If you’re relatively new to Singapore and haven’t made a decision about car leasing or ownership, hiring a vehicle for a couple of days fulfils two objectives. First, it gets you out and about, seeing more of the island (a bonus if you have visiting family); and second, it lets you consider the option of hiring a car every now and again over the sizeable commitment of full-time leasing or buying. After you’ve ticked off the Zoo and Universal Studios, why not take a look at some of Singapore’s more off-the-beaten-path attractions? One way to reach them is by taxi, of course, though getting back home can be a challenge. A fun and practical alternative is to hire a car and hit the road for a weekend of exploration.
For me, the benefit of hiring a vehicle from the Hertz Family Collection on a recent weekend meant our large group could travel together in a single car, rather than in a car and taxi in convoy.
We had initially planned to go to Legoland for a big family day out, but grey clouds threatened a downpour, and the thought of queues at the border made us change our minds. The kids were not disappointed: a Sunday morning riding the water slides at Sentosa’s Adventure Cove kept them satisfied; and a few beers with lunch afterwards on the sand at Coastes kept the adults happy, and was a relaxing end to a fabulous three days.
The previous day had been spent checking out some of Singapore’s unique sights (see the list, below). We finished by viewing the city skyline from the Super Trees at Gardens by the Bay, followed by a walk in the fading light to an easy dinner at Satay by the Bay, which has to be one of the city’s best kept secrets.
Getting us around the island for the entire weekend was the seven-seater Ford Galaxy. This stylish people-mover has a powerful engine for carrying a carload of adults with ease, and importantly it’s simple to navigate in busy city traffic. The Galaxy is incredibly fuel-efficient too, so you’re likely to drive all weekend on less than a tank of petrol.
Off the beaten track
A car puts these attractions within easy reach, and they’re all free.
Air Force Museum
This museum showcases the operations of the Royal Singapore Air Force across nine different galleries, and will appeal to everyone from children to plane enthusiasts and military buffs. 400 Airport Road, Paya Lebar Airbase, 6461 8507, mindef.gov.sg/rsaf
Pit stop: Bring snacks
The Changi Museum and Chapel
In honour of all those who lived and died in Singapore during WW2, the museum documents the significant events of those years through artefacts, memories and emotive displays. It’s impossible to leave this museum without being affected by the horrors of war; parents may wish to oversee younger children at some of the exhibits. 1000 Upper Changi Road North, 6214 2451, changimuseum.sg
Pit stop: The Bark Café (next door to the museum)
Learn about agriculture and food production in the island’s north. Known as Kranji Countryside, it’s the area where Singapore’s farms are located, many of which are open to the public for tours and food sales.
Pit stop: Grower stalls
Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle
Whether you want to browse the massive range of ceramics (pots, lamps, tableware and more), attend a ceramic pottery workshop, take a look at the historic dragon kiln, or generally mooch about in the creative atmosphere, this charming place is worth a visit. 85 Lorong Tawas, off Jalan Bahar, 6288 6121, potteryjungle.wordpress.com
Pit stop: Take a snack to enjoy in the tranquil park surrounding Pottery Jungle; it’s a favourite spot for bird-watchers.
Bukit Brown Cemetery
Bukit Brown, part nature reserve and part historic treasure, has been the resting place of thousands of Chinese since the early 20th century. In the past couple of years, some of the graves have been exhumed and the land levelled to make way for a new road, but there is still plenty of room to explore the quiet spaces amongst massive trees, where the occasional horse trots by. Between Lornie Road and Mount Pleasant Road, bukitbrown.com
Pit stop: Wheeler’s Yard, 28 Lor Ampas, wheelersyard.com
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
|et back to nature in this 87-hectare park, where you’ll see migratory birds, monitor lizards, lots of mangrove animals and possibly a crocodile. Take a free guided tour, watch prawn- and fish-farming demonstrations, or just walk the nature trails in the fresh air. 301 Neo Tiew Crescent, 6794 1401
Pit stop: There’s vending machine for drinks and snacks, the Bliss Café is open for drinks and light meals from 8am to 6pm, or head over to Poison Ivy Café at Bollywood Veggies at 100 Neo Tiew Road.
MacRitchie Reservoir Park and Treetop Walk
Seeing squirrels, monkeys and monitor lizards is pretty much guaranteed on a walk here, and if you’re really lucky, you may even come across flying lemurs and owls. The trails are numerous and well-marked, but remember to take plenty of water and snacks. This is a tranquil spot to get back to nature. Start at Reservoir Road or Venus Drive car park.
The Hertz Family Collection includes the seven-seater Ford Galaxy and Ford S-Max. Both are spacious and comfortable, with flat-fold seats and secure child-seat points, plus Hertz will throw in complimentary child seats. Up to two additional drivers are included at no extra cost, so the driving doesn’t have to fall to one person. Cars can be collected at Alexandra Road or at Ubi Road. For more information, see hertz.com.