Top 5 day trips in Singapore
Singapore is an island nation – but it is also a nation of islands, with more than 40 individual pulaus (islands) forming the archipelago. There are two ways of exploring the Southern Islands: the luxurious way is to rent a private yacht from either Marina at Keppel Bay or ONE°15 Marina Club, which will take you to some of the more remote places. The more affordable option is to take the daily ferry from Marina South Pier. It takes you to St John’s Island, which used to be a quarantine centre but is now a tranquil place for campers; Lazarus Island, where you’ll find a secluded cove nicknamed the Blue Lagoon that links it to Pulau Seringat; and Kusu Island, whose temples come alive during Chinese festivals, and is also the location of a tortoise sanctuary.
Sungei Buloh wetland reserve and Bollywood Veggies
The district of Kranji is like Singapore’s rural hinterland and one of the best places to check out the wildlife is at Sungei Buloh. You’ll find herons, monitor lizards, snakes and otters; and migratory birds from China or Siberia if you go between September and March. If you’re hungry, head to Bollywood Veggies, which is run by a rather expressive lady called Ivy Singh. It does some great dishes such as nasi lemak (rice cooked with coconut milk and pandan leaves), eggplant salad, and curries. After lunch, you can wander around the farmland and see local produce including jackfruits and bananas – it offers guided tours sometimes, too. Other farms in the area include Hay Dairies, Singapore’s only goat farm, Firefly, an organic food farm, and the Jurong frog farm, which breeds bullfrogs for consumption in a traditional Chinese dish called tianji. A daily shuttle links all these places to Kranji MRT station.
There are three main places to go to in the Sungei Tengah area. First, the local charity Animal Concerns Research and Education Society’s wildlife sanctuary – you can visit the animals that have been rescued, such as tortoises, turtles and an iguana. Then there’s Farmart Centre, another good place for animal lovers: visitors get to pet and feed rabbits and goats. At Qian Hu Fish Farm ornamental fish are bred and aquarium accessories manufactured. Qian Hu runs a free shuttle bus service to and from Choa Chu Kang bus interchange, and you can walk between these places as long as you don’t mind working those leg muscles.
Jalan Bahar’s dragon kilns
Jalan Bahar is home to Guan Huat and Thow Kwang, Singapore’s last two dragon kilns – gigantic dragons-shaped chambers used to glaze ceramics. This type of kiln was invented by the Chinese thousands of years ago, and immigrants built the ones in Singapore in the mid-20th century. Both of them are now protected by the government and only fired up three or four times a year, on special occasions. You can visit them anytime though, and the potters there will be happy to show you how things work. Alternatively, browse through the products, or book a workshop if you want to try your hand at pottery.
Bukit Brown Cemetery
There are many cemeteries worth visiting in Singapore and for some reason it’s become quite a hip thing to do lately. One of the most significant is Bukit Brown, which is currently a hot topic as the government wants to build a highway through it. Quite a few of the graves have already been exhumed prior to construction work, but it’s one of the largest traditional Chinese burial sites in south-east Asia. One of the most impressive graves, that of Ong Sam Leong, a local business tycoon, is almost the size of two basketball courts. Volunteers from the SOS Bukit Brown group regularly hold events there to educate the public about the history behind it and motifs found around the graves – check its Facebook page for updates.