Whether it’s your first or nth time flying in, Singapore is always a delight to explore. From sprawling theme parks and world-class museums to vibrant hawker centres and gleaming luxury malls, the island comes packed with noteworthy attractions you won’t see anywhere else. And once you’ve ticked off all the famous places on your list? A wealth of underrated tourist spots and off-grid activities in the Little Red Dot are just waiting to be discovered.
If you’re eager to unearth hidden gems in Singapore, we’ve got the inside scoop for you. With the help of our favourite Singaporean locals, we’ve put together some of Lion City’s under-the-radar hotspots that’ll give you an even deeper appreciation of the island. From quiet parks and wildlife attractions to less-frequented museums and hawker centres, here’s where you can experience the Little Red Dot like a local!
Travelling to Singapore on a budget? For cash-conscious travellers on their way to the Lion City, the Singapore Travel Pass is a must-have. An all-in-one travel card, it includes a seven-day insurance coverage, 100GB local data, an EZ-Link transport card, and even a FREE Bird Paradise ticket.
Get it all for just S$50 (~₱2,074)!
Discover the hidden gems that make Singapore worth exploring over and over again!
1. Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Buddhist Monastery
Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Buddhist Monastery, also frequently called Bright Hill Temple, remains quite underrated. As its moniker suggests, the temple sits in the tranquil neighbourhood of Bright Hill, keeping it relatively tucked away from the buzzy centre. Culture vultures will enjoy exploring the sprawling complex, which houses prayer halls, a library, a college for Buddhist studies, and a columbarium. Many call it the best place to learn about Buddhism in Singapore! Although the monastery is open year-round, we recommend keeping an eye out for special pre-scheduled events, such as Buddhist celebrations and meditation sessions.
Travellers who want a beautiful backdrop for their Instagram snaps will have plenty of choices here, from the serene gardens to the eye-catching prayer halls. Not to mention, visiting hidden gems like Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery guarantees that your vacation photos won’t be identical to everyone else’s Singapore albums. Our only tip? Make sure you’re wearing temple-appropriate clothing for your visit to the monastery.
2. Bird Paradise
A recently opened attraction in Singapore, Bird Paradise is not quite hidden, but it is very new. Even if you’re a returning tourist, there’s a good chance you’ve never been to this 17-hectare lush idyll before. And trust us when we say it’s definitely worth a visit, especially for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers! Time to plan a visit?
Tucked in the relatively secluded Mandai Wildlife Reserve in the north, Bird Paradise takes travellers away from the ever-present buzz of the Singapore city centre. As the largest bird park in Asia, it’s home to flourishing greenery, eight vibrant aviaries, and more than 3,500 feathered friends.
From colourful tropical birds to exotic species found halfway across the world, you’re bound to be dazzled by the stunning array of animal life at the park. If you’re up for a sleepover with the most adorable flightless birds, the enchanting Glamping With the Penguins experience even invites tourists to spend the night in luxury bell tents in Bird Paradise’s popular Penguin Cove.
Nature lovers planning to visit Bird Paradise will be stoked to enter the park for FREE with the Singapore Travel Pass. The S$50 travel card comes with a complimentary S$48 Bird Paradise ticket — pretty cool, right? And on top of that, the Singapore Travel Pass also includes travel insurance, local data, and cool dining and accommodation discounts.
3. East Coast Lagoon Food Village
Foodies, do you think you’ve tasted all the gastronomic delights that the Lion City has to offer? There’s so much more than you think! Beyond the usual tourist haunts is East Coast Lagoon Food Village, a rave-worthy hawker centre at East Coast Park that’s frequented by locals — the biggest sign that this is a genuine foodie gem you mustn’t miss.
Enjoy local Singaporean food by the beach at East Coast Lagoon Food Village. As Filipinos, we know there’s nothing better than eating with the waves crashing nearby. Singaporean travel writer Beautrice Oh recommended trying local specialities like Hokkien mee, satay, and sugar cane juice. The vibes are truly unbeatable, especially at sunset with a cold drink in your hand.
4. Haw Par Villa
With so many theme parks in Singapore, it’s hard to imagine any of them being hidden gems. However, tourists tend to overlook Haw Par Villa on their first trip to the Lion City — you’re a lot more likely to avoid crowds here compared to other Singapore theme parks, for sure! It’s not a traditional theme park, after all; instead, the open-air cultural enclave in Pasir Panjang opens the door to Chinese folklore and mythology.
Explore the sprawling art park that’s home to more than 1,000 colourful statues and 150 dioramas depicting otherworldly scenes from age-old Chinese legends. The centrepiece of Haw Par Villa is undoubtedly Hell’s Museum, which houses the infamous 10 Courts of Hell. The labyrinth display showcases nightmarish depictions of the afterlife: ghoulish monsters chasing the dead; bodies impaled on a tree of knives; and more. Although many locals in Singapore remember visiting this cultural park as children to learn about Chinese morality, we recommend skipping out on this if you’re travelling with small kids — if it’s spooky enough for us, it might be a bit too scary for the littlest ones!
The park is open from 9am to 8pm daily, while Hell’s Museum is open from 10am to 6pm every day except Mondays and public holidays. As its website puts it, “even hell needs off days.”
5. Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle
On the hunt for hidden gems in Singapore to inspire your creative streak? We’ve got just the place for you: Home to the last operating dragon kiln in Singapore, the family-owned Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle is definitely one of the island’s best-kept secrets. Here, crafty travellers can witness the wonders of wood-fired pottery, a practice that used to be extremely popular in the early 1900s. Nowadays, it’s more of a niche art form; there are two existing dragon kilns left in Singapore, and only one remains operational.
