A Local's Guide to Singapore's Best Kept Secrets

January 5, 2024

1. Tiong Bahru: Where Heritage Meets Hip

Tiong Bahru, one of Singapore's oldest residential areas, perfectly balances its historical roots with a contemporary edge. Stroll through the Art Deco-style buildings, explore quaint bookstores, and relish in the myriad of cafes offering a fusion of traditional and modern Singaporean cuisine. The Tiong Bahru Market is a must-visit for authentic local dishes.

Tiong Bahru

Photo: Simon Tian • WM • KK • Ashish Kumar • J H

2. Pulau Ubin: A Rustic Escape

Just a short bumboat ride away, Pulau Ubin offers a glimpse of Singapore's past. This tranquil island is a stark contrast to the mainland's rapid urbanization, showcasing a more laid-back, kampong (village) lifestyle. Nature lovers can explore its rich biodiversity, particularly at the Chek Jawa Wetlands.

Pulau Ubin

Photo: MEGUMI NAKAZAWA • Sanjeeb Mohapatra • ritesh kumar • Wolfgang K • Noriyuki Fukuhara

3. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve: A Tropical Haven

For a different kind of urban escape, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve offers lush greenery and diverse wildlife. It's a popular spot for hiking and bird watching, providing an excellent opportunity to experience Singapore’s native tropical rainforest.

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

Hindhede Dr, Singapore 589318

Photo: arizu aballe (aryz) • Gohht 13 • 土居賢治 • thynna llimaliv • Daniel Wong

4. Haji Lane: A Burst of Culture and Color

Tucked away in Kampong Glam, Haji Lane is an eclectic mix of independent fashion boutiques, Middle Eastern eateries, and vibrant murals. It's a trendy hotspot for both locals and tourists, perfect for those looking to shop, dine, and soak in the artsy atmosphere.

Haji Ln

Photo: Zielumanax • Le。樂 • Engelbert Tabones • Paul Ng • Eva

5. Dempsey Hill: A Colonial Hideaway

Once a British army barracks, Dempsey Hill has transformed into a lifestyle destination surrounded by lush greenery. Its colonial buildings now house upscale restaurants, art galleries, and antique stores. It's an ideal place for those seeking a quiet and sophisticated dining or shopping experience.

Dempsey Hill

8D Dempsey Rd, #03-01, Singapore 249679

Photo: 김동욱 • Ben Lin • Kevin M • Raja sekar • weweilee

6. Joo Chiat/Katong: A Peranakan Jewel

Joo Chiat/Katong, known for its rich Peranakan heritage, is a vibrant neighborhood with colorful shophouses, traditional eateries, and Peranakan-themed shops. Here, you can delve into the unique blend of Chinese and Malay cultures that define much of Singapore's history.

Joo Chiat Rd


Photo: Pham Le Quynh Anh • Maoming Shen • CY NG • Franki Choi

7. Little Guilin: Singapore's Own Guilin

Inspired by the granite rock formations in Guilin, China, Little Guilin in Bukit Batok Town Park is a scenic spot unknown to many tourists. With its towering rock cliffs set against a serene lake, it's a picturesque location perfect for leisurely walks and photography.

Little Guilin

Bukit Batok East Ave 5

Photo: 고윈ᄐugly • Chun Hing Lou • Nora Sulaiman • Angelina Angle • Ah Quan

8. Punggol Waterway Park: A Serene Riverside Experience

Punggol Waterway Park is a modern recreational area, ideal for families and nature enthusiasts. The park features a beautifully landscaped waterfront with paths perfect for jogging, cycling, and picnics. It's a refreshing retreat from the city's hustle and bustle.

Punggol Waterway Park

Sentul Cres, Singapore 821313

Photo: Penguin8 • Shamem Mollah • Humaira Shafi • Tan Sim Loong Edwin (edvventurer) • Ah Long

Singapore's charm isn't just in its well-known attractions but also in these hidden corners that offer a deeper, more intimate understanding of the city's diverse culture and history. So, when you next visit, take the road less traveled and discover the true essence of Singapore, hidden in plain sight.

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