Singapore: As immersive as it gets!

We get up close and personal with Singapore as we trace its Passion Made Possible brand and the latest Made In Singapore campaign
Mandai Bird Paradise
Mandai Bird Paradise

The way we live and travel has seen a sea-change post-COVID-19. Tourism, world over, suffered the most due to lockdowns. When things let up and borders opened, people began to travel like never before, and they wanted more. There’s a big shift in the way travellers today approach holiday destinations. A mere relaxing visit won’t do. Travel today is not just about seeing new places, but experiencing them. Travellers now want holidays to be encounters and adventures; they want experiences that are immersive, local, authentic and active. They want to explore cultures and build a deeper, personal connection with destinations.

Tourist destinations today, while welcoming back travellers, are going out of their way to give them a holistic experience; and Singapore, not to be left behind, has come up with a unique brand called Passion Made Possible, aimed at promoting Singapore internationally for both tourism and business purposes. Moreover, Made In Singapore (MIS), the latest campaign is aimed at inspiring travellers to choose Singapore as their next travel destination. The campaign puts a fresh spin on the Passion Made Possible destination brand, spotlighting quintessentially Singaporean experiences, from iconic attractions to hidden gems, all of which are deeply rooted in the unique passions that characterise Singapore’s identity.

We visited Singapore recently and were able to experience, first-hand, Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) attempt to take the Lion City beyond traditional tourism and present unique narratives and authentic offerings. According to STB, “Singapore already offers a lot to the discerning traveller. However, Passion Made Possible adds a unique human touch through stories of individuals and businesses driven by sheer passion, actively contributing to the nation’s growth. Among Singaporeans, it fosters a sense of unity and pride, reinforcing their connection to the nation’s values of passion and possibilities. For visitors, Singapore extends an invitation to experience a place where passion thrives, innovation flourishes, and dreams are realised.” And, thus began our journey...

 The Dragon Chamber

 A cool Singaporean evening breeze welcomed us as we got off the flight at the Changi Airport and walked straight into a mall. A great idea to have malls attached to airports as it makes the waiting for the rest of the group to join in so much more fun. Several window shopping stops, one black coffee and a 1,000 steps later, we had worked up quite an appetite and it was time to experience Singapore with our bellies as we prepared for our first immersive experience!

 It is now a trend to hide exclusive bars and restaurants behind modest café fronts. Hidden behind the refrigerator door of this unassuming local café, reminiscent of old-time Chinatown gambling dens, was this one-of-a-kind restaurant called The Dragon Chamber! It serves guerrilla-style food and brings back age-old unconventional Chinese dishes like the Dragon Claw; make that crocodile foot, braised in a herbal sauce served on a bed of kale; and I assure you that your collagen intake for the month couldn’t be more tastily packaged.

Design Orchard

 Our stop the next morning was the Design Orchard, which is a unique integrated retail and incubation space that grooms local designers. It serves as a creative incubator and event space in the heart of Orchard Road for Singapore’s homegrown brands to showcase their creativity. It houses over 100 brands in various categories such as apparel, accessories and lifestyle products, making it one of Singapore’s largest physical one-stop shopping destinations for local labels. It’s reasonably priced and we made some interesting purchases

Mr Bucket Chocolaterie

Our immersive holiday continued with a Chocolate Appreciation Workshop that took us straight back to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory even as we stepped into the rightly named Mr Bucket Chocolaterie. We got a tour of this chocolate wonderland of a factory and tasted some exquisite flavours. If you have the time, you can actually make your own chocolate for yourself and your friends. Not to be missed!

Open Farm Community

Next up was lunch at the Open Farm Community, a sustainable restaurant that supports a network of local and Southeast Asian organic growers. They limit single use plastics, recycle vigorously, respect ingredients and reduce waste. The team is inspired by nature and hopes to connect people over meals. You must try the steak here, but don’t ask for it to be well-done, if you want to be served at all. The chefs take pride in their preparation and firmly believe that rare or medium is the only way to go. Their burgers are another great option. Be sure you are hungry as their portions are quite large.

Tanglin Gin Distillery

 Another experience that should not be missed is a visit to Tanglin Gin Distillery, that’s set in the heart of the Tanglin neighbourhood, which was once home to spice cultivation. And, no prizes for guessing what constitutes an immersive experience at a distillery! Visitors who sign up for a distillery tour get taken through the distilling facility and end up with a tasting session at the Tanglin Gin Jungle, which is an annex of the bar.

