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Hampstead Wetlands Park
Photograph: Delfina Utomo

The ultimate guide to Seletar

The hidden neighbourhood of Seletar is known for its quiet cafés and unexpected green spaces

Delfina Utomo
Written by
Delfina Utomo
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While Seletar might be one of Singapore's more undiscovered neighbourhoods, there's still more to the area than just the Airport. It's named after the Orang Seletar, a group of indigenous people who practised a nomadic way of life in the mangrove forests in the area. Seletar was also used for rubber plantations before redevelopment works saw both mangroves and plantations being cleared to set up a military airbase for the British. Today, the former colonial estate retains a rustic vibe and often doesn't feel like you're in Singapore. Explore the wetlands and cycle by the waterside – Seletar is also home to plenty of swanky eateries and cosy cafés. Here's what you can do at this chill 'hood.

RECOMMENDED: Check out more neighbourhoods in Singapore

DO

  • Things to do
  • Yishun

On the outside, this hidden spot in Seletar might look like just shabby and abandoned village. Located near the popular cyclist spot Rower's Bay Park, Yishun Dam and Seletar Airport, you can find kampong huts and a wooden jetty (called Jenal Jetty) which is still being used by fishermen making a living. The 'village' part and Jenal Jetty is out of bounds to the public but curious types can sign up on private tours to get a closer look at the fishing village and its daily activities. 

Seletar Fishing Village may be known as the last fishing village in Singapore but fishing is not what it is popular for. Cyclists and explorers know that the small beach area and breakwater next to it is a secret – and probably the best – spot to watch the sunset in Singapore. When the tide is low, you can even walk down to the beach and swamp area. If you're thinking to explore the area in low tide, remember to wear proper walking shoes. And if you have time, don't forget to check out the views at the nearby Punggol Barat Island and also Rower's Bay Park. 

  • Things to do
  • Seletar

While The Oval is bustling with the brunch crowd, next to it is the tranquil Hampstead Wetlands Park. Though just a small pocket of green, the former marshland area has seen been spruced up so that it looks like a garden with a pond now. Though there are observatory decks and railings (so you don't fall over!), the area has retained its rustic element and is not as 'polished' as other parks. You can easily explore the place under 30 minutes but keep the peace – it's a favourite haunt for birdwatchers in Singapore.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Yishun

Rower's Bay Park at Lower Seletar Reservoir is named for the reservoir's popularity with kayaking and dragon-boating enthusiasts. It also forms the first phase of the planned 150km Round Island Route (RIR), which will connect parks around Singapore – yes, you will eventually be able to cycle around the entire island.

But for now, the park is one of the best secret spots to catch the sunset in Singapore. Walk on the park's boardwalk for some great waterside views and check out other amenities in the park, like shelters, vending machines, a do-it-yourself bicycle repair station and toilets are available for cyclists or those seeking reprieve from our tropical heat.

The wetlands surrounding the boardwalk have also been filled with plant species that will attract and provide a habitat for native wildlife in the area – look out for dragonflies, the grey heron and copper-cheeked frog. Nearby attractions include Yishun Dam, Punggol Barat Island – a peaceful and beautiful spot popular with cyclists and wedding couples on a photoshoot – and also the last fishing village in Seletar.

EAT

  • Restaurants
  • Seletar
  • price 3 of 4

The Summerhouse is perched on the second floor of a conserved colonial bungalow in The Oval at Seletar Aerospace Park. It’s one of those places where you’ll find no problem lounging at for the entire day – book in one hand, coffee (or garden-themed cocktail) in the other. It dishes out ‘farms’-to-table creations, serving food carefully and personally sourced from Singaporean and Malaysian producers, garnished with herbs freshly plucked from the garden within the premises. Some highlights from the menu include the potato puree, the smashed avocado with poached egg and ikura, and the garden risotto which comes garnished with edible flowers. 

If you're looking to splash out then book one of three air-conditioned domes strategically placed in the garden. They fit up to six guests – there's a minimum spend of $300 – and are themed in different styles. We can't think of a more romantic place to pop the question.

