Singapore is famous for its iconic tourist attractions, awe-inspiring buildings, and glitzy veneer, but what happens when you scratch beneath the shiny surface to discover a more lesser-known side of our adopted home? You find a secret world of hidden havens and enigmatic happenings – many of them hiding in plain sight. Let’s go!


Smith Marine Floating Restaurant
What started out in 2006 as a wooden fish farm off Changi and Pulau Ubin, has been revamped to become a modern kelong with the first Floating Seafood Restaurant in Singapore. As one of the most unique dining options around, today Smith Marine offers mouthwatering set menus alongside a one-of-a-kind dining experience where guests can fish for their meals before the chefs get busy in the kitchen.

Lou Shang
Taking secrets to a whole new level, last year the owners of Mama Diam (above) opened Lou Shang , a hidden gem located directly upstairs. Scale the HDB letterboxes, dustbin, noticeboard, and excessive pamphlets to access the lobby lift button and voila! The cafe-to-cocktail bar concept has a different vibe and menu to its sister-restaurant including Rainbow Roti, Murgh Makhani, and very creative locally-inspired drinks. @loushang.prinsep

Mama Diam
Mama Diam is the name for a convenience store in Singapore often found under a HDB block. This quirky eaterie resembles just that from the outside, but push the shelf of magazines and you’ll find a speakeasy bar complete with old-school HDB stools, vintage knick-knacks and traditional snacks. Crowd faves include Mama Diam’s signature Crab Kueh Pie Tee as well as their unique cocktails using local ingredients such as Pandan, Sour Plum and Halia.
 38 Prinsep Street, 188665

This hush-hush restaurant is fooling everyone with its TCM-inspired storefront in Suntec City. Behind the apothecary medicine chests is something of an ‘uber entrance’ which first leads into a sleek neon-lit passageway (great for Insta), then into a sultry speakeasy offering private booths and dining tables. The menu is Mod-Sin and as for the TCM that lured you inside, you can choose from TCM-inspired or local-inspired cocktails.
 3 Temasek Boulevard #01-643 Suntec City Tower 4, 038983

The Dragon Chamber
This is something of a Singapore stalwart, but if you’re new to the island you won’t want to miss it – except for you probably will because it’s super-hidden. Head for the corner kopitiam on Keong Saik Road where patrons are sipping beer and slurping noodles. Maintain the right level of “confused face” and a secret panel in the kopitiam wall will be opened for you to enter inside. Once seated, the menu reveals a plethora of delicious age-old Chinese dishes that never caught on in mainstream restaurants.
 2 Circular Road, 049358


Starbucks @ Bird Paradise
Beautiful is not a word that you tend to associate with Starbucks (sorry Bucksies!), but it seems appropriate for the outlet at Bird Paradise. Grab your drink from this eco-friendly sanctuary at Mandai Wildlife West, and you might forget to visit the park altogether. Made from sustainable materials, boasting rustic furniture, quirky artwork and outdoor and indoor seating, coffee in the jungle does not get better.
 20 Mandai Lake Road, #02 05, 729825

Set of Six
Set of Six is a novel written by Joseph Conrad, and it’s the inspo for this not-so-well-known bolthole in Tanjong Pagar. Customers can expect fabulously decadent design, delectable food, and an innovative cocktail experience – you’ve just got to find it concealed behind a mysterious entrance on Craig Road.
 20 Craig Road, #01-01, 089692

Taylor Adam
It looks like a tailor’s shop front from the outside, but move past the fitting room, velvet curtains and sliding mirror door, and you’ve made it into a classy speakeasy. The setting and menu are inspired by Singapore’s history with Britain and the theme of travel and trade is relevant through crafted cocktails.
1 Raffles Place, #01-03, 048616

Parliament Bar
There are strong retro-American dive bar vibes at this new cosy hideout. The 80s rule thanks to walls decked out in car plates, guitars, and pics of legendary musicians like David Bowie. Slip into a red-lit leather retro booth for stylish cocktails and bar bites such as Dirty Dog Chips and Crispy Spicy Winglets.
18 Teck Lim Road, #02-01, 088390

