The Best Ways To Clear Your Annual Leave In The CBD (Part 1)

Have a bunch of leave days left to clear this year? Why not spend them in the CBD? Here are some of the lesser-known spots and activities you can do within it on your days off.

See the sights on a bike

In the working world, leave days are sacred. In pre-Covid days, many of us would save up our leave days to spend them on a longer holiday overseas, but since travelling abroad isn’t the most convenient option right now, most of us would probably have quite a few days of leave left to clear for the year. But the perennial question is: what are we going to do on our days off in Singapore? Should we spend the day working on chores and errands, have brunch at a café, stay home and catch up on that latest Netflix series everyone’s been talking about, or do all things touristy and visit the Zoo or Sentosa?

If you’ve been there, done that, you’re not alone. Taking time off only to do the same old things somehow feels like a waste of our precious days off. So why not switch things up a bit and spend your remaining leave days somewhere a little more unconventional, somewhere you wouldn’t normally think to visit at all, like the CBD?

No, we’re not kidding, there’s actually a lot more to the area than just office buildings and a lunchtime crowd. If you have remaining leave days to clear, here’s what you can spend them doing.

1. Cycle the Marina Bay Loop

Forget East Coast Park, Marina Bay is (in our opinion) the best place to cycle. Not only will you get to breathe some fresh air and be active, you’ll also get to explore the CBD area with fresh eyes.

Start off by renting a bike at GoCycling @ Marina Bay, then head on towards the Esplanade and Merlion Park. Keep going towards the Promontory at Marina Bay and loop back in the direction of Marina Bay Sands and cross the Helix Bridge to get to where you first started. Alternatively, if you’re feeling up for it, go down even further towards Gardens by the Bay before looping back at Marina Barrage.

The best part is, this route is suitable for beginner cyclists, and offers scenic views both day and night. Foot traffic can get heavy at the Marina Bay Waterfront, but pathways are generally wide and easy to navigate. Remember your helmet!

GoCycling @ Marina Bay — 30 Raffles Avenue, #01-01, Singapore Flyer. Open 9am to 9pm daily.

2. Soak in some art 

Escape from real life into virtual reality at the ArtScience Museum. Image from ArtScience Museum Facebook

If you look around the CBD, you’ll find that there’s actually art all around. One of the most well-known options is the ArtScience Museum, a space where, like its name suggests, art, science, culture, and technology come together. Apart from your regular art exhibitions, the ArtScience Museum also recently launched their VR Gallery, where visitors get to experience fully immersive art created by contemporary artists. Currently, Spacewalkers, an exploration of life beyond earth, is screening at the VR Gallery till end February 2022. Apart from that, there are also a bunch of physical exhibitions running within the museum, including the crowd-favourite Future World exhibition by international art collective teamLab. If you’ve been to Future World and want to see more of their work, you’ll be happy to know that CapitaSpring has commissioned teamLab to create an interactive digital installation specially for the space. The work changes in real-time based on its surroundings, and you’ll be able to see it for yourself at CapitaSpring, right in the heart of Raffles Place. 

For a more intimate, old-school type of exhibition, head to the Musical Box Museum. Nestled within a pagoda beside the Thian Hock Keng Temple, the museum is small and easy to miss, but is chock-full of history and, of course, musical boxes. But they’re not the kind that we know of right now—these musical boxes are huge and grand, some housing an entire orchestra. Slots have to be booked in advance, so plan ahead to see and hear these musical boxes for yourself.

If you’d rather enjoy art for free, the Esplanade Tunnel is a good, albeit small option. The works showcased here are updated regularly, and typically feature artists from the region. The current installation is a collection of works by local artist and educator Chiew Sien Kuan titled A Little Love Story in Singapore. Through mixed mediums and assemblages, Chiew reimagines the early years of Singapore and its development as a nation.

Another option for free art would be to go on a little art walk around the various buildings and public spaces in the CBD (yes, there are lots to see!). Many office buildings along Robinson Road and Battery Road actually have very interesting artworks and sculptures just waiting to be discovered. If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend going from Capital Tower to CapitaGreen, CapitaSpring, Six Battery Road, and Chulia Street, before ending off at One George Street. Trust us, after this walk, you’re guaranteed to see art almost everywhere you look in the CBD.

