If you have the wheels, here are five places you can visit in Singapore that feel like somewhere else entirely
When’s the last time you drove? No, as in, really drove – and down to the local heartland mall doesn’t count, but a proper more-than-20km drive to somewhere you’ve never been.
Singapore may be relatively small, but it’s full of things to see and do, so it’s a bit of a pity that many of us buy cars only to drive to and from the office every day. That’s certainly not maximising your ownership experience.
Which is where we come in: Here are five far-flung places that are worth bringing the whole brood along and making a mini-road trip out of.
While you could take a taxi or a app-hail a ride to these places, they’re all located far enough away that driving there yourself is half of the experience, especially if you have a clever companion like the Skoda Karoq sport utility vehicle (SUV) at your disposal.
4.30- 10.30PM daily except Mondays, on now until May 3, 2020
The Grandstand South Carpark
200 Turf Club Rd, Singapore 287994
UPDATE: The market will now close on March 29, 2020 instead of May because of the NCOV situation. However it may return later this year.
Things being what they are with the spread of NCOV-19, those who love shopping in Bangkok might be suffering from a little withdrawal. That’s where the Singapore edition of Chatuchak comes in. As the name suggests it’s a mini-version of Bangkok’s famous market, although the emphasis is heavily on food, with a side of shopping.
It’s a literal Thai smorgasboard there: beef noodles, barbeque squid, roast pork, Thai omelettes, seafood, mango sticky rice, Thai ice tea and more.
Also on site were local vendors offering more familiar offerings we’ve seen at other night markets in Singapore too. Round the corner is the shopping stretch, with Thai t-shirt designers/vendors, handbags, accessories, and more.
We visited early in the day to before the crowds swooped in, but we recommend visiting after the sun goes down as it can get hot, being located in the Old Turf Club’s Grandstand south carpark.
While you probably won’t be hauling a tonne of t-shirts back home, it’s good to know the Karoq has very generous boot space – 521-litres as standard, and a maximum of 1,630-litres with the seats folded down.
If you own the Karoq 1.5 Style, you can even leave the removable VarioFlex rear seats at home and carry a huge 1,810-litres – useful if you happen to snag a bargain at one of the nearby home furnishing stores.
Not far from the relative bustle of the Grandstand, and deep inside Turf Club Road is European bistro Picotin. It occupies a former stable of the old Turf Club, and is named after a French word for a portion of horse feed (sounds way sexier when you don’t know what it is, doesn’t it?).
When it comes to solid stick-to-your-sides food it doesn’t horse around, offering pizzas, pastas, drinks, and mains – we relished the very tender Slow-cooked beef and tasty Fjord salmon, which came with crab-imbued mashed potato.
But the location is also big part of the Picotin’s charm. If you ignore the thwack of those practicing their swing (the driving range is right next to the bistro) you’re surrounded by greenery and quiet.
Driving in is a treat itself, with twisty, winding lane that goes under not one but two bridges, it’s almost countryside. With an undulating, narrow road in it’s very different from Singapore’s normal roads, but the high-riding Karoq delivers a good view to the driver and 250Nm of torque from its 1.5-litre turbocharged engine means it’s not afraid of a little altitude.
81 Lorong Chencharu, 769198
Orto calls itself ‘Singapore’s first 24-hour leisure facility’ but it’s probably easier to see it as a fun complex that lets you do outdoor Malaysia-type leisure activities without actually having to go to Malaysia.
This includes paintball, drift-karting (non-petrol powered), trampolining, and also a Tortoise/Turtle museum for those who have an abiding curiosity for chelonians. But the main draw for Singaporeans – besides a surprisingly wide variety of food and drink – will be the fishing and prawning.
There’s a large fishing pond, rates start at S$12 per hour, and three prawning ponds, one is even stocked with yabbies (Australian crayfish). Prawning starts at S$20 per hour. If you’ve impatient young ones, then longkang fishing is another activity that you may want to consider, lectures on how fun and dangerous it was in the old days is optional.
And speaking of fun and dangerous, the Karoq emphasises the fun and minimises the dangerous since it’s quite capable on the safety side: It has Front Assist with City Emergency Brake, which simply means that if you happen to be distracted by dreams of hooking a fish big enough for dinner, it’ll alert you if you’re about to collide with something, and even apply the brakes automatically if it comes to that.
It also has seven airbags (the best you can expect in the segment), can monitor you for fatigue and remind you to take a rest (important if driving far away after lunch), there’s also a tyre pressure monitor (really useful if you do end up in Malaysia proper) and a rear view camera with Park Distance Control (PDC).
Tebing Lane, Singapore
While this sounds more like an industrial zone, it’s actually an interesting eatery concept located on the fringes of Punggol.
The food-outlet-in-a-shipping-container has been done before, but this is one that involves social enterprise. Most of the eateries here give back to society by hiring the underprivileged and less fortunate, you can read it about it on their signboards in-store.
There’s a number of different food genres here – Korean, European bistro, drinks-n-darts (that’s not really a food but you know what we mean) – but while we arrived with roaming eyes we only have one stomach and went for seafood-n-chips offered by Big Fish Small Fish (no relation to Big Fish Publishing). While it offers a range of fried seafood, we tested their classic British fish-n-chips (battered) with mushy peas and enjoyed it immensely, although they do sell the sacrilegious American style (crumbed).
Getting there presents a minor challenge since it’s not really next to any road – the nearest is Tebing Lane, which has a carpark connected to it, and the container park is right next to the carpark. In any case, the Karoq Ambition we drove does have Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink, so you just punch in ‘Tebing Lane’ into your phone and interact with – legally – with the 8.0-inch infotainment screen. Simple, and clever.
Find out more about the clever SUV, the Skoda Karoq in person, and at a not-so-far place – Skoda’s showroom at Alexandra – by test driving it in person today!
This story is presented to you by Skoda Singapore.