Visitors and tourists often wonder how they too can see Singapore like a local. Singapore is famous for being an exotic nation, and the converging point of various nationalities. With its award-winning engineering and human-made beauties, the country has found a place for itself on the world map. Breaking away from mainland Malaysia in 1965, Singapore has formed itself into a thriving urban nation with the chic port town.
Every tourist has seen the hanging lights of Gardens by the bay or clicked the Insta-worthy photos at the Sentosa Island. Certainly, both Marina Bay Sands and a boat ride through the Clarke Quay is on everyone’s wishlist. Indeed, even locals from Singapore visit these sites on their off time.
However, who wants to take the roads less traveled and avoid the crowd, take the heed of the locals. Locals from Singaporean could tell you how to see the country as a local, or, you could just read on.
Here’s our list of things to do in Singapore Like a Local
Island Hop In Singapore Like a Local
A lesser-known fact about Singapore is that it is not just one island country; instead, it is a Malay archipelago of over 62 islands. While thinking of islands, the only thing that comes to one’s mind is probably the beachy island of Sentosa with its Universal Studios theme park.
However, there are so many more islands in Singapore for a local or tourist to see. For example, you can take a ferry to Pulau Ubin, which is the last of remaining kampung villages or go for a hike in the Chek Jawa Wetland Natural Reserve. Moreover, St John’s Island and Lazarus island provide for a picturesque and serene day getaway.
Cycle Around Singapore’s Roads
The roads in Singapore are blissful. Not the central streets with their crowding traffic but the pathways built for pedestrians by the beaches and parks. They are perfect for an evening cycle! Singapore has an underlining park and bike networks that allow you to experience all the outdoor attractions.
Furthermore, the bike rental kiosks and services are cheap and are available easily for a pickup. The pathways will take one through canopying trees and the clear roads in the off beaten tracks of Punggol Waterway Park, Woodlands Waterfront Park, or Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. However, if you want to ride along the beach with the crowd, then East Coast Park is the path for you to take!
If cycling is not your favorite thing to do, then you can hike along the natural trails in Mac Ritchie Reservoir.
This island nation is known for its mix of nationalities and races at one spot. Then, how can one not expect a mixture of cuisine? Singapore street food sees a borrow from the Malay, Indonesian, Indian, Chinese, and Western kitchen. You would see people walking to work with a chicken floss bun or sausage roll from a local bakery or crowding the Singapore hawker centers for a plate of spicy Nasi Goreng.
Moreover, kaya toast and kappa is a favorite breakfast! When you finish eating at one, there is always one more to try. After all, some of these hawker stalls even have Michelin stars making it some of the best food to eat in Singapore.
Further on, if you are searching near the famous tourist spots, there are some of the best ones one can find. Old Airport Road, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, Maxwell Road Hawker Centre, Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre, and Tekka Centre are some of the best places to try cheap and local Singapore eats.
Let’s face it, Singapore might have a tropical climate, but it’s no tropical island, and it has its reputation of a nightly lit city. However, there are several reservoirs and parks built within the small land that shows the beauty of nature. Indeed, bird watching is a favorite pastime of locals in Singapore. All one has to do is carry binoculars and bug repellant and head in search.
While you could quickly head to Singapore Zoo or Jurong Bird Park, Singapore hides calmer and quieter places to thrill bird enthusiasts. During September and March, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve becomes home to several migratory birds. Also, there are reservoirs and parks where you can head to see some rare species of birds. Sometimes, if the evenings are calm enough, one can even see the rare pangolin ambling around.
Head To A Traditional Kampong
Kampong is a traditional village where the ages-old culture and tradition, along with the houses, have remained intact. Singapore is an exotic city with towering buildings and sometimes colorful houses. Lorong Buangkok is said to be the last surviving kampong in the country. Built-in 1956, it is home to barely 30 families to have remained in their closely-knit community under the rustic zinc sloped houses.
Furthermore, you can also discover districts that have taken the name of a kampong to give a wholesome cultural experience. For instance, Kampong Glam has rows of hidden cafes, vibrant thrift stores, and several Middle Eastern restaurants. For an authentic Malay taste, head to the Masjid Sultan mosque nearby and the lines of trinket shops that surround it.
Travel In SMRT
Public transport (MRT) is one of the best ways to see Singapore as a local. Singapore has one of the most convenient public transport networks in Asia. Here, you can ride the metro through the towns, or take a bus to the districts. Indeed, there is a number and a card for everything. For example, all you have to do is buy an ezlink-card for cheaper and faster travel. Luckily tourists, all the major attractions, are located close to the MRT stations.
Kayaking and Paddling
The seas surrounding Singapore are known for their non-waviness, and the waters make for a lazy ride around. You can pick up a kayak and practice stand-up paddling through the sea or cruise along Singapore River to explore its port. Further on, the Mac Ritchie reservoir or Kallang basin makes for a pleasant and leisure ride. However, if you want some adventure, then head to Singapore’s offshore destinations or mangrove forests kayaks.
You can also go for kayak fishing.
Fly A Kite Like a Local At Marina Barrage, Singapore
A lazy Saturday as the sun goes down, you will find a crowd laundering about in Marina Barrage. A picnic box in hand and a family leisure time, Marina Barrage is famous for being a kite-flying spot. The best part about the reservoir is the sprawling green land atop a building that serves as a chilling spot for families. Just lay on the grass, bring a kite, and enjoy the moment.
Camp and Barbeque Like a Local In Singapore’s Parks
When the weather is cooperative and not bringing rain your way, then Singapore resorts and parks serve as romantic sleeping spots. You could stay at a farm resort near Punggol or in Kraji or an outdoor set up in the East Coast Park. Indeed, you can see that family time in Singapore is never wasted by a local resident. Be sure to get a permit to set up your camp and sleep under the stars or have a barbeque party in the pits made for it nearby.
Midnight Shopping To Mustafa Centre
Scurrying for a midnight adventure? Then, head to Mustafa Centre in Frazer Town. The only hypermart open 24-hours in Singapore, Mustafa has everything for everyone, starting from imported snacks from India to meat and seafood for all kinds.
Here, you can buy the cheapest change of sarees to the luxurious, trendy home decors. There is even a corner to buy stationary and parts for adventure sports. Perhaps, you can buy your kayak here! Moreover, they also have racks of gold and silver jewelry. Set up in 1971, Mustafa Centre is one of the oldest hypermarts to welcome you even at the odd nightly hours. Visiting the Mustafa Center is one of our top things to do if you want to see Singapore like a local.
Adyasha is a lost soul in a paper world creating fantasies out of reality. A traveler out of passion, a writer in the profession, she seeks the words which help her view the world in a brighter light. Adyasha writes to be heard and to make those lost voices heard.