S’porean millennial who has lived here all her life hunts for lesser-known places to explore

Lots of hidden gems.

| Tanya Ong | Sponsored | February 25, 2021, 05:25 PM

If you are like me, and enjoy spending a decent portion of your annual leave going on overseas vacations, you must be going cold turkey now.

Unfortunately, mass air travel does not look to be magically recovering just yet.

So what this means is that I have found myself missing the feeling of being a carefree tourist, wandering about an unfamiliar city as each twist and turn leads to a new discovery.

But do I really need to be overseas to take a break from mundane daily routines and seek out new adventures?

Armed with an appetite for exploration, I decided to discover how I can still have a holiday complete with fresh experiences… in my own country.

The first step, of course, was to apply for leave. Because you can’t really be free to wander around if you’re bogged down by work responsibilities and endless online meetings.

Once that was sorted, the next step was research. Lots of it. (I do not recommend you do this during work hours, though.)

Having lived in Singapore for my whole life, it is tempting to think that there can’t possibly be many places that I’ve not heard of or explored. After all, Singapore is a small island-city, and our mainland spans a mere 50km stretching from east to west.

But as I would come to realise, there are plenty of obscure gems that are tucked away and waiting to be (re?)discovered.

So, how does one enjoy a getaway without going overseas?

I started by looking at what was perhaps the most common suggestion (and one that is particularly popular right now): booking a staycation. After all, a change of environment for a couple of nights can do wonders for a weary mind and body.

Apart from being a nice way to treat ourselves, staycations offer a nice little opportunity to explore a neighbourhood that we aren’t too familiar with.

Also, plush sheets and an excuse to pamper myself? Say no more.

Book a short getaway without going overseas

There are no lack of hotels in Singapore with a wide range of prices to cater to every budget, so finding something to suit even the pickiest of guests shouldn’t be too difficult.

Fancy a cosy boutique hotel that allows you to explore the shophouses in the neighbouring vicinity? Hotel Soloha, for instance, offers chic rooms in a heritage-rich neighbourhood with F&B dining benefits (all-day 1-for-1 beer, anyone?) from S$140 nett.

Photo via Klook.

Deluxe window room. Photo via Klook.

Prefer to splurge on a more upscale option located right in the heart of town? Hotels like JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach offer a glimpse of how historic heritage can be balanced with a luxurious, contemporary style.

Also, are you seeing this bathtub in their Deluxe Room?

Nothing screams holiday more than a leisurely soak. Photo via Klook.

Deluxe King Room. Photo via JW Marriott South Beach.

Now that I’ve got the accommodation sorted out, it’s time to look at things to do.

If you miss going on tours in unfamiliar locations, that can always be arranged. In Singapore.

I don’t know about you, but the best thing about being on a holiday is arguably exploring unfamiliar landscapes.

A good way to discover different nooks and crannies is through guided tours — not only so you don’t have to fumble with Google Maps, but also, tours come with experienced guides who can share interesting insights and information on various subjects and places.

Craving an escape from the bustling city, I decided to seek out local tours in the outskirts.

Like this Kranji Countryside Tour.

First things first: For someone who has lived in the east all her life, the commute to Kranji is arguably already a journey in itself.

A visit to spots such as Kranji Dam and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve are also a great break from the urban jungle that we have grown so used to, and gives us a breather from the chaos of city life.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Photo via Klook.

And did I mention that there are local frog and goat farms in the area? Yes, you can even interact with the goats there and try fresh goat milk.

Photo via Klook.

After exploring the north, it’s time to look towards the southern coast of Singapore — Sisters’ Islands is one of Singapore’s largest islands apart from Sentosa and Pulau Ubin (did you know that Singapore is home to 64 offshore islands??).

Many of us may dream of exotic wildlife sightings and pristine beaches in faraway lands, but hey, you don’t actually need your passport to discover rich biodiversity.

While Singaporeans are no stranger to Sisters’ Islands, what many may not realise is that it’s actually a designated marine park in-between tides. The shores of the islands are a showcase of marine biodiversity, including over 250 varieties of hard corals, endangered species of seahorses and even coral fishes.

As someone who hasn’t the slightest clue on marine creatures (is this a sea sponge or a sea cucumber?), there are, thankfully, intertidal specialist guides who are able to provide detailed information on the marine flora and fauna.

Photos via Klook.

Having said all of these, I know what you’re thinking: Nature tours are great, but which holiday is complete without some booze?

Brewery tours, while common overseas in places in Australia or Japan, actually exist right in our backyard as well.

Like this one at Khatib, which allows one to discover (and sample) different types of locally-crafted beer.

Photo via Klook, taken before Covid-19.

Each tour, which is kept to a small group size of 10 and under, gives participants a chance to learn about brewery culture and spend an evening at the brewery house restaurant bar enjoying a sumptuous Teochew dinner.

Oh, and lots of beer, of course.

There are so many museums in Singapore you’ve probably never heard of

As someone who can always be found in galleries during my holiday, I also decided to do a little research on the museums in Singapore — and ended up discovering some I didn’t even know existed.

One obscure spot that I just learned about is The Intan, a private museum in Joo Chiat.

The award-winning museum houses an eclectic collection of all-things Peranakan in a home setting. Want the full immersive experience? Sip tea and munch on refreshments while the museum owner takes you on a private museum tour.

The Intan. Photo via Klook.

Another museum, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, may be familiar to some National University of Singapore students given that it is located within the NUS campus, but may be something new for those who don’t venture to the west often.

The museum is home to dinosaur fossils and over 1 million natural specimens (plants, insects, you name it), with each visit transporting one back in time to witness the beginning of life on Earth as we know it.

Big whoa. Photo via Klook.

Big whoa.

You don’t need to go overseas to learn something new (obviously!)

The last thing I needed to complete my epic local adventure: To break the routine of my monotonous life by learning something new.

As a coffee lover, I thought it would be interesting to find out how my cappuccino is actually made. Especially the cool drawing on top of it.

Latte art workshops (such as these!) give coffee aficionados a chance to pick up basic coffee art knowledge and milk frothing techniques.

As a barista for a day, one can finally learn the secrets behind a visually-pleasing cup of coffee.

I am probably better at drinking the coffee than making it. Photo via Klook.

No, Singapore is not boring at all

At the end of everything, what I’ve learnt are 1) You really don’t need to go overseas for an adventure and 2) There is still much that I don’t know about Singapore.

Whoever said Singapore is boring probably aren’t looking in the right places.

For the local residents hoping to see their home in a different light and maybe even fall in love with this city all over again, Klook is offering a myriad of activities, ranging from outdoor tours to indoor workshops.

(Pro-tip: Their More to Singapore campaign has up to 10 per cent off Singapore activities!)

Brb, going on more adventures.

Top photo composite image via Klook and Atlas Travelz.

After doing this sponsored article by Klook in collaboration with the SingapoRediscovers campaign, this writer is inspired to go on more adventures.