Our list is not your average visitor's guide for sure.

Sometimes, Singapore seems like a city built purely on press releases. Wishful thinking stacked on hype, held together with adjectival mortar. Tell someone something is great often enough and, even if they know better, eventually it starts to seep in.

Enough already. Enough with the integrated resorts. Enough with the shiny new malls. Enough of being told the Night Race is the most world-changing event since Adam and Eve first rubbed up against one another. Enough of hearing that we top livability and safety and environmental polls.

Here at I-S, we’re by no means always immune to this barrage of propoganda; but from time to time it pays to step back from it all.

The best experiences you can have here aren’t all quantifiable, or easy to do, or necessarily even all that good for you. (Many of them involve eating, but we’ll save that for our next 50 Things to Eat story.) Some of them don’t even require you to leave home. Others are to be found away from the city, where the smooth and polished heart gives way to more rugged and interesting edges. In no particular order, then, this is a list to inspire as much as it is to check off.

Unofficial, unendorsed, but guaranteed to be at least 100 times more fun than a regular visitor’s guide. This is Singapore, as you may never have seen it before.



1) Stop and listen to the deafening sunset bird chorus between Meritus Mandarin and Takashimaya on Orchard Rd.

2) Beg, borrow or steal a ticket to the Laneway Festival. singapore.lanewayfestival.com.au.

3) Join the Filipina dance party outside ION Orchard on Sunday evenings. Some people complain that it’s a nuisance. Some people are idiots.

4) Hit up the Racecourse on a Friday night. The thrill of the races are only part of the appeal. The other part is cheap beer. 1 Turf Club Ave., 6879-1000.

5) Down a refreshing glass of homegrown aloe vera juice at Poison Ivy Bistro, after a stroll along the surrounding country lanes. Bollywood Veggies, 100 Neo Tiew Rd., 6898-5001.

6) Contribute to Ceriph, the city’s most beautifully produced creative journal. www.ceriph.net

7) Lower yourself into a storm drain and see what you can dredge up. Or spare yourself the risk and check out artist Charles Lim’s own exploration in All Lines Flow Out, now showing at the Biennale. singaporebiennale.org.

8) Pick up some pencils and join a sketchwalk. urbansketcherssingapore.blogspot.com.

9) Try your hand at darts in a hooker bar on Duxton Hill.

10) Keep an eye out for raptors while crossing Henderson Waves; it’s a favorite haunt for migratory birds of prey. Henderson Rd., near Telok Blangah Green.

11) Toast author Paul Theroux near the site of his old house, across Bukit Timah Road from Serene House.

12) Steal a kiss on a Jewel Cable Car ride, 109 Mt. Faber Rd., 6270-8855, mountfaber.com.sg.

13) Look back at the island while getting drunk up against the border fence in JB.

14) Ask politely and plug your own iPod in at Night & Day, 139 Selegie Rd., 6884- 5523.

15) See an Alfian Sa’at play. If there isn’t one on, pick up one of his anthologies. Start with “Fugitives” from Collected Plays One.

16) Sneak into a condo pool at night. Better yet, reenact Burt Lancaster’s role in The Swimmer, and swim home from a night out.

17) Participate in a pickup cricket game in the field by Northumberland Road.

18) Overnight at least one boutique hotel. Try Wanderlust, 2 Dickson Rd., 6396-3322.

19) Down a G&T on the porch of a Black & White villa. If you have to sneak into an abandoned one (ahem ... Rochester Park) to do so, so be it.

20) Ride the length of the KTM railway line, from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands, before it’s gone for good.

1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80 81-100


Leave a Comment