Clearing your annual leave? What to do in Singapore on weekdays minus the crowds
You’re stuck with a lot of leave days to clear, really need that break and want to avoid the weekend crowd – here's how to make the most of your time away from work, whether it's by yourself or with others.
Let’s all admit it: Many of us were stubbornly clinging on to the faintest of hopes that travel regulations would’ve eased up by now, which was why we held off taking our leave days.
That, of course, hasn’t been the case. And now we’ve got our bosses and HR colleagues breathing down our necks to hastily clear them.
While the most obvious option is to plan breaks around weekends for maximum enjoyment, that might not be the most strategic way – because everyone’s doing that.
So why not take time off on weekdays instead? You can take full advantage of the fewer people and, when it comes to staycations, cheaper rates. If the idea is to take a few days off from work for the sake of your mental and physical wellbeing, jostling with the weekend crowd might not work.
We’ve taken the liberty to gather some suggestions on how best to experience weekdays off in Singapore. Depending on whether you’re looking for some time for yourself, activities with your significant other, or if you want to step out of your comfort zone and embark on a random adventure in Singapore, you really don’t have to wait till Friday to enjoy yourself.
FINISH THAT BOOK OVER COFFEE OR KEEP YOUR HANDS BUSY
Sometimes you just want to take a day for yourself to sink into a good book over a good cup of coffee. Over the last few years, Chip Bee Gardens near Holland Village has evolved to now possibly having one of the highest concentration of notable cafe spots in Singapore.
Not only can you get your coffee fix from Tiong Bahru Bakery, % Arabica as well as Baker & Cook, you can also sneak in a cuppa at local fashion label Our Second Nature’s retail space, as well as at soft-serve-on-waffle-haven, Sunday Folks. All within a stretch of under 200m. We’re confident you’ll find a coffee that goes perfect with your page-turner you’ve been making your way through.
If you want to take a break from that book, why not sign up for a less-busy weekday session with a crafty workshop at Bynd Artisan. Learn how to customise your own leather cardholders and notebooks which make for great gifts to your friends (and most certainly for yourself) from these local purveyors of personalised paper and leather accessories.
PAMPER YOURSELF WITH AN ‘OFF-ISLAND’ STAYCATION
If you’re looking for a luxurious break from reality – and you’ve got a little bit extra saved up from not travelling in 2020 – nothing quite beats a weekday staycation at Capella Singapore. While many hotels are built to attract business travellers, Capella is not one of them, which means privacy and comfort take precedence over harsh efficiency and connectivity to the outside world.
Whether you decide to book a suite or splash out for a villa, you’ll be living in the lap of luxury surrounded by lush calming greenery and warm hospitality which will make you feel you’re much further away than you really are. Plus good news for fur parents — your kids can join you on this luxurious getaway too.
Complimentary activities – from creating your own customised gelato flavour to calligraphy sessions with MontBlanc – are worth noting but for a truly indulgent break, make a booking at the Auriga spa for a pampering session like their recently launched three-hour Signature Moon Ritual which includes a 30-minute body scrub, 30-minute body wrap, 60-minute body massage and 60-minute facial treatment.
And if you’d rather not go solo, you can also consider this option with your loved one or with friends and family.
SEE SOME ART AROUND MBS
Inject some culture into your life with a visit to the ArtScience Museum. Take your pick from a variety of film screening or exhibitions including the digital interactive installations of Future World, or the recently launched Star Wars Identities exhibition that showcases close to 200 artefacts from the original Star Wars films to get a glimpse of how iconic characters in the epic franchise came to fruition.
And since you’re already by the Bay, perhaps stop over at Apple Marina Bay Sands and pick up some handy skills in photo, videos or art and design, at the often-crowded Today at Apple sessions. Just because you’re socially distancing, doesn’t mean you can’t socially level up, right?
DE-STRESS IN A FLOTATION TANK
While simply taking a few days off your routine at work is enough for some to unwind, some of us may need a bit more detachment to truly recharge.
