Home-ground (holiday) advantage
School holidays are just around the corner. If you haven’t had time to plan a family getaway, it’s not too late. A staycation with the family can be just as enriching and rewarding as any trip out of the country. Besides, it’s easy to get caught up with work and not realise how many interesting places and new activities have sprouted in our backyard. Here’s how to get away for the weekend, without leaving home. #LocalTourist much?
Galaxy CC Observatory
Despite the light pollution and its small size, Singapore is home to quite a few star-struck individuals. On weekends, when skies are clear, star-gazers crowd the Singapore Science Centre, jostling for a peek at whatever celestial planets are in view. But did you know there’s an observatory located in the heart of our heartlands? Perched on the sixth floor of the Woodlands Galaxy Community Club, the telescope at the Andromeda observatory brings planets about 32 megalight-years (1 megalight year = 1 million light years) away within sight. And depending on the time of the year, you could view Saturn, Jupiter or Mars. Entry is $1 per person and from what we understand it’s not too crowded, so you won’t have to wait long for your turn at the stars.
Address: 31 Woodlands Ave 6
Trek at Coney Island
One of Singapore’s last untouched nature parks, the Coney Island Park has recently been opened to the public. You can now ride your bicycle across the new land bridge to the secluded island. While you can spot more than 80 species of birds on the island, the odd resident is a Brahman cow. No one knows how or when it got there but the free-roaming bovine is now cared for by NParks. Even though the animal is gentle and harmless, NParks has warned visitors not to approach, disturb or attempt to take photographs of it up close. NParks conducts monthly guided tours, which include the historic Haw Par Beach Villa, but bookings for November and December are full. Even without the tour, the island offers a nice refuge from the bustling city. More dos and don’ts here: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/
See how Singaporeans lived in the 60s through the 80s at one of Singapore’s oldest housing estates. Residents tell of a time where neighbours were neighbourly and did not lock their doors – a community vibe commonly reminisced as “kampung spirit”. Unfortunately, with this rustic heartland slated for redevelopment in 2016, it’s your last chance to photo-catalogue the housing estate where time has stood still. Don’t miss the old school concrete and metal playground built on top of a sandpit, and grab some snacks and drinks at Tian Kee & Co. – a provision shop-turned-café.
Nearest MRT: CC8 Dakota
Staycation @ Studio M Hotel
If all that adventure is not for you, check into the loft-inspired Studio M. The designer home-away-from-home is situated at the heart of Robertson Quay, putting you in the centre of historic Chinatown, vibrant Clarke Quay and quaint Mohamed Sultan. Complimentary shuttle buses ensure convenient access to key business and shopping locations. To complete the family experience, remember to Ask Alfred. The Millennium Hotel and Resorts’ Ask Alfred children’s concierge service (also for the young-at-heart) will pamper your children and help you plan activities during your stay. They’ll be spoiled with specialised kids’ amenities and even bring home an exclusive limited edition Hamley’s teddy bear.