Five reasons to extend your stay in Singapore

The city highlights you might have missed first time, from hidden bars and tiny islands to a shoe-shopping mecca


BY EMINE SANER
The city highlights you might have missed first time, from hidden bars and tiny islands to a shoe-shopping mecca

 

 

You’ve marvelled at the futuristic super-trees, walked around the Gardens by the Bay park, and flown above the city state on the giant observation wheel (the Singapore Flyer) and wandered the halls of the refurbished National Gallery. Now it’s time to seek out some of quirkier attractions beneath Singapore’s gleaming façade.

Get on your bike

It’s short ferry ride from the uber-modern, ultra-urban mainland to the small island of Pulau Ubin. Fewer than a hundred residents live here today and you can explore the lush greenery and small traditional villages by bike. Look out for marine wildlife in the wetlands, and try to spot rare birds in the quarry that is now a lake (the name Pulau Ubin means ‘granite island’ and it provided granite for building projects in the 1960s). Grab some chilli crab from one of the restaurants by the water’s edge before heading back to the 21st-century mainland.

Discover the ultimate shoe shop

With 20,000-square-foot of space, separated into individually designed zones, Pedder on Scotts is a temple to stylish footwear (you’ll also find accessories and a coffee shop). Admire the rare sneakers in the sports section, then drop by the elegant women’s department to shop for shoe brands such as Charlotte Olympia, Nicholas Kirkwood and Christian Louboutin. Meanwhile, the New Generation zone has up-and-coming finds.

Create a cocktail

You can't beat the food and drink offerings at Mandarin Oriental, Singapore, but nevertheless, you may want to venture beyond it also. There’s no menu at Bar Stories, a Singapore favourite that has survived where more gimmicky bars have come and gone. Just tell the bartender the sort of flavours you like, and your bespoke drink will be mixed in front of you, using their well-stocked liquor shelves and anything from homemade fruit syrups to peanut butter to rare herbs. It has an exclusive air – it’s small, and is hard enough to find (it’s in a traditional shophouse on the hip Haji Lane) to feel you’ve earned that cocktail.

Peek at the past

At 157 Neil Road, in the historic Panjong Tagar district, is Baba House, an intriguing townhouse purchased and restored by the National University of Singapore. There are several tours a week ­– showcasing its vibrant blue entrance, ornate furniture and grand red and gold beds – which give a feel of what home life was like for a wealthy Peranakan Chinese family in the early 20th century.

Hang out with the art crowd

The gallerist, collector and powerhouse of the Asian art scene, Pearl Lam has two galleries in Singapore, showcasing influential contemporary art from China and across Southeast Asia, as well as international artists. Her first Singapore outpost is at Gillman Barracks, a former military barracks from the 1930s that is now an impressive arts hub, featuring galleries, a beautifully curated store, cafés and restaurants. There is also a university-linked art research centre with a regular programme of talks, exhibitions and screenings. Keep an eye out for Gillman Barracks’ Friday night Art After Dark events, which draws Singapore’s creative set.

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