through-fresh-eyes:-how-to-be-a-local-tourist-in-singapore
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Take a deep dive into the best of Singapore with these insider experiences that will have you seeing the city in a new light.

With travel still a distant dream this year, soothing those pangs of wanderlust can start from your own backyard. Enter the “Singapoliday”, a term coined by Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in conjunction with the SingapoRediscovers campaign that was launched to support local tourism businesses.

With Singaporeans above 18 years old now armed with $100 tourism vouchers, STB is rallying locals to explore precincts, hidden destinations and innovative attractions. These digital vouchers can be used from now until Jun 30, 2021 at over 200 merchants across authorised platforms such as Changi Recommends and Klook.

With or without the vouchers, there is plenty you can do as a local tourist. This guide offers some of the most unique experiences to help you reconnect with your Singaporean identity.

Image: Arts House Limited

Climb up a clock tour
Trafalgar’s Near Not Far series offers a two-day staycation tour with a Singaporean Heritage Highlights itinerary. Hear untold stories of the Civic District’s historic landmarks from heritage blogger Jerome Lim of The Long and Winding Road. You will learn about the history of The Arts House, and climb up to the 54m-high iconic clock tower of Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. Lim will also share trivia about the tower’s connection with London’s Big Ben. Other highlights include the Be My Guest experience of a Nyonya dinner at the National Kitchen by Violet Oon, where the chef herself will speak about the influences behind her dishes.

More info here

Image: Origins Journey

 

Walk the path of Peranakans
Embark on a nostalgic journey into Singapore’s Peranakan culture with a tour by Origin Journeys. Learn about the original Peranakans while examining the architecture of the 19th-century houses around Petain Road. At Neil Road, discover the former nutmeg plantation history of a row of restored shophouses and its original residents, which include Singapore’s first head of the botanical experimental gardens. Your guide will then take you to Chinatown’s best-kept secret: a traditional wares store where you can shop enamel tingkat sets and hand-drawn porcelain rooster bowls. True Blue Space is the final stop, where you will meet with restaurateur Baba Ben for lunch and a tour of his private family gallery.

More info here

Bask in local art
Art takes over the island again for one week from Jan 22 to 31. But for the first time, the annual Singapore Art Week festival presents a blended format of over 100 projects across physical and digital platforms. Familiar favourites such as the Light to Night Festival and Artwalk at Little India return alongside new takes on the visual arts. Aside from traditional art venues, the works can be found at unconventional public spaces including Bras Basah Complex, Tanjong Pagar Distripark, national parks and bus stops. This year’s highlights include an experimental art presentation of The Hours After by Ren Zi and Eugene TYZ, which is an international collaboration across five time zones that ends in an after-hours gallery experience turned art treasure hunt.

More info here

Image: Lola Hakimian

Hop aboard the Orient Express
Immerse yourself in the romance of a bygone era with the Once Upon A Time On The Orient Express pop-up (sistic.com.sg). The attraction, which runs until June 2021, features two of the original 1930 train carriages and a 158-year-old locomotive that houses over 300 artefacts – expect to see uniforms, archival documents and Louis Vuitton suitcases from the heyday of rail travel. Documentaries, newsreels and film clips will showcase the cinematographic legacies spawned from the train. In the dining car, visitors can enjoy a lavish gourmet experience thanks to three- Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno, who has created an elegant menu reflective of the era’s legendary meals. Unique to the Singapore pop-up is a Murder on the Orient Express-themed escape room where you can solve your own detective case in a digital experience.

More info here

Go on a dive trip
Located to the south of Singapore, Pulau Hantu is made up of two islets: Hantu Besar and Hantu Kechil. Despite its foreboding name, the island is a palm-fringed idyll of white sands and rich reefs. While the waters do not provide great visibility, they offer an exploration of local marine life that could surprise you with its diversity – think nurse sharks, anemone fish and seahorses. Tours are available from Cuddlefish Divers, which organises weekend trips with the option of a guide.

