Offbeat Walking Tours in Singapore
Besides Marina Bay, Sentosa Island, Orchard Road, and other popular spots, Singapore also has hidden gems that you may not know. To discover these hidden gems, you will need to explore off-the-beaten paths and engage with the locals. The easy way to do this is to join any of the guided offbeat walking tours like the ones organized by Jan Chow from Offbeat SG.
When visiting Singapore, try these offbeat walking tours specially curated by Jan, a licensed local tour guide, who will walk with you to explore the lesser-known sides of Singapore and delving into the multiple facets of what it means to be Singaporean while pursuing their dreams. After the off-the-beaten-track walk, you may take a step back and reflect on the unforgettable experience.
1. Singapore Uncut
Walking Tour flow: Farrer Park MRT → Petain Rd → Shophouses @ Sturdee Rd → Jalan Besar [food stop] → Thekchen Choling Temple → PA @ Tyrwhitt Rd → French Rd → Lavender MRT
Do you recall those bloppers, back-of-house scenes on DVDs?
Those scenes were precious. Called 'Uncut', they offered peeks of fun or unsavoury sights of how some blockbuster films were made.
On this walk, Jan will take you behind the scenes, where there are no rose-tinted lenses. He will share Singapore as it is. At least of whatever that is left.
Along Jalan Besar or ‘Big Road’ (in English), on the fringe of the city centre, of exceptional convenience for vices to thrive, you will head off into back-alleys to view the Uncut version of our city-state.
However, increasingly, it is also a destination for the cool, the fancy, the hip, and in no time at all the new will soon envelope its intangible cultural edges. A step too late and there’ll be no bling to peel, no hints of the industries that shun the limelight, those pages to turn and expose its underbelly goes crusty.
Join Jan in the tour, put on this blockbuster DVD and enjoy the "show" he and his team have curated for you.
2. Vanishing Craftsmen
Walking Tour flow: Jalan Besar MRT → Veerasamy Rd → Municipal Quarters @ Hindoo Rd → Jalan Berseh [food stop] → Rochor River → Kelantan Rd → Chitty Rd
“Singapore’s hardware is developing impressively, yet some of its software has not quite caught up alongside.” An off-the-cuff comment by a visitor had us stood up go in search of those remnants of personalities and their tales in our favourite neighbourhood.
‘Vanishing Craftsmen’ here include trades, scenes and even food that are worth preserving and this walk seeks to expose us to this truly endangered intangible cultural heritage that is fading faster than we can spell ‘Mala Hot Pot’.
The early residents here took pride in the achievements of various trades that exhibited qualities such as perseverance, diligence, adaptability and creativity in those challenging times.
It was them who has gifted us this walk into living history, meeting some of these pioneers in their trades, feeling our hands along the rough edges of structures forgotten, and tucking into cuisines whipped up by the final generation who holds the keys to heirloom recipes.
What exists today, ceases tomorrow, may never be recovered again.
3. Between Two Worlds
Walking Tour flow: Clarke Quay MRT (start) → ??? → Somewhere in Fullerton area (end)
Jan will take you down a nameless back alley amid the skyscrapers, to see ramshackle Taoist street shrines nestled next to dumpsters and air-conditioner compressors, where the statues have aged and peeled, but the daily fruit offerings are still fresh.
He will share the heart-breaking story of the heart-stoppingly grotesque underworld gods, the 1st and 2nd Granduncles (aka Black White Impermanence), and why labourers and cops were particularly fond of them.
You will learn about worship rituals that use everyday objects supercharged with poetic meanings, such as umbrellas, abacus, opium pipes and good old Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. You will spy a Goddess of Mercy statue, perched uniquely on a roof ledge at a restaurant.
You will develop an appreciation of the place of gods in the heroic nation-building story of Singapore, as you stroll from sunset into night, Yang into Yin.
The tour is developed by Say Tian Hng Buddha Shop, one of Singapore's oldest heritage businesses (est. 1896).
Some important notes are as follow.
This tour does not involve visiting temples, spirit mediums or Say Tian Hng Buddha Shop.
The programme is secular in nature and suitable for guests of all religions and races. No prior knowledge of Taoism is required.
Learn about their origin story, a riverside tragedy unknown to even many devotees.
Learn about the unusual worship objects, such as abacus, palm leaf fan and "red-tongue dog" Guinness stout.
Learn why devotees choose to worship them instead of the mainstream deities.
Switch on your phone torchlights and explore a nameless, dumpster-filled back alley to see hidden ramshackle street shrines of related deities.
Sounds very interesting, right? Let us know if you'd like to join any of these tours. Or, you can also book it through EzeeGo.app.