9 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Singapore
We extensively test and research all services we review. Here's why you can trust us.

9 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Singapore

If you’re a foreigner who’s visited it numerous times, you’ll likely know what tourists think of Singapore

But there’s no reason not to enjoy other stuff here even if you’ve been there, done that (and eaten those). So for today, we’ll look at some non-touristy things to do in Singapore for your next visit.

What things are unique to Singapore?

What things are unique to Singapore

Perhaps the most non-touristy thing you can do in Singapore is to enjoy its low crime rate. Whereas other destinations often have warnings about particular scams and crimes, Singapore can reassure you of a safe and secure visit.

That and the yummy Peranakan food that you can’t find elsewhere are just some things that are uniquely (yet non-touristy) Singapore. 

But let’s look at other fun and unusual cultural, nature-related, and entertaining activities you can do in the following sections.

Cultural Encounters

Want to blend in with the locals? Then do what they do, eat what they eat, and converse like them, as illustrated by the following tips.

1. Speak to a local in Singlish

Speak to a local in Singlish

Where: Clarke Quay, 3A River Valley Road, and other busy places

When: Best at night (10 PM onwards)

How: Just strike up a casual convo with sightseers or diners!

Do you know the proper way to greet someone in Singapore? Yes, it’s “Have you eaten?” but there are other underrated Singlish expressions that can also fill the bill.

Singlish is a mix of English and specific languages spoken in Singapore, such as Hokkien, Tamil, Malay, and Cantonese. It’s the de facto way of speaking especially among younger Singaporeans.

So if you want to feel (and sound) like a local, try engaging someone in a Singlish conversation. It might be challenging to go with the flow at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it the longer you chat with someone. 

Here are some suggestions as to where you can practice speaking in Singlish:

2. Volunteer in an animal shelter

Volunteer in an animal shelter

Where: Love the Voiceless rescue and other shelters

When: Contact the organisation for volunteer schedules

How: Choose how you want to get involved

Strays and shelter animals won’t care if you aren’t a Singaporean as long as your heart is in the right place. So if you want a truly non-touristy activity, be an animal shelter volunteer even for just a day.

Luckily, there are plenty of Singapore animal shelters and charities where you can volunteer. The activities range from doing regular animal rescues to facilitating adoptions for future furbabies to find forever homes.

As a volunteer, you’ll likely help with paperwork, feeding or cleaning the animals, taking dogs out for a walk, grooming them, or (the best part) cuddling with them!

To give you an idea of where to go, check out the following organisations:

  • Mutts and Mittens, 59 Sungei Tengah Road, Blk B #01-03 / 04, The Animal Lodge, S(699014)
  • Voices for Animals
  • Cat Welfare Society, Orchard Road P.O. Box 65, S(912303)

3. Have lunch or dinner at a hawker centre

Have lunch or dinner at a hawker centre

Where: Amoy Street Food Centre, 7 Maxwell Road, and other hawker stalls

When: Before 11 AM to beat the hungry crowds

How: With an appetite for everything from noodle dishes to fish soup

As it’s a known foodie destination, many tourists already have an idea of the restaurants and eateries they want to check out in Singapore. Sure, five-star restaurants and hotels are great, but they’re quite expensive.

So if you want to try what locals always eat, check out the numerous hawker stalls here. By doing this, you’ll get a taste of what Singaporeans truly find tasty and filling. 

Whether it’s chilli crabs, bak kut teh, noodles, or other simple yet delicious dishes, you’ll get to discover what Singaporeans really eat by way of hawker centres. You’ll also find that your pocket or wallet will thank you for it, as most hawker foods are affordable! 

Check out the following yummy hawker centres and stalls in Singapore:

  • Circuit Road Hawker Centre, Blk 79 and 79A, Circuit Road

Monday to Sunday, 9 AM – 5 PM

  • Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre, 30 Seng Poh Road 

Monday to Sunday, 7 AM – 10 PM

  • Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre and Market, 259 Bukit Panjang Ring Road Bukit Panjang New Town

Monday to Sunday, 6 AM to 10.30 PM

Nature Trips

Though Singapore’s tourist attractions are largely cosmetic, there are gorgeous pockets of natural beauty to explore and marvel at.

4. Visit an underwater trail

Visit an underwater trail

Where: Sister’s Island Marine Park

When: Daily, 7 AM to 7 PM

How: Via private boat charters

Travel agencies can point you in the right direction if you want to experience non-tourist activities. But sometimes, you have to go beneath the surface for them, literally!

Next time, try visiting offshore Singapore islands you can visit to do offbeat things. You can go swimming in pristine waters or do some scuba diving to explore underwater trails.

The underwater trail at Sisters’ Island marine park is another example of a thrilling nature activity in Singapore. You can learn about its unique ecosystem via handy signs and even take underwater photos of the exotic marine life.

5. Explore Singapore on a bike

Explore Singapore on a bike

Where: Ketam Mountain Bike Park, Pulau Ubin, and other trails and parks

When: Any time of the year, preferably during non-rainy weather

How: Rent a bike from shops like The Bicycle Hut

You can always get a car rental or hop on the train to get to places in Singapore. But have you considered exploring the island on a bike, instead?

