Tourist attractions and famous landmarks are aplenty in a city like Singapore but if you're looking to venture off the beaten track, book a hotel around the laid back Balestier neighbourhood. Here you'll find much more peace and quiet in the heritage-rich streets lined with traditional shophouses and pre-war terrace houses. Yet at the same time, you don't have to worry about being too secluded as Balestier is still only a stone's throw away from town. Here are five things you can do during your stay.
1. Balestier Heritage Walking Trail
What better way to really get to know Balestier than to go on a heritage walking trail? Stay at ibis Singapore Novena and you're right at the start of the Balestier Heritage Trail. The hotel also provides guests with a 3G phone with GPS that you can take out with you on your journey. All you need now is some good walking shoes, sun screen and a thirst for adventure and you're all set to embark on the trail for an up close look at the history and culture of the often overlooked neighbourhood. Find out more information about ibis Singapore Novena.
2. Eat your way through Balestier.
Many locals often venture into Balestier for famous chicken rice at Boon Tong Kee and bak kut teh at Founder Bak Kut Teh which both serve consistent quality food. But since variety is the spice of life, head to Balestier Market to try some other Singaporean dishes like prawn noodles from Ah Hui Big Prawn Noodle, nasi padang from Sha Sha Nasi Padang or goreng pisang from Boon Pisang Goreng. Balestier is also well known for the flaky confection, tau sar piah, which you can get from the famous Loong Fatt Eating House and Confectionary, which has been around since the 70s.
3. Escape the heat
If you've been roaming the streets all day, it's highly likely you'll need a break from Singapore's notorious heat and humidity. Duck into Novena Square or United Square for a spot of tea and shopping or catch a movie at Shaw Plaza. If you're up for more malls, take the MRT two stations down from Novena to Orchard and you'll be spoilt for choice.
4. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Originally called Bin Chan House, the typical Chinese villa was built in colonial era by a businessman Boey Chuan Poh for his mistress Bin Chan. The building was also gazetted as a national monument in 1994. Today, the two-storey villa is a museum commemorating Sun Yat Sen the founding father of the Republic of China.
5. MacRitchie Reservoir
Singaporeans often take advantage of the cool mornings or breezy evenings to exercise or unwind around MacRitchie Reservoir. It's a lovely open space where you can go for a jog whilst appreciating the greenery around you, have a picnic on one of the grass patches or go on the treetop walk which makes for some beautiful photos.