Things To Do In Singapore

13 “Overseas” Places To Drive In Singapore For A Road Trip With No Passport Needed

Singapore road trip ideas

You may have seen one of those road trip movies where a bunch of friends go travelling and have the time of their lives. You probably wish you could do the same in Singapore. In this list, we show you that you can.

From a 100-year-old Chinese monastery to an African-themed cafe and bakery, here are 13 Singapore road trip ideas with “overseas vibes”. For those who don’t own a car, read till the end for attractive car rental deals such as $200 free driving credits and complimentary 1-month subscriptions.

1. Tiong Bahru Bakery Safari – African wilderness vibes

Image credit: Eatbook

Think “Tiong Bahru Bakery” and your immediate association is probably their famous buttery croissants, but their Dempsey outlet is actually styled after a safari tent amidst sprawling trees and bushes. Get a taste of roughing it out in the wilderness, but with creature comforts like cushy seating spaces, magazines for you to peruse, cute decor and of course – good food.

Image credit: Eatbook

While most cafes in Singapore veer towards minimalist and industrial-chic designs, this safari-themed brunch getaway is a breath of fresh air. Literally, as the open-air concept provides major glamping vibes.

Address: 130E Minden Road, Singapore 248819
Opening hours: 8am-6pm, Daily
Contact: 6877 4876 | Tiong Bahru Bakery website

2. Bright Hill Temple – Grand Shaolin-like Chinese monastery

Image credit: @kmspks via Instagram

Situated in Bishan, Bright Hill Temple (more commonly referred to by elderly folks as “Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery”, the dialect name) is the largest Buddhist temple in Singapore. 2020 marks a century since its establishment, and everything from its size and grandeur to the intricate ancient architecture continues to draw awe from visitors young and old.

Image credit: Holidify

Whether or not you follow the religion, temple-hopping is an increasingly popular activity among travellers. With an establishment this rich in culture and history right here in our nation, you won’t have to worry about missing out on an expedition to Shaolin temples in China.

Address: 88 Bright Hill Road, Singapore 574117
Opening hours: 9am-4pm, Daily

3. Jurong Lake Gardens lalang field – Korean nature parks in Autumn

Lalang fields are a hotspot for wedding photoshoots, with many couples flocking to Korean nature parks in Autumn so they can frolic through a sea of dainty lalang grass. The good news is, an abundant lalang field exists right in the Westside of Singapore – in Jurong Lake Gardens, to be exact.

Opening mid-2019, it is one of the newest local parks and one that is packed with picturesque spots. Needless to say, you don’t have to be soon-to-wed in order to swing by and snap up a storm. Besides basking in nature, your IG shots will probably be able to fool followers into thinking you’re on an overseas vacation. 

Address: Yuan Ching Road
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily

4. Wessex Estate & Chelsea Lodge – Old-timey European architecture

Wessex Estate.
Image credit: Joshua Tsu via Google Maps

We’re all familiar with what a typical Singaporean HDB or condo building looks like, so driving past Buona Vista’s Wessex Estate and Tanjong Katong’s Chelsea Lodge might jolt you into thinking you’ve teleported onto the set of Sherlock Holmes.

Chelsea Lodge.
Image credit: SRX

The crisp black-and-white exteriors of Wessex Estate lend a bold contrast to the charming colonial architecture. Meanwhile, Chelsea Lodge sports warm shades of beige and brick-red complete with old-fashioned casement windows and quaint little flights of stairs leading residents home.

Wessex Estate: 25 Woking Road, Singapore 138703
Chelsea Lodge: 300 Tanjong Katong Road, Singapore 437083

Note: As these are residential buildings, do exercise consideration when visiting and keep noise to a minimum.

5. Botanic Gardens Sundial Garden – Luxe Italian greenery & brickwork

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

A European holiday is on many a Singaporean’s travel wishlist, but not everyone can afford an exotic trip to Italy. While we all know that Singapore Botanic Gardens is home to bountiful nature and flora, who would’ve thought that a hidden Sundial Garden exhibit looks just like a luxe Italian garden?

Featuring lilypad-filled ponds, meticulously-trimmed hedges and a sundial centrepiece framed by elegant brickwork, the setting makes us want to burst into ballroom dance while classical music plays in the background. To make your faux-Italian experience even more immersive, savour some authentic Italian cuisine at the Botanic Gardens’ Casa Verde restaurant.

Address: 4 Cluny Road, Singapore 259572
Opening hours: 5am-12am, Daily

6. Quayside Isle – Gold Coast bayfront

Australia is one of the most frequently visited travel destinations among Singaporeans, and you may find yourself missing the ocean breeze from Bondi Beach, penguin encounters at St. Kilda and boardwalk strolls on Fremantle.

