A Secret Hidden Island & 4 Other Places to Check Out at Orchard and Marina South


With 9 more long weekends coming up this year, it’s never too early to start planning for a sweet escape. But if you’re looking for something that doesn’t involve baggage or a passport, why not hang around and discover why Singapore has been named Lonely Planet’s top destination for 2015.

1. Pampered myself to a taste of the high life

It may seem silly to check in to a hotel when it takes only an hour or two to get from one end of Singapore to the other. But sometimes, it seems that all the pampering we need are just an impeccably made-up room, fluffy white pillows and the freedom to throw our stuff around without worrying about who’s going to pick them up later.

For something more memorable, look out for boutique hotels, which makes for a more quaint and private experience. If you’re looking around town, check out Lloyd’s Inn, a cosy 34 room hotel right in the heart of the Orchard area. Just a 10 minutes stroll away from Somerset MRT, it’s close enough to the shopping and eating chaos in town and yet just far enough for a quick retreat after a long day.

The rooms come in 8 designs, and the Big Skyroom we booked was indeed a treat to rival even the commercial suite rooms out there. Space was not a luxury that boutique hotels have and the Big Skyroom compensated with a 5m high ceiling with large wall to ceiling windows spanning across an entire side of the room. Personally I would take this over a sprawling suite room any day. How often can we enjoy snuggling on a bed with openness that comes with a high ceiling? There’s even an outdoor tub where you can soak under the clear, blue skies. How’s that for openness?

Once you’re done admiring your little paradise, it’s time to head out for some action. Llody’s Inn even put together a walking guide to get you started.

Lloyd’s Inn
2 Lloyd Road, Singapore 239091
Tel: 6737 7309
Check in time: after 3pm | Check out time: before 12pm


2. Discovered clear turquoise waters and a soft sandy beach

Thinking about beaches in Singapore is unlikely to conjure images of white sand and turquoise waters. But then again, you’ve probably not heard of Lazarus Island either. This exotic sounding island is in fact a short ferry ride away and doesn’t even involve a passport.

To go on some island hopping away from the main island, head down on the North-South line to Marina South Pier. You can get your ferry tickets from the Singapore Island Cruise & Ferry Services Pte Ltd ticket booth (there is no advanced bookings and you can purchase the tickets before the departure time). It’s probably unlikely for tickets to be sold out as it was pretty empty even on a Friday.

The ferry operates in a one direction loop, heading from Marina South Pier to St John Island to Kusu Island and back to the pier. The journey from Marina South Pier to St John Island takes about 30 minutes and the journey from St John Island to Kusu Island takes about 15 minutes. And the journey from Kusu Island back to Marina South Pier takes about 30 minutes.

The departure times are as follows:

  Marina South Pier
(30min to St John’s Island)
St John’s Island
(15min to Kusu Island)
Kusu Island
(30min to Marina South Pier)
Mon to Fri 10am
Sat 9am
Sun 9am

Just arrive about 15 to 20 minutes before the departure time to get a comfortable seat on board.

So where is this Lazarus Island?

Lazarus Island

*Image from handlinefishing 

Following the red arrow in the map above, upon docking at St John’s ferry jetty, head left where you’ll find St John’s causeway leading across to Lazarus Island. This island is in fact larger than both St John’s and Kusu while its secret beach lies at the concave area in the heart of Lazarus Island. From St John’s causeway, we continued along the only path and unfortunately there was no beach in sight. We then heard what seems to be some party coming from our right and decided to just cut across some grass batches towards the noise. And ta-daa! We did find the beach and there was a party going on in a private yacht. Though pristine, the beach was a tiny one, and you can easily see from one end to the other. Its saving grace was perhaps the fact that very little people even knew its existence and beside us and the yacht, there was only 3 or 4 other groups hanging around. Plenty of space for us then!

The width of the beach was really narrow too and any ideas of building sandcastles and writing in the sand will quickly be washed away (pun!). Other than that, it’s the perfect spot for a quiet picnic, feeling the soft sand between your toes and splashing in the cool, clear waters where you can catch the occasional glimpse of fishes.

Pack a large picnic mat and a change of clothes and you’re set! It’s easy to lose time, so set an alarm if you wouldn’t want to miss the ferry!