Ume San 100
For a clandestine Izakaya head to the colourful row of Japanese-inspired vending machines at Fortune Centre. In true wacky style, you have to push the blue machine selling condoms (seriously!) for access, but that’s where all potential seediness ends! Inside there’s nibbles such as ramen, chicken karage, and Wagyu steak all waiting to be washed down by the biggest collection of umeshu on the red dot.
190 Middle Road, #02-07 Fortune Centre,188979


Queen of Hearts
Clutch at your pearls ladies, Queen Of Hearts is a Singaporean male exotic dance crew catering to female audiences (screeaam!). The dancers, made up of 13 members aged 27 to 42, pride themselves on being the island’s version of Magic Mike – the 2012 film about male strippers in Las Vegas. Before you get all hot under the collar, they tend to do private soirees (a 45-minute appearance starts at about $750), but they also shake their thang at events and nightlife venues. If you’re wondering how exotic it gets, Queen Of Hearts say they only go shirtless …

Books and banking come together at BookXcess, a bookstore hidden inside various Singapore banks, giving you the chance to enjoy a relaxed browse before facing your finances. The main sleek and chic store is at OCBC Wisma Atria, but there are also outlets in OCBC Ang Mo Kio, United Square and Tampines. Here you’ll find everything from children’s novels to hobbyist genres. Just don’t splash all your cash …

The Magic Attic
Nestled within the facade of a landed house, this little-known gem is the (literal) home of amazing live magic shows filled with mystery and illusion. Hosted in the private residence of award-winning magician Ming Da, The Charming Conjurer, scale what appears to be regular stairs in his pad until you hit the attic. There are special family shows, a Wednesday Jam Night, and magic workshops.
3 Lorong Salleh, 416747


Image: NPark

Rower’s Bay Park
Rower’s Bay is part of the 60km first phase of the Round Island Route (RIR) and a brilliant natural bolthole in the Northeast. The boardwalk offers excellent waterside views of the surrounding wetlands which are packed with plant species. As a habitat for native wildlife, look out for the grey heron, copper-cheeked frog, and maybe some friendly ANZA members.
 Seletar Club Road, 793273

OUE Downtown 2
Shenton Way is full of office buildings, which is why OUE Downtown 2 is one of the best secret escapes in the CBD. Sitting pretty on the fourth floor is an outdoor garden with a soothing fountain, lush plants, shady trees, and plenty of breathing space. Head here for a proper green gem.
6 Shenton Way, 068809

Yunnan Garden
Yunnan Garden is full of features that pay homage to literature, culture and architecture. There are 19 designated trails to choose from where you can discover various plants, herbs and flowers. This serene park also packs in stone sculptures, ponds, gazebos, and lovely boardwalks at Nanyang Lake. The showstopper is the 5.6-metre-tall waterfall at the heart of it all.
12 Nanyang Drive, 637721

Hampstead Wetlands Park
Birdwatchers will love this undercover spot of former marshland which has been jazzed up to resemble a lush English garden with a pond and lily pads. Despite being in an industrial estate, it’s charming, rustic, and includes a short trail loop with observatory decks.
1 Baker Street, 799977

Keppel Hill Reservoir
Getting to Keppel Hill Reservoir requires determination and sturdy walking boots, but it’s worth it. This was a former private reservoir in 1905, a swimming hole in the 1940s, and left out of official maps of Singapore from 1954. Be warned: rumour has it it’s haunted …  Keppel Hill. Start on Keppel Hill Road and join the man-made path


Image: @the_curious_accountant

Seletar Fishing Village
This spot may resemble an abandoned village, but the wooden jetty (called Jenal Jetty) and kampong huts were only discovered by hikers a few years back and are still being used by fishermen making a living today. Known as the last fishing village in Singapore, Seletar Fishing Village is out of bounds to the public, but there are private tours available. The best secret of all? The small beach area next to it is reputed as the best place on the island to catch the sunset.
Seletar North Link. Take bus 103 or 117 and alight at the Before Shell Aviation bus stop

Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle
This is such a gem that ANZA Tours visited it last year. Formed by a group of Singaporean clay artists, this rural hideaway gives serious kampong vibes and is said to be the city’s last dragon kiln. Not only will you find more ceramics than you can shake a stick at, but there’s also classes, workshops, firing events, and more. Go now before rumoured urban redevelopment projects reclaim it.
85 Lor Tawas, 639823

Boh Geh Uncle Canteen
Boh Geh Uncle Canteen opened in 1969, and not much has changed since then. Prepare to perch on mismatched stools and benches at rickety tables under a DIY canopy. There are three stalls to choose from: a cai png shop, a Muslim food stall, and a drinks stall run by Boh Geh Uncle himself. Perhaps not one for Date Night, but ideal for a true taste of a bygone era.
398 Piccadilly, 798368

Raffles Marina Lighthouse
You might have seen pictures of Raffles Marina Lighthouse but not realised it’s on this very island. Situated at the tip of Raffles Marina’s breakwater, it was built in 1994 and stands at 29 metres, making it the perfect height to overlook the Tuas Second Link bridge. Today it lights the way for yachts navigating in and out of the marina and makes a winning spot for an Insta shot.
10 Tuas West Drive, 638404


Fresh Salmon
Norwegian Salmon vending machines have been serving Singaporean customers since 2019. Yep, metal boxes (which remain at a constant temperature of -4 degrees Fahrenheit) dispense several options, from a 200-gram salmon fillet, a serving of smoked salmon or even salmon sashimi (which includes five pieces, a fork, and must-have soy sauce).

A Bunch Of Blooms
Need a natty bouquet in a hurry? White Dew Flower sells blooms at a 24-hour vending machine near Upper Thomson MRT. It holds up to 10 bouquets at a time  in various designs, such as a graduation bouquet complete with a card and teddy bear. The machine is restocked twice a week and the floral designs change weekly. (Men – tell your mates!

Cake In A Can
Chances are you’ve sampled a ubiquitous cocktail-in-a-can from M&S (if not, how can we be friends?!). Now it’s time for cake-in-a-can! Japanese restaurant chain Gaku has a selection of vending machines in locations such as Plaza Singapore and Suntec City where you can get a canned cake in seven flavours – think tiramisu, matcha and mango chocolate.

Medical Assistance
Last year, SmartRx launched machines that took the old-fashioned vending machine up a notch. Separated into two parts, the first section is a vending machine selling over-the-counter medicines; the second is an attached pod where patients can consult with a virtual doctor for prescription-only medicines. Check out Charazoi Telemedicine Kiosk at Jalan Besar Stadium for starters. Keep your eyes peeled for similar machines cropping up this year. 

Gold Bars
It’s annoying when you run out of pure gold, but a couple of handy machines in Singapore are primed to distribute medallions and bars should you come unstuck. is an e-commerce store selling swag via eight vending machines located in the likes of VivoCity and Marina Square. One to remember if you forget your wallet on the way to Fairprice.

New Porsche
Autobahn Motors made international headlines in 2017 after launching Singapore’s first car vending machine. The 15-storey building holds about 60 luxurious cars over four floors, each displayed through massive glass windows, making it look very much the part. Ten Square, a 20-storey building in a similar style opened in 2022. Mr Gary Hong, general manager of Autobahn Motors told the Straits Times that he sells up to 12 cars a month. “Hopefully, buying a car will be like buying a can of Coke,” he said.

Beauty Products
Picture the scene: ION is closed and your visage needs a swift pick-me-up. Grab a purifying sheet mask or enzyme cleanser from homegrown beauty brand Ice’s Secret’s skincare vending machine. Simply head to the second floor of Thomson Plaza for some ion water essence face mist, oligopeptide milk cleanser, lip masks and sunscreen. Apparently, the machine receives several hundred transactions every month.