While you may not chance upon much wildlife at Quayside Isle, it is situated so far away from the city and heartlands that you get to leave all the stress of everyday life behind. Enjoy a fresh seafood meal while overlooking the bayfront, circle around the pier hand in hand with your loved one, and take in the tranquil vibes which you’d usually expect from a trip Down Under.

Address: 31 Ocean Way, Singapore 098375
Opening hours: 8am-12am, Daily

7. Fort Canning Park Fort Gate – Bali “Gates of Heaven”

Image credit: Brian McMorrow, PBase

Bali’s iconic “Gates of Heaven” have been featured in thousands of photos across social media. For those who haven’t had the illusion shattered by reality, there actually isn’t a body of water surrounding the pillars. Instead, a man-made reflection is formed by holding a mirror or phone screen right under the camera lens. Myth, busted!

Likewise, we can recreate such dream-like scenes right in our very own Fort Canning Park. Locate the Fort Gate, which looks regal enough to be the entrance to a castle. Its gothic architecture is made even cooler by weathering decades of wear and tear, and the surrounding forest adds to the fairy tale factor.

Address: 20 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039805
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily

8. Bukit Batok Little Guilin – Avatar-inspo mountains from China

Those who watched the 2009 blockbuster film Avatar might remember seeing magnificent floating mountains on screen. Although they look awe-inspiring enough to be 100% make-believe, they were actually inspired by existing pinnacles found in the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park of Hunan, China.

As a garden city, Singapore has our fair share of natural wonders as well. Bukit Batok Town Park is known for being home to a quarry resembling granite formations found in China’s Guilin City, thus earning it the name Little Guilin or Xiao Gui Lin in Chinese.

Address: Bukit Batok East, Avenue 5, Singapore 650242
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily

9. Gardenasia Bistro – Cameron Highlands countryside

Image adapted from: @bafbes & @kareen_gan via Instagram

As much as we love our concrete jungle, it’s also refreshing to surround yourself in nature once in a while. Take a break from the cityscape and drop by Gardenasia Bistro, set within the Kranji area. While there won’t be any neighbouring rolling hills like the ones in Cameron Highlands, you’ll still be nestled amidst tall trees and neatly-trimmed grass. 

Image credit: @kennethpeace via Instagram

The theme here is “farm-to-table”, so you can expect fresh greens and seafood. Get the Pacific Catch Ocean Platter ($20) that comes with grilled prawns, king scallops, squid, and local sea bass fillet to share with the fam, or you can DIY your own salad for $20

Address: 240 Neo Tiew Cres, Singapore 718898
Opening hours: Wed-Thu & Sun 10.30am-4.45pm | Fri-Sat 10.30am-9.45pm (Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays)
Contact: 6898 9111 | Gardenasia Bistro website 

10. Handlebar – Texas country bar

Image credit: @walkercisesingapore via Instagram

Be transported to the Wild West at Handlebar, located at Gillman Barracks. Northies might recognise the wooden store sign of the  Handlebar outlet in Sembawang – but it has since closed down. 

The place is pet-friendly too.
Image adapted from: @channellingthefoodieinme & @choocedric via Instagram

It’s all good vibes and good bikes here especially with weekend live performances happening at the alfresco area. The place also has indoor seating where you’ll be surrounded by quirky decorations including chairs that are made up of old bike parts and helmets used as lights. Grab some sustenance and order the Tomahawk ($128/1.5kg) or a Margherita Pizza ($10) to share.

Address: 10 Lock Road, Singapore 108938
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 12pm-11.30pm (Closed on Mondays)
Contact: 6268 5550 | Handlebar Instagram 

11. Stella Seaside Lounge – Lombok sea views

Image adapted from: @mnsnan & @waynehuangjunwei via Instagram

Here’s a friendly reminder: Singapore is also a tropical island, so there’s no need to fly overseas for sandy beaches and stunning sea views. Beach bums can drop by Stella Seaside Lounge, where you can lounge by the water and get a tan. Come with your friends or family and book a daybed (from $200/bed) that fits up to 8 people. 

Image credit: @thegaldines via Instagram

Pawrents can also reserve a spot at the lounge’s pet-friendly areas too. Food-wise, the place has an extensive menu with items that include the Lemongrass Wings ($16/6 pieces), Beer Battered Fish on Chips ($18), and Sweet Potato Fries ($8) that’s great for sharing. By the way, try to come during sunset for the ultimate views. 

