Having highlighted the best things to do around Northern, Eastern and Western Singapore, it is finally time to explore the South/Central.
While many of us are familiar with our Downtown Core and Civic District, the Central Region, which includes areas such as Bishan, Toa Payoh, Queenstown, Marine Parade, and Bukit Merah are no less unique.
Here are five things you can consider doing this weekend!
Rediscover Toa Payoh’s heritage
What is there to see around one of our oldest neighbourhoods that happens to mean “big swamp” in Hokkien?
For a tinge of nostalgia, check out the dragon playground in front of Block 28 at Lorong 6, currently a cultural icon and the last of its kind featuring a sandpit.
Next, head to Bug Bunny Barber Shop, another relic from the 70s and somewhat famous as the place where our Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen gets his haircut.
Lastly, pay homage to Block 53 along Lorong 5. This unique Y-shaped HDB block built in 1968 was visited by several royals, including Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and Princess Anne, making it the VIP of HDB blocks in Singapore.
Visit Windsor. The park, not the castle
There might be no royal sightings at Singapore’s Windsor, but this compact green buffer zone is rich in biodiversity.
Consisting of a boardwalk and forest trail, Windsor Nature Park is a secret garden that houses rare native plants and freshwater fauna. And if you are keen on a longer hike, this is also the starting point for the MacRitchie TreeTop Walk.
In fact, our MP Sharael Taha (Pasir Ris–Punggol GRC), had a lovely time exploring the trails with his family.
Admire Queenstown’s architecture
A mature estate undergoing rejuvenation, Queenstown has some fantastic architecture that juxtaposes the old and the new.
For a blast from the past, start with a stroll around Wessex Estate, which unveils a hidden cluster of black-and-white bungalows from the colonial era.
Next, head down to Queensway Shopping Centre, a haven for off-season sportswear and a typical example of post-war brutalist architecture.
Moving on to the modern era, check out the Interlace. A residential project that looks more like haphazardly stacked Jenga blocks.
Lastly, end the tour at SkyVille @ Dawson, no doubt one of the most ambitious HDB projects in Singapore with a public sky garden on the 47th floor.
Explore Katong, one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world
Katong is officially (one of) the coolest neighbourhoods in Singapore after making the cut in a Time Out ranking.
As for what we can do apart from eating, the area is a well-known Peranakan enclave dotted with pastel-coloured shophouses stacked like Kueh Lapis.
Straits Enclave, Katong Antique House and The Intan are private museums converted from old shophouses and offer tours that give us an inside look into Peranakan heritage and culture.
Other than that, hidden around many nooks and crannies in Katong are commissioned murals that reflect the culture and heritage of the area.
So while Banksy is unlikely to bless us with one of his creations without breaking the law, Singapore is not entirely devoid of street art either.
Shop for a good cause
Whether you are looking for a gift for others or yourself, why not visit The Art Faculty?
Run as a social enterprise that sells homeware and accessories with unique art and motifs designed by artists on the autism spectrum, the artists receive a royalty on every product sold.
As we embark on a journey to make Singapore a more inclusive society, patronising the shop is a great way to show our support.
Combining heritage and nature
When it comes to the Central Region, urban planners do face the tricky task of rejuvenating old towns without eroding their built heritage.
Therefore as part of Singapore’s long-term plan, historic areas like Katong will form part of the Historic East Identity Corridor.
Meanwhile, mature estates such as Toa Payoh and Queenstown will undergo upgrades to keep them vibrant for the next generation.
In addition, there are also plans to build new HDB estates in Dakota Crescent, Holland Plain and Farrer Park, which will expand the housing options for Singaporeans looking to live close to the city centre.
Lastly, maintaining abundant green spaces continues to be a priority in our urban planning.
Besides an 11km long linear park through a riverine forest known as the Bukit Timah-Rochor Green Corridor, there are plans to transform the area around Kallang Riverside and Airport into a mixed-use lifestyle hub.
Urban planning for a land-scarce country like Singapore requires a delicate balance. After all, growth should never happen at the expense of the environment or citizens’ quality of life.
So far, the PAP Government has worked hard to prevent such a trade-off. With its commitment to improving our living environment and merging environmental protection with economic development, we can be sure that Singapore will continue to be one of the most livable cities in the world.
What that means is, besides a high quality of life in a vibrant economy, all Singaporeans will also be able to live well within a sustainable environment for generations to come.
Picture Sources: NParks/ Darren Soh and Sharael Taha via Facebook/EMA/ HDB/ JTC/ OMA/ Visit Singapore/ The Art Faculty/ Active SG