8 Unconventional Places to Visit in Singapore
Is this your first time in Singapore, but you don't want to go to the usual places? Or have you been in this mini country for so many times that the usual is getting boring? Here are a few unusual places you can visit in Singapore that are often overlooked by the locals and undetected by the tourists.
1. Urban Redevelopment Authority office
Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Singapore is the body that is responsible in planning and facilitating Singapore’s physical development. Located in Tanjong Pagar area, the URA office can easily be reached from Chinatown too.
The first floor of the office is opened for the public and it is the home of Singapore City Gallery, where the miniature models of both downtown Singapore and Singapore as a whole can be seen. The models are done with astonishing details, including areas still in building and areas still in planning
If you are familiar with Singapore, it is fun to just stand there and find what is where. If you're not, it is a great props to get familiar with the country and prepare your itinerary!
If you decided to drop by URA, be sure to visit Maxwell Road Hawker Centre too. The eating place that is located just across the URA building is famous for its chicken rice stall, Tian Tian Chicken Rice, and various other local foods that you just have to try!
2. National Library of Singapore
I can almost hear the groans at the mere suggestion to visit a library during a holiday trip. But National Library of SIngapore (NLB) is more than a place to read and borrow books. It is also an architectural icon with its bioclimatic design techniques. It has won several awards for its environmental friendliness, like the Green Mark Platinum Award by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore in 2005, and the top prize in the ASEAN Energy Efficiency Award in 2007.
So whether you're a fan of books, architecture, art, or culture, National Library of Singapore is worth a visit.
It is located just across Bugis Shopping Street and a walk away from both Arab Street and Raffles City Shopping Centre. So, you can go shopping after basking in art and culture.
3. Haw Par Villa
Also known as Tiger Balm Gardens, Haw Par Villa is an eerily interesting place to visit. The park housed about 1000 statues and some 150 dioramas depicting scenes from Chinese mythology, folklore, legends, and history. With so many life-like statues, the atmosphere of the place is a little unsettling. The most gruesome feature may be the Ten Courts of Hell, which features depictions of Hell in Chinese mythology and Buddhism. Good thing is, the admission is free of charge.
It used to be difficult to reach the park with its location out of the city centre, but with the recently-build Circle Line, there is a stop right in front of the Park named after it, the Haw Par Villa MRT Station.
To enjoy the story and history of the many statues, you can join the tours available ("Finding Your Tao" or "Journey to Hell"). See the details in their website: HawParVilla.sg.
4. The Animal Resort
Imagine a homely zoo where you can feed and play with the animals. This is what The Animal Resort offers its visitor. With no entrance fee and only S$1-2 for the animals' food, "the farm" is a great place to go with children. Although it's quite far from the city, a bus ride a way from Yio Chu Kang MRT Station, The Animal Resort is a good alternative when you want to get in touch with nature and animal without having to have a full day visit to the zoo.
Even though it's free, it's better to book a place (especially with larger group) as it can get crowded in the weekends.
5. Tiger Beer Brewery
This is the place to visit when you travel without children. Alcohol is mainly expensive in Singapore, but here, with only S$18 (for weekdays) you can drink all you can in 45 minutes. The setback? The brewery is located way out of the town, a long bus ride away from the last MRT Station in West Singapore.
The fee is actually for a whole-package tour in the brewery, but nobody seems to remember what's it about other than the drinking buffet.
Advance bookings are required for the tour and can be made via their website: TigerBreweryTour.com.sg. You can also call (65) 6860 3005 or email email@example.com.
Remember to bring your passport or other form of ID to show that you are of the drinking age.
6. Albert St
Bugis Street is so well-known for shopping that it's beginning to be overrated. If you want to experience something different instead, head down to a street behind it. Called the Albert St, the intersection is filled with vendors of apparels, jewellery, toys, and many other interesting things.
The surrounding buildings are no less interesting. OG Shopping Mall offers branded items with reasonable prices all year round. Fu Lu Shou Complex is a shopping mall that houses Taoist and Buddhist shrines, as well as tenants for the religions' needs.
If you're hungry, drop by the foodcourt nearby and some local delicacies, vegetarian, or Indonesian food. It's a nice place to have a break in a hot day too, drop by and have a large glass of cold fresh sugar cane juice.
7. MacRitchie Reservoir Park
MacRitchie Reservoir is the side of Singapore people don't usually see. Some don't even believe it exists in metropolitan Singapore. Non-locals who have stayed in Singapore for several years will often shows bafflement when told about this oldest reservoir in Singapore. But there it is, a serene blanket of greeneries that serves as water catchment areas located right in the middle of Singapore geography.
Like other parks, visitors can choose to come here to enjoy solitary activities like reading or fishing, or join a guided walk for S$4 per person (minimum 10 people in the group). The park is accessible all day long, but lights will only be on from 7 am to 7 pm.
It is a little difficult to be reached by public transport. The closest MRT stations are either Caldecott or Marymount (of Circle Line). Buses that come close are but 52, 74, 93, 157, 162, 852, and 855. They, however, don't come close to the lake, the main destination of the park. Visitors must spend some time walking from MRT/bus station. It is highly recommended to have your own transport if you want a sweat-less experience to reach the park.
8. Jurong East Swimming Complex
This isn't your ordinary swimming pool. Jurong East Sports Complex is one of the largest of its kind in Singapore. Other than offering the usual competitive pool, it also has a lazy river pool, wave pool with storm effects, and long water slides among a lot of other facilities. The best thing of all, visitors can enjoy all this with only S$2 during weekdays or S$2.60 during weekends!
It opens from 8.00 am to 9.30 pm (Tuesdays to Sundays & Public Holidays), Closed on Mondays. Probably the only bad thing about the pool is that it's located in Jurong East, quite a bit of walk away from Chinese Garden MRT.
For more pictures and details on the swimming pool, have a look at my blog.
Closed: Sungei Road Thieves Market
Once upon a time, not so far from Bugis Street is an area called Sungei Road, which mean the River Road in Malay. It is the largest and oldest flea market in Singapore. The place had turned smaller as there is a construction going around in the area. On July 10 2017, it's finally officially closed.
It's quite sad that the place has now closed. Many have fond memories of coming here with their parents and checking out all the weird stuff being sold.
Here you could find the most ridiculous deals: From the ridiculously cheap to ridiculously old and bizarre items. If you're a fan of retro items and do not want to spend a fortune on them, this was a great place to find treasures.
It's also known as the Thieves Market because the rumour has it that when somebody stole something, this is the place where he would sell the stolen item. The truth to it has never been found, of course, otherwise, it will also be a hangout place for policemen.
Closed: Crocodile Farms
Making its way to future residential area, Tan Moh Hong Reptile Skin and Crocodile Farm, the oldest crocodile farm in Singapore closed its door and tear down its walls in mid-2012. It will always be a part of Singaporeans' fond memories where for 67 years, it provides an exciting experience to see crocodiles closely.
Singapore still has about 13,000 crocodiles though. Fret not, they're not wild but are house in the only crocodile farm still opened in Singapore, Long Kuan Hung Crocodile Farm. Unfortunately, it doesn't seems to welcome public visits as it is mainly a crocodile tannery.