24 Hours: Best-Kept Secrets in Singapore

As you disembark from your plane at Changi Airport, you’ll probably hear plenty about Singapore’s Mandai Zoo, Bird Park, ArtScience Museum and S.E.A. Aquarium.  And indeed, these famous attractions are certainly worth a visit.

That said, Singapore’s not just a nation of pretty theme parks; it is also full of hidden gems for the free-spirited and unconventional traveller.  So if you’re craving a different kind of adventure, allow me to take you off the beaten path to discover some of the best-kept secrets in Singapore.

Morning – Decompress At The Reservoir

Forest Adventure at Bedok Reservoir - https://forestadventure.com.sg

Forest Adventure at Bedok Reservoir – https://forestadventure.com.sg

Singapore’s reservoirs are a picture of serenity at sunrise.  Even before the city stirs, the birds begin their morning song amidst emerald foliage.  The magical light of dawn illuminates the lake with soft colours, and the air is clear and cool.  A few moments at these lush sanctuaries will restore you with a quiet sense of calm.

This scenic spots also offer adventure for solo travellers, adrenaline junkies and families with young children.  Bedok Reservoir Park for instance is a popular spot for dragon boating and kayaking.  It also features a 2.5-hour Forest Adventure with bridges, trapezes, wobbly logs, a Tarzan swing and zip lines across the reservoir.  There is also a Kids Course and Mini Course, if 2.5 hours seems a tad long.  Do keep your eyes out for swallows, herons and kingfishers amidst the 14,000 diverse wetland plants.

Noon – Discover Art Havens

Kondo Akino at Mizuma Gallery

Kondo Akino at Mizuma Gallery

Take refuge from Singapore’s unforgiving mid-day sun at our latest contemporary art cluster. Gillman Barracks is so named because it used to be a military camp.  The charming colonial barracks now houses 11 international art galleries, the NTU Centre of Contemporary Art Singapore and three restaurants.

These galleries feature art from the region and around the world.  I’m currently fascinated by the fantastical, subversive and dystopian worlds depicted by some of the artists at Mizuma Gallery, as well as the well-curated exhibitions at Arndt, Fost Gallery and Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

Late Afternoon – Explore Secret Beaches

Sisters' Island - picture by NParks

Sisters’ Island – picture by NParks

Singapore and Sentosa island are too small to harbour any secret beaches – so rent a yacht, head out to sea and go island hopping.  Pack a picnic, pop some champers and soak in the golden sun rays.  Companies such as Lloyd Marine and White Label Charters offer private yachts of various sizes for rental.

Besides pristine beaches, Kusu Island has a lovely tortoise sanctuary, Sisters’ Island is perfect for snorkelling or hiking, and Pulau Ubin is home to Singapore’s last kampung (a traditional Malay village), as well as a diverse ecosystem of mangroves and corals.

Night – Rendezvous At A Hidden Bar

Operation Dagger

Operation Dagger

There’s something irresistibly sexy about secret bars or speakeasies – perhaps owing to a sense of covert romance.  So if you’ve had enough of rooftop bars, swing by these ‘underground’ establishments instead.

Try Operation Dagger along the hip Ang Siang stretch.  Its name sounds like a Hong Kong spy flick, and you won’t find any signage here – merely a gothic symbol near the door, as well as apothecary-like bottles with indecipherable labels.  Another fun find is Bincho @ Hua Bee (more information via City Nomads here), a nuclear bunker serving Japanese whiskies and cocktails.  Pick a tipple you’ve never tried before, an have an unforgettable evening!

I love discover the many secrets in Singapore!  For more interesting and unusual experiences, speak to your Personal Assistant at Capella Singapore, then share your favourites with me!

A Visit To Singapore’s Kusu Island

Whenever I gaze out over the ocean from the Capella Singapore, I notice the many small islands in the distance.  Capella Singapore is located on Sentosa Island, one of the many islands off of Singapore.  While there is a multitude of amazing attractions and activities on Sentosa, there is much to do on the other Singaporean islands as well.

Kusu Island, one of Singapore’s southern islands, holds many of the mysteries to Singapore’s cultural heritage.  Kusu Island, which means Turtle Island in Mandarin, is also known as “Pulau Tembakul” (Peak Island) in Malay.  Like many places with rich histories, Kusu Island earned its name from a legend.  According to the story, the island was once a giant magical tortoise that transformed itself into an island to save two shipwrecked sailors – one Malay and the other Chinese.

Given the folktale that landed Kusu Island its name, it is only natural to find that Kusu Island is home to one of Singapore’s most revered Chinese and Malay religious monuments.  The Chinese temple in Kusu Island houses two highly regarded deities – the Da Bo Gong (God of Prosperity) and Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy).  You can also find the three Malay “Kramats” (holy shrines of Malay saints) on the island.

While being a small island, accessible only by ferry from Singapore’s Marina South Pier, Kusu Island still attracts many Malay and Chinese religious devotees who make their trips to the temple and shrines to pay homage and pray for wealth, fortune, love and harmony. This is known as the annual Kusu Pilgrimage, which happens every year, from September to November.

In addition to its rich heritage sites, Kusu Island is also known for its beautiful and tranquil nature with enchanting lagoons, pristine beaches and varied wild life.  Other attractions on the island include a wishing well and as you might have guessed, a Tortoise Sanctuary.  Thinking about Kusu Island’s rich culture and heritage makes me want to plan a visit myself!

If you would like to visit Kusu Island during your next stay at Capella Singapore, please let your personal assistant know and they can arrange it for you!