Planning your Singapore holidays, and seeking something a little unusual, outside of the usual tourist hotspots? If you're willing to venture beyond the city centre, you will be well rewarded.
Be sure to use the train network, known as the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), and you'll be able to zip to some off-the-beaten track locations without breaking a sweat. From rustic rural neighbourhoods to mini-zoos and hipster cafes, you'll be surprised by the hidden gems that you can uncover.
Curated by PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road, below is a list of 5 unusual places to visit in Singapore near train stations, and not all too far away from the city!
Heighten Your Senses at Little India (Little India and Farrer Park MRT)
In a city-state still defining its core identity, this well-loved neighbourhood is a paragon of cultural assuredness and authenticity. It's impossible not to be caught up in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Little India. That said, food should definitely be your top priority here.
To begin, pop into any of these Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants: Muthu's Curry (famous for its fish head curry, made with a secret spice blend); Lagnaa (dine barefoot here, and take the Chilli Challenge if you dare); or Bismillah Biryani (biryani is an Indian dish of seasoned rice and meat, fish, or vegetables).
Don't be confined to award-winning lists or Indian food"leave room for gastronomic discovery. A place to experience the full spectrum of Singapore's cuisines is the iconic Tekka Centre, where you can tuck into local favourites such as prawn noodles, duck rice, and mee siam ("Siamese noodles" in Malay).
Enjoy the Quiet Life at Potong Pasir (Potong Pasir MRT)
Looking for things to do in Singapore on a budget? Take a quick train ride to Potong Pasir.
Locally, Potong Pasir has a reputation for being an idyllic town with a quiet resolve. In a city of rampant development, Potong Pasir has remained true to the tenets of simple living"the daily routines of many residents revolve around the coffeeshops, minimarts, and wet markets in the area.
To shop like a true local however, head to the ABC Bargain Centre, where you'll find snacks, drinks, toiletries, and even underwear at discounted prices.
To have a delicious local meal, walk to Lao Zhong Zhong Eating House. According to regular patrons, "nothing is bad here," although of course, everyone has their favourites. To try "ngoh hiang" (five-spice meat roll, somewhat akin to sausages), look for the Lao Zhong Zhong Fine Spice Stall, which has its own fan following. The other highly popular stall here is Soon Li Whitley Food Centre Pork Porridge and Macaroni.
Alternatively, cross over to River South (Hoe Nam) Prawn Noodle, which also attracts long queues"a sure sign of repute in Singapore. All three stalls have been given the stamp of approval by KF Seetoh, best known in Singapore for championing hawker food.
Experience Nostalgia at Kampong Lorong Buangkok (Serangoon MRT)
Need more places to visit in Singapore for free? Kampung Lorong Buangkok has been around since 1956, and it is a must-see, as it is Singapore's only surviving kampung (Malay for "village") on the mainland. Other kampungs in Singapore are on surrounding islands such as Pulau Ubin.
To reach Kampung Lorong Buangkok by public transport, take bus 70 or 103 from Serangoon MRT Station and alight at the Church of St. Vincent de Paul bus stop. The kampung is a short walk across the road (check the exact location below). It's not exactly tucked away; instead, it's nestled between a park connector and other modern-day developments, which makes it all the more surprising and rewarding to discover.
Once you arrive, try to remain unobtrusive to avoid disturbing the residents. Currently, 25 Malay and Chinese families live in cheery zinc-roofed homes connected by mud paths within the kampung. There are no barriers here"not between homes, nor people"and that's the true beauty of this place.
Hole Up in a Hidden Cafe (Serangoon, Kovan MRT)
Much to the delight of residents, indie cafes and dessert bars have been making their way into Singapore's north-east. Some of these cafes are a short bus or cab ride away from Serangoon and Kovan MRT, and they are worth tracking down if you intend to explore the area.
One cafe that has garnered rave reviews is CIEL Pâtisserie, famed for producing quality cakes that are remarkably inexpensive thanks to its low-key location.
Trained at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, co-owner Chara Lum completed an apprenticeship at Fauchon"a culinary institution renowned for its luxury foods. "Ciel" means "sky" or "heaven" in French, and it's a nod to Lum's aspiration to serve a little slice of perfection to all her customers. From the rave reviews, it appears that she is well on target.
If you prefer something closer to the train station, make your way to Lola's Cafe on a weekday morning; it's usually packed during lunch and on weekends. A short walk from Kovan MRT station, patrons enjoy its laid-back atmosphere, good service, and casual brunch options.
Too tired to head out? Read our guide to getting your caffeine fix around PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road.
Hang Out with Farm Animals (Sengkang MRT)
The Animal Resort
Address: 81 Seletar West Farmway 5, Singapore 798058
Telephone number: +65 6482 1160
Opening hours: 10:00am to 5:00pm (Monday to Friday); 10:00am to 6:00pm (Saturday, Sunday)
If you love animals, or are travelling with children, consider visiting The Animal Resort, a quirky animal farm in Seletar Farmway – theres' no entry fee to the farm, plus you'll get to spend quality time with its motley crew of animals.
At The Animal Resort, most of the farm birds (ducks, geese, and other fowl) are allowed to roam freely. You're also welcome to feed the animals, including a retired racehorse. Food packs are available for purchase at a dollar or two. With kids around, you'll probably find yourself going back for more.
It's not just domesticated farm animals at The Animal Resort too"you'll get to see exotic birds such as the Cassowary (careful, it's deadly!), the African crowned crane, and the Marabou stork.
The best way to get there is to hail a cab from Sengkang MRT station, and to use a ride-hailing app (Grab or Gojek) to return to the station when you're done.
Welcome to Singapore! Need travel or accommodation advice? Speak to our friendly team at PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road, or browse our room and dining offers here.