This Hotel Wants You to Truly Live Like a Local in Singapore

Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel’s newest campaign includes complimentary tours to the hip Tiong Bahru estate, tai chi lessons, cooking classes with heritage hawkers, and more.

“Home” located at Tiong Poh Road/Eu Chin Street Block 74.

Some unique travel experiences are more than just a Google search away, that’s why Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel in Singapore has curated a list of local finds for its guests. Its newest “Live Like a Local” campaign eschews popular tourist spots like Sentosa or Gardens by the Bay, and instead shines the spotlight on well-loved heritage hangouts.

Guests looking to immerse themselves in local culture ought to join a half-day tour of Tiong Bahru, one of the city-state’s oldest housing estates. Happening every Saturday, the complimentary walkabout takes one around the hip enclave, said to be a magnet for architecture buffs, art lovers, and foodies alike.

The delicious chwee kueh from Jian Bo Chwee Kueh in Tiong Bahru Market.

The first pit stop is Tiong Bahru Market, which was originally built in 1950 as Seng Poh Road Market and is now an integral part of the Singaporean food scene. Fuel up with local breakfast items such as chwee kueh (steamed rice cake with fried radish), min jiang kueh (traditional pancake), you tiao (dough fritters), traditional kaya butter toast, fried carrot cake, as well as the Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand fried sotong prawn mee. The more adventurous can also try old-school coffee shop drinks such as kopi (coffee) or Milo with a raw egg dropped in — the result? An extra thick and creamy concoction that’s sure to keep one alert for the rest of the day.

“Pasar and the Fortune Teller” located at Eng Watt Street Block 73.

With bellies filled, guests will then visit three hand-painted wall murals by local artist Yip Yew Chong. Each one depicts a scene that’s quintessentially Singaporean, including a bird-singing corner, an old Singaporean HDB flat, as well as a bustling pasar (marketplace). Keep your eyes peeled for uniquely local products featured within the murals, such as Chinese herbal syrup Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa and Axe Brand Universal Oil; both of which are said to be great cures for common ailments.

Along the way, look out for the Dancing Girl sculpture in Seng Poh Garden, the elegant work of the late Lim Nang Sang, who also created the city-state’s iconic Merlion sculpture.

Qi Tian Gong Temple was founded in 1930.

Another highlight of the tour is Qi Tian Gong Temple, which was founded in 1930 and believed to be the first temple in Singapore that’s dedicated to the Monkey God, the main character in Chinese classical novel Journey to the West. Here, guests are encouraged to try drawing divination lots for an insight into their own lives. Who knows? Good fortune might just be beckoning in the distant future.

Whet your appetite with morsels of putu ayu (steamed coconut cupcakes) and the delicate kueh dar-dar.

Heritage bakery Galicier Pastry is a fitting last stop for the locally inspired tour, with its traditional cakes, retro cookies, and delicious nonya kueh. The bakery, which started in the 1970s, is now run by fourth-generation owners. Whet your appetite with morsels of putu ayu (steamed coconut cupcakes) and the delicate kueh dadar — the latter is a soft, crepe-like snack filled with palm sugar and shredded coconut.

Aside from the half-day tour of Tiong Bahru, which is a mainstay, the “Live Like a Local” campaign also features monthly activities that highlight seasonal festivities.

This December, learn to prepare the savory panzerotti (small, calzone-like pastry) from Grissini’s head chef, a perfect festive treat for Christmas. In 2019, guests can look forward to kick-start the new year with a sunrise tai chi class, as well as making traditional cookies for the Lunar New Year.

Enjoy a 3 percent discount on room rates with the code “LOCAL” when booking through the hotel website.

More information here.

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