  • Restaurants
  • Steakhouse
  • Seletar

Located at the tranquil grounds of Wheeler’s Estate comes a new concept: Cinder Steakhouse. Savour choice cuts of meat and over 200 wine bottles dining in a unique heritage colonial bungalow. Here, hickory wood chips are used to impart a kiss of smoke into signature cuts that include 150 days barley-fed porterhouse ($158), and the massive 1.4kg grain-fed tomahawk steak ($238). Pair the feast with classic sides of creamed spinach crowned with crispy onion ($16), grilled asparagus ($16), truffle macaroni and cheese ($23), and raise a toast with the wine of the month recommended by its in-house sommelier ($25/glass, $98/bottle).

Beyond prize cuts from the land, the menu also offers fresh catch from the sea, including octopus carpaccio brightened with yuzu dressing ($25) and Avruga caviar-topped Carabinero capellini ($46). Swing by for Oyster Hour every Wednesday (6pm-7pm) for half-priced Irish bivalves, or gather the girls to enjoy complimentary prosecco as part of Ladies’ Night. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Hawker
  • Seletar

There are plenty of spaces in Seletar that feel like a step back in time and Boh Geh Uncle Canteen is definitely one of those spots. The makeshift canteen is a popular spot for those working in the area, cyclists, joggers and also curious sorts. Don't expect anything for the 'gram – firstly, photos and videos are not allowed in the canteen and also, it really is a part of the former Seletar Camp that has been around from 1969. And it still feels like the late 60s at this corner where patrons sit on rickety tables and mismatched stools and benches under a DIY tarp canopy. Food-wise, there are only three stalls here – a cai png shop, a Muslim food stall and a drinks stall run by Boh Geh Uncle himself – who is also the owner. Prices are super cheap for food and drinks. 

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Seletar

Located on the ground level of The Summerhouse, Wildseed is a café, pâtisserie and bar all in one. Its verdant setting makes for stunning photos, while black and white pillars provide ample #OOTD opportunities. Menu offerings include breakfast classics like waffles, pancakes and avocado toasts but try its pasta dishes – the carbonara is a crowd favourite.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seletar

Set within Seletar Aerospace Park and at a former British military airbase, Wheeler's Estate lets you dine at its bar, or outdoors picnic-style while you soak in the green views. On the menu you will find standard pub grub like fish and chips, pizzas for sharing, chicken wings and more.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Seletar

Welcome aboard Hangar66. This aviation-themed café comes hidden within a plane hangar – complete with views of a runway and parked airplanes. During a time when travel borders remain largely shut, Hangar66 Cafe offers a novel setting to satisfy those hungry for coffee – and adventure.

But be warned: checking into the place itself is quite the journey. The café is tucked away in the Seletar Aerospace district, but its secluded locale provides a tranquil escape from the bustle of the city. Low-rise buildings and expansive green fields stretch for as far as the eyes can see.

Inside, the spacious eatery comes decorated with aviation motifs. Metal airplane parts double up as a communal table, a helicopter anchors the dining area, and the floor even comes splashed with runway markings. Choose to grab a seat by the windows, which offer prime views of the parked flying machines.

Chicken or beef? The menu features Western-styled plates of grilled chicken ($13.66), wagyu beef burger ($18.66), and pasta tossed with tom yum ($15.66) and turkey bacon ($13.66). Coffee or tea? A lean selection of drinks is available for those looking to get a dose of caffeine, while cold pints come in the form of Sapporo on draft alongside bottled variants.

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Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Café
  • Restaurants
  • Seletar

Hop on your two-wheeler and cycle to Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Café. It's pretty obvious that a cycling enthusiast runs the place with the café walls decorated with hanging bicycles and assorted cycling paraphernalia. On a normal day, you can also watch the aeroplanes take off at the nearby Seletar Airport while you tuck into a mix of Western, Japanese and local dishes.

DRINK

  • Restaurants
  • Seletar

If you're looking for a pint and some solid pub food in these parts of Singapore, Youngs Bar and Restaurant is a European-style diner not too far from The Oval. Chug on pints of beer while enjoying mussel pots that come in white wine, tomato and blue cheese bases – or go for the flank steak if you want something heartier.

SHOP

  • Shopping
  • Florists
  • Seletar

When you're done with breakfast at Wildseed Café, head to the display of flowers and bouquets at the corner. Pick and mix your own bespoke bunch or settle for something the team whips up. Don’t expect uniformly rounded globes of roses – each flower is allowed to curve and bend to create an airy, bountiful and vibrant mix that looks as if it is almost ‘dancing.

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