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Travel & Holiday

Rustic getaways in Singapore

In highly urbanised Singapore, you can still find vacation spots with a 'countryside' feel
The Straits Times - July 3, 2011
By: Magdalen Ng
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Rustic getaways in Singapore The pond with schools of fishes is in an idyllic settling near the chalets while the rooms are functional. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Be it a laid-back seaside vacation or a back-tobasics farmstay, these rustic getaways are a nice break from the city. You can close your eyes and pretend that you are not in urbanised Singapore.

There is D'Kranji Farm in Kranji, which has the relaxed vibe of a kampung in Malaysia or Orchid Country Club in Yishun, which overlooks a lush golf course and Seletar Reservoir.

Or island-hop to Pulau Ubin. Recruitment consultant Jasmine Chan stayed a night at Celestial Resort on the island with seven friends. And she says that it is a place where you can relax and lose track of time.

'I didn't want to take leave, so having a staycation was good. Plus, the resort really did not feel like Singapore. You can see fish swim right next to you,' says the 23-year-old.

She warns that the 'out of Singapore' feel extends to creature comforts, so do not expect five-star rooms and service. 'Bring insect repellent, you will need it,' she adds.

But social media manager Diana Lim was put off staying at D'Kranji Farm Resort after a day visit. She says: 'A real farm should have many farm animals to pet.'

But she adds that she saw an interesting sight at the farm, which grows seasonal fruit and produce that visitors can buy, and offers educational tours. It was a bounty of bananas on a tree that made her look twice.

'I've never seen so many bananas,' she says. 'I found out it is called Banana Musa - Thousand Fingers Banana.'

Mozzies and the possible lack of things to do aside, Mr Arthur Chen, 33, who is pursing a master's degree after working as a tuition teacher for six years, says he is looking to stay at the farm for his next holiday.

'It's much more economical, both in terms of time and money. And it does not take much effort to plan. I can just book the place and go - and I'll be on holiday immediately,' he says.

Where: 1000 Pulau Ubin Island, tel: 6542-6681

>Info: www.celestialresort.com

How much: $118 for a standard room to $268 for a family suite

There are no pristine, white beaches but on Pulau Ubin, you can still indulge in snorkelling and swimming among fish in the man-made lagoon at Celestial Beach Resorts.

The fish may not be as colourful as those elsewhere - though you should keep an eye out for the distinctive black pomfret - but schools of them rush towards you when you feed them.

You can rent bicycles at the resort to explore the island, which is a haven for wildlife. If you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the rare Oriental Pied Hornbill bird, which has taken to breeding on Pulau Ubin.

There is no need to venture out of the self-sufficient resort and its cafe serves a decent spaghetti carbonara ($10) and some mean chocolate eclairs ($4.50 for a plate). But be warned, the wait staff, while impeccably well-mannered, are probably just as chilled-out as the guests.

Rooms are not exactly luxurious but they are clean and functional and perfect for a quick, pocket-friendly getaway with friends or family.

D'KRANJI FARM RESORT

A scarecrow (above) in the middle of the rice field, lovely views of the countryside from the rooms, and banana plants growing in abundance. -- ST PHOTOS: CHEW SENG KIM

Where: 10 Neo Tiew Lane 2, >tel: 6862-9717

Info: www.dkranji.com.sg

How much: Special offer of $185 nett for a one-night stay, excluding breakfast

It is a long way from civilisation, a 15-minute drive to the nearest MRT station, but that is precisely the point. Once you step through the gates of this farm resort, you leave urban life behind.

There are rows of fruit trees - papayas, sugar apples and longans, to name a few, and vegetables, including maize, tomatoes and peppers. A scarecrow is an ominous presence in the middle of a small rice-field.

Rooms are small, so do leave your large-sized trolley bag at home, but there are basic amenities, complete with an outdoor shower.

Dinner is not provided but there is a restaurant in the compound. There are also plenty of other commercial farms around, ranging from vegetable and goat to mushroom concerns, that welcome visitors and are worth exploring. But if you prefer a more restful stay, simply rise early to catch the sunrise and then go back to sleep.

This farm resort boasts unrestricted views, thanks to a nearby airbase, so hope for clear skies and good weather to make the most of it.

ORCHID COUNTRY CLUB

You can play golf, bowl at the in-house alley or swim, and enjoy the fresh air and view of the golf course from your room (below). -- PHOTOS: ORCHID COUNTRY CLUB

Where: 1 Orchid Club Road, tel: 6755-9811

Info: www.orchidclub.com

How much: $200++ for a deluxe room to $500++ for a deluxe suite

This place beside a golf course at Yishun is a paradise for golfers. It would probably take more than a day to work the three nine-hole courses on site. The rates range from $100 to $220. You do not have to be a member to stay here.

But for those who do not play golf, there is nothing much to do other than bowl at the in-house alley or swim, and enjoy the view of the sprawling course from your room.

The rooms are spacious and well-furnished and are comparable to those in a four-star hotel, albeit a dated one.

There are plenty of dining options in the golf club itself, including Chinese restaurant Peach Garden, where you must try the XO sauce carrot cake ($10), and Par Lounge, where you can enjoy a nightcap.

And for those who do not mind a 20-minute bus ride or a 10-minute drive, head out to the well-known Chong Pang Nasi Lemak in the vicinity.

CITY BEACH RESORT

You can fish (above) at the water's edge, watch ships pass by or simply sit there and watch the waves. The locations may be inconvenient for those who do not drive and the rooms (below) at the resort are simple, but you can play pool or make a trip to nearby Sentosa, Labrador Park or Vivocity.

Where: 8 Port Road, tel: 6273-0030

Info: www.citybeachresort.com.sg

How much: Rates start from $130 nett for a one-night stay including breakfast

City Beach Resort boasts views of the South China Sea and is nestled in a quiet location just off Pasir Panjang Road. It is perfect for couples or families who want to spend some quality time together.

There is a pool, beer garden and seafood restaurant on site, and the rooms are simple but elegantly furnished. But it is certainly no five-star beach resort.

However, the quaint location means that getting there and around may be a problem for non-motorists.

Those who drive could zip off to nearby Sentosa or Labrador Park for a picnic or to get a tan. For city-dwellers who need a shopping fix, there is always VivoCity to save the day.

 

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