Mar 27, 2017
Need a break from your routine? Instead of going to your usual haunts in town, make the city fringe your next weekend destination.
Nestled in between the bustling CBD and the charming East Coast, Paya Lebar makes the ideal starting point for all kinds of adventures. This eclectic neighbourhood is where food, heritage, nature and modernity converge in perfect harmony — where the best of Singapore comes together.
Whether it’s wandering around heritage shophouses, stumbling upon a cool café, or zipping around on two wheels, there’s something here for everyone. Here are six ideas to get you started.
For culture buffs: keeping it old school
With its distinctive shophouses, hawker centres and religious landmarks, Paya Lebar is a testament to Singapore’s rich and diverse history — a heritage geek’s dream come true.
As one of the oldest Malay settlements in Singapore, the area is best known for mosques dotting its streets, shops selling traditional garb, delicious Malay food like nasi padang, and of course the annual Ramadan night bazaar.
Surprisingly, Paya Lebar is also full of Buddhist and Hindu temples, Chinese clan associations and even a former movie theatre. Serious history buffs can go on a self-guided tour of these landmarks with the National Heritage Board’s Geylang Serai Foot Trail.
As Paya Lebar also has amazing heritage dishes along the Geylang Serai Food Trail, do come with an empty stomach. From Chinese vegetarian fare to Indonesian ayam penyet to old school Malay putu piring, it’s the perfect place to explore culture through food.
For adventure seekers: adrenaline rush
Want some fun in the sun or a good full-body workout? You don’t have to go all the way to Sentosa or East Coast Park — the city fringe has it all.
From high-energy fitness classes to an Olympic-size swimming pool to a water adventure park (where you can take surfing lessons!), the Singapore Sports Hub has just about everything a sports lover could want.
When you’re done, head on down to Onsight Climbing Gym, one of the most popular indoor rock climbing gyms in Singapore. With over 100 different climbing routes and 2,000 sq ft of surface for bouldering enthusiasts, there will be no lack of heart-pumping action to last you through the day.
For café-hoppers: get your latte fix
If you prefer to get your kicks through a caffeine rush, skip the crowds at Tiong Bahru and start your coffee trail at Paya Lebar instead.
Take a stroll down the shophouse-lined Tanjong Katong Road and take your pick from the many quaint cafés here. Choice picks: the oh-so-Instagrammable Laneway Market, café-cum-retail-space Carry On and the amazing pastries at Do.Main Bakery.
Over at Guillemard Road, the sunlit Brawn & Brains café is garnering a steady following for its brioche sandwiches and tasty coffee, while The Tuckshop has heartier fare like breakfast fry-ups and craft beer alongside its coffee.
Finally, if you are serious about learning the intricacies of coffee, call ahead at micro-roastery Liberty Coffee’s by-appointment-only tasting bar — for hardcore coffee aficionados only!
For shopaholics: indie retail therapy
One of Paya Lebar’s best kept secrets is the amazing shopping at City Plaza, a few minutes’ walk from Paya Lebar MRT station.
From the outside, it looks like a rather under-the-radar shopping mall. Inside, it’s a treasure trove of local independent boutiques and eclectic fashion finds. With a little hunting, you can find on-trend items that are extremely similar to those retailing at high street stores like Zara — for a fraction of the price.
After your City Plaza shopping spree, visit the Craftpreneurs of SG pop-up shop at OneKM, which sells crafts and knick-knacks made by various voluntary welfare organisations like the Cat Welfare Society and the Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society.
Stay tuned for more shopping finds as the new Paya Lebar Quarter mall opens in 2018, bringing quality retailers, coveted brands and everyday conveniences to Paya Lebar’s emerging retail precinct.
It is also slated to become Paya Lebar’s new dining destination, with a combination of indoor and parkside alfresco eateries for a whole new dining experience.
For lovebirds: a touch of romance
With its high ceilings, modern-industrial decor and Zen indoor garden vibe, Knots Café and Living is one of the most romantic date spots around Paya Lebar. The café does triple duty as an artisan furniture showroom and florist, so you can pick up some flowers or home accessories should the mood strike.
After dinner, take a quiet stroll down the revitalised Geylang River and settle down under one of the many gazebos for a tranquil evening ahead. Good food, good conversation and a riverside ambience — who could ask for more?
Or jazz things up with a fun day on the water. Rent a tandem pedal boat from Singapore Sports Hub’s Water Sports Centre and pedal down Kallang River.
For cycling enthusiasts: bike day out
From Paya Lebar Road, hop on your bike and enjoy a breezy ride along the serene Geylang River, which is flanked on both sides by ample greenery. Along the way, fuel up at riverside eateries like Little Vietnam and The Tuckshop.
Continue along the Geylang River trail to Singapore Sports Hub, where you can take one of three paths.
The route down Tanjong Rhu Promenade takes you to Gardens by the Bay East, Marina Barrage, Marina Bay Sands and the Central Business District. It’s the most scenic out of the three, with abundant nature and beautiful gardens all around, and a breathtaking view of Marina Bay — all in a quick 30-minute ride.
Alternatively, cycle to East Coast Park effortlessly via the new linkbridge. There, you can bask in a day of sun, sand and sea at the beloved beach hangout.
For something off the beaten path, head north along the Kallang River. This route takes you through Boon Keng and Potong Pasir, and ends at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park where you can reward yourself with a much-needed meal.
Cycling around Paya Lebar will be even more convenient when Paya Lebar Quarter is built. The 4ha cycle-friendly integrated development will have a wide cycling trail to link you directly to park connectors.
If you have fallen in love with the city fringe’s multifaceted nature and plethora of fun things to do, why not make Paya Lebar your home?
Part of the sprawling Paya Lebar Quarter, Park Place Residences comprises 429 apartments in 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom layouts. The property goes on sale from Mar 25, 2017 and is expected to TOP in 2020.
Images: ST, William Cho, Lendlease