Look beyond the soaring skyscrapers and you’ll find the most unexpected pockets of nature, creativity and old world charm in the country affectionately known as the Little Red Dot.
1. Smith Marine Floating Kelong Restaurant
For a fresh seafood dinner out at sea, book your table (and a 10-minute return bumboat ride) at Smith Marine Floating Kelong Restaurant. A short stroll on the decks of this modern kelong (aquaculture farm) located off the north-eastern coast of Singapore lets you see how flower crabs, lobsters, sea bass, grouper and other seafood are farmed. You can even try fishing for your own dinner; the chefs will cook up your catch in a variety of styles. As the sun goes down, enjoy the sea breeze as you tuck into garlic lobster, sambal (chilli paste) mussels, steamed squid and of course, Singapore’s signature chilli crab.
Nearest MRT station: Tanah Merah
2. The Parkview Museum
Occupying 1,400 sq m on the third floor of the iconic Art Deco-style Parkview Square just two blocks from Bugis MRT station, The Parkview Museum is a private gallery showcasing contemporary art. One of the most striking features of the column-free expanse is its six-metre-high ceiling; the cavernous space currently holds the museum’s maiden exhibition entitled On Sharks and Humanity (till September 9). More than 30 thought-provoking artworks – some almost reaching the ceiling – highlight the importance of ocean conservation. The free exhibit is open to the public daily.
Nearest MRT station: Bugis
A surprising sanctuary ensconced in the Kranji Countryside, Gardenasia comprises a farm, bistro and remodelled black-and-white British colonial villas spread over two hectares of picture-perfect greenery. A relaxing farmstay at one of the English-, oriental- or contemporary-style villas lets you step back in time, with their classic carved wooden furniture and exposed timber roof beams. Rustic at first glance, the interiors are fitted with luxurious marble-tiled bathrooms and modern audio-visual systems. Wander amid herb gardens and fruit trees, before tucking into dishes created with freshly harvested ingredients at Bistro by Gardenasia. Try their pan-roasted lamb to accompany salad with ingredients of your choice, washed down with farm-fresh roselle or cactus drinks.
Nearest MRT station: Kranji
4. Pearl’s Hill City Park
Just behind the hustle and bustle of the Chinatown district lies this nine-hectare belt of greenery perched atop a 45m-tall knoll. Visitors must climb flights of stairs to get to the summit, where they’ll find the tranquil oasis of Pearl’s Hill Reservoir. This fortress-like structure was built in 1898 to supply drinking water to Chinatown, which it still does today. Along the way, relax under the shade of mature tembusu trees and breathe in the sweet perfume from the pink and white blooms of frangipani trees. On your way back down toward Eu Tong Sen Street, a little exploring will uncover more relics from colonial times – like a cannon sitting alongside a five-storey blue building. This is one of a pair of Neo-Classical-style conservation buildings built in 1935 – the Upper and Lower Barracks that once housed the Straits Settlements Police’s Sikh contingent.
Nearest MRT station: Outram Park