Produced by SilverKris for Avis
Often credited for its amazing architecture and wide array of shopping malls, it’s also key to explore the wild side of Singapore. Yes, it does exist, but getting to these far-flung spots and exploring them at your own pace can be tricky without a car. Renting a vehicle for the day opens up a host of new adventures across the island. Not only can you come and go as you please, you can load up the car with all the supplies and adventure gear you might need. (To rent a car in Singapore – and earn KrisFlyer miles – visit the Avis website.)
Here are four recommended itineraries, each packing stunning views, delicious bites and plenty of photo ops.
Itinerary 1: Kranji
Go if you like: Hiking, bird-watching, farm-to-table brunching and a spot of go-karting
Day-trips up to Kranji in Singapore’s idyllic north are more popular than ever. But farm-hopping can be tricky once you get there, as cabs are few and far between, and the shuttle bus has limited times and stops. Rent a car for the day, gather up your friends and go at your own pace.
It’s a 35-minute drive from the city centre up to Kranji Marshes. Somewhat overlooked in favour of more famous nature spots, the marshes are a 56.8ha stretch of freshwater marshland, home to more than 170 bird species. Its status as a serious bird-watching spot becomes obvious the moment you pull into the parking lot, where die-hards start setting up their tripods and telephoto lenses as early as 7am.
LEARN MORE: Book a car for the day here
If you’re more into coastal views and mangrove ecosystems, the much bigger Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is just a few minutes up the road. Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park has forest, coastal and migratory bird trails that offer a variety of animal sightings – everything from mudskippers and otters to plovers and sandpipers.
For a late breakfast, make the quick drive to Bollywood Veggies, where the famous organic farm’s in-house Poison Ivy bistro does a hearty blue-rice nasi lemak, roti prata with chicken curry, kueh and other goodies. Load up on organic vegetables, eggs and other healthcare products at Earth Shop.
After your meal, you have the option of two types of adventures. Drive northwest into Lim Chu Kang and find your way to Cashin House. This 1930 historic family home that juts out over the water belongs to the Cashin family, whose history in Singapore can be traced back to the early 1840s. It’s set to become the centrepiece of the upcoming Lim Chu Kang Nature Reserve, due to open in 2022.
For something much more fast-paced, drive east to KF1 Karting Circuit, which boasts the longest track in Singapore at 960 meters, with 18 hair-raising corners, top speeds of 110km/h and the option to race at night. Don’t forget to observe the real-world speed limit when you get back in your car to head back to the city.
What to bring: A change of clothes and shoes; water and isotonic drinks; tripods, cameras or binoculars for bird-watching; a cooler for your vegetable shopping.
Itinerary 2: Punggol & Seletar
Go if you like: Romantic bike rides, secluded beaches, sunsets and atmospheric dinners
When date-nights feel all too short, and a proper getaway is still many months away, it’s time to organise your own romantic sojourn. And if you have your own wheels, Singapore has plenty of lush and remote plates to offer beyond the Michelin-starred restaurants and atmospheric wine bars.
Start out with a drive to Punggol Park, where you can park and rent bicycles at the GoCycling kiosk near the Hougang Avenue 10 entrance. Set off east along the Sungei Serangoon park connector, before turning north to ride along the Punggol Promenade Riverside Walk.
Be sure to cross over the Instagram-worthy Lorong Halus Red Bridge and turn left onto the dirt road, which takes you into Coney Island’s East Entrance. On a weekday, you pretty much have the place to yourself. Put out a small picnic and take a dip at one of the secluded beaches. If you need a heartier refuel, exit from the West Entrance and pedal to The Punggol Settlement, which overlooks the Johor Strait and Malaysia and is home to comforting local restaurants such as Ponggol Seafood, the White Restaurant and Kampong Chai Chee.
Afterwards, you can either retrace your steps, or, if you’re feeling more energetic, take some more time and finish the remainder of the beautiful 26km North East Riverine Loop along the Punggol, Buangkok and Serangoon park connectors, which will also take you back to Punggol Park and the car park.
Back in the car, drive along the TPE to Rower’s Bay, a hidden gem of a park on the edge of Lower Seletar Reservoir which boasts a beautiful sunset experience. Find a grassy spot and enjoy a serene moment with your sweetheart before taking some golden-hour photos at the nearby Yishun Dam. Finally, top out a gorgeous day with a drive back to Seletar Aerospace Park, where restaurants such as Wheeler’s Estate and The Summerhouse restaurant offers a rustic-yet-luxurious atmosphere and delicious food.
What to bring: A change of clothes; a bag for wet clothes; bathing suit if you plan to swim; a cooler for your wine and beach picnic; hat and sunblock for your bike ride.
Itinerary 3: Sembawang & Khatib
Go if you like: Kayaking, mangroves, hot springs and hidden restaurants
If you’d rather get soaked than sweaty on your big day out, consider driving up to Sembawang Park, which is a starting point for kayaking trips to Khatib Bongsu Nature Park. Experienced and licensed kayakers can bring their own gear, or you can book a tour through an adventure outfitter. A paddle out to the mangrove forests and back to the park should take about three hours, and there are restrooms at the park for showers and outfit changes.
After your strenuous workout, drive down to hidden-gem Indian restaurant Grace’s Pot, famous for its Indian-style claypot rice, or satti soru, as well as its mutton dishes. Once your belly is sated, it’s time to soak your weary bones. If you have a good parking spot at the restaurant, leave the car and walk the kilometer or so to Sembawang Hot Spring Park, Singapore’s only natural hot spring. There’s also a new Floral Walk feature on-site.
On the drive back to the city centre, home décor fans shouldn’t miss the chance to visit World Farm, a sprawling plant nursery beloved in Singapore’s community of green-thumbs. Take advantage of having your own vehicle and load up on herbs, potted trees, hanging plants and lots more.
What to bring: Kayaks and paddles; a change of clothes and shoes; a bag for wet clothes; a bucket for the hot spring.
Itinerary 4: East Coast & Changi
Go if you like: Stand-up paddleboarding, fun with your kids, dinosaurs, playgrounds and ice-cream
There are also plenty of water-based adventure to be had along East Coast Park, and plenty of ways to ensure your kids put away their video games for a few hours. To avoid the hordes of runners, cyclists and picnickers, make a booking for a morning session at Aloha Sea Sports, near Carpark E2 and East Coast Lagoon Food Village. This affordable and well-equipped outfitter has its own patch of beach, a food and drink kiosk as well as stand-up paddleboards for rent.
For a well-deserved lunch, drive 20 minutes along the ECP and Loyang Avenue to the quaint and lovely Changi Village where Tang Tea House serves Halal-certified classics such as dim sum and chicken rice in a kampong-style setting. It’s a short drive from there to the newly opened Jurassic Mile where you can snap photos with 20 prehistoric figures, the tallest being 5m high and 17m wide. You can park at Changi Terminal 4 Arrivals, and follow the signs on foot.
After all that activity, if your kids are still clamoring for more, it’s time to head to the entertainment wonderland that is Jewel Changi. Wander and jump your way through attractions such as Hedge Maze and Sky Net. Round off the action-packed day with a treat at American ice cream import Emack and Bolio’s before driving home for a long nap.
What to bring: A change of clothes; a bag for wet clothes; floatation toys; cold water and isotonic drinks.
For more information on renting a cart in Singapore, as well as earning KrisFlyer miles, please visit the official Avis website.