Being a Tourist in Your Own Country: 24 Hours in Singapore
Every time we jet off to a foreign city, no matter how far or near, we always manage to marvel at every little thing—even details that seem rather mundane to the natives. While back home, we’re surprised when tourists flock from all over the world to visit our tropical island, dying to live out their own Crazy Rich Asians experience. In celebration of National Day, perhaps it’s time we get acquainted with a side of Singapore that isn’t hyped up for the sake of entertainment.
10am: Explore the off-shore Kusu Island
One of Singapore’s best-kept secrets, Kusu Island is an off-shore paradise that’s located just 45 minutes away from the mainland. The earliest ferry departs at 10am from Marina South Pier, and brings you to St. John’s Island, another crowd-free gem with beaches cleaner and more idyllic than the usual ones at Sentosa and East Coast Park. Head to Kusu Island, which legend says was formed when a giant tortoise turned into an island to save two shipwrecked fishermen, and make a wish by tying a yellow cloth to a tree at the Malay and Chinese shrines. Don’t miss the tortoise sanctuary, where you’ll meet hundreds of these critters.
1pm: Lunch at Punggol East Container Park
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, mosey over to the container eateries at Punggol. Situated against the lush backdrop of the riverside walk, the Punggol East Container Park houses industrial-style al fresco dining establishments that double as social enterprises. One of our favourites, Pump Station 1965, for instance, is a retro-style bar and bistro that uses recycled oil drums as seats and seeks to give ex-offenders a second chance.
3pm: Curl up with a book at The Moon
Adjourn to The Moon, a bookstore and cafe with a living room-esque library attic area, for a bit of light nosh—it serves killer cakes, coffee, tea and juices—while browsing through its selection of books. You won’t find tacky titles here though. The Moon’s featured tomes, which span every genre, are all top-notch reads, some with a bit of a twist to spice up your reading journey. Upstairs, you can lounge on bean bags and make a book swap at its mini library, without the guilt of not making a purchase.
6pm: Grab dinner in the dark at Nox
While The Moon is a quirky sensory wonderland for the eyes, dinner is going to be a little different. At Nox (Latin for “night”), you dine with the lights out. An experiential, high-concept fine-dining joint, it begins with the pre-dinner, where you’ll be treated to an amuse-bouche and Nox’s signature tipples, before being escorted to your seat for a three-course mystery meal. When you’re done, a guide will lead you out to the light and reveal what you just ate.
8pm: Catch an indie flick at The Projector
After a dining adventure, it’s time to sit back and watch a different one unfold at the movies, or better yet, at a vintage theatre with the original doors and seats from the previous generation’s era. Tucked away on the fifth floor of Golden Mile Tower, The Projector screens current, mainstream films as well as indie alternatives, both from the past and the present. It is by far the only respectable theatre in Singapore that picks flicks that are worth the ticket.
10pm: Get tipsy at Employees Only
Craving for an exclusive experience? Opt for after-movie drinks at Employees Only, a secret bar along Amoy Street that’s hidden behind a fortune reading booth with a pink neon “Psychic” sign. Influenced by the speakeasies of the American Prohibition period—in particular, the New York bar of the same name, this local watering hole is known for its free-pouring style, award-winning libations and decadent, mouth-watering American bites that you won’t get at Clarke Quay.
2am: Turn it up at Marquee
End the night boogieing at the newest club in town. Right at the heart of The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands is Marquee, a mind-blowing venue that never fails to attract long lines of eager clubbers every night, and for good reason. Unlike Zouk, Canvas or Cherry Discotheque, Marquee boasts a swirling, three-storey-high slide, and an indoor Ferris wheel with eight pods that double as photo booths. Coupled with neon lasers and an 8K resolution screen for the most psychedelic projections, this Las Vegas stunner will leave you starry-eyed.
Image Credit: Marquee Singapore & The Moon