ArtScience Museum — 6 Bayfront Avenue. Open 10am to 7pm daily

Musical Box Museum — 168 Telok Ayer Street. Open 10am to 5:30pm daily.

Esplanade Tunnel — 1 Esplanade Drive. Open 24 hours daily.

Living World Series @ CapitaGreen

3. Have a picnic

Shady green spots within the CBD make for a perfect, quiet picnic with teatime treats by Joe & Dough. Image by @sytalie.

We know what you’re thinking—who would have a picnic in the CBD? It might not be the location of choice for most, but it is a nice change to the usual Botanic Gardens or Marina Barrage. Plus, there are many green spaces within the CBD, and a whole bunch of food options as well, so if you ask us, we’d gladly have a picnic here.

Some good spots include Raffles Place Park, Tras Link Park (which doubles as an unofficial dog park in the evenings as well), and Telok Ayer Green (which has nuggets of historical information and street art peppered in the surrounding area).

Image by @joendough

As for food, we would suggest getting pizza and salad from Da Paolo Gastronomia for easy sharing. If Asian flavours are what you prefer, the skewers from Thai-Khun Bar & Street Foods make for a good picnic snack. If you’re more of a brunch fiend, try one of Avorush’s avocado toasts. Sliced or smashed, basic or deluxe, it’s toppings galore on their menu, so there’s definitely something for every palate. For simpler fare, pick up some coffee, coolers, and pastries from Joe & Dough, which are good any time of the day. 

Da Paolo Gastronomia — Six Battery Road, #01-K1, open 7:30am to 6:30pm Monday to Friday; Raffles City Shopping Centre, #B1-45, open 8am to 10pm daily.

Thai-Khun Bar & Street Foods — 3D River Valley Road, Clarke Quay, #01-14. Open 3pm to 10:30pm daily.

Avorush — Asia Square Tower 2, #02-23. Open 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday.

Joe & Dough — Capital Tower, Level 36. Open 7:30am to 4pm daily.

4. Try a new activity 

Design and make your very own rug at Tuft Club. Image by @geraldchy

These days, there are workshops and classes for just about anything, like rug making for instance. If you’ve been thinking about redecorating your home, or just want something soft and fluffy to lounge on, then sign up for a tufting workshop at Tuft Club, where you can design and tuft a rug or a wall mirror in just 4.5 hours.

If you’d rather try something a bit more active, Pure Yoga offers a variety of unconventional yoga classes, such as aerial yoga and wall rope yoga that sound both terrifying and exciting all at once. Fitness First also has interesting classes like Zumba (no, it’s not just for middle-aged folks) and Aqua Fit, so you can work up a sweat both on land and in the water.

Not your average yoga class. Image by @pureyogasingapore

Alternatively, you can sign up for the Chinatown Murders game tour, where you get to explore Chinatown and its history while solving a Cluedo-style murder mystery puzzle. Think of it as an outdoor escape room type of experience, where you’ll have to work with (at least) one other friend to solve puzzles and more.

But if you’re just looking to have a quiet, relaxing day off, then a Candlelight Concert might be the perfect activity to indulge in. Held in various beautiful theatre halls in Singapore (think CHIJMES and Victoria Theatre), these concerts are purely instrumental, and cover a variety of different themes, such as holiday jazz classics, a tribute to Coldplay, and even a selection of anime soundtracks. What’s more, the space will be lit entirely by candles that, though electric, create a romantic, classy atmosphere that will have you forgetting all of your worries and stress.

Tuft Club — 57 Circular Road, #03-01. Open 10am to 10pm daily.

Pure Yoga — Asia Square Tower 2, #06-02. Open 6:30am to 9:30pm Monday and Wednesday, 6:45am to 9:30pm Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and 8:45am to 7pm Saturday and Sunday.

Fitness First — Capital Tower, #01-09, Open 6am to 10pm Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm Saturday.; One George Street, #05-01, Open 6am to 11pm Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm Saturday, and 10am to 6pm Sunday.

In a city as small as Singapore, there’s always more to every neighbourhood than meets the eye, including the CBD, so why not spend a little more time there when you can? You might just notice something you’ve missed this whole time. 

P.S. We’ve got more to share—keep your eyes peeled for even more of our recommendations for you to have a luxurious self-care day within the CBD.

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