From December 2018, Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel in Singapore has been running a Live like a Local programme for guests to experience the heartland side of Singapore. The programme is complimentary for hotel guests and happens every Saturday. Join the hotel crew for a half day tour at Tiong Bahru, one of Singapore’s oldest housing estate turned hipster enclave. Additionally, on every first Saturday of the month, guests get to participate in the hotel’s monthly in-house activities which are curated according to the cultural festivals celebrated in Singapore.

The Live Like a Local programme is supported by the Singapore Tourism Board’s Experience Step Up Fund that encourages experience development projects that enhances visitors’ experience and satisfaction in Singapore. The hotel has decked up one their function room exclusively to promote the tour experience and it has been well-received by both international and local guests.

Asher and I stayed at the Grand Waterfront Copthorne Hotel for a staycation in March and this was the room we stayed in:

Having stayed at several hotels for staycations in Singapore, Asher claimed that this is one of the best experiences he had because “there’s so much fun activities to do compared to other hotels”.

I have to agree with him. Usually we will just go for a swim at the hotel pool, workout at the gym or hang around at the restaurant, bar or lounge. Following the itinerary on the Live like a Local programme, we spent half a day touring Tiong Bahru, followed by a drawing class and a terrarium making workshop the next day.

It’s nice to have these activities planned out and ready for guests. We didn’t have to stress too much over what to do and could just go the flow.

Asher getting on the tour bus

Asher getting on the tour bus

I really like the Tiong Bahru walking tour because even for a local, I do not know about the beautiful murals and community artworks in the neighbourhood, not to mention the rich history behind the iconic architecture of the housing estates. After the tour, it made me take note of my surroundings more when I am out and about in the heartland estates in Singapore,  yearning to find out more about my own country and community’s history and heritage.


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This was fun! Like like a local at Tiong Bahru with @grandcopthornewaterfront. The hotel offers a free half day tour every Saturday to explore the hidden sites in one of Singapore’s oldest housing which have undergone a hipster transformation in recent years. The tour includes visits to wall murals of old Tiong Bahru painted by a local artist, the famous Tiong Bahru Market, a Monkey God Temple, exploration of the housing estates, unique architecture and community areas. Even for a local like me, the tour was refreshing and I get to educate my son on Singapore’s history and heritage. Check out the hotel’s #staylikealocalgcw for a staycation this March school holiday. #grandcopthornewaterfront #staylikealocal #sgstaycation #staycation

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On the F&B front, the hotel’s in-house Italian restaurant, Grissini, is famous for their wood-fired oven dishes like their grilled octopus and signature white pizza – the perfect comfort food for adults and kids alike. I could enjoy my fine dining courses while Asher indulge in his pizza and pasta dishes.

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In the morning, an international buffet spread is available at Food Capital. Buffet lunch and dinner are also available at the same venue daily. Food Capital features the world’s first omelette making robot, AUSCA, which is designed and developed in Singapore. Asher loves ordering from this robot and had two omelettes in one morning just so he could order from it twice.

For guests staying on the executive floors, there’s also access to the executive lounge whereby light snacks and beverages are served throughout the day.


The hotel also features a pool, a gym and a tennis court. The latter is popular with the Japanese expat community in Singapore and they have tennis classes there during the weekends.

More details on the Live like a Local tour and workshops are available below:

Tiong Bahru Heritage Tour (Every Saturday)

A short 3 minute car ride or 10 minute walk, the hotel is in close proximity to the hippest town, Tiong Bahru. Every Saturday, guests can join us for a complimentary guided tour picked up by coach (9am to 1pm) and embark on a heritage walking tour of Tiong Bahru.

Known as one of Singapore’s oldest housing estates, Tiong Bahru has developed and transformed over the years into a neighbourhood where there is a seamless resemblance of contemporary and traditional elements.

Tiong Bahru Market

Originally built in 1950 as the Seng Poh Road Market, the market was revamped in 1993 and renamed as Tiong Bahru Market.

A two storey building with a wet market located on the first level and cooked food stalls also known as hawker stalls on the second level, Tiong Bahru Market is an integral part of how the locals live. The market boasts some of the best hawker stalls serving local culinary delights including the Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand fried sotong prawn mee.