There are no toilet facilities in Lazarus so you got to head back to St John’s to wash up. If you got some time to spare and are a cat person, stroll around the island and you’ll find plenty of furry friends to keep you company.

As luck would have it, a thunderstorm broke out and we skipped Kusu Island. Check out what other people did here and here.

Singapore Island Cruise & Ferry Services Pte Ltd
Marina South Pier
31 Marina Coastal Drive, Singapore 018988
#01-04 (look out for the bright orange ticketing booth)
Tel: 6534 9339
Opening hours (ticket booth): 8am to 3pm | daily
Cost (two way trip): $18 for adults | $12 for children aged 1 to 12 years

3. Took to the skies of Orchard

After heading back to Lloyd’s Inn to wash up, we made our way to the Ion Sky Observatory. Located on levels 55 and 56 of Orchard Ion, it offers and unrivalled 360-degree view, and surprising, admission is free! To get to the observatory, go up to the 4th level of Ion Orchard and right beside the concierge, a small corridor will bring you to a hidden lift which leads you all the way to the top.

ION Orchard
Level 55/ 56
2 Orchard Turn, Singapore 238801
Opening hours: 10am to 8pm (last entry at 7.30pm) | Daily

4. Savoured thick tender sashimi with a view over the city

Coming back down to earth, we headed over to Orchard Central for some well deserved dinner. On the highest floor, you’ll find Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya, a charming Japanese restaurant specialising in charcoal-grilled items.

What we tried from the dinner menu:

  • F01 | Salmon sashimi: thick juicy slices than melts in your mouth and leave you craving for more
  • I01 | Buri Kama Shioyaki (grilled Japanese yellowtail cheek with salt): tasty but a little too salty
  • I05 | Char-grilled Yellowfin Tuan Cheek with Salt: the 40 minutes wait was worth it
  • J03 | Fried Semi-dried Stingray: goes strangely well with wasabi
  • M06 | Pork Char Siew Double-steamed Rice in Bamboo: fragrant and goes well with the grilled fishes
  • O02 | Karinto Manju (deep-fried Japanese cake with pumpkin filling): a tad dry to my liking
  • O03 | Grilled Butter Mochi: similar taste as our Chinese New Year  Nian Gao (Sticky Rice Cake)

Halfway through our meal, there was a sudden drumming by a waitress at one of the tables. Apparently there’s an item on a menu, Grab & Pick Edamame, where diners get to enjoy all the Edamame they can grab in one hand for $15. May the largest hand win!

Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya
Cuisine: Japanese
Orchard Central
#12-02, 181 Orchard Road, Singapore 238896
Tel: 6509 9618
Opening hours: 12pm to 3pm, 6pm to 10.30pm | Daily
Price range: ~$60
Check out the reviews by thywhaleliciousfay and citynomads

5. Escape reality for an hour (or two)

I always get a strange impulse to catch a movie after dinner. If you’re like me, Cathay Cineleisure, Shaw Theatres Lido and Golden Village Plaza are all about a short walk away. What better way to work off the dinner fats than a slow leisurely walk?

And the beauty of a staycation? You can even catch a late night movie without worrying about transport.

Date timer: ~one day

Anyone stayed at Lloyd’s Inn before? What other boutique hotels would you recommend?

* Images designed by Freepik


About DownloadADate

Kia is a Singaporean who likes to make lists and plans. She sees her weekends as sacred pockets of time that should be used for more than just movies and food. She enjoys cuddling up with a book as much as exploring new places by foot in the insane Singapore humidity. Listening to her friends who lament that there’s “nothing to do in Singapore” and fly all over the world for holidays, Kia seeks to look for escapades closer to home. She found that even in such a tiny country, there are many places she hasn’t been, things she hasn’t tried, and old places are being revamped into new ones all the time. Soon, she saw the places around her like how tourists would see them, but better – fresh and yet familiar. Kia then sets out to plan itineraries for her weekend escapes and it became a habit she enjoyed. And now she wants to share them with you. After all, there are 52 weekends in year and only so many holidays you can take. What if you can turn your dates with family and friends into holidays every week? Check out her adventures at www.downloadadate.wordpress.com

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