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There is no better time than right now to re-discover some of Singapore’s unique attractions. Not sure what to do in Singapore? Why not explore the multi-racial and multi-cultural island’s treasure trove of sights and tastes? The republic has many special attractions that even some Singaporeans don’t know about, including cultural- and historical-rich walking tours. Plus some tips on how to act and live like a local when you visit these places.
With Frasers Hospitality six serviced apartments and hotels in Singapore, you will never be far away from the action, in addition to the host of benefits of staying in one. Two of them are in the heart of the famous shopping district of Orchard Road – Fraser Residence Singapore at Mount Elizabeth and Fraser Residence Orchard on Paterson Road.
At Fraser Residence Orchard, the 115 luxurious serviced residences are a short walk from Orchard Boulevard and range from studio deluxe apartments ideal for executives travelling for business, to sleek and modern one-, two- or four-bedroom apartments suitable for long-staying families.
Fraser Suites Singapore’s 255 serviced apartments in an upmarket residential district near Orchard Road and the CBD, while Fraser Place Robertson Walk by the waterfront with its 164 luxury serviced apartment residences is adjacent to Clarke Quay and Boat Quay with their myriad restaurants and pubs.
Also located in town is Capri by Fraser China Square – in the central business district and the historical area of Chinatown with 304 stylish rooms. As for Capri by Fraser Changi City, its 313 studios with fully-equipped kitchenettes are in Changi Business Park, close to Changi airport.
Want to do something unusual in Singapore that no guidebook or tourism tip will probably tell you about? Why not get your hair cut by a streetside barber? Mr Lee Yuan Dong has been offering barber services in a back lane off Telok Ayer Street for two decades after soaring rents drove him out of his erstwhile barber shop. A no-frills al fresco haircut starts from S$6, and is available from 10.30 am to mid-afternoon from Monday to Saturday.
Close to: Capri by Fraser China Square (300m) and Fraser Place Robertson Walk (1.8 km)
Just a short distance from two of Frasers Hospitality’s hotel and serviced residences in Singapore is this imposing temple in Chinatown with its Tang dynasty-style design. In a giant gold stupa on the fourth floor is the sacred Tooth Relic, the left canine tooth of Buddha. The Buddhist Culture Museum is one floor below with its revered bone and tongue relics. The temple is also a place for spiritual reflection and for gaining a deeper insight into Buddhism.
Close to: Capri by Fraser China Square (400m) and Fraser Place Robertson Walk (1.8km)
The first musical box made its way from Europe to Singapore in the 19th century – something you will learn at The Singapore Musical Box Museum. It is the first of such museum here and it allows visitors to appreciate the historical background of musical boxes while acting as a preservation centre for these artefacts. Located in Telok Ayer Street next to Singapore’s oldest Hokkien temple, in-house curators and research workers will guide visitors on a tour to view over 40 antique musical boxes and better understand their intricate mechanisms.
Close to: Capri by Fraser China Square (600m) and Fraser Place Robertson Walk (2.0km)
Visit Design Orchard to find out more about Singapore designers and their creative pieces. If you’re thinking about what to do in Singapore, visit this integrated retail and incubation space that focuses on local brands. It comprises a retail showcase, an incubation workspace exclusively for designers, and a public amphitheatre. It is also an Instagrammable spot and displays the photos of all those who have dropped by the space.
Close to: Fraser Residence Singapore (550m) and Fraser Residence Orchard (1.2km)
Tip No 1: The Singapore guide to greetings
Singapore may be small but it doesn’t mean all Singaporeans are family, even if everyone seems to be addressing one another as “auntie” or “uncle”. These are just respectful terms used when greeting someone who is older, be it your friend’s parents or a stallholder in the market or food centre.
Surprising fact: Do bear in mind that in some situations, the term “auntie” can be used in derogatory fashion when applied to non-relatives who dress or behave in a stereotypically middle-aged manner.