More info here

Hougang Tou Mu Kung, 2020. Image: National Heritage Board.

Heartland Heritage
A new Hougang Heritage Trail (roots.sg), put together by the National Heritage Board, reveals the colourful character of one of Singapore’s oldest towns. Made up of 18 heritage sites, it is divided into three thematic trail routes that span national monuments like the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Hougang Tou Mu Kung, to cultural institutions like the Ramakrishna Mission, to architecture that traces Hougang’s growth into a modern housing town.

More info here

 

Image: Klook

Meet the craftsmen of yesteryear
Travel back in time to life between the ’60s and ’80s on the Singapore’s Disappearing Trades Tour (klook.com) to see how some of the country’s oldest businesses have stood the test of time. You’ll go behind the scenes of a kopi roasting factory to discover how the traditional Singaporean coffee is made. Also, visit one of Singapore’s oldest bakeries, and meet the craftsmen behind a paper house workshop.

More info here

Image: Singapore Sidecars

See Singapore on a sidecar
Forget the rickshaw. Experience the city’s sights and sounds on a vintage Vespa sidecar tour that is the first in the world (sideways.sg). Singapore Sidecars’ most popular offering is a Tiong Bahru and Tanglin tour that includes a discovery of Art Deco architecture, Tanglin’s black and white colonial houses and the district’s market and cafes. For a glamorous ride, the Crazy Rich Asians tour whisks you on a trail of the movie’s filming scenes, from Gardens by the Bay and Chjimes to Bukit Pasoh Road’s Humpback restaurant. The tour ends with a cocktail-making workshop by the mixologists at Mandarin Oriental’s MO Bar.

More info here

Rediscover Singapore through food
Singaporeans worth their salt know that the best way to acquaint themselves with the city is through food. At Culture Curious, its Tea & Tiffin Tour takes you off the beaten path for a walking tour that encompasses eight tastings in Jalan Besar and Little India. Learn about the recipes from early immigrants that have lasted generations and savour their legacy through freshly cooked dishes.

Image: Hello Singapore

At Hello Singapore, its tours have been designed for residents, so expect a more in-depth exploration. The Jalan Jalan Cari Makan trail starts in Katong where you will learn about Chinese immigrants in Singapore and sample delicacies like bak chang and kueh, and continues in Old Airport Road Food Centre for dishes such as popiah and Hokkien mee. The final stop is a discovery of the Kampong Glam district and a tasting of popular local fare from the Indonesian and Indian communities like beef rendang and murtabak. Private tours are available.

Image: Restaurant Kin

For a taste of elevated Singaporean food, head to Restaurant Kin at Straits Clan for a heritage menu that pays tribute to Malay, Peranakan, Chinese, Eurasian and Indian cuisines. For clever reimagination of classics, head to mod-Sin restaurants like Avenue 87, which serves new takes on well-loved favourites such as fish soup and goreng pisang. Meanwhile, the one- Michelin-starred Labyrinth deconstructs and reinterprets staples like tau huay and bak kut teh.

More info in links above

Hit the waters
Spend a day at Lazarus Island aboard the White Sails’ Sunrise Catamaran Lagoon 400 yacht. After the yacht is parked at the pier, you could kayak, fish,snorkel or stroll the beaches to your heart’s content. The getaway ends with a scenic cruise around the Southern Islands and the Marina Bay shoreline. Another way to experience the island is with Sea Wheel Travel’s Eternal Love guided tour, which whisks you there for a morning of water activities along with kites and a picnic basket in tow. The afternoon takes you to the Mega Adventure Park where you can zipline, bungee jump and climb. Your mini daycay culminates in lunch and poolside lounging at one of Sentosa’s beach clubs.

Image: Klook

For an intimate and educational experience, opt for Klook’s private boat tour off the northeastern coast of Singapore. Learn how the sea channels work, sail through the mangrove swamps of Pulau Ubin while you spot wild boars along the coast, and make a pit stop at a kelong, a traditional floating fish farm.

More info in links above

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