Ruby Dot Trails


Ruby Dot Trails


Ruby Dot Trails


Ruby Dot Trails





This is the trail for you if:

  • you're interested in local authentic experiences and want a glimpse into the real Singapore
  • you're a repeat visitor to Singapore who has 'seen it all' and you're looking to do something different
  • you've recently moved to Singapore and you're curious about your new home
  • you have an interest in urban planning or would like to understand the Singapore success story in greater depth

  • Today, 8 in 10 Singaporeans live in public housing built by the HDB, our national housing body. To understand Singapore Up Close, therefore, a visit to a public housing town - or what we affectionately call our heartlands - will prove enlightening and informative.

    On this unique walk, you'll gain a deeper understanding of how Singaporeans live, shop, eat and worship as well as an appreciation of the vision, planning and hard work that has propelled Singapore to where it is today.


    About the Singapore Up Close Tour
    Join us on this walking tour of Toa Payoh, the very first satellite town established by the HDB.

    • As we stroll through the Toa Payoh town centre, you'll be amidst Singaporeans going about their daily lives. See how the design of the town centre includes a whole host of amenities to cater to the needs of the residents, and how the transportation hub provides seamless and comfortable connectivity to the rest of the island.

    • Visit the headquarters of the HDB and learn about the Singapore housing story. Singaporeans today enjoy one of the highest home ownership rates in the world - a far cry from pre-independence, when we faced a severe housing shortage with half a million people in overcrowded slums and squatter colonies. How did we turn things around? The answer will be revealed right here.

    • Explore a nearby public housing neighbourhood where you'll gain some insights into the habits and practices that are unique to Singaporean apartment-dwellers. The HDB doesn't just build homes, they build communities as well and we'll take a look at the features and initiatives that encourage community bonding.

    • We'll take a break at a beloved local institution - a kopitiam (local coffee shop) where you'll learn how to order some local coffee or tea, like a real Singaporean!

    • During the tour, your guide will share interesting trivia about this town, for example, the 5 reasons why Toa Payoh is special, and make some recommendations for local food specialties for lunch. You'll also receive tips on how to 'live like a local'.

      Please note: Ruby Dot Trails may adjust the above tour itinerary, in response to site conditions or circumstances beyond our control.


  • "We have visited Singapore on many occasions and on this 7-day trip, we chose to learn more about the Singaporean way of life. Our guide Sharl, was extremely knowledgeable, professional and friendly. This insight into the HDB had us both intrigued and the 3-hour tour went so quickly and as we ask so many questions it went over time. Sharl took us to a couple of food courts and recommended a few Singaporean dishes we had not tried before. This tour gets 11/10 for us.... Thanks again." LIZ & PAUL, AUSTRALIA

  • "Having been to Singapore numerous times, we were looking for a walking tour with a difference, so chose the Singapore Up Close tour and Shal did not disappoint. Shal's knowledge and enthusiasm provided a fantastic experience like no other. Toa Payoh may not be on the tourist trail, but to gain an understanding of what life is like for the majority of Singaporeans, this is a walking tour that should not be missed. At one point one of the locals even stopped to listen in to the story of 'the sacred tree'. Can not recommend highly enough!" - HELEN & MARGARET, UK

  • "I went on the Singapore Up Close tour with Shal, who was a very friendly and knowledgeable guide, with answers to all my questions. The tour was well-paced, taking a closer look at the practicalities of building a city-state and of daily life in Singapore, away from the main tourist areas. I particularly appreciated Shal's tips on how to pick the best lunch spot in a busy market!" - CARA, AUSTRALIA


    Meet your guide! Ruby Dot Trails' owner, Shal, was featured in an interview with the Singapore Tourism Board, on her passion for what she does.


    Singapore Up Close was featured in The Singapore Insider, the definitive guide on things to do in Singapore, in their article Unbelievable Tours

    Singapore Insider Singapore Up Close Tour
    The Singapore Up Close tour is The Singapore Insider's pick for Unbelievable Tours!
    We were also on TV! Mediacorp 8's Money Week (财经追击) featured our tour as part of their program on free & independent travellers seeking unique and authentic experiences. Check us out in this short clip (in Mandarin).

    We were featured in a Zao Bao (Chinese press) feature on the increased interest in heartland tours


    9.30am on Fridays (except on public holidays due to attraction closures)
    We recommend booking at least 24 hours before the tour start time so that we can confirm your place.

    3 - 3¼ hours
    We do include time for a break, where you can rest and have a drink, as well as bathroom stops.

    How much?
    S$65 per person
    We need a minimum of 2 guests for the tour to go ahead.
    (If you're travelling solo, please email us to find out if the tour is going ahead on the date you're interested in and if so, you'll be able to book a place for one)

    What's included?
    Small group walking tour (a maximum of 6 guests) for a more personal experience
    A great guide - fluent in English, articulate and professionally licensed
    A unique & enlightening itinerary!

    What's not included?
    Food and drinks, Gratuities (optional), Hotel transfers

    Where to meet?
    Toa Payoh MRT Station (NS19)

    We'll send you a photo of the meeting point and directions in your Tour Confirmation email.

    What to bring?
    Wear comfortable shoes and bring an umbrella or poncho, a bottle of water and of course, your camera.

    More information?
    Do take a look at our FAQ Page - you’ll find it helpful!

    Join us on one of our walking tours now!

    Gems of

    Gems of
    Kampong Glam

    Gems of
    Little India

    Up Close