Want to ditch the city grind? These hidden places are Singapore’s best-kept secret...
In an island so tiny yet densely populated by soaring buildings and iconic architecture, it’s hard to believe some parts of the city remain wonderfully undiscovered (or rarely visited). We’ve got cafes, bars and restaurants squirrelled away in quiet ‘hoods. Plus, hideaways so far off the beaten track, you won’t find them in typical travel guides. Ready for Singapore’s best hidden places and secret spots? Here’s what you’ll need: Your GPS, a ride and a sense of adventure. P.S. take precautions ‘cos some places aren’t on the map and may be risky to wander through, while others are closed to visitors (at least you know they exist!).
Cool hidden places in Singapore
1. Japanese Cemetery Park
Built in 1891, the Japanese Cemetery Park (the largest in Southeast Asia) is tucked away in Hougang. It’s prettier than it is scary with pink floral archways reminiscent of sakura season in Japan. Serving as a burial ground for nearly 1,000 Japanese civilians and soldiers from pre-war years, this place has strangely turned into an IG-friendly spot. But while you pose for the ‘gram, please be mindful of the graves.
Japanese Cemetery Park, 22 Chuan Hoe Avenue, Singapore 549854
2. Raffles Marina Lighthouse
It’s not every day that you encounter a lighthouse in Singapore’s cityscape. Head straight to the pier, where the Johor Straits Lighthouse awaits at the edge, overlooking the Tuas Second Link bridge. Built in 1994, this 12m-high beacon is a marvel to behold. Later, walk around the luxe Raffles Marina club and stroll along the promenade, taking in the sea breeze and gorgeous views. Don’t forget (or pretend) to live the high life with an #ootd amongst the many yachts docked at the marina.
Raffles Marina, 10 Tuas West Drive, Singapore 638404
3. Fort Serapong
A hidden hilltop fort in Sentosa? Who would’ve thought! Past the restaurants, attractions and tourist hordes, this military complex is a sprawling one with tunnels and bunkers galore. With origins from the 1870s, the untouched ruins once had their glorious moment during WWII as one of the four major batteries on the island. Now, Mother Nature has engulfed this secret spot as one of her own. So proceed with care making your way through the overgrown jungle.
Fort Serapong, located at the top of Serapong Hill Road
4. Hampstead Wetlands Park
For a green day out in the north, lace up your walking shoes and head to this undisturbed nature spot at Seletar Aerospace Park. Featuring boardwalks, view decks and a trail for adventurers to admire the area’s flora and fauna, the untouched sanctuary is home to butterflies, dragonflies and even birds like the white-throated kingfisher.
Hampstead Wetlands Park, 1 Baker Street, Singapore 799977
5. Wessex Estate
Once a British Army base built in the 1930s and 1940s, these black-and-white colonial buildings surrounded by lush greens now house numerous art studios and galleries. For a blast to the past, spend a day hopping from place to place and chat with various artists who will spin an interesting story or two. Psst: For a quick pick-me-up at this secret spot, stop by the ultra-retro Colbar for a no-frills meal of Western food and coffee.
Wessex Estate, 9A Whitchurch Road, Wessex Estate, Singapore 138839
6. Istana Woodneuk
Looking for a hidden place in Singapore that’s haunted? Tucked away in the woods, near the Holland Road and Tyersall Road area, Istana Woodneuk aka Woodneuk House is formerly owned by a Sultan of Johor. Now covered by vegetation after a century of being empty, the haunted place is out of bounds to outsiders. You won’t find it charted on any modern maps of Singapore. As with all abandoned houses, this one comes with creepy sightings and the like. But you could say it’s the decay and deterioration of the house that’s scarier above anything else.
Istana Woodneuk, accessible along Holland Road
7. Marsiling WWII Tunnel & Naval Base
History buffs, head this way. The city’s stash of former military bases and old underground tunnels are intriguing to explore if you know where to look. This abandoned war site, nesting in the thick Marsiling jungle, was once a fuel pitstop for the British Royal Air Force and, later on, the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. To spot the bunker, look out for the rope hanging at its cramped entrance.