The massive hand-crafted dragon kiln or longyao in Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle is impressive, whether you’re well-versed in pottery or not. It gets fired up just a few times annually — a laborious process that can take nearly a week. During the rest of the year, tourists can join workshops and tours of the shophouse.
But even if you’re not planning to try your hand at pottery, it’s worth a visit for the array of colourful ceramics alone. Bring extra money; there’s a good chance you’ll want to take home a few of the gems hidden in this Singapore studio. From lamps and planters to dishes and homeware in all shapes and sizes, the pottery products certainly make for one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
6. Littered With Books
Bookworms, why not take the opportunity to explore bibliophile-friendly gems hidden all over Singapore? The island has its fair share of independent bookstores that any book lover would appreciate — plus, it’s your chance to get a hold of page-turners that can be hard to find in the Philippines.
Littered With Books is among our favourites, featuring a carefully curated selection of rare literary gems, non-fiction best-sellers, travel narratives, and award-winning children’s books. The indie bookstore is housed in an old two-storey shophouse, lending a quaint and homey atmosphere that sets it apart from big-name bookstores. The bright and airy interiors make it a pleasure to hang out in Littered With Books for some quiet time; it’s exactly the kind of place we’ll spend hours of blissful reading in!
Travelling with kids? Woods in Books is also a great bookshop to visit. Home to all kinds of literary treasures — from popular graphic novels to picture books from award-winning authors from around the world — it’s a whimsical spot to inspire a love of reading in travellers of all ages.
7. Peranakan Museum
Culture vultures won’t want to skip the Peranakan Museum, a more intimate museum in Singapore that celebrates the Peranakan culture. Besides being a quiet escape from more popular attractions, it’s home to an impressive collection of beautiful Peranakan artefacts, according to Beautrice. When it comes to hidden gems, this underrated museum definitely puts it on top of our Singapore hit list.
Piece by piece, uncover the rich heritage of the Peranakan people through the thoughtfully curated exhibits across the three-level museum: from elaborate clothing and jewellery to old photographs and paintings depicting local life. Even the building’s layout and design pay tribute to the traditional Straits Settlements bungalows!
8. Tiny Away Escape @ Lazarus
There are times when a quiet place to rest on a sandy and relatively empty shore is exactly what our beach-loving heart needs. Enter, Tiny Away Escape @ Lazarus. Made for sun-seekers looking for a break from the busy city, the five tiny eco-friendly homes sit on the uninhabited Lazarus Island, which is just a 15-minute ferry ride away from the Singapore mainland.
Tiny as the houses may be, there’s no denying that they’re cosy and beautifully designed. Each one has its own theme: colonial, retro, industrial, modern, and Scandinavian. Regardless of the theme, though, the interiors are pristine. Moreover, you won’t have to worry about roughing it castaway-style; the houses come with modern comforts, including a TV, a kitchen, air-conditioning, and WiFi. To add to that, Tiny Away Escape is a guilt-free getaway for eco-conscious travellers. Not only are they made of sustainable materials like recycled plastic and wood fibre, but the units also feature solar power, high-tech recycling systems, and even biodegradable toiletries.
As stunning as each hideout is, it’s not like you’ll be spending all your time indoors — the island is far too alluring for that! Besides sunning and swimming on the pristine white beach, a variety of leisure activities like snorkelling, frisbee, and beach volleyball promise as much action as you want on vacation. Nature walks and fun family picnics are also popular among visitors on Lazarus Island.
9. Singapore Really Really Free Market
No budget for your shopaholic urges? We can’t recommend the Singapore Really Really Free Market enough. Hidden gems in Singapore don’t usually come for free but this one really, really does. The name says it all: Everything sold in this one-of-a-kind social and cultural enterprise is completely free. Instead, trade for goods with your own product or service — from art pieces to baked goodies to tarot card reading, you’ll find them all at this unique bazaar. So, even if you don’t have much cash to spare, make sure you don’t come empty-handed.
At the root of it, Singapore Really Really Free Market is all about fostering a community built on sharing, sustainability, and goodwill. Free stuff is great, but the true draw of the market comes from meeting locals and experiencing the joy of giving, as well. Everyone’s welcome; check the venue and schedule of the Singapore Really Really Free Market on Facebook.
10. Bollywood Farms
There’s just something immensely satisfying about discovering well-hidden nature gems, especially in a fast and forward-looking urban destination such as Singapore. And so, here’s a leisurely farm escape for you: Bollywood Farms, a natural sanctuary in the Kranji countryside that promises a relaxing family-friendly break out in nature.
Explore the farm at your own pace with a self-guided tour and wander through the flourishing fruit trees, vegetable patches, beautiful ponds, and quiet pockets with seats for anyone who needs a breather. Fresh air, sunshine, and lush gardens — the scenic farm certainly makes for a memorable daytime activity. Before leaving, grab a table at the in-house restaurant Poison Ivy for a delicious farm-to-table dining experience. A lot of the ingredients are plucked fresh from the farm, so you won’t find fresher fare in Singapore than the food here!
There you have it; the hidden nature spots, cultural gems, and foodie finds worth visiting, courtesy of our friendly locals from Singapore. Now that you have more than enough things to fill your itinerary in the Little Red Dot, how about you start planning your much-deserved trip?
Make your upcoming journey your most memorable one yet. When you’re travelling to the Lion City, Singapore Travel Pass is the ultimate travel partner. The all-in-one pass not only keeps you protected with travel insurance up to S$50,000 (~₱2,069,091) but it also helps you stay connected with free local data and a transport card for local buses and trains.
Best of all, you can get the Singapore Travel Pass for only S$50 (~₱2,074)! It even comes with a FREE Bird Paradise ticket, plus exclusive discounts on hotel, dining, and transportation options. Count us in!
Brought to you by HL Assurance.