Singapore, the Little Red Dot, as it is affectionately called, is one of the most captivating places to visit in Asia.
From skyscrapers to elegant temples to fragrant medicinal shops to grand colonial buildings to green spaces, Singapore has it all. There are plenty of hidden treasures in this island nation, if you’re willing to tread off the beaten track.
Here are a few little known places that you must visit in Singapore.
1. Syonan Jinja Shrine
Syonan Jinja is an abandoned Japanese shrine nestled inside the MacRitchie Reservoir.
You can visit it on a detour while hiking along MacRitchie Reservoir. The Syonan Jinja (Light of the South Shrine) was a Shinto shrine built deep in the forests of the MacRitchie Reservoir to commemorate Japanese soldiers who died in the conquest of Malaya and Sumatra.
Constructed between 1942 and 1943, the shrine was a venue for many public ceremonies where the local population was compelled to show obeisance to the Japanese.
Before their surrender, the Japanese destroyed the shrine for fear of its desecration by returning British forces. The National Heritage Board of Singapore declared the site a Historic Site in 2002.
2. Lim Chu Kang Jetty
Lying in the (somewhat) remote and relatively undeveloped north-western corner of Singapore is a world that we seem to have forgotten.
The Lim Chu Kang Jetty is unknown to most Singaporeans. What makes this jetty unique is that it is made completely of wood, making it a perfect place for photo shoots.
As you look out across the water to Malaysia, just a short distance away, to your right you area able to see Cashin House, also known as The Pier.
To reach this place, take bus number 975 from Choa Chu Kang Bus Interchange and get down at Lim Chu Kang Ter and just continue walking till the end of the road.
3. Tanjong Rimau
Sentosa island is a popular attraction in Singapore, but very few people know about Tanjong Rimau beach in Sentasa.
Located near the western edge of Sentosa, Tanjong Rimau beach can be accessed via the edge of the compound occupied by Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa and by descending the rocky slope to the beach.
During the low tide, you can spot many marine creatures such as corals, starfish and crabs along the coastline.
Walk along the tidal pools, mangrove trees and caves nearer the coastline and look out for the pitcher plants on the cliffs.
4. The Henderson Waves Bridge
Henderson Waves, a structure not to be missed in Singapore, connects Mount Faber Park to Telok Blangah Hill Park.
Standing 36 metres above Henderson Road, it is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore, and is frequently visited for its artistic, distinctive wave-like structure consisting of a series of undulating curved ‘ribs’.
Unveiled in 2008, its fantastical shape has lent an unexpected jolt of design savvy to the lush green belt in the south of Singapore.
The best way to explore the bridge is as part of the Southern Ridges Walk, a five kilometre hiking trail that takes you through three major parks: Kent Ridge Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park and Mount Faber Park. It is the latter two that Henderson Waves connects.
5. Gillman Barracks
Gillman Barracks is located on the site of a former military camp named after the late General Sir Webb Gillman, a well-known British army officer.
Set up in 1936 to accommodate the expansion of the British infantry in Singapore, the camp consists of 14 buildings that were taken over by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in August 1971 as part of the withdrawal of the British military from Singapore.
This place was re-developed and launched in September 2012 as a contemporary art centre.
6. Roof Gardens
There are a few hidden spots in Singapore that offer gorgeous views of the Singapore Skyline.
What’s even better is that they are absolutely free! The Esplanade’s Roof Terrace provides magnificent views of the city and Marina Bay.
Landscaped with manicured lawns, shrubs and small shade trees, it is a green refuge that adds a unique contrast to the modern design and architecture of the twin domes of Esplanade.
The other little known roof garden is the one on top of Orchard Central. The oasis in the heart of downtown Orchard Road features gorgeously landscaped and sensuously lit waterfalls and bamboo groves.
Wild orchids dot reflective pools while water hyacinths drift in the streams. Marvel at the full-sized trees and garden walls too.
7. The Really, Really Free Market
The Really, Really Free Market (RRFM) is an initiative that promotes sharing. It is a market where everything is free.
All goods and services are shared free and nothing is for sale. Anyone with stuff or skills to share are welcome to set up a stall, and if you find something you want, you’re welcome to have it.
The Really, Really Free Market (RRFM) movement is a non-hierarchical collective of individuals who form a temporary market based on an alternative gift economy.
If you’re visiting Singapore and there’s an SRRFM even happening somewhere, do pay a visit!
8. Password-Protected Bar
Yes. You read it right. There’s a Password-Protected bar in Singapore. It is ‘The Library’ on Keong Saik Road in Chinatown.
Discretely located in a row of restored shophouses in the increasingly fashionable Keong Saik Road area of Singapore’s Chinatown, The Library is a cocktail bar that takes its inspiration from the Prohibition-era speakeasies of the USA, but deftly re-interpreted to appeal to a contemporary clientele of discerning cocktail aficionados.
While somewhat in the mold of traditional speakeasies- The Library shuns overt publicity, notably with no direct social media presence or advertising, is somewhat difficult to initially locate, requires a password for entry, and exudes a darkly seductive aura, on the other hand.
The Library shuns traditions and “old school” classic cocktails, instead taking an irreverent, trend-defying approach to the creation and presentation of their cocktails, matched with an informed, yet informal style of bartender service – without pretension.
9. Keppel Hill Reservoir
Keppel Hill Reservoir once served the Tanjong Pagar Dock(around 1905). It was later abandoned and vanished from contemporary maps of Singapore — until a group of National Heritage Board researchers stumbled upon it while poring over old maps during a routine research on the island’s history.
The reservoir, which is an oasis of calm and a green pocket in the built up area, also used to be a swimming pool according to pre-war and post-war maps. Remnants of a diving board and a bathing area still stand today.
10. MINT Museum of Toys
The Mint Museum of Toys is a purpose-built museum showing a private collection of vintage toys. The museum is located at 26 Seah Street, in the Arts & Heritage district of Singapore.
MINT is an acronym for “Moment of Imagination and Nostalgia with Toys”. The museum collection includes more than 3,000 toys and childhood memorabilia from the mid-19th century to mid-20th Century.
The window-less building prevents UV-rays from reaching the exhibits; the shelves are fitted with LED lights; shelvings are designed such that no shadows are cast on the exhibits.
The building’s signature facade, which is made up of 26 glass panes shaped into a wavelike structure, gives the museum an iconic status in Singapore’s urban landscape.
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