Bag it @ GINLEE Studio

Our host had told us to carry an old T-shirt and we couldn’t, for the life of us, figure out why. But the mystery unravelled as we came to the GINLEE Studio. We used our old T-shirts to make designer bags that were so classy and cool, that we not only use them every day, but also, it was such a practical sustainable idea that it made this GINLEE Studio visit a very meaningful one.

 An ANDSOFORTH Experience

You’ve not ‘experienced’ a dinner till you eat at ANDSOFORTH! We experienced Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days in a most unique and exciting manner: Through an immersive dinner featuring innovative international food that are a part of interactive activities hosted by professionals — you will feel like you have travelled back in time. You craft a cocktail; survive a jungle expedition; take a train ride and do some incredible feats that included almost taking off in a hot air balloon! The use of authentic outfits, traditional cuisine and stunning set designs fully immerse you in the story.

 Katong Antique House

You haven’t really experienced a place if you don’t know how the people lived there. At the Katong Antique House, you get to see 100 years of Peranakan history all inherited, restored and maintained by the late founder Peter Wee, a fourth-generation Peranakan and the former president of The Peranakan Association Singapore. The house contains treasures that date back to the 1800s and you go back in time as you step in. Pictures of old babas and nyonyas line the walls, while an inside room houses an altar, ornate chairs and cabinets full of antiques. There is a kitchen in the back and a floor upstairs similarly filled with precious artefacts — the result of several years of collection. You cannot take a bad picture inside the house as everything is tastefully arranged. The façades of the houses too are colourful and picture-worthy.

Lunch at Keng Eng Kee

 A favourite of international celebrities, Keng Eng Kee is one of Singapore’s most well-loved zi char places. Apart from its popular Moonlight Horfun and Coffee Pork Ribs, their Chilli and Black Pepper Crabs are also recommended. Their crab dishes were featured in Netflix’s Street Food and they are a hot favourite.

The Palawan @ Sentosa - HyperDrive, UltraGolf

If you like driving down the fairway, the highway or the race track, Sentosa’s new additions might make your day. Electric go karts and a mini-golf course apart from a floating aqua water theme park, have made this destination more exciting. Being a first in Asia, HyperDrive levels up the racing experience by immersing drivers in a world of real-life racing and virtual gaming. Adding to the fun is UltraGolf, a brand new 18 hole mini-golf course designed for all ages to test their putting skills. Post a hard-fought drag on the tracks, we were ready to unwind with some classical music and some delicious bites, in requested small portions that had a soothing effect and brought us all back into a state of relaxed holiday mode.

Bird Paradise

<em>Scan the QR code to take a peek into the Mandai Bird Paradise</em>
Scan the QR code to take a peek into the Mandai Bird Paradise

We saved the best for the last and our final day in Singapore, we visited Bird Paradise, an aviary located in Mandai, Singapore. Opened on May 8, 2023, it replaced the Jurong Bird Park and forms a part of the Mandai Wildlife Reserve, consisting of the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Wonders and the upcoming Rainforest Wild Park. This was truly a treat for bird lovers as we got up-close and personal with the birds as we fed them, petted them and got to see some of their antics from real close. We even got to see their breeding and feeding enclosures and had a hand in putting together some bird feed too.

Cookery Magic

Then it was time to rustle up our own dinner and we were ushered into the lovely home of the food sorceress, Ruqxana Vasanwala, who happens to be Singapore Tourism Board’s Passion Ambassador. Ruqxana offers cooking classes and welcomes visitors with authentic stories about Singapore’s rich culinary traditions. We cooked up some popular Asian and Singaporean dishes under the watchful eye of Ruqxana at her outdoor kitchen.

 Vespa Sidecar Night Tours

 Post dinner, it was time to take in the sights by night and we chose to do this in a Vespa (scooter) sidecar! This is a great way to see the city and the sidecar allows for wind in your face as the rider zooms past different districts and neighbourhoods including Joo Chiat, Kampong Gelam Tiong Bahru. We’ve never heard of another sidecar tour anywhere else, and rest assured, this is as immersive as it can get! Round trip to Singapore:

INR 25,000 onwards.

Email-edison @newindian


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