Singapore will celebrate her 52nd birthday this Aug. 9, 2017, having grown from a fishing village into a gleaming metropolis that over 5 million residents are proud to call home.
Known all around the world as a little beacon of modernity, economic growth and technological innovation, the Little Red Dot has also been experiencing a cultural revival of sorts, as Singaporeans seek to reconnect with their roots, exploring old housing estates, preserving vanishing dialects, or simply spending more time with their grandparents – after all, what better way to understand history than through tales told by the pioneer generation?
To celebrate this revitalization of Singaporean tradition, Airbnb has compiled a list of its most quintessentially Singaporean Experiences, curated and led by locals who are passionate about their city and its culture. From creating your very own masterpiece in Singapore’s last surviving dragon kiln, a true historical relic, to learning about Taoist traditions from Great-Grandmother Chwee Lian, these Experiences will give locals and travelers alike a unique glimpse into Singaporean identity.
Of course, once you’ve finished exploring old Singaporean traditions, you can head off to a rooftop bar and watch the fireworks!
Try your hands at stuffing soon kueh, a traditional Teochew steamed dumpling packed with turnip, bamboo shoots, and dried shrimp. This culinary masterclass takes place in a hawker stall in Jalan Besar market and allows guests to learn the history behind creating one of Singapore’s favorite snacks, as well as understand the city-state’s deeply entrenched hawker culture.
Before Singapore’s famous café scene was conceived, locals had long perfected the perfect cup (or sock) of java – an aromatic blend of British and Southeast Asian influences. Explore kopitiam culture with a trip to the heartlands, and learn the difference between East and West coffees during a sampling. Finish the session off by brewing up a storm – in a latte mug of course!
Shape, sculpt, and glaze your own masterpieces before firing them up in Singapore’s oldest – and now only operating dragon kiln – built from bricks in 1965. The friendly family that runs this pottery jungle is also keen to share more about their history and traditions over local pastries and tea, and will even treat you to a tour around the neighboring countryside.
Pay homage to local heritage when you make the pilgrimage to Say Tian Hng Buddha Shop, the island’s last effigy makers. See for yourself how Great-Grandmother Chwee Lian painstakingly carves and paints each figurine, while her grandchildren take you back in time with an eye-opening introduction to Taoist mythology, deities, and superstitions.
This 21st century kampong serves as an urban farm, culinary school, art gallery, community center, and so much more. Hidden away from the concrete jungle, this tranquil oasis is located between the heritage zones of Siglap and Katong. Hostess Mummy Soh provides patient guidance on how to whip up fusion family recipes such as kedondong-leaf pesto and steeping blue-pea flowers to concoct an indigo-hued tea and steamed rice from. As Mummy Soh says herself, this Experience is all about keeping Singapore’s legacy alive by imparting old traditions and techniques to the next generation.