Off the beaten path in Singapore

Sunrise over Marina Bay is magical

Singapore is one of the most visited places in south-east Asia; its location means that it has become somewhat of a transport hub. Not only is it a major gateway to hugely popular south-east Asian tourist destinations such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, it is also a key stopping off point on the way to Australia and New Zealand.

For most tourists, Singapore is a city of shopping malls, restaurants, bright lights, skyscrapers and super-clean streets. There is, however, much more to the city than this; it’s time to get off the beaten path and discover some of Singapore’s less well known attractions. Here are our top five.

5. Singapore Botanic Gardens

OK, so this vast green oasis in the centre of the city isn’t exactly the world’s best kept secret, but spending the morning in Singapore’s world-famous Botanic Gardens (it’s open at 05:00) is an experience that many tourists miss out on.

Early morning is definitely the time to visit the gardens; at this time of day they are cool retreat away from the bustling city. Walk through virgin rainforest and explore the breathtaking National Orchid Garden.

4. Modern Art at the Ritz-Carlton

This superb collection of modern art at the Ritz-Carlton is one of Singapore’s better kept secrets. Although it’s in a hotel, it’s one of the best collections of modern art in the whole of Asia.

The collection includes a huge sculpture by Frank Stella, as well as works by such luminaries as Dale Chihuly, Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Rainer Gross, Henry Moore and Robert Zakanitch. And the best thing about it is that it’s completely free; it’s even possible to download a guided tour for you iPod.

3. Haji Lane

This tiny lane, hidden in the heart of the Muslim Quarter, is a paradise of small uber-stylish shops; well it is Singapore, we couldn’t leave shopping off the list. Selling everything from trinkets to ice cream, cushion covers and tailored dress shirts, this is a shopping experience not to be missed.

2. Chinatown Heritage Centre

This is one of the very best attractions in Singapore and certainly the best of the city’s museums; strangely though it’s not as popular with tourists as the Peranakan or Asian Civilisation Museums.

At the Chinatown Heritage Centre entire sets of bedrooms, kitchens and street scenes from the late 19th and early 20th centuries have been painstakingly restored and recreated. And to make it that much more intriguing it is all set against a backdrop of the city’s gleaming skyscrapers. 

1. Festivals

There are several big festivals in Singapore spread across the year but without a doubt the biggest and best are the Singapore Food Festival (in July) and the Mid Autumn Festival. During the latter thousands of lights adorn the streets of Chinatown and there are many cultural performances.

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