Changi Village may not be high on the list of must-visit places for tourists in Singapore, but it sure is a favourite hangout for locals, if not for a quiet evening stroll by the coast then for its famous nasi lemak.
As one of the oldest coastal parks in Singapore, Changi Beach Park has been a popular retreat for Singaporeans since the 1960s. The stretches of sandy beaches between Changi Point and Changi Ferry Road, dotted with coconut palms, BBQ pits, park benches and shelters, make it a prime spot for weekend family get-togethers or overnight camping. It is the smaller, albeit quieter, twin of the nearby East Coast Park, complete with sporting facilities and opportunities for fishing. The beach also offers you an unobstructed view of the natural beauty of Pulau Ubin, the home to one of the last remaining villages or ‘kampongs’ in Singapore. Here you can embark on a forest trail, either by foot or bike, through the overgrown wild ferns of the island. The island’s natural and rustic charm provides a welcome change to the concrete jungle of mainland Singapore, with groups of weekend cyclists the only traffic you’ll meet. For access to Pulau Ubin, take a bumboat ($2 per trip) from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. Unless you charter the boat yourself for a higher rate, be prepared to wait until there are enough passengers for the ride, which takes around 15-20 minutes.
Whether you are here for an evening stroll or to catch the sunrise, Changi Boardwalk is not to be missed. This 1.2 kilometre boardwalk, made up of four segments (Sunset Walk, Kelong Walk, Cliff Walk and Sailing Point Walk) hugs the Changi coastline from Changi Beach Club to Changi Sailing Club. Sunset Walk offers a splendid view of the sunset over Changi Point, with a backdrop of huge boulders, while Kelong Walk, reminiscent of the traditional kelong fishing days, is a stretch of boardwalk with wooden stilts built over water. Cliff Walk, located just below the hilltop chalets, allows a respite from urbanisation with its lush greenery. The viewing decks along this stretch, located at vantage points, make for superb photography spots. Sailing Point Walk offers another type of view—situated near Changi Sailing Club, this walk provides panoramic views of the sea. Entrances to the boardwalk start at Netheravon Road and Cranwell Road – if you happen to be in Changi Village on the third Saturday of the month, there is a free guided walk of Changi Boardwalk at 10am organised by the Green Volunteer Network.
Those interested in the area’s history should visit the nearby Changi Prison Museum (1000 Upper Changi Road North). Here, be transported back to the troubled years when Singapore was under Japanese Occupation during World War 2. Dedicated to all those who lived and died during this dark period in the country’s history, the museum documents the main events that took place though a series of audio-visual displays.
If there is one reason anyone would come to this corner of the island of Singapore, it would have to be for Mizzy Corner’s (Block 2, Changi Village Hawker Centre, 01-26) nasi lemak, a classic Malay dish made up of fragrant grains of pandan-infused rice, crunchy ikan bilis (fried anchovies), chunky deep-fried chicken wings and sambal sauce, interspersed with chopped chilli. This stall is recognisable by the long queue of diners at both lunch and dinner time.
Your nasi lemak should be accompanied by Mei Xiang’s pisang goreng. Fried in sizzling hot oil, bananas are coated with granular-like batter coating to encase their soft pulp. Situated at the same hawker centre at stall 01-51, this snack is the perfect combination of sweet, soft and crumbly.
Tucked in a corner of the food centre, Charlie’s Corner (Block 2 Changi Village Road) has been a fixture in Changi since the late 1970s. This unassuming watering hole offers a selection of craft beers and ciders at some of the most affordable prices in Singapore.
Nearby, the newest kid on the block, Little Island Brewing Co, is a haven for beer-lovers. Resembling a typical European beer garden, this spacious microbrewery offers an industrial-chic space with concrete counters and communal wooden tables, both inside and al fresco. Here you can experience what it’s like to tap your own beers with its unique self-service function. Expect a good selection of brews on rotation including a Pilsner, a wheat beer, Scottish ales and pale and golden ales. For local dessert, head to Bunny and Pony (Block 1, Changi Village Road, 01-2000). This is a delightful dessert parlour that sells fluffy waffles alongside lifestyle products like lamps, bags, and notebooks. Crowd-pleasing flavours include Pina Colada, Dark Sesame and Gula Melaka. A Spoonful of Sugar (Block 4, Changi Village Road, #01-2072) is another gem for those travelling with young ones. In addition to serving desserts like ice cream and cakes, they also hold regular baking classes for children.
Slightly off the beaten path, the casual restaurant The Coastal Settlement (200 Netheravon Road) is definitely worth the drive, if only for its interior that’s dotted with quirky vintage items ranging from old telephones to classic bikes. This popular brunch destination also serves a blend of international and local fare at lunch and dinner – try their Half & Half Pizza, with wagyu beef slices, caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms on one side, and pepperoni and prosciutto on the other.
Accommodation options around Changi Village include the affordable Village Hotel Changi (1 Netheravon Road, tel: 6379 7111, stayfareast.com), which also hosts an outlet of the popular wine bistro, The Wine Company. Other choices include the boutique style Raintr33 Hotel Singapore (33 Hendon Road, tel: 6653 3833, raintr33hotel.com), which is located in a beautiful old colonial building near The Coastal Settlement. Also located in a converted colonial building is Changi Cove (351 Cranwell Road, tel: 6922 6122, changicove.com), which offers 112 rooms set in natural surrounds.
Changi Village is a peaceful enclave, perfect for those who want to escape the high pace of city life and reconnect with nature. Located close to the airport, EXPO and shopping centres like Changi Point, it offers a convenient and affordable option for those looking to experience a different side of Singapore.