Singapore has such a small total land area that it can take just a good part of the day to explore most of what it has to offer. So it’s not just great hiking trails you can visit on foot but also proper bike paths and routes.

There’s a park connector network in Singapore that links natural areas to major parks, so you can have a refreshing scenic route while pedalling your bike. It offers an alternative view and experience of Singapore that not a lot of tourists know.

So if you want to start pedalling your way across the country, check out the following bike trails:

  • Bukit Timah MTB Bicycle Trail, choice of four mountain biking trails
  • Mandai Bicycle Trail 15, starts from Mandai Zoo and ends at Chestnut Trail
  • Kent Ridge Mountain Bike Trail, Canopy Walk
  • Northern Explore Bicycle Loop, starts from the Lower Seletar Reservoir Park
  • Coney Island, starts from Punggol Jetty

6. Go bird-watching

Go bird-watching

Where: Jurong Bird Park, Netted Forest at the Singapore Zoo, and other parks

When: Monday to Sunday, 8:30 AM to 6 PM

How: Book a ticket and bring binoculars to any park

There’s plenty of birdwatching to be done in Singapore in spite of it being such a tiny island nation. And it can be done any time of the day—and even at night during an evening safari!

Singapore has great wildlife sanctuaries that include huge aviaries and netted forests for colourful species you can’t see elsewhere. And there are also migratory birds that pass through Singapore between September and March.

You can always buy a ticket to see the birds up close. Or you can always bring your trusty binoculars during a picnic at the park and see what your lenses catch. 

Consider visiting these places for some birdwatching fun:

  • Singapore Botanic Gardens, 1 Cluny Road

Monday to Sunday, 5 AM to midnight

  • Kranji Marshes, 11 Neo Tiew Lane 2

Daily, 7 AM to 7 PM

  • Pekan Quarry, Pulau Ubin

Changi Point Ferry Terminal

Daily, 5.30 AM to 9 PM

  • TreeTop Walk, MacRitchie Reservoir, Venus Drive, off Upper Thomson Road

Tuesday to Friday, 9 AM -5 PM; Saturday to Sunday, 8:30 AM to 5 PM

Entertainment Ideas

A lot of tourists add Singapore to their itinerary when an international act makes a stop here for a world tour. But Singapore has a lot more to offer by way of entertainment via underground, unknown, yet always lively local acts.

7. Enjoy some live music

Enjoy some live music

Where: Timbre X S.E.A, Timbre+ @ One-North, Timbre+ Eastside @ Expo, and other live music venues

When: Check out the live music calendar

How: Make a reservation

With lockdown restrictions easing up, you can expect more live music in Singapore again. International and local acts can hold concerts, and you can plan your Singapore itinerary around them.

But if you want something more offbeat and spontaneous, why not go to one of the jazz clubs in Singapore, instead? The music is still live, but the ambience is laidback and friendlier.

You can also try other bars and venues where local bands and musicians perform to get a real feel for music that’s uniquely Singapore. Check out the following:

  • Wala Wala Cafe Bar, 31 Lorong Mambong Holland Village

Monday to Sunday, 4 PM to 1 AM

  • Crazy Elephant, Clarke Quay

Monday, 5 PM to 1 AM; Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday, 5 PM to 2 AM; Friday to Saturday, 5 PM to 3 AM

  • Blu Jaz Cafe, Kampong Glam

Monday to Friday, 12 PM to 12:30 AM; Saturday, 4 PM to 1.30 AM

  • Hood Bar and Cafe, Bugis District

Sunday to Wednesday, 5 PM to 1 AM; Thursday to Saturday, 5 PM to 3 AM

8. Visit unusual museums and galleries

Visit unusual museums and galleries

Where: Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, 288 South Bridge Road, and others

When: Monday to Sunday, 7 AM to 7 PM

How: Make it a part of your Chinatown itinerary 

The best museums in Singapore include the National Gallery, the National Museum, and the Asian Civilisations Museum, among others. It’s safe to say these are world-class.

But while these make it to the top of most tourist itineraries, there are offbeat museums and galleries you can visit that are equally intriguing and interesting. Many of them feature specific interests that don’t necessarily cater to tourists.

For instance, if you love toys or have kids with you, make sure to visit the MINT Museum of Toys. It carries hundreds of thousands of toys from over 40 countries, with some dating back to the 1840s!

Here are other recommended galleries and museums in Singapore with unusual themes:

9. Attend a local performance

Attend a local performance

Where: The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Resorts World, and others

When: Consult a performance calendar or website

How: Check out the latest performances at EventBrite

Every place has a local performing arts scene, and Singapore is no different. To get a feel of its youthful energy and contemporary offerings, make sure to catch a performance by a local group.

Local performances are a great way to feel the pulse of Singapore’s creativity, humour, and insights.

It could be from a dance troupe, a performing arts exhibition, theatrics, stand-up comics, or even an open mic act. Some organisations also invite other international artists to grace a recital or gig, like the following:

Most of these events come free of charge, but others might be part of fundraisers or festivals like the Singapore Art Week, which would require a ticket to attend.