Walk, jog or cycle along the peaceful Singapore River to or from Kim Seng Park. The park is a tranquil piece of nature at River Valley Green and perfect for an exercise session at any time of day, or a gentle stroll after dinner. Close to two Frasers Hospitality serviced apartments and hotels in Singapore and in the vicinity of Great World City and the Alexandra Park Connector, the location also offers extended shopping and leisure options in case you’re wondering what to do in Singapore.
Close to: Fraser Suites Singapore in River Valley (1.0km) and Fraser Place Robertson Walk (1.0km)
Bouncing around on a trampoline is not only great fun but is also said to burn calories three times faster than running. For a quick workout, hop over to AMPED Trampoline Park on Kim Yam Road, between River Valley and Mohamed Sultan roads. There are 5,000 square feet of interconnected trampolines and a foam pit for activities suited to both adults and kids.
Close to: Fraser Place Robertson Walk (450m), Fraser Residence Orchard (1.9km) and Capri by Fraser China Square (1.9km)
Another green lung that is a hidden oasis of peace and tranquillity is Pearl’s Hill City Park. Built around a reservoir on top of a hill, it is difficult to imagine such a serene spot in the historic Chinatown district with its bustling commerce and buzzy nightlife. Pearl’s Hill City Park is located behind Outram Park MRT Station, and accessible from Pearl Bank, Pearl’s Hill Terrace, Pearl’s Hill Road and Chin Swee Road.
Close to: Capri by Fraser China Square (850m) and Fraser Place Robertson Walk (1.0km)
Play Nation at *Scape is a games cafe for the young and the young at heart. Not sure what to do in Singapore? Then head to this fun destination at Orchard Link, with its more than 200 designer board and card games, along with over 100 hand-picked console game titles. There are also console rental services and games workshops, and if you’re hungry, bento box specials.
Close to: Fraser Residence Singapore (700m) and Fraser Residence Orchard (1.1km)
Tip No 2: The Singapore guide to drink orders
Now that you’ve worked up a sweat, work out how to order a drink in Singapore like a pro. The keyword in the native nomenclature is “kopi”, the Malay word for coffee that is used by all Singaporeans in combination with various Chinese suffixes.
For that perfect cup of joe, there’s:
Coffee with less sugar – kopi siew dai
Black coffee – kopi-o
Black coffee that’s less sweet – kopi-o siew dai
Unsweetened black coffee– kopi-o kosong
Iced coffee – kopi peng
Surprising fact: Did you know that a soya bean beverage topped with grass jelly is called a “Michael Jackson”?
Considering what to do in Singapore and where to shop the best deals?
Try Anchorpoint along Alexandra Road. Its great bargains will allow everyone to score some slick footwear, trendy bags and belts, and stylish wallets and accessories at discounted prices at the mall’s Pedro and Charles & Keith outlet stores. If that’s not enough, check out the many other boutiques, cafes and restaurants too.
Close to: Fraser Suites Singapore (2.9km)
Don Don Donki is the famous discount supermarket that celebrates all things Japanese. Head to this outlet at Clarke Quay Central if you’re wondering about what to do in Singapore. It’s a shopping haven for Japanese snacks, sake, beer, toiletries and electrical appliances, among other cool Nippon knick-knacks. You can also take away some sushi and fruits, or dine at the food court.
Close to: Fraser Place Robertson Walk (1.1km)
Keki et Bijoux is a quirky retail concept at Orchard Gateway. Here in this basement wonderland of treasures is a whimsical collection of art, culture and lifestyle all conveniently curated in one cosy store. Check out the cute bags, cool clothes and vintage accessories. And if you’re feeling peckish, the café has a nice selection of desserts and drinks.
Close to: Fraser Residence Singapore (700m) and Fraser Residence Orchard (1.4km)
Tip No 3: The Singapore guide to local ice-cream
Itinerant hawkers may have disappeared from Singapore streets but the ice-cream uncle still rules the road. From his tricycle or motorbike sidecar, he offers cold refreshment on three wheels in typically local flavours like red bean, durian, yam and attap chee or palm seeds. Look for the ice-cream uncle’s iconic umbrella or listen out for his ringing bell to spot him. Otherwise, one well-known example is usually stationed outside Ngee Ann City on Orchard Road.