Step into a private float pod at Palm Ave Float Club and effortlessly float in complete darkness. It may seem scary at first, but the absence of sensory input will relieve the stress on your mind and easily drift you into a meditative state, while the natural buoyancy of your body in the Epsom salt-saturated water will relieve stress on your joints, encouraging recovery on aches and pains. You might even find yourself falling asleep during your session, only to wake up revitalised and refreshed.
GO KARTING, HURL AN AXE – OR BOTH
Sometimes you don’t want to just float along and relax on a weekday off. You might instead be looking for a way to release your pent-up feelings (in a healthy way) and a trip down to The Grandstand might be what you’re looking for.
Need to release that stress? Why not be like Jason Mamoa and hurl an axe or two (at targets, of course) at Axe Factor, Singapore’s first indoor axe-throwing facility.
Or maybe you feel a need. A need for speed. The Karting Arena showcases Singapore’s first electric go kart track. With a lighter chassis on their go karts for quicker acceleration and better handling, you’ll be tearing up the asphalt with every turn.
You don’t need to plan for a group with either of these experiences as individual sessions are available. It’s just you, a sharp edge, and the miles to go before you sleep.
CHINATOWN STAYCATIONS AND COCKTAIL TRAILS IN CHINATOWN
The cocktail scene in Singapore is bustling with internationally-renowned experiences and flavours and most of these bars are situated in our very own Chinatown just waiting for you to step in and take a sip.
Many from the bar industry will tell you the best time to indulge in cocktail bar-hopping is Tuesdays to Thursdays – there won’t be a need to jostle to find seats and the bar team will be able to give you the best guest treatment possible. What we suggest is planning it one step further to make it a really special night out.
Book a room at a place like Hotel Soloha, a beautiful boutique shophouse hotel located just around the corner from some of the best tipple spots in Singapore and roll out of bed just before the sun sets to start your evening.
Head over to the The Elephant Room, with delicious food and drinks inspired by the flavours of Little India, then maybe The Old Man, which pays homage to the life of Hemingway, before checking out the ever-eclectic No Sleep Club down the road. Just a short walk away at Bukit Pasoh, you’ll find Gibson with its innovative approach to craft cocktails as well as Live Twice, the gorgeously intimate space inspired by the mid-century modern era of Japan.
The best part of this cocktail trail is once you’re done for the evening, you and your partner can just stroll back to your boutique abode to turn in for the evening — no waiting around or dealing with surge pricing. That, my friends, is drinking responsibly.
GET IN TUNE WITH YOUR PARTNER AT THE ESPLANADE
For a more aurally-engaging date, nothing beats kicking it old school with a dip into the world of vinyls and turntables at the Analog Vault. Experience just how tactile a listening experience can be and maybe find out just how your favourite tune sounds on the legendary Linn LP12 turntable hooked up to a tube-based Audio Note UK sound system.
Keep the auditory experience going with a tour of the Esplanade’s acoustically-tuned architecture to learn how spaces from the Concert Hall to the Theatre are tuned to suit the performance needs while preventing external noise and vibrations from disrupting it.
If this is all too specific, remember you’re at Singapore’s best performance venue – so don’t forget to check the calendar if you want to attend a show for date night.
PAINT YOUR FEELINGS WITH A COUPLE ART JAM
Art Jamming is an open-ended way for you and your partner to create visual expressions of your feelings (some you both might not even know you had) and there’s no worry about making a total mess because it might just be the cathartic release your inner Picassos are searching for.
We’d suggest heading to Artify Studio, which is currently located at a unique space in Textile Centre. While there are also unguided sessions for those who have a bit more experience, for complete beginners, their signature guided Liberty Art Jam in the evenings mean even the most clueless of us will get a chance to take home a work of art that we can call our own.
MAKE LOAF, NOT WAR WITH BAKING COURSES
It looks like working from home is something that many of us will be doing for the foreseeable future, why not lean into the lifestyle a little more and finally make use of that kitchen at home for more than just instant noodles and reheating yesterday’s leftovers.
