Skip to main content

9 Places In Singapore That Make Us Feel Like We're Overseas

Singapore’s a tiny dot, and us local islanders love adventure. There’s hardly any nook and cranny left unexplored so it’s little wonder we set our sights further beyond our borders, utilising our seriously formidable passport to good use - be it a weekender seafood run to Malaysia or an all would envy Europe sojourn you’ve saved all your money and leaves for.

Just because you can’t vacay all year long, doesn’t mean you gotta count yourself out on otherworldly experiences you can find here at home. And in light of the COVID-19 situation, perhaps it's time to get to know our own attractions more than ever. Leave your passports behind for this one, here are 9 locales in Singapore that look and feel like foreign attractions.

Merci Marcel

A post shared by MERCI MARCEL (@mercimarcel) on

Totally looks like: Paris, France

The overlooked Parisian cafe culture gets a revival at Merci Marcel, a cafe by day and resto cum wine bar by night that speaks the laidback vernacular with a touch of whimsical romance the city of love is known for. You’ll find touches of French roots written all over this establishment, from its menu and awnings to rattan-made bistro chairs and earth tone interiors.

Our favourite, however, is the garden patio in its Tiong Bahru outlet for its transparent roofs, allowing natural light to decorate the ambient space. The result? A pseudo-alfresco setting that doesn’t give in to the sweltering heat.

Merci Marcel, 56 Eng Hoon St, #01-68, Singapore 160056 (Tiong Bahru Branch)
Find out more here

Chinese Garden

Totally looks like: Kaohsiung, Taiwan

You’re probably not gonna fool anyone with a picture against the 7-storey pagoda, but reminiscent of the lesser-known Dragon/Tiger pavilion located in KaohSiung’s Lotus Lake is the smaller 3-storey twin pagodas at Chinese Garden.

Angle it right and you might just be able to pull off the greatest travel fraud Instagram has seen yet.

1 Chinese Garden Rd, Singapore 619795
Find out more here

Sum Yi Tai

A post shared by Sum Yi Tai (@sumyitai) on

Totally looks like: Kowloon, Hong Kong

Conceptualised to pay homage to Hong Kong’s old school glamour, stepping into Sum Yi Tai is as close as you’d get to the 1980s. Cantonese for the third wife, this tapas bar packs the full works - from its distinctively Chinese menu and decor, to old Canto-pop tunes humming through the speakers. 

The tapas bar takes up the ground floor, while the mona lounge and private karaoke room can be found on the second, but head up to the alfresco rooftop bar to after a long day of hustling - something we’d imagine Hong Kong mafias to do the same.

Sum Yi Tai, 25 Boon Tat St, Singapore 069622
Find out more here

Tiong Bahru Bakery Safari

Totally looks like: Botswana

Have a knack for the outback but not the bank to make a round-the-world trip down to Africa? Inspired by her trip to the region, the founders of Tiong Bahru Bakery brings the best of Botswana to a little corner in Dempsey. 

Carefully curated to mimic the safari setting, the canvas facade is accessorised with vintage textiles and taxidermied butterflies and most importantly, giant air coolers that ensures the space never goes above 25 degrees.

Address: 130E Minden Rd, Singapore 248819
Find out more here

Jurong Point

A post shared by Lucas Lee (@lucas.lee.ys) on

Totally looks like: Mongkok, Hong Kong

I can’t be the only one with the insatiable wanderlust for Hong Kong every time I finish a Wong Kar-wai film, right? If you feel me soulsista, here’s great news! You don’t have to travel far to revel Hong Kong’s spirited ethos. 

Messily tessellated neon sign boards, chinese characters and local fare, the second level of Jurong Point’s facade makes an uncanny resemblance to the busy streets of Mongkok, and even comes complete with a native MTR train map.

Address: 1 Jurong West Central 2, Singapore 648886
Find out more here

Little Guilin

Totally looks like: Guilin, China

No points for guessing right which international landmark Little Guilin is trying to replicate. And this granite quarry does a pretty badass job too, offering a tranquil picturesque view with still waters and ample foliage. 

With the illusion of seclusion, it’s hard to fathom this seemingly piece of untouched nature cohabits with our concrete jungle. What’s more, we’re not complaining that we got here after 5 minutes of walking from Bukit Gombak MRT. But Singaporeans are pretty fast walkers, you’ll probably get there in 3.

Bukit Batok East Ave 5, Singapore 650242

Central Perk Cafe

Totally looks like: New York City

For better or for worse, TV’s most beloved sextet Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross had each other’s back and will forever be immortalised as the ride-or-die friendship everyone aspires to have.

On days when nostalgia kicks in, the Central Perk Cafe is a must-go for every F.R.I.E.N.D.S loyalist. Designed to look exactly like the iconic coffee shop the gang always hung, the cafe even comes complete with the hallmark orange couch - perfect for gathering your squad to binge watch all 10 seasons.

1 Magazine Rd, #01-01 Central Mall, Singapore 059567
Find out more here

Bright Hill Temple

A post shared by Sundolby (@sundolby) on

Totally looks like: Hangzhou, China

We mean it when we say popular Buddha Tooth Relic Temple ain’t got nothing on Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, or Bright Hill Temple. Exuding grandeur, the temple is the largest Buddhist Monastery in Singapore, taking almost 19 acres of space - that’s about 11 football fields put together. 

Immerse yourself in the various architecture of this religious enclave as you tour the different halls, where you’ll find plenty of sculptures and paintings depicting the religion. But drop by the Hall of no Form, where a giant bronze statue of Buddha is housed. Weighing over 55 tons, the statue is one of the largest in Asia.

88 Bright Hill Rd, Singapore 574117
Find out more here

Chelsea Lodge

Totally looks like: Chelsea, London

Designed to mimic the row-style houses in Europe, a picture of you walking down the gate-sized stairwells at Chelsea Lodge should be more than sufficient to convince secondary school friends you haven’t met in years you’ve uprooted and decided to live the lush life.

300 Tanjong Katong Rd, Singapore 437083

For the latest updates on, be sure to follow us on TikTok, Telegram, Instagram, and Facebook. If you have a story idea for us, email us at [email protected].

Share with others!