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Things To Do

The norm is for tourists and visitors to immediately gravitate towards the main shopping districts or popularised attractions such as the Singapore Zoo. However, activities such as shopping and visiting tourist attractions are not unique and are not reflective of Singapore's real character. You'll find that by wandering around the suburbs, seeking out food at corner coffee shops and participating in adrenalin-pumping activities, where the real fun is. Go where most tourists don't and only then will you see the city's uniqueness, away from all the glitz.

Explore the Suburbs

Eastern Singapore - Geyland, Katong/Joo Chiat Districts

Ironically, most visitors travelling to and from the airport will pass these areas along the expressway without once exploring this vibrant portion of Singapore. Compared to areas such as the ethnic enclaves and the civic district in the city centres, Eastern Singapore is more reflective of local culture with well-preserved shophouses and authentic cuisines, in particular Peranakan food.

The Geyland precinct remains Singapore's infamous red light district, where the flesh trade continues to take place, with numerous brothels and prostitutes. However, in recent times, these are not as pervasive as they once were. You will not have to worry about being harrassed. Rather, you should visit Geyland for several picturesque alleys (lorongs in Singapore nomenclature) that include colourful shophouses and temples or shrines. Lorongs 27, 24A and 34 are worthwhile visits, with renovated shophouses, colourful temples and are indicative of the charm of the area.

Joo Chiat or Katong is the area where the Peranakan culture is slowly being revived. Take a leisurely stroll along the streets filled with daytime businesses, karaoke lounges, restaurants and hawker centres. On Joo Chiat Road, there are well-restored Peranakan terrace shophouses that give a taste of old Singapore. While in the vicinity, do also check out the Katong Antique House along East Coast Road, where you'll find a fantastic collection of Peranakan antiques and artifacts.

HDB Neighbourhoods

A great way to spend an entire day, or at least half a day, would be to see and experience what it's like to live in Housing Development Board flats. These are high-rise residential buildings where the majority of Singaporeans live. Within a neighbourhood, there are usually numerous such buildings built around a town centre, where residents shop for groceries and eat at hawker centres. The MRT station and bus interchange is most often located within the town centre as well. Newer town centres could have shopping malls too! 

You could chew on local fare at hawker centres, stroll around the town centre and observe how people go about their daily routines. If you intend on visiting wet markets, you'll want to be there early in the morning, when most people do their marketing. You'll then experience the noise and bustle of morning wet markets in the heartland! 

A different variation of a heartland neighbourhood is Holland Village, a definite must-see area. It is also known as the Bohemian enclave, with old and new lifestyles coming together. This is a popular place expatriates visit to hang-out over meals and some drinks. There are 2 shopping centres and many trendy retail outlets. Besides shopping, you'll want to have a nice evening in a relatively more up-market bar or restaurant in Holland Village. Pick and choose from numerous cuisines, even exotic ones like Lebanese and African food. 

Forest Adventure at Bedok Reservoir Park

This is an aerial course built amongst the trees in Bedok Reservoir Park. Get ready to feel the rush of excitement as you traverse obstacles, swing from tree to tree and zip across the reservoir. This obstacle course is great fun and development for children and anyone else wishing for an adrenalin rush. Do check out the forest adventure website at http://forestadventure.com.sg

Wakeboarding at Ski360

Ski360At East Coast Park, there is the Ski360, Singapore's first cable-ski park. Instead of being pulled by a boat, participants are dragged along by an overhead cable and taken for a ride round a lagoon. For the adventurous, why not take a shot at wakeboarding or water-skiing? Find out more at http://www.ski360degree.com

Go Karting at Kartright Speedway

On the western part of Singapore, all the way in Jurong, is the newly opened Kartright speedway, Singapore's premier go karting facility. Whether you are simply looking for a bit of fun or are a serious racing enthusiast, go karting is a great way to let the speed demon inside you loose! With a 750m all-weather track and an option to race at night, Kartright Speedway is a perfect getaway from the monotonous shopping or attraction hopping. http://www.kartright.com is where you'll find more information on opening times and track availability.

Singapore-style Seafood

While in Singapore, it is an absolute must to try seafood done Singaporean-style. You might have heard of dishes like chilli and black pepper crab, drunken prawns etc. The East Coast Seafood Centre is a great place to have dinner and whet your appetite. With numerous seafood restaurants to choose from, you'll have a hard time picking out one as they all seem to have the same food on the menu! However, whichever restaurant you choose, give such Singaporean seafood dishes a try. It is certainly something different, though you can let the waiter know how you want your seafood done i.e. steamed, with additional garlic, with sauce on the side and so on.

Side Trips

Pulau Ubin

This island is a mere 15-minute bumboat ride from the Changi Ferry Terminal. For first-timers, it will literally feel as if you have been transported back in time! The island is mainly covered in mangrove swamps and has nice hiking and cycling trails. The small local population still live in traditional kampong houses. The many shops offering bikes for rental should provide you with what you need, be it a simple clunker or a good mountain bike. It is highly advisable for you to test your bike brakes before setting off, as you'll come across several steep slopes and uneven trails as you explore the island.

People come to Pulau Ubin to bird-watch, hike, bike and learn about the culture on this untouched jungle island. The famous Chek Jawa wetlands area is also located here, on the eastern most tip of the island. Hence, grab a map, set a destination, and simply explore and be adventurous when on Pulau Ubin.

Diving in Singapore

Singapore is not well-known for its diving opportunities, especially from the various offshore islands. However, for those looking for a challenge or want to learn diving, there are organised tours, dive schools and more. 

Excursions

Johor Bahru (JB)

Just across the causeway, is JB, a de facto suburb of Singapore, considering the many people who take the occasional drive over to take advantage of the ever cheaper shopping options. In addition, thousands live in JB and commute to Singapore for work daily. Dining in JB is great if you are looking for more authentic Malay cuisine. The streets and alleys in JB are littered with excellent street-food options. For the various methods of getting to Johor from Singapore, you can find out more here.

Bintan, Indonesia

A mere 45 km southeast of Singapore lies the colourful island of Bintan. Numerous seaside resorts from luxury to budget populate the Northern shores of the island. On the Southern portion, there are fishing villages, electronics factories and bustling towns populated with motorcycles. The capital Tanjung Pinang is well-known for seafood and local fruits. In addition, the old market area is built on stilts, a fascinating place for shopping and walking around. 

It takes roughly 45 minutes to reach Bintan by boat, the only means of transport to get there. Ferries depart from the Singapore Cruise Centre and Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal several times daily. For ferry schedules, reservations and fares, find out more here

Getting to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal - Take a train to Tanah Merah MRT station and transfer to bus service 35 till the last stop, which is the ferry terminal. 

Getting to Singapore Cruise Centre - Take a train to Harbourfront MRT station. Follow directions within the station to the cruise centre, which is a short walking distance away. 

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