Address: 11 Changi Coast Walk, Singapore 499740
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 4.30pm-10.30pm | Sat-Sun 12pm-10.30pm
Contact: 6214 9168 | Stella Seaside Lounge website 

12. Ku-kai Izakaya – Mini Japan by the sea

Ku-kai Izakaya is one of the hidden restaurants in Singapore not many might know about, although you might recognise the iconic Torii gate and red lantern found at the entrance. For the uninitiated, it’s an authentic yakitori place found at the SAF Yacht Club. 

The interior of the restaurant has been fully decorated to mimic a traditional Japanese restaurant. Think hanging lanterns, wooden menu planks, and norens – AKA Japanese fabric dividers. You can indulge in a bowl of Jaga Mentaiko ($11) and Crispy Fried Chicken ($12), or order their signature charcoal-grilled skewers that go from $5/stick

Address: 43 Admiralty Road West, Singapore 759962
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 5.30pm-10.30pm | Sat-Sun 11.30am-10.30pm (Closed on Mondays)
Contact: 8304 3028

13. Café Colbar – Vintage cafe in the streets of “JB”

Café Colbar stands for Colonial Bar in short, and this cafe is the eminent elder of all the indie cafés popping out these days. Simply put, this place doesn’t depend on fancy aesthetics to draw customers – its old-school furniture and minimalistic decorations are what makes it reminiscent of the low-key kopitiams in JB. 

Image adapted from: Angie Goh & Jay Tham via Google Maps

First opened in 1953 as a canteen for the old British Army Barracks, Café Colbar is hidden deep in the recesses of Portsdown Road. The place serves authentic Hainanese and Western food, including T-Bone Steak Chips & Peas ($30), Beef Hor Fun ($12), and Dry Bee Hoon ($9)

Address: 9A Whitchurch Road, Wessex Estate, Singapore 138839
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 11am-10pm (Closed on Mondays)
Contact: 6779 4859

Bonus: Hangar66 Cafe – “Private airport” experience

Image adapted from: @xiaoxiaoxin21 & @hangar66cafe via Instagram

Okay, we know we said road trips. But for those that still crave the feeling of flying overseas, consider dropping by the Hangar66 Cafe to scratch your travel itch. Located at WingsOverAsia, this cafe is set inside a legit aeroplane hangar. The place is peppered with all things aviation, like airline seats and floors that replicate the tarmac. 

Image adapted from: @hangar66cafe via Instagram

The place is currently running several promotions on the menu too – they’re charging only $6.66/pint every Wednesday, $0.99/chicken wing every Thursday, and giving out free flow ice cream every Friday.

Address: 66 Seletar Aerospace View, #66 Level 1 WOA Aviation Hangar, 66, Singapore 797509
Opening hours: Wed-Sun 11.30am-10pm (Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays)
Contact: 8711 8677 | Hangar66 Cafe website

Explore Singapore with DBS/POSB car rental deals

Not everyone has the luxury of owning a car, but that shouldn’t rob you of the opportunity to go on the occasional joyride to destress, or a road trip to bust cabin fever. DBS/POSB Cardmembers, in particular, get to enjoy exclusive perks and discounts when it comes to car rentals across different companies.

These include free 1-month subscription and 30 minutes rental usage (worth S$17.90) when you sign up for BlueSG’s Basic Plan (use promo code BSGDBS20, valid till 31st Dec 2020), 28% off published rate for all car groups under ComfortDelGro Rent-A-Car (quote “DBS” upon reservation, valid till 31st Dec 2020) and 10% off HERTZ Car Rental with minimum 1-day rental, valid till 31st Dec 2020.

Other promos to choose from:

Access by BMW: $500 off activation fee for new subscribers
Promo Code: 4TA278GT7M0T, valid till 30th Jun 2021.

Popular Rent A Car: 10% off daily rental rates & free doorstep collection for min. 3-day rental.
Promo code: POP2020, valid till 31st Aug 2021.

WhizzCar: $200 driving credits for new individual membership sign-ups, $100 driving credits for new Whizz-Ezzy membership sign-ups.
Promo code: WC2020, valid till 31st Aug 2021.

With your DBS/POSB Card in hand, you’ll be able to cruise down the streets of Singapore in style and comfort. As we await overseas travel to become a reality once more, these Singapore road trip ideas show that being tourists within our own country doesn’t seem half bad!

Find out more about DBS/POSB Card privileges here

This post was brought to you by DBS.
Cover image adapted from: Eatbook, @kmspks via Instagram, Street Directory
Article originally published on 11th Aug 2020 by Renae Cheng. Last updated by Joycelyn Yeow on 9th June 2023.

Renae Cheng

I love food, dance, writing, and writing about food and dance.

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