Having mindless fun – like frolicking in the pool with your kids – is pure bliss on a staycation. But what if the kiasu parent in you wants the brood to learn something, as well?
The Live Like a Local programme by Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel couldn’t be more perfect. It’s a half-day guided walk around the nearby Tiong Bahru, one of Singapore’s oldest housing estate, and conducted by licensed tourist guides, no less.
Held every Saturday morning till Nov 31 this year, the tour is free for hotel guests, including locals on a staycay. You even get $5 each to have breakfast at the popular Tiong Bahru Market.
“Must we really go?” my kids protested in unison during our stay at the hotel. They would much rather have hung out in the comfortable room or gone for a swim.
I was so glad that I stood by my decision, because the tour turned out to be both educational and enjoyable.
More than just hipster cafes
Tiong Bahru – isn’t it famous for that chwee kueh stall and hipster cafes? That was about the extent of my knowledge on the area, but our well-informed guides changed that all.
During our walk-about, they regaled us with stories about the neighbourhood’s pre-war architecture, Dancing Girl sculpture and community garden – Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, took the same route when they visited Singapore in 2017.
We also took pictures against three Insta-worthy heritage murals immortalising Singapore’s nostalgic scenes.
Each has a different theme, featuring Singapore life from the 1970s to the ’80s.
There is a typical home during the black-and-white days (74 Tiong Poh Road), a street hawker scene (73 Eng Watt Street) and a bird-singing corner (71 Seng Poh Road).
Point out the retro details painted by street artist Yip Yew Chong, such as the black-and-white TV programme and Chinese newspaper Sin Chew Jit Poh (which evolved into Lianhe Zaobao).
The guides also brought us to visit a small Chinese temple that was founded in 1920.
They even bought putu ayu and kueh dar-da from old-school bakery Galicier Pastry to share with us.
Tiong Bahru is just five minutes’ drive from the hotel – a free two-way transfer by coach is included. The walk-about takes around two hours, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and apply sunscreen. If you have a baby, use a carrier instead of a stroller as the walkways can be uneven.
Tip: Book your staycay on the first Saturday of the month, when there are more free activities for the family. For example, in June, you and your kids can learn to make rice dumplings and, in September, practise yoga together at the lovely promenade that overlooks the Singapore River.
Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel
How much Singaporeans and permanent residents can request for the Holiday Family Staycation package. A Superior Room costs $238 nett per night on weekends till June 30.
It includes an extra bed for one child, as well as buffet breakfast for two adults and one kid below 12 years old. Top up $13++ for your second child’s breakfast.
Find out more www.grandcopthorne.com.sg