If you spend your weekends circling between Keong Saik, Tiong Bahru, and the city centre, it’s time to switch things up. We’re dubbed the little red dot for good reason, but trendy pockets of space are always sprouting up in our fast-changing island. You might have to fit in a little more travelling time to reach these up-and-coming spots, but it’s all worth it to escape the city crowds. Here are five of our fave underrated enclaves to eat and play in Singapore.
Photo courtesy of Brunches Café
Buzzy Jalan Besar gets all the spotlight in the Rochor 'hood, but there’s a world of good eats on the other side of Serangoon Road as well. From bak kut teh shops to cosy brunch spots, sleepy Farrer Park has what it takes to spoil the gourmets. Café-hop your way down Rangoon Road for brews and bakes from Old Hen Coffee Bar, Brunches Café, and Mosanco Enchanted Café; come dinnertime, tuck into Jia Bin’s Klang-style bak kut teh or wallet-friendly omakase completed with aged fish sashimi at Mono Izakaya.
With One Farrer Hotel in the vicinity, you can even make it a whole weekend getaway – complete with spa pampering and pool time at this five-star hotel. UOB Cardmembers can enjoy guaranteed upgrades for their Late Night Sojourns staycation package.
Photo courtesy of Forest Adventure
Bedok isn’t just the less sexy neighbour of Katong and Geylang – this heartland hood teems with foodie gems and sporting fun. You won’t have to look far for good hawker grub – think bak chor mee and Michelin Bib Gourmand satay bee hoon from Fengshan Food Centre (better known as Bedok 85), award-winning chwee kueh and curry chicken noodles from Bedok Interchange Food Centre, and melt-in-the-mouth wagyu dons at Simpang Bedok.
Once you’re fuelled up, there’s no end of choice activities to work off your food coma. Take it easy with a scenic stroll along Bedok Reservoir, make a splash with kayaking or wakeboarding adventures, or head over to Heartbeat @ Bedok ActiveSG Sport Centre for a leisurely game of tennis or badminton. Alternatively, adrenaline junkies can get their dose of treetop thrills at Forest Adventure – this adventure park is packed with dozens of heart-pounding obstacle courses, including a Tarzan Swing and a zipline across Bedok Reservoir.
Photo courtesy of Zairon on Wikimedia Commons
The green lung of Bukit Merah, Telok Blangah, is a breath of fresh air for us weary urbanites. Kick off your day’s hike at Telok Blangah Hill Park, and pause to refuel with a picnic at the hilltop Terrace Garden. There’s no missing out on a stroll across the breath-taking Henderson Waves – Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge offers bird’s eye views of the surrounding greenery. Once across, there’s still the whole of Mount Faber Park to explore – this hilly park boasts 40 hectares of lush forest, sweeping vistas of the Southern Islands, and dining with a view at Dusk Restaurant & Bar.
Photo courtesy of National Heritage Board
Old-school grub is what draws the crowds to Balestier – Loy Kee Chicken Rice and Founder Bak Kut Teh are practically synonymous with the area. Beyond the eats, though, you’ll find heritage adventures here that offer a feast for all the senses. Take a stroll back in time with the Balestier Heritage Trail – starting from Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall and ending at Goh Chor Tua Pek Kong Temple, this picturesque trail is lined with colonial-style villas and shophouses with sumptuous stucco carvings. Make a pit stop at Lam Yeo Coffee Powder Factory – this traditional roaster has been grinding up fragrant cups of kopi since 1959.
There’s more than enough strolling and eating to do in one weekend here, so make it a staycay at the nearby ibis Singapore Novena. UOB Cardmembers enjoy 10% off hotel bookings at this cosy hotel, along with complimentary breakfast.
Photo courtesy of NParks
Jurong East is well-known for its four malls lined cheek by jowl, but there’s a lot more to this shopping haven in the west. Family-friendly thrills here include cooling off at Singapore’s only Olympic-sized ice-skating rink, paddle-boating and hiking fun at Jurong Lake Gardens, and even stargazing at the Science Centre Observatory.
When the hunger pangs kick in, take your pick from a dizzying array of mall options or venture further afield for beloved haunts like Zai Shun Curry Fish Head, Soi 19 Thai Wanton Mee, and The Carving Board with its quality steaks. If you’re craving your dimsum fix, good news: UOB Cardmembers can snag 1-for-1 XO carrot cake and other selected dishes at Westgate’s Crystal Jade Hong Kong Kitchen with a minimum spend of S$30.
If you’re planning to head out, be sure to check out some of our guides for inspiration and deals so that you don’t miss out on having a fun-filled day with savings! And if you’re looking for ideas on where to dine and fuel up, visit The Dining Advisor for honest reviews and recommendations on where you can enjoy savings on some of the hottest spots in town.