by Lydia Tan
Unfortunately with a global pandemic, travelling is not only almost impossible but also not very safe, there are extra costs and precautions involved. Many Singaporeans would often scoff at the term “domestic travel” in a local context — after all, Singapore is so small, what’s there to do? For anyone dying for an escape out of the city life of Singapore, here are some recommendations.
PARKS & GARDENS
Nothing beats the serenity of getting out of the city and into nature.
Little Guilin, Bukit Batok Town Park
As its name suggests, Little Guilin bears a close resemblance to Guilin (China), with its majestic rock formations. If you look past the towering HDB blocks in the distance, you might just forget you’re still in the heartlands of Singapore.
Created from an abandoned granite quarry, the rugged cliffs surrounded by greenery and a natural lake is almost a rare sight to see in Singapore. This park is a great spot for photos or just as a place to relax and enjoy the view.
Sang Nila Utama Garden, Fort Canning Park
Modelled after the 14th-century palace gardens at Fort Canning, this garden instantly evokes Bali resort vibes. With reflective pools and distinctive Javanese split gates, this garden creates a calm and meditative place fit for a king.
Not only is this garden aesthetically pleasing, but it is also rich with history. It houses flower species significant to Javanese culture and sculptures of animals that would have roamed the palace gardens.
Having a meal in a place that feels like you’re out of the country is a two-for-one deal.
Punggol Container Park
If you’re missing the hipster night markets in countries like Thailand and Cambodia, the Punggol Container Park is a pretty close local alternative. Most of the restaurants and bistros at the park are housed in colourful containers and offer alfresco dining options that are perfect for a date night meal or a small gathering with friends and family.
Pocha in a Forest
This Korean bistro on Prinsep Street boasts green foliage decorations and neon lights, so you can get that Instaworthy shot that will almost make your friends believe you’re on holiday in Korea!
Another interesting part of the bistro is the red pojangmacha tent that looks just like the ones you would see in Korean street markets. For a more authentic experience, the tents have the same plastic stools and foldable tables so you will almost feel like you’re in a Korean market enjoying some hearty street food.
Online shopping is boring – head out to these places to redefine the idea of “window shopping”.
Mongkok, Jurong Point Shopping Mall
Head down to Jurong Point to get a feel of walking down the vibrant shopping streets of Hong Kong. With neon signs and bold signboards, the mall’s Mongkok Street almost feels like a separate part of the mall altogether.
Besides the variety of shops available, the street also has a fair share of eateries that serve authentic Chinese/Hong Kong cuisine like noodles and dim sum. Another place worth checking out in Jurong Point is Shokutsu Ten, one of the mall’s food streets dedicated to different countries, which looks like a traditional market in Japan.
Tudor Court Shopping Gallery
Located in Tanglin, this stretch of shophouses resemble a row of classic Tudor-style buildings. If you’re the type that prefers window shopping, this place might be more up your alley as some of the stores might be quite premium and may not be for everyone’s budget.
Most of the shops are mostly retail, selling antiques or other handcrafted goods. It’s also home to one of Singapore’s oldest Japanese barbers, Barber Minami (it moved here when Liang Court closed down). Tudor Court is pretty small, but if you want to admire some historical architecture while on your window shopping spree, this place is worth a visit.
PLACES OF WORSHIP
We don’t have to travel far to find the same spiritual attractions we seek on our vacations.
Church of St Teresa
If you’re wondering why this church feels so French, it’s because St Teresa’s was actually inspired by the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Montmartre in Paris! This outstanding Roman Catholic church pays tribute to the Romano-Byzantine architecture with its gorgeous dome and intricate cupolas and arches. Established in 1929 on the eastern slope of Bukit Purmei, it boasts gorgeous views of the ocean.
Sri Lankaramaya Buddhist Temple
You don’t have to travel to Sri Lanka to visit its famous temples. The Sri Lankaramaya Buddhist Temple in Bendemeer is the primary Sri Lanka Buddhist temple of its kind in Singapore. Established in 1952 by Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka, the temple has a stupa, as well as a Bodhi tree in its compound, with 4 Buddha images underneath, each facing a different direction. The temple interior walls are painted with beautiful images, and is also home to a 45-feet reclining Buddha statue.