Surprising fact: A scoop or two of ice-cream is usually served in a cup or cone but the classic way to relish this classic treat is wedged between two thin wafer biscuits or wrapped in a colourful piece of soft local bread.
The hawker centre is a Singaporean institution, where a variety of affordable and delicious food cooked a la minute can be enjoyed in clean and naturally ventilated surroundings. If you don’t know what to do in Singapore, why not visit Zion Riverside Food Centre opposite Great World City. With added appeal from the placid Singapore River running alongside, try the famous chicken rice, fried char kway teow in dark soya sauce with cockles (stall #01-17), or the savoury braised duck with rice (stall #01-24).
Close to: Fraser Suites Singapore (700m), Fraser Residence Orchard (1.1km) and Fraser Place Robertson Walk (1.4km)
You know the Chinese New Year is around the corner when Chinatown suddenly sprouts giant red lanterns, kumquat plants and hour-long queues outside Lim Chee Guan. This well-known shop with fans from around the region sells bak kwa – flat, square slices of sweet barbequed pork that is a delicacy associated with the lunar new year but also eaten all-year round. Besides bak kwa, there is also bak hu, or pork floss, which is sprinkled on porridge or buttered bread.
Close to: Capri by Fraser China Square (450m) and Fraser Place Robertson Walk (1.3km)
Those with a sweet tooth can head to Mei Heong Yuen Dessert at Temple Street in Chinatown. Satisfy your sugary cravings – hot or cold – with a range of shaved ice desserts, puddings, pastes and herbal drinks. There is the traditional sesame and almond paste, familiar pomelo and sago, classic almond with egg white mango pudding as well as refreshing offerings such as chendol and the more modern durian snow ice. But if you prefer something savoury, go for the old-fashioned carrot cake and glutinous rice.
Close to: Capri by Fraser China Square (550m) and Fraser Place Robertson Walk (1.5km)
Chicken rice is said to be Singapore’s national dish and one well-known chicken rice chain is Boon Tong Kee. But smooth poached chicken paired with fragrant rice and tangy chilli sauce is not the only thing on the menu at its River Valley outlet. Other non-chicken rice dishes include crispy roast chicken, sweet and sour pork, fried kang kong vegetables with sambal spicy sauce and fish maw soup.
Close to: Fraser Suites Singapore (300m), Fraser Residence Orchard (800m) and Fraser Place Robertson Walk (1.7km)
If you don’t agree that brunch should be limited to the first part of the day, then you should head down to Common Man Coffee Roasters Café. This laidback spot on Martin Road serves an all-day brunch-style menu seven days a week with an extensive range of single origin and micro-lot coffee. Get everything from fruit salads to pancakes, or a full breakfast and burgers.
Close to: Fraser Place Robertson Walk (550m), Fraser Suites Singapore (1.7km) and Fraser Residence Orchard (1.9km)
If you deciding on what to do in Singapore after dark, Cuscaden Patio Cafe & Pub is one possibility. Known for good prices and tasty snacks, it offers weekly beer promotions to wash down crispy chicken wings, spicy mee goreng and yummy potato wedges. This is a nice wallet-friendly place to chill out at.
Close to: Fraser Residence Orchard (750m) and Fraser Suites Singapore (1.8km)
Tip No 4: The Singapore guide to hawker centres
The hawker centre is more than just a place to find good food at great prices; it is where you can taste Singapore culture, ethnicity and heritage. There are more than 100 hawker centres across the island, most of them humble places in the heartlands. But there are some with famous stalls that attract tourists and locals alike, like those at Newton Circus and Maxwell Road. Wherever their location though, hawker centres and hawker food represent Singapore’s special multi-cultural and classless identity.
Surprising fact: If you chance upon an umbrella or packet of tissue paper on an unoccupied table at a hawker centre, it’s not because some forgetful person has left it behind. Rather, it’s a device used to “chope’’ or reserve a table while its owner goes in search of his or her food. It may not the most gracious thing to do but it seems to be socially acceptable to some people.