Indonesian-born Galuh Pandita has lived in Singapore since 2007. Originally from Yogyakarta, she moved to the city to work in the banking sector and now feels very much at home in the city. We asked her to share some of her favourite weekend activities.
Giddy up! I like to start my weekend in Singapore with a horse riding session at the Bukit Timah Saddle Club (51 Fairways Drive, tel: 6466 2782). This is a wonderful way to enjoy the lush tropical heaven of Bukit Timah, which makes this neighbourhood a little natural oasis in the heart of the city-state. The club is open to both members and the public so it’s best to contact them in advance to find out what lessons are available. Kids can also enjoy a pony ride just outside the club (in front of the cafes) and if you are lucky, you will get to meet a beautiful white pony named Rosie, who is a popular favourite amongst regulars.
An early morning horse ride guarantees a healthy appetite so I usually head immediately afterwards to Rider’s Café (51 Fairways Drive, tel: 6466 9819) nearby for a scrumptious brunch. With a rustic ambience, the cafe makes a great eggs benedict with crab cakes and a delicious brioche french toast with burnt banana and honeycomb butter. As Rider’s Cafe gets very popular on the weekend, I’d advise making a reservation!
In the afternoon, I like to explore the quaint, old neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru. This atmospheric area has become popular amongst both the local and expat communities recently, with lots of small cafes and boutiques offering well-curated fashion and lifestyle items. The Tiong Bahru Market (83 Seng Poh Road) is a large wet market that sells fresh produce and dried goods with a good hawker centre that is popular among the locals for dishes such as chwee kueh, fish ball soup and soya bean milk. The general rule of thumb to find the good stalls is to follow the longest queue.
After exploring the market and a snack fix, I head to small independent boutiques such as Strangelets (7 Yong Siak Street, tel: 6222 1456), a design shop that offers quirky lifestyle and home decor items, and Nana and Bird, that offers a collection of international designer brands such as Aijek and Peggy Hartanto at affordable prices. After an afternoon of shopping, I’ll drop by Forty Hands (#01-12, 78 Yong Siak Street) for a great cup of coffee or Plain Vanilla Bakery (1D Yong Siak Street, tel: 6465 5942), which makes cupcakes and desserts that not only look beautiful but taste incredible too. The Tiong Bahru Bakery (#01-70, 56 Eng Hoon Street, tel: 6220 3430) nearby also offers both good coffee and one of the best croissants in town.
In the evening, I’ll put on my best heels and get ready for a night out on the town. This will start with drinks and a good meal. One favourite is the culinary experience of amazing cocktails and dinner available at the Tippling Club (38 Tanjong Pagar Road, tel: 6475 2217), recently ranked #36 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. This highly recommended establishment in Tanjong Pagar has three sections – a bar in the front, a dining area and a private room upstairs. Here I’ll start at the bar with one their famous cocktails like the Juniper Sling, a blend of gin, cassis, Grand Marnier, cherry bitters, juniper and cinnamon syrup that’s served in a green, scented Penhaligon perfume box. After a couple of cocktails, guests should prepare to be blown away by Chef Ryan Clift’s modern gastronomical cuisine, with either the classic menu (six courses) or gourmand menu (12 courses). Counter seats are best if you are only dining with one or two friends, as you get to watch all the action in the kitchen.
After dinner, I may walk up to Duxton Hill located right behind Tippling Club. This little enclave of bars and restaurants has a charming alfresco atmosphere in the evenings. Lucha Loco (15 Duxton Hill, tel: 6226 3938), a Mexican bar and restaurant founded by the Tan brothers, has a gorgeous outdoor area to enjoy their great margaritas and mojitos. Other popular bars here include the tapas bar Sabio (5 Duxton Hill, tel: 6690 7562) and the Russian-inspired Buyan (9 Duxton Hill, tel: 6223 7008). If I still feel like a boogie after a few drinks here, I’ll head to one of my favourite clubs in town. These include the underground Kyō (133 Cecil Street, tel: 8299 8735) nearby or Bang Bang (7 Raffles Boulevard, tel: 8127 2808) at the Pan Pacific hotel near Marina Bay.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens (1 Cluny Road, tel: 6471 7138) is one of Singapore’s jewels with a kaleidoscope of majestic trees and beautiful flowers and plants. It is also a perfect place to go for a morning stroll or run while enjoying the lush green scenery. Sometimes I’ll have a morning picnic by the lake to soak up the sun while enjoying a basket of food from Da Paolo Gastronomia (#01-01 Cluny Court, 501 Bukit Timah Road) nearby. If you have time, visit the National Orchid Garden that showcases over 600 species of Singapore’s national flower.
At lunchtime, I’ll often head to Dempsey, a unique area of restaurants and cafes tucked away just off Holland Road with a lush green setting, located about a five-minute taxi ride from the Botanic Gardens. PS Café (28B Harding Road, tel: 9070 8782) has a great brunch menu with an outdoor seating area facing an open field of trees. Their signature truffle fries are not to be missed. Jones the Grocer (9 Dempsey Road, tel: 6476 1512), an Australian cafe with great coffee and a marvellous cheese room, is also a good option. If I feel like some local seafood, Dempsey also has two popular seafood restaurants: Jumbo Seafood (11 Dempsey Road, tel: 6479 3435) and Long Beach Seafood (25 Dempsey Road, tel: 6323 2222). Here the signature dish is Chilli Crab, which everybody should try at least once! After eating a lazy lunch, I’ll walk around Dempsey to check out the selection of furniture and lifestyle shops here. These include Asiatique (14A Dempsey Road, tel: 6471 3146) and high-end fashion boutique LaPrendo (15 Dempsey Road, tel: 6474 8337). LaPrendo curates hard-to-find brands such as Mansur Gavriel, Zagliani and Aquazzura. If you are short on time, you can shop online on La Prendo website and get your new acquisitions delivered directly to your hotel.
If I’m feeling cultural, I’ll try and visit one of Singapore’s many museums. One of my favourites is the National Museum of Singapore (93 Stamford Road, tel: 6332 3659). Set in a beautiful building, this is the oldest museum in Singapore and houses regular international exhibitions as well as showcasing the history of the country in a permanent exhibit.
Afterwards I’ll enjoy a relaxing Sunday evening in Holland Village, a cosmopolitan area with lots of restaurants, bars and cafes. On Sundays, a section of the village is closed for cars, allowing pedestrians to enjoy alfresco dining and drinks. I’ll start with a cold beer at Singapore institution, Harry’s Bar (27 Lorong Mambong, tel: 6467 4222) and then head to Crystal Jade (2 Lorong Mambong, tel: 6469 0300) for delicious la mian xiao long bao. More dining options can be found at Chip Bee Gardens, a small street opposite Holland Village with a row of great restaurants such as Original Sin (#01-62, 43 Jalan Merah Saga, tel: 6475 5605) for tasty vegetarian meals or Da Paolo Pizza Bar (44 Jalan Merah Saga, tel: 6479 6522) for great pizzas. After dinner, if I’m up for a dessert, I’ll walk back to Holland Village for delicious churros with chocolate sauce at 2am Dessert Bar (21A Lorong Liput, tel: 6291 9727), Singapore’s first after-hours dessert bar. After that, I’ll polish off a wonderful weekend watching the great live band at Wala Wala (31 Lorong Mambong, tel:6462 4288), which performs every Sunday night. Enjoy your weekend!
By Galuh Pandita
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