- Art Jamming At The Istana Park
Unleash your inner artist at this cafe (above) in Istana Park, a strip of greenery opposite the president’s official place of residence.
Overlooking a gorgeous water feature, the two-storey, glass-clad building is filled with natural light and is perfect for unwinding or trying a new creative pursuit. Word is that colouring-in (with paints, in this case), as a form of relaxation, is all the rage.
At its Art Jam sessions, tunes are streamed from speakers, while participants sip complimentary drinks and express themselves using stretched canvases, acrylic paints and brushes. For those who want a little more guidance, there are creative painting workshops.
Not exactly on Orchard Road, but a 10-minute walk from Somerset MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) station, this tea atelier is worth the schlep in Singapore’s humid weather for its tranquil interior. It is tucked away in two three-storey, early 20th-century shophouses on elegant Emerald Hill.
One unit features a zen koi pond and private rooms for afternoon tea sessions (above), while the other houses a collection of hand-painted teacups and paraphernalia crafted by artisans from, among others, Taiwan and Japan.
The good news? These are for sale – so are rare teas such as aged pu-er and vintage matcha. Visits are by appointment only.
At 218m high, the glass-walled Ion Sky observatory (above) on level 56 of Ion Orchard lets you view the stunning cityscape through state-of-the-art Beholdtim telescopes – the first of their kind in Asia. On a good day, you can even spot Malaysia in the distance.
The high-tech viewing devices have a feature that allows you to see what the shopping strip used to look like years ago, when it was filled with fruit farms and nutmeg plantations. Old pictures are juxtaposed with live scenes to illustrate the changes. For cloud gazers, there’s a graph showing how to identify 10 main cloud types. Entry is free.
If you get peckish, head one level down to celebrity chef Luke Mangan’s Salt Grill & Sky Bar, which is famous for its steak and oysters.
Learn how to grow your own edible urban garden while on a tour of the rooftop farm at a mall. Comcrop at *Scape – which supplies vegetables and herbs to some of Singapore’s best eateries and bars – is a veritable orchard of everything from habanero and ghost peppers to basil and mint.
The green oasis perched above the hum of traffic is about the size of five five-room HDB (Singapore’s public housing) apartments. Employing aquaponics – where fish waste is channelled to provide nutrients for growing plants – and hydroponics, the greens (above) are grown on 12 vertical shelves to save space.
Comcrop’s farm tours (by appointment only) run on the first Saturday of every month. Visit theirFacebook page for updates.
This iconic 30-year-old Russian-Hainanese restaurant on the sixth floor of Far East Shopping Centre is so loved by generations of locals that many rushed to book a table when its owners announced it was closing at the end of 2015. Thankfully, the quaint joint was revived in March.
Besides the meat-on-skewer dish that lent its name to the restaurant, other signatures include borscht (beef soup with vegetables; above) and a dessert that is hard to find elsewhere on the island: baked Alaska (ice-cream cake covered with meringue, doused in rum and set aflame at your table).
Though the new owners gave the 100-seater a facelift, diners can expect the same general look and feel as its previous incarnation, complete with rickety trolleys and service provided by long-serving employees.
When the shopping frenzy gets to you, say “ohm” at this urban wellness centre located on Level 6, Delfi Orchard. Expect soothing touches such as large windows, which let in plenty of natural light, and dark wooden floors.
The centre offers not only yoga and pilates classes (above), but also a spa where you can luxuriate in holistic treatments such as massage therapy, naturopathy and homeopathy.
And if the shopping bug’s still biting, there’s a small but well-curated selection of yoga gear and Como’s spa products. Its Invigorate blend – with geranium, lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils – is divine.
The road to success is never smooth – and that’s the truth when one is seeking bespoke cocktail bar Horse’s Mouth (above).
Our tip: Locate sister establishment Uma Uma Ramen within Forum the Shopping Mall, then find the right curtain concealing a door. Enter and descend a flight of steps that will lead you to your goal: a 34-seat Japanese-inspired izakaya that is as famed for its bartenders’ wit as it is for its tipples.
The Whisky Sour comes highly recommended for its authenticity, as does the Unencumbered – a tequila-sake fusion with homemade Granny Smith syrup and Japanese cucumber. It’s an ironic name for a cocktail, considering the less-than-straightforward way to get to the bar.
Text: Siver Kris/ Additional Reporting: Atika Lim