Free Press Journal

Exploring Singapore: An ideal holiday destination

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Singapore

For such a tiny city with limited resources, it’s managed to morph itself into such an incredible country with so much to offer its tourists that it’s now considered a more sought after holiday spot, writes Roxanne Bamboat.

If there was anything like an ideal holiday destination then it would probably have to be Singapore. For such a tiny city with limited resources, it’s managed to morph itself into such an incredible country with so much to offer its tourists that it’s now considered a more sought after holiday spot. Sunny Sentosa beach with plenty of activities on the island, Universal Studios with all its thrills, Bird Parks, Zoos and Night Safaris for enthusiastic kids and even a majestic river cruise by sunset are some of the highlights. If you’ve visited Singapore before, chances are you’ve experienced more than one of these already. While there is nothing wrong with these activities, if you’re looking to explore Singapore beyond the obvious then these might be worth your while.

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Peranakan Museum – While the people of Singapore that originally make up the country are Indians, Chinese and Malays, the actual original inhabitants were just the Malays. When Chinese and Indian traders came and married local Malay women, their children were called Peranakans. It is said that they are as authentically Singaporean as it gets. Of course you need to be born a Peranakan and should you marry out then the next generation isn’t considered Peranakan. They have a fascinating history which is well documented in a museum dedicated to them. From the way they lived, their clothes, furniture, ornate jewelry, cutlery and crockery and though rough explanations about their customs and traditions, the museum is a fascinating eye opener into a prominent part of Singapore’s history that is often overlooked by visitors.

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Take a cooking class – If it’s one thing the city is known for, it’s the amazing variety of food available. You can pick any cuisine and there is probably a bunch of restaurants dedicated to it. Local food however is the biggest attraction. With Chinese, Indian and Malay inspired dishes you can be assured to almost never have a bad meal in Singapore. While eating is one aspect, the real fun is in trying to recreate the dishes and learn how to make them. A local cooking class to teach you how to whip up a traditional Singapore Chilli Crab or their Hainanese Chicken Rice is a great way to further explore Singaporean food.

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Chinatown – This is a superb ethnic enclave that features Chinese culture and population. Best known for its beautiful Buddhist temple, Chinatown has a great vibe as its always alive buzzing with people. Plenty of street hawkers, little restaurants and colourful shops selling souvenirs it are a good spot to visit and tuck into a steaming plate of food. What a lot of people don’t know is that apart from the shopping and eating, there is an extremely interesting Chinese Heritage Center that takes you through the history of the Chinese community in Singapore. The building it is located in, is an old traditional Chinese home and despite being a much smaller museum, it still gives you a great insight into a bit of Singapore’s culture.

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Botanical Gardens – The Gardens By The Bay made their debut in 2014 and have had visitors flocking to them to visit the two conservatories and explore the super trees. A lesser known fact is that you can explore the botanical gardens for free which is far less crowded than the conservatories and end by watching the laser light and music show at 7.30pm which again is free of charge. A lot of folks rush to see the conservatories but miss out on the gardens after that.

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Timbre + – Singapore is flooded with hawker centers, restaurants and cafes in all price ranges but Timbre+ is one of their very first container and food truck space. It is one roof, made to resemble a really large container with plenty of colour and graffiti, that houses nearly 35 hawkers and food brands and the variety and choice is plentiful. It’s the latest hipster joint, that at night turns into a very funky venue for live music and bands. The hawkers don’t stay open at night but the restaurants are and it’s packed. It isn’t exactly city centric but given that this is a small city with fantastic public transport, it’s worth the effort.

Haw Par Vila

Haw Par Vila

Haw Par Villa – This is a very old attraction in Singapore but it seems to have been forgotten now with so many other tourist spots sprouting up. This unusual theme park of sorts is dedicated to Chinese folklore and mythology. It is seemingly bizarre but interesting at the same time. The villa actually belongs to two brothers (now deceased) that were the inventors of Tiger Balm and so often referred to as Tiger Balm Garden. The gardens are full of statues, mostly from Chinese mythology but don’t be too shocked when you bump into the Statue Of Liberty as well (yes very bizarre and unexplainable). The highlight and possibly most bizarre part is the Ten Courts Of Hell which depict what the Chinese believe happens to you once you die. Each court is for a particular punishment and are quite gruesome and unforgiving. Might be a tad bit scary for children but most adults get a good laugh out of it.