Many people have images of gleaming and towering skyscrapers, concrete roads, and an overall industrial appeal when they think about Singapore. Tourist-driven spots like Marina Bay Sands, Clarke Quay and Orchard Road will be their usual busy selves, but travellers who are seeking a subtler, more engaging experience, won’t have to look very far.
Some great off the beaten track places in Singapore include:
Kranji War Memorial
A stark and moving reminder of Singapore’s history, this peaceful cemetery is dedicated to the men and women from varying nations who lost their lives whilst defending Singapore and Malaya against invading Japanese forces during World War II. At Kranji War Cemetery visitors can see more than 4,400 well-maintained white gravestones lined up in neat rows on the cemetery’s gentle slopes. This is also where the country’s first and second presidents have been laid to rest. The surrounding countryside is home to several farms, and is a great place to experience the rural nature of Singapore.
The interesting Reflections at Bukit Chandu is a World War II interpretive centre, developed and managed by the National Archives of Singapore. The historic bungalow that houses the permanent exhibition is one of the last remaining such properties in all of Singapore. Built at the turn of the 20th century, it was originally constructed for the use of senior British officers. The hill was the site of one of the country’s most significant battles before the start of World War II. The gallery contains an assortment of displays and items, including photographs, maps, and artefacts, as well as invasion and mission plans that were used in the past.
Haw Par Villa
Originally named the Tiger Balm Gardens, this fascinating park was built in the 1930s by the Burmese-Chinese brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, hence the current name of the park. The brothers were the developers of Tiger Balm, thus the reason for the park’s original name. It was originally intended to be a place for the teaching of traditional Chinese values. It is certainly not your average theme park, or even attraction, though! Limbless rats, human crabs and the Ten Courts of Hell make up this bizarre and somewhat gruesome dedication to the afterlife. It is free to enter and certainly offers something truly unique in Singapore.
Sembawang Hot Spring
The delightful Sembawang Hot Spring is the only natural hot spring on the main island of Singapore. It lies in a shaded and wooded area about 100 meters away from the closest main road. The mineral-rich waters are slightly alkaline with a high sulphide content. Some people believe that the spring water contains powerful curative and healing medicinal properties that can treat a range of ailments and illnesses. These include conditions such as rheumatism, arthritis, malaise, and skin conditions like acne and psoriasis. People may also visit for a soak for relaxation and to increase overall well-being and health. It offers a lovely rustic destination where one can escape the hustle and bustle of city life and unwind in a peaceful setting.
This is a terrific place to take a journey back in time and catch a glimpse of what Singapore used to be like in days of yesteryear. It is one of the last rural areas in the country, with an abundance of native flora and fauna. Nature lovers flock here on weekends, keen to spot an array of wildlife. It is particularly popular with bird-watchers. The island supports a rich ecosystem and offers varied activities such as trekking and cycling. Wandering around you will notice that the homes are very much in the traditional style, with few trappings from the modern city.