Have you ever met someone who is so full of hope and optimism for the future? Someone who looks forward to a new year in anticipation of new adventures and travels?
That was you in January. Fast forward eight months, you’re still stuck wallowing about refunded plane tickets and cancelled hotel bookings.
Well, if you’re still stuck with nothing to do in Singapore, we’ve got some ideas for you.
The gahmen counts on your support towards local tourism to boost the economy so the National Heritage Board (NHB) and other institutions have no shortage of these planned.
Here, we’ve picked the 10 most interesting ones for your reference!
1. Little India Trail
If exotic culture and intricate architecture is your cup of tea, the 40 heritage sites and 18 informative markers on this trail are for you.
Find yourself on a religious trip through Abdul Gafoor Mosque, Foochow Methodist Church, Shree Lakshminarayan Temple and the Thai Buddhist Monastery Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple.
On Tuesdays, you can join a guided walking tour Dhobis, Saris & Spots of Curry.
Learn about the roles of flowers in Indian culture. Tie a sari and find out the meaning behind Indian body decorations. Savour hearty meals at Little India’s oldest restaurant.
2. Queenstown Trail
Most Singaporeans have come to associate Queenstown with IKEA.
In reality, it is populated by 70,000 people and has 11,000 flats.
Through these figures and its status as Singapore’s first satellite estate, you get to unlock personal stories of older residents for a vivid account on the evolution of public housing.
The Queenstown Trail is a true test of patience and stamina. It is 9.6km long and dotted with 40 stops. If it helps, think of it as a lengthy Coronation Day parade that you must endure elegantly like Queen Elizabeth II – that’s who the precinct is named after. At least you get to wear more comfortable shoes.
3. Balestier Trail
Compared to the Queenstown Trail, this 1.7km trail is only a short and breezy walk.
But, if Balestier’s historical sites can’t sate your appetite, follow up with the Faith, Film and Food trail. It lets you visit a former movie studio from the Golden Age of Malay Cinema.
But what fun are these trails without some company?
Unfortunately, most of our friends (or at least mine) strictly abide by Newton’s first law, and food is the only force powerful enough to change their course of (non-)motion. Maybe we could first entice them with the Balestier Food Trail.
Stuff them with delicious local delights so they won’t complain about what happens next.
4. Bukit Timah Trail
The first trail covers the former Raffles College – now the National University of Singapore – and our first UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
The second trail chronicles a portion of Japanese Occupation history, including their use of the Bukit Timah Hill as a tactical vantage point against invading forces.
Lastly, the third trail features a former railway station constructed in the 1930s to connect Singapore to the Malay Peninsula.
On a side note, did you know that Singapore has its own Bigfoot?
Sightings of the Bukit Timah Monkey Man (BTMM), a bipedal creature one to two metres in height, trace back to 1805.
In 2007, a taxi driver may have even injured it on Upper Bukit Timah Road. Despite the hit-and-run, BTMM seemed alive and well in a 2012 video.
So to all mystery buffs out there, hope is not lost. Quickly go on these trails to see if you can chance upon it.
5. Tampines Heritage Trail
In Tampines, pockets of nature used to occupy where high-rise residential units now stand. Today, the very trees Tampines is named after – tempinis – are survivors of near extinction.
To preserve its history, NHB came up with three bite-sized thematic trails, based on a public call for stories in early 2017 to highlight the most interesting local history.
It’s worth noting that back in the 1980s, Tampines pioneered town planning innovations by integrating green corridors.
It’s only fitting that the first-ever Green Spaces Trail – a cycling trail that showcases scenic landscapes and the original sites of former kampungs – started here as well.
6. Pioneers Trail
At 600m, the Pioneers Trail is the shortest on the list. The walk between Telok Ayer Street and Club Street takes 30 minutes.
The trail goes through Ann Siang Hill Park and Telok Ayer Street. The latter was a landing site for immigrants due to its proximity to the original Singapore River shoreline.
Located there are two National Monuments, Thian Hock Keng Temple and Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Centre.
Both are places of worship built by Hokkien and Muslim immigrants respectively in the 1820s.
7. Rain Forest Walking Trail (Botanic Garden)
In 1874, then director Henry Nicholas Ridley invented the herringbone method of rubber tapping by experimenting on the plantation’s crops. The reserve has been serving important scientific purpose since British colonization.
The trail shares Pioneers Trail’s spot as the shortest trail on the list at 600m. You will gain access to a living laboratory and the Museum of Natural History.
Walk among ferns that grow up to 3m – largest species in Singapore. Immerse yourself in this ancient forest and leave your urban worries behind.
8. Civic District Tree Trail
Starting at the Istana’s entrance and ending at the Raffles’ Landing Site, the trail spans 20 stops and 3km. Another trail launched by National Parks Board in 2016 to mark the importance of certain trees in the district, such as the Angsana and rain tree.
Participants will be introduced to 22 rain trees along Connaught Drive. Some have been standing strong since the mid-1880s and bore witness to significant events such as Singapore’s declaration of independence from the British by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in 1963.
There’s also an Indian rubber tree, originating from 1955, at the National Museum.
Coincidentally, the National Museum houses an exhibition by renowned photographer Robert Zhao Renhui titled “Singapore, Very Old Tree”.
On display are 17 images of trees and their unique relationships with Singaporeans. If you feel intrigued after the trail, pop in to explore more: admission is free!
9. Orchard Heritage Trail
Perhaps the most culturally shocking trail of all – it’s hard to imagine a pre-glam Orchard.
In the 1800s, Orchard was merely an unnamed countryside retreat on the map.
Where megamalls now rake in huge troves of tourists annually, nutmeg trees used to line the road. Whirlwind transformation involving leisure amenities and hotels began as recently as the 1950s.
The NHB trail comprises 71 heritage sites that span across Dhoby Ghaut and Tanglin. Uncover the buried history of Orchard and decide which version of it you prefer.
10. Singapore River Walk
When modern Singapore was founded in 1819, the stretch between Clifford Pier and Robertson Quay was a major trade hub.
People from all over the region flock to the port in search of fortunes and opportunities. Today, crowds of comparable density gather for drinks and entertainment.
Hunt down the 21 pointers along the river and learn about its contributions to the nation’s mercantile development.
Enjoy a spectacular view of the architecture and social history of the bridges. Alternatively, take a virtual tour and have a slice of the history pie in the comfort of your own home.
By the way, this could be the best time to walk along the Singapore River because according to rumours, the flowers are in full bloom right now and it’s absolutely beautiful.
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