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Thomson Nature Park
Photo: Delfina Utomo

The ultimate guide to Thomson

From craft brews and hearty bagels to healthy Japanese pancakes and massages by the visually-impaired, the Thomson stretch is so much more than just a sleepy residential 'hood. By Charlene Fang

By Time Out Singapore editors
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The Thomson Road stretch has never been considered 'sexy'. And for the most part, this has suited its understated residents well. Who needs a massive shopping mall when you're just 20 minutes bus ride from Orchard Road? Fancy Michelin-star restaurants? No thanks, they prefer variety and have it in spades. The outdoors? There's MacRitchie, not to mention the fancy Singapore Island Country Club (for the lucky few). Plenty of reasons to check out this centrally-located neighbourhood.

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DO

MacRitchie Reservoir
Photo: Erwin Soo

MacRitchie Reservoir

Things to do Walks and tours Central Water Catchment

You may think you know MacRitchie Reservoir like the back of your hand but there’s always something new to discover, especially if you go off the beaten track and take the 11-kilometre route deep into the rainforest. There you’re likely to get more than just a passing glance at the occasional monitor lizard, playful monkeys and any of the other 80 bird and eight reptile varieties. And while the Treetop Walk is a definite don’t miss highlight, a leisurely paddle in a kayak or canoe is an underrated attraction.

Upper Seletar Reservoir

Things to do Mandai

Situated in the northern part of Singapore, this reservoir park is the perfect place for an evening walk or jog through nature. A highlight of this 15 hectares space is its rocket ship lookout tower. Burn some calories with a quick cardio workout by climbing up the tower's winding stairs and be awarded with the aerial view of the park's water body and surrounding greenery. 

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Lower Seletar Reservoir Park
Photo: Public Utilities Board

Lower Seletar Reservoir Park

Things to do Yishun

Go for a walk or run along this park that looks out onto Lower Seletar Reservoir. Facilities and amenities include a fishing jetty, a People's Association Water Venture outlet that provides kayak rentals, and a water park. Kids will have heaps of fun at the waterpark by the reservoir.

Thomson Nature Park
Photo: Delfina Utomo

Thomson Nature Park

Things to do Walks and tours Ang Mo Kio

The seventh nature park on the island joins in other existing parks such as Chesnut, Springleaf and Windsor to act as a green 'buffer' – to reduce visitorship pressure – for the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. There are five trails to choose from in the park that span over 3.8km. Each trail takes you on a sightseeing tour to see ferns, ruins, macaques, streams and the Raffles' banded langur – a highly elusive and endangered monkey. Other wildlife residing in this reserve also includes the Sunda pangolin and the Malayan porcupine but you have to be extremely lucky to spot them in the wild. The nature park also houses a former Hainan village in Singapore and visitors can get a glimpse of this from the ruins and rubble that has been left behind from its heydays in the 60s. See the remnants of a rambutan plantation, a farm and several old village houses (one of them used to belong to the family behind popular Singapore eatery, Han's). Old street signs have also been left untouched so you're literally walking through an old kampung in 1960s Singapore. 

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National Equestrian Centre
Photograph: National Equestrian Centre

National Equestrian Centre

Sport and fitness

This six-hectare facility located off Andrew Road provides equestrian activities ranging from formal lessons to those who want to be part of Team Singapore Equestrian as well as family activities like pony rides.

Singapore Polo Club
Singapore Polo Club

Singapore Polo Club

Sport and fitness Novena

Nope you don’t need to swing a polo mallet to check out the lush grounds of the Singapore Polo Club, they’re actually open to the public, just not all the time. The Polo Bar and Indochine restaurant welcomes the everyman on weekdays. There’s also Lush Spa – check out their indulgent 2 hour spa promos – open to the public on all days, regular yoga classes run by Alphabalance and the occasional polo match and divot stomping session.

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Singapore Association Of The Visually Handicapped
Singapore Association Of The Visually Handicapped

School of the Visually Handicapped

Things to do Schools and universities Toa Payoh

It’s a little known fact that you can get a massage on-site at the School of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) where there are visually-handicapped massage therapists stationed. Opt for massage services like the head and shoulder massage or foot reflexology – that’ll be as good, if not better than your usual favourite, plus you can bring along your favourite cream or oil. Do call ahead to book a slot as they get busy. 

Far East Flora
Far East Flora

Far East Flora

Shopping Gifts and souvenirs Novena

Looking for a Christmas tree? Perhaps an ornamental orange plant or just fresh blooms or succulents to brighten the home space? There’s nowhere else better to source for your choice of plant/flower/seed than along Thomson Road and at Far East Flora.

EAT

Springleaf Prata Place
Photograph: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Springleaf Prata Place

Restaurants Indian Yishun

Perhaps more famous for its Plaster Blaster ($5.50), an eggs Benedict-inspired prata topped with ham, a poached egg and hollandaise sauce, Springleaf still does the classic roti prata ($1.20) right. Everything’s still cooked to order, ensuring that you’re always served piping hot prata that’s crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. If the original is too plain for you, Springleaf is also known for its variety, coming up with all kinds of wacky creations like the Prata Goreng, its take on mee goreng that swaps noodles for strips of prata, as well as the Umami 50, an egg prata with luncheon meat, cheese, chicken floss and mayo.  

Casuarina Curry
Photograph: Casuarina Curry/ Facebook

Casuarina Curry Restaurant

Restaurants Indian Ang Mo Kio

Although many flock here for a quick prata and the tarik fix, the menu also includes family favourites like fish head curry, biryani, thosai and murtabak. Popular with the weekend crowds or the weary hikers from the parks, this place gets crowded pretty quickly.

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Brownice Ice Cream

Restaurants Bishan

Vegans get a tough break: no dairy equals no ice-cream, or rather no conventional ice-cream. However the “ice cream ninjas” at Brownice have a magic formula of brown rice milk, cane juice and natural flavours which is more than worthy substitute. With 16 flavours (from gula melaka, Nutella, mint chocolate and PB’and Choc at $3.50 per scoop) and at just 80-140 calories per scoop, it’s hard not to give this creamy, yet less calorie-dense option a try. Bonus: They’re really generous with their scoops and they're launching new items like the Signature Smoochthie Jars and Ice Cream Sandwich.

More neighbourhoods to check out

Chinatown Singapore
Photograph: Ivan Kurmyshov/Shutterstock

The ultimate guide to Chinatown

Things to do

The five-foot-ways still exist, as do the street hawkers (but now alongside chic bars and restaurants) and there’s always more than a few ways to people watch

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