila with coriander and grapefruit-infused Cointreau.
Singapore is a garden city overflowing with green spaces. This month is also when the Singapore Garden Festival occurs, so there’s no better time to explore some of its verdant natural attractions.
Early morning is perfect to savour the floral riches on display at Far East Orchid on Thomson Road. It has a giant cold room with fresh-cut roses, lilies, orchids and more.
Then take a quick cab to the Botanic Gardens for breakfast at The Halia. It sits within the one-hectare Ginger Garden, with offerings such as braised wagyu nasi lemak and grilled asparagus with smashed avocado and poached eggs.
Afterwards, take a wander through the Botanic Gardens, a Unesco World Heritage site. During the first week of March, the Singapore Garden Festival’s Orchid Show takes place right here.
From the gardens’ Tanglin Gate, hail a taxi to Duxton Hill for the new BTM Mussels & Bar that’s kitted out with plenty of outdoor seating. Mussels from Europe are served in seven different styles, including the unique Thailandaises (with chilli, kaffir lime, lemongrass, white wine and coconut milk).
Next, grab some dessert at CHIJMES’ Hvala, a quick bus or train ride away. It specialises in all things matcha – think matcha cold brews and iced matcha lattes – the perfect afternoon tonic to enjoy in the green courtyard.
From here, cross over to the National Museum of Singapore, where the “Story of the Forest” exhibition is a luminous, interactive display of drawings by William Farquhar, the first Commandant of colonial Singapore.
After that, it’s a quick stroll to your dinner spot, Artichoke. The Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant has a lovely outdoor deck with trees and plants all around it. Chef Bjorn Shen also has a new project called Smalls, a tiny pizza bar that seats four and serves up pillowy, chewy, Neapolitan-style pies.
“My favourite [hawker] is probably Keng Eng Kee Seafood [at Bukit Merah Lane] for their claypot liver and the moonlight hor fun.” – Olivier Bendel, CEO of Deliciae Hospitality Management (behind BTM Mussels & Bar)
This March, Green Day, Khalid, Whitesnake, HYUKOH and a-ha are scheduled to play in the Lion City, so today let’s celebrate Singapore’s musical side.
Power up with a classic Singaporean breakfast at YY Kafei Dian, a no-frills coffee shop on Beach Road with a red-and-white-check counter and simple wooden stool seats. The kaya bun is especially light, fluffy and brimming with layers of the local coconut jam as well as a square of butter, pairing perfectly with a cup of kopi (coffee).
From here, it’s an easy walk to the vinyl record shops tucked away in various malls on Coleman Street. You’ll find stores such as Memory Lane, Vinylicious Records and Roxy Records – all great places to dig for old LPs while appreciating how quickly music technology has progressed over the years.
“The best places for late-night views are Spago at Marina Bay Sands and The Other Roof – its elevated view over the streets below makes for great people-watching.” — Celia Schoonraad, creative director and proprietor of Barbary Coast
For lunch, a 10-minute drive will bring you to Poulet + Brasserie, recently opened in the basement of ION Orchard, which serves slow-roasted chicken and duck confit as signature dishes.
One building over, in Wisma Atria, That CD Shop, with black-and-white tile floors and CDs carefully arrayed, is almost museum-like in its presentation, and sells CDs, vinyls and TEAC turntables.
If you’d prefer to be making your own music, head over to Sing A Song at Esplanade Mall, where you can record your own tracks in a professional studio.
The Esplanade, the arts complex on Marina Bay famously shaped like a durian, is also where you can catch various musical shows. This month, jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, Fredo (of the ’70s Singapore band The Flybaits) and Broadway singer Lea Salonga are among the acts performing.
Down the road at the new Caffe Cicheti in South Beach Tower, gleaming marble tables and an outdoor patio are the setting for delicious Italian cuisine such as their spaghetti with clams, garlic butter and lemon, as well as the chicken thigh with hazelnut salsa.
Finally, close the day with drinks at Malts at Marina Square, a premium whisky bar where the ceiling lights create the lyrical effect of clouds in the sky.
Explore these green areas in the outer reaches of Singapore
Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park
Bisected by a former canal refashioned into a winding river, this park is popular with families.
Bukit Batok Nature Park
Hilly and populated with secondary forest, this former quarry also has a high cliff wall that seems to erupt from the jungle.
Pasir Ris Park
The park is set by the sea and has multiple trails, a boardwalk and a playground complete with a small zipline.
This article was originally published in the March 2020 issue of SilverKris magazine