Singapore is one of the cities that attracts the largest number of visitors and expatriates. Combining both modernity and the unexpected, there are so many things to discover in Singapore, both in the city centre and in its surroundings. Thanks to Lea’s precious advice, a young French expatriate in the City of the Lion, we invite you to discover some unmissable and surprising places that will undoubtedly amaze you.
Meet the expatriate community: Tiong Bahru
Tiong Bahru is one of Singapore’s most popular expatriate neighbourhoods. It’s a historic and charming place, with the look of a village surrounded by HDBs (Housing and Development Board) and condominiums. The place is known for its unique atmosphere with trendy cafes and shops and has attracted an increasing young and dynamic population. This is the reasons why Lea chose to settle here because she has never felt better than in Tiong Bahru. If you go there, don’t forget to visit the Tiong Bahru Market, where you can eat at low prices (curry chicken, fried Kway Teow, Xiao Long Bao and kujang ice, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for!). Nevertheless, Lea regrets the high concentration of expatriates in this district which somewhat reduces the feeling of disorientation. However, for those who have recently arrived in Singapore, it remains an excellent way to meet new people.
Have some rest: Botanic Garden
The Singapore Botanic Garden is undeniably one of the most famous and appreciated places, both by tourists and locals. Lea confirms: “The Botanic Garden is one of my favourite places in Singapore. Whether you want to walk around, discover the country’s wildlife, meet up with friends or simply enjoy a quiet afternoon reading“. Covering an area of over 60 hectares, the garden is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (the first in the country). It includes the National Orchid Garden, the largest orchid garden in the world, with almost 60,000 plants and flowers on display. It is particularly popular at weekends, when free concerts are held, and picnics are allowed. Definitively one place not to be missed!
The Botanic Garden is located at only 5min by bus from Orchad Road and its access is free (tickets required for the National Orchid Garden).
For total escapism: Little India
As its name suggests, the district is steeped in Indian culture, heritage of the former British colony. There are also several Buddhist temples though, both Thai and Chinese. It is a captivating place, very lively and wonder for all five senses. A true festival of scents and colours awaits you in Little India! “I regret I haven’t had enough time to explore this neighbourhood yet,” explains Lea. “But I strongly recommend you to go and enjoy delicious Indian dishes at Tekka Market (there will be a lot of people because everything there is divine!). ». She particularly recommends Dhanshiri, a small Bangladeshi restaurant offering naans cooked on demand and tasty vegetable curries. Another institution in Little India is the Mustafa Centre, very rightly defined by Lea as “the shopping complex where you can find everything (I really insist on EVERYTHING) at cheap prices and which moreover has the advantage of being open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week“.
Little India is a vibrant neighborhood where you can shop, eat South Indian dishes and visit temples and churches.
To enjoy the sea and beach: Lazarus / John’s Island
Located about 20 minutes from Singapore by boat, the two islands are connected by a bridge. Although John’s Island is better known than the second one, the beach of Lazarus Island has nothing to envy of the other tourist sites. Nevertheless, you better be careful as Lea rightly reminds us, “don’t lose your sense of time, boat schedules should be respected! But it is now possible to camp on the islands.” Comfier bungalows are also available for tourists who wish to spend the night there in complete serenity.
For nature lovers: MacRitchie Reservoir
It is the largest freshwater reserve for the consumption of Singapore’s inhabitants, as well as a huge park. It is ideal for hiking lovers, make sure to bring good walking shoes or trainers if you venture there! Lea tells us that it is also possible to cross the reservoir by canoe, in case you are less keen on walking. You will probably have the opportunity to see wild animals such as monkeys, and even otters if you are lucky! Nature lovers will be in their element in this park, which is ideal for meditation and nature observation.
MacRitchie Reservoir in one of the four reservoirs of the 2,000 hectares natural reserve.
For fun with friends: Boat Quay, The Council
Expat life is also about hanging out and meeting up with friends. The Boat Quay area is the perfect place to leave your worries and stress behind. Its numerous bars and unique atmosphere have made its reputation far beyond the city. Many people come here to enjoy a drink on the shores of the Singapore River. There you can enjoy a breath-taking view of Marina Bay Sands.
If your project is to have a good time until the end of the night, Lea invites us to keep your eyes opened on the small door of The Council: “For only $20 entry fee, I have experienced one of the best evenings of my life in this small techno music club, composed of two floors with different atmospheres. Unfortunately, I was only able to go there once because of the Covid-19 outbreak, but I would really like to return there!” The coronavirus epidemic has indeed had an impact on the entertainment industry, but it is still possible to enjoy the atmosphere of Boat Quay in complete safety with masks!
Exercise and keep fit: Clark Quay, 1nfinite Academy
Here is a bonus to the list, since we all know the importance of taking care of your health by taking part in physical activity. 1nfinite Academy is a fitness and kickboxing centre located in the Clark Quay area, owned by the very friendly Marco. You will be able to participate in small group sessions, which will allow you to improve quickly as weeks go by. The instructors are very patient and dedicated, both with beginners and more experienced people. An excellent address if you are looking for a place where you can actively spend your time, and, why not, surpass yourself!
Read more about expat life with Foyer Global Health.