Qi Tian Gong Temple

Founded in 1920, Qi Tian Gong Temple is believed to be the first temple in Singapore that is dedicated to the Monkey God, a main character in the Chinese classical novel Journey to the West. Here, guests are encouraged to try drawing divination lots by asking a question in mind and letting the divination lot give insights and help to predict the future.

Wall Murals

Take a trip down memory lane and connect with the history of how life was like in Tiong Bahru with a walk-through of various heritage-themed wall murals. Spot the uniquely Singaporean elements such as local brand products in the hand-painted wall murals.

Dancing Girl Sculpture in Seng Poh Garden

Admire the Dancing Girl sculpture in the cosy Seng Poh Garden, Tiong Bahru’s only piece of public sculpture. The Dancing Girl is the work of the late Mr Lim Nang Sang, who was the same creator for the Merlion sculpture. The Dancing Girl sculpture was created in 1972 when Seng Poh Garden was conceived.

Galicier Pastry

Visit Galicier Pastry, a bakery where time stood still with a history spanning four generations in the family. Guests can purchase and indulge in traditional local nonya kueh, retro cakes, traditional cookies and pastries.

*Tiong Bahru Heritage Tour (Every Saturday) is with compliments from the hotel. Tour includes return transfer by coach, certified English speaking guides from Tour East Singapore and food sampling at Tiong Bahru Market.

Tiong Bahru Heritage Tour Schedule

0900 – 0920 Depart Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel for Tiong Bahru
0930 – 1030 Tiong Bahru Market and Hawker Centre
1030– 1055 Seng Poh Garden – Dancing Girl
1055– 1135 Tiong Bahru Murals
1135 – 1210 Monkey God Temple
1210 – 1245 Galicier Pastry
1300 Back to Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel

Specially curated in-house hotel activities in celebration of cultural festivals in Singapore (Every first Saturday of the month)

Every first Saturday of the month, guests can embark on a fresh, hands-on experience whereby they can join the monthly in-house hotel activity curated according to the cultural festivals like how the locals do. Discover and learn insider techniques from the gems of the team.

Draw for a Cause at the Singapore River– 2 March 2019 (International Women’s Day)

Create that painting for a good cause. Sit by the historical Singapore River and let your imagination guide the drawing. Your painting will be up for sale and proceeds go towards unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action for women.

Shake a Cocktail– 6 April 2019 (Easter)

Learn how to make the Easter cocktail that you always wanted to. The hotel’s bartenders start with the booze basics and may share insider tips on how to create the best of Singapore’s most iconic cocktail, the Singapore Sling.

Sweet Homely Dish – 4 May 2019 (Hari Raya)

Hari Raya Puasa, also known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, is the last day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that is celebrated in Singapore. Mark the end of the fasting month by learning how to make a homely dish to celebrate the Hari Raya.

Traditional Singapore Dumplings– 1 June 2019 (Dumpling Festival)

Based on the legend behind the famous Dumpling Festival, commemorate Qu Yuan’s sacrifice and determination for justice by learning how to make traditional Singapore dumplings.

Merlion Chocolate Carving– 6 July 2019 (Racial Harmony Day)

Learn the ropes of turning food into art from the hotel’s own Hotel Artist and Singaporean Award Winning Olympian at the chocolate carving art session where you will get an opportunity to carve Singapore’s iconic Merlion from a piece of chocolate.

Heritage Hawker Invitation– 3 August 2019 (National Day)

Celebrate Singapore’s National Day with a tribute to Singapore’s home-grown hawker. Learn how to make one of Singaporean’s favourite dish from an invited heritage hawker.

Family Yoga at the Promenade– 7 September 2019 (School Holidays)

Bond with your family this school holiday by learning how to practice family yoga at the Promenade overlooking the historic Singapore River. Stay fit when you stay with the hotel.

In Love with Henna– 5 October 2019 (Diwali)

Diwali or Deepavali is the Hindu Festival of Lights and is celebrated in Singapore. Learn how the temporary body art is done on hand palms as a sign of beautification and getting into the festive mood.

Therapeutic Terrariums– 2 November 2019 (Pre-Christmas)

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For a meaningful closure of the year, why not give someone something special that you handmade? Terrariums are beautifully decorated mini gardens and this spot of greenery can do wonders for brightening the crib. Join the hotel in a session and take your beautiful creation home.