And since so many of us miss travelling to Japan, why not take up a baking class with ABC Cooking Studio where you’ll get hands-on with Pizza Twists, Blueberry Domes, Matcha Terrines, Strawberry Shortcakes and more. Trial lessons start from S$35 per participant so it’s not going to break the bank plus getting your hands dirty (on in this case, tasty) with a loved one won’t just help feed the belly, it will also feed the soul.
GO ON A SPECIAL PHOTO SHOOT
Besides the random wefie on the way to getting ice cream, most only think about couple shots when planning out a wedding reception. But that doesn’t need to be the case.
For a more unique photo experience without the fuss of dressing up and getting your hair done, check out Sajeev Digital Studio in Little India. Having been around for over a decade, this humble space is behind the profile shots responsible for countless migrant workers in Singapore finding their match back home.
Stepping into this quaint studio is the perfect way to inject some humour and quirkiness into a day out with vintage backdrops and lots of props to get your creative juices going. We like to think it’s like Whose Line Is It Anyway set against a scene from a Wes Anderson film. And remember, how memorable your shots turn out is all up to your imagination.
ADVENTURE TIME WITH FRIENDS
GO NATURE-TRIPPING ‘UP NORTH’
While the wetland reserve allows you to conveniently trek through the mangrove forests to explore the extensive biodiversity – from migratory shorebirds to resting otters – from the safety of a sturdy wooden footpath, Kranji Reservoir Park provides a quiet slice of slow living with a lesser-known spot of greenery where you can also get some fishing done. Both locations are just a short drive away from one other.
SOLVE A MYSTERY IN CHINATOWN
If you’re looking for adventure a little closer to town, how does a puzzle solving walkabout sound to you? For escape room enthusiasts, Tribe Tours’ Chinatown Murders is a large outdoor version of that where participants get to solve a mystery which also involves them getting a deeper dive into the history of the area.
You’ll no doubt experience a side of Chinatown that you hadn’t before, and a part of us wonders whether history lessons back in school would have been more effective in an interactive style format like this. Hint: The butler didn’t do it!
GO SURFING – YES, YOU SHOULD
Without any natural surf spots around the island, surfing is understandably not the most common outdoorsy water sport that many in Singapore are familiar with. But now with companies like WakeMusters, a dedicated WakeSurfing school, channelling your inner Johnny Utah while shredding some waves behind a boat might actually be something pretty enjoyable to do on your weekdays off.
It’s easier to pick up compared to wakeboarding and the short trip out to the surf site on their custom-tuned wave-creating boats will feel like a mini-getaway that you’ve been missing. While it’s a great way to spend some time in the sun with a couple of good friends, there is also the option of heading out solo for some one-on-one training for those who prefer not to wipeout too badly in front of others.
HOP IN A KAYAK AND EXPLORE SOME MANGROVES
But if you’re interested in water sports and nature, perhaps a kayaking trip to the Seletar Islands might be more your style. Navigate your way through the secluded mangrove forests which are reminiscent of Singapore’s natural heritage and get up close and personal to flora and fauna of the area.
After the paddle, the tour also stops over at the Sembawang Hot Springs Park where you can soak your weary feet after your journey. We also know that this park lets you cook eggs in the 70°C hot spring cooking station.
That said, something tells us that it might be pretty precarious to be handling eggs on a kayaking tour, just saying.
This entire experience concludes just in time for lunch, which gives you the whole rest of the day for other activities. Which of course might involve having a bit of a lie down.
GO GLAMPING, WATCH A MOVIE
While home streaming services make it so easy to binge on your favourite television series or films at home, there’s something quite special about heading out for a big-screen cinema experience. But a way to make it even more special is catching a movie under the stars on an 80-inch screen.
Glamping City’s cinema package add-on with their decked out tents makes for a cosy night out to breathe in some fresh air, not worry about hiding food that isn’t purchased from a cinema’s snack stand, and still enjoy most of the creature comforts of home. It’s like soaking in the old school charm of a drive-in movie experience, no driver’s licence required, and there’s a bed too!
For more ideas on what you can do (and for SingapoRediscovers promos), visit here.