Singapore may be small, but it’s full of surprises. One of the best ways to enjoy the city is to hang out with locals and enjoy cool activities such as exploring indie artist studios and dining at converted container parks. Check out where you can do all these and more in the Little Red Dot.

Dine right by an airfield in Seletar

Enjoy a cuppa or a snack at the al fresco dining area of Soek Seng 1964 Bicycle Cafe for the best views of the Seletar Airport runway

Enjoy a cuppa or a snack at the al fresco dining area of Soek Seng 1964 Bicycle Cafe for the best views of the Seletar Airport runway

Enjoy a one-of-a-kind view overlooking an airfield where you can see planes taking off and landing at Seletar Airport. The best way to enjoy plane spotting is to dine at Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe. This café is run by a bike collector and sits right by the airport’s runway. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of picture-perfect vintage wheels on display here.

You can also take a short walk to The Oval at Seletar Aerospace Park, which is where the chic Wheeler’s Estate is located. The beautifully restored bungalow comprises a restaurant, cafe and bar. But if the weather is good, head outside to the picnic area to enjoy an al fresco meal. Another unique option is Di Wei Teochew Restaurant, which specialises in hearty Teochew cuisine such as cold crab and steamed pomfret.

Admire colonial architecture at Wessex

A hand holding a smartphone camera with a black and white colonial apartment block in Wessex Estate in the background

For #ootd photos that really “pop”, dress in bright colours to provide a contrast with the black and white colonial apartments in Wessex Estate

Get your cameras ready for lots of photo opportunities as you stroll around the picturesque Wessex estate near Portsdown Road, where you’ll find pretty black and white colonial apartments and houses. Most of the units are residences but a number of artists have set up workshops here. Biannual event ArtWalk@Wessex allows you to meet the artists and visit their studios. But even if you miss this, you can always make private appointments with individual artists to view their work – and perhaps purchase something lovely for your home. When it’s time for a break, Colbar, which was once a canteen for the British army, offers a quaint old school vibe for a meal.

Support young entrepreneurs in Punggol

External view of the F&B eateries at the Punggol East container park

With cool eateries housed in refurbished containers and a chill vibe, Punggol East Container Park is the latest hipster hangout in Singapore

Soak in cool, artsy vibes at the new Punggol East container park at Tebing Lane, featuring containers that have been converted into cafes, pubs and casual bistros. Mostly run by young entrepreneurs who are new to the F&B scene, these establishments offer interesting concepts such as red bean bingsu (Korean shaved ice) at Seoul Good Dessert & Coffee or Peranakan curry chicken served with beer at L’Chaim Bistro.

You can also rent a bike to cycle within Punggol Waterway Park, which is landscaped with wide pathways and tropical greenery. For rustic scenery, continue on to Coney Island Park, which is home to unique habitats including coastal forests and casuarina woodlands, to experience a side of Singapore you won’t see in the bustling city centre!

Soak in cool, artsy vibes at the new Punggol East container park at Tebing Lane, featuring containers that have been converted into cafes, pubs and casual bistros

Explore the revitalised industrial estate of Jalan Besar

The preserved exterior facade of Chye Seng Huat Hardware cafe, which was formerly a hardware shop

Look beyond the industrial exterior of Chye Seng Huat Hardware cafe to discover one of Singapore’s most popular cafes. The cold brew coffee is a bestseller on sunny days

Jalan Besar used to be filled with hardware shops and factories, but these have been reinvented as cool hangouts in the form of bars, restaurants and boutique hotels while preserving aspects of the neighbourhood’s heritage. For instance, the original facade of Chye Seng Huat Hardware, a popular cafe and coffee roastery that was once a hardware shop, has been conserved. For some tipple, visit Druggists, which has more than 20 craft beers on tap and is located on the ground floor of the Chinese Druggist Association’s historic shophouse. To fully immerse yourself in Jalan Besar’s cool vibe, stay at one of the boutique hotels in the area such as Kam Leng Hotel or Hotel Yan. There’s plenty of scrumptious local eats here too. For starters, check out Beach Road Scissors Cut Curry Rice for Hainanese curry mixed rice or Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant for authentic Shanghai and Hong Kong dim sum.

For more historic and cultural insights, you can also go on a self-guided heritage walking trail of this vibrant neighbourhood.

 

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or have spent lots of time in Singapore, there are plenty of reasons to extend your explorations farther afield to uncover the country’s cool and bohemian side. Time to head out to see and do more!

*Main image credit: Singapore Tourism Board