Marsiling WWII Tunnel & Naval Base, one of the entrances is located behind a field at Marsiling Crescent
8. Coney Island
By now, you’ve probably been to Coney Island, but did you know the park is home to hidden white sand beaches? Access is closest to Punggol Ranch. So if you’re entering via the main gates, take your time to explore the grounds. Budding botanists with keen eyes should look out for several rare plant species that are presumed to be extinct in mainland Singapore. The island also serves as a refuge for migratory birds, so wildlife enthusiasts may want to pack a camera and a zoom lens.
Coney Island, located beside Punggol Promenade Nature Walk
9. Tanjong Rimau
In an island that’s been thoroughly reconstructed, stumbling upon a raw, hidden place in Singapore is cause for celebration (and a thousand photos, of course). The last remaining undeveloped Sentosa coastline along Singapore’s western tip boasts mangrove trails, large rocks and even secret, tiny caves. You’ll want to spend a day out in the sun to explore this quiet area.
Tanjong Rimau, located at the edge of Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort; access is only possible via a rocky slope down the beach
10. Bollywood Veggies
A city girl’s best bet for a serene farm break is the modest Bollywood Veggies. Nestled in the Kranji countryside, it boasts a rustic farm-to-table bistro, Poison Ivy. The organic farm also hosts culinary classes, hands-on horticultural programmes and tours.
Bollywood Veggies, 100 Neo Tiew Road, Singapore 719026
11. Former Queen’s Theatre
A major attraction that debuted in the early 1930s, this landmark screened all kinds of movies, including Indonesian and Egyptian ones. It eventually shuttered in 1982, and the site is now home to Grandlink Square, but you can still catch sight of the old theatre’s facade from Lorong 44.
Former Queen’s Theatre, located at 511 Guillemard Road, Singapore 399849
12. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Singapore’s first wetland reserve is home to myriad riverine species including water monitors, mudskippers and, if you’re really lucky (or unlucky), the ferocious estuarine crocodile. If you happen to be trekking through the park’s many trails during the migratory season, you’ll see flocks of shorebirds like sandpipers and plovers.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, 301 Neo Tiew Crescent, Singapore 718925
13. Kampong Lorong Buangkok
If you’ve ever wanted to go back in time to Singapore’s former provincial life, Kampong Lorong Buangkok is the best place to do that. Located off Sengkang East Avenue, the rural site has been around since 1956 and is currently the last surviving village on Singapore’s main island. At this tranquil throwback to the past, life seems to come to a standstill. Take note, though: the place still houses over 20 families, so do your best to leave it undisturbed. Redevelopment is in the works, but plans won’t be put into place for a few decades.
Kampong Lorong Buangkok, 7 Lorong Buangkok, Singapore 547557
14. Syonan Jinja
You may have spent countless mornings at MacRitchie Reservoir sweating it out, but did you know there’s actually a Shinto shrine deep in the forest? Constructed sometime between 1942 and 1943, it’s a commemoration of the Japanese soldiers who died in Malaya during World War WWII. However, when the Japanese were defeated in 1945, they destroyed the structure, fearing that British soldiers would desecrate it. Even though nature has taken over through the decades, you can still see certain elements of the historic site. But do keep in mind that this secret spot is entirely off the designated trail, which means it’s inaccessible to the public.
Syonan Jinja, located near Sime Road, at the western part of MacRitchie Reservoir
15. Smith Marine Floating Kelong Restaurant
Set sail to a seaside hangout for a fresh seafood meal on the waters at this old school restaurant. Located between Pulau Ubin and Changi Point ferry terminal, it’s a short bumboat ride from the jetty. You can either fish for your own food or chill at the breezy, modern kelong (offshore platform) and tuck into prawns, lobsters, mud crabs, squid and mussels… all while feeling like you don’t have a care in the world.
Smith Marine Floating Kelong Restaurant, located off Changi and Pulau Ubin
So, who’s ready to go off the beaten path and visit these hidden places in Singapore?