Singapore is changing faster than ever before, and that extends to the attractions. Big and bold still dominate, but in celebrating its 50th anniversary, the city-state is starting to think differently about its entertainment. We found eight hidden gems for the perfect getaway.
The Spiffy Dapper
73 Amoy St, Singapore 069892
ph: +65 8722 4953
The Spiffy Dapper might have over-garnished its hipster name but otherwise gets the hidden bar formula just right. One floor up on Amoy Street, listen for the crowds and cocktail shakers. Inside it’s dim lights, exotic liquor and helpful bartenders. Open stupidly late on weeknights.
Ramada and Days Hotels
16 Ah Hood Rd // 1 Jalan Rajah, Singapore
ph: +65 6808 6888 (Ramada) +65 6808 6868 (Days)
Planting accommodation in the historic Balestier district is a new concept for Singapore, but one Ramada and Days Hotels embrace successfully. If you’re feeling thrifty (or you’re travelling alone) try Days Hotel — a comfy three-star property with cosy, well-kept rooms from SGD$150. Otherwise the four-star Ramada and its wealth of facilities is the way to go (from SGD$180). Either way, these slick hotels are slap-bang in the middle of a rich commercial and residential zone, a $7 cab ride from the city and joined by a communal park, making it easy to immerse yourself in local life.
Portsdown Rd, Singapore
Wessex Estate is an anomaly amid the cram of Singapore — a rambling campus of beautiful, old British army bungalows turned over to the city’s artistic community. Just strolling around the place is enough, but maybe knock on some doors: iconic local artist Dick Lim’s d’Art Studio is often open, as is that of newcomer to the precinct Pamela Yee. Pitstop at Colbar Eating House — once the officers’ canteen — for a tasty fried lunch.
9 Lock Rd, Singapore 108937
At the other end of the spectrum is Gillman Barracks, a classy arts cluster gathered upon the island’s Southern Ridges. The precinct can seem a little quiet outside of major events, but exploration reveals some tremendous artwork. Stick around into the evening for live music at Timbre.
via Changi Point Jetty
Sick of the city? Head to Pulau Ubin for a meditative dose of the village life that once dominated Singapore proper. A short ferry ride from Changi Point, you can hire a bicycle for a measly $8 and slowly tour around the small island, visiting shrines, mangrove swamps and picnic areas. It’s like stepping into a time warp — a reminder of the metropolis’s humble (and deceptively recent) past.
1 Commonwealth Ln, #06-11 One Commonwealth, Singapore 149544
ph: +65 6325 0355
Don’t be put off by the office block digs — inside, past the suits and ties, you’ll find FLABSLAB, one of Singapore’s most innovative art collectives. The commercial and creative run close here, mastermind Jeffrey Koh using the former (via ad company Nerf Creative) to fund the latter. And they want you to visit — pop in and check out Koh’s stacks of artwork and obsessively-detailed figurines. Magic.
8D Dempsey Rd #03-01, Singapore 249679
Another vacated military barracks, Dempsey Hill is these days more about retail therapy and coffee culture. The location helps — within spitting distance of the botanic gardens and a short drive to the Southern Ridges — but it’s better to simply make a Saturday of it, mixing with locals as you wander from cafe to gift shop to restaurant to bar. Civilised.
47 Keong Saik Rd, Singapore 089151
ph: +65 6297 7969
Don’t know the password for the Library? Never fear — the door lady at this slick Chinatown venue will just get you to croon a national anthem or two. Embarrassing, but the hilarity means you enter the slick, inner sanctum of the bar in good spirits. Terrific table service and giddy cocktails do the rest.
The writer was a guest of Wyndham Hotels and Scoot Airlines. Scoot fly daily from the Gold Coast to Singapore. Economy fares start at $199 one-way. Book online via flyscoot.com.au.