10 Things To Do At UTown Including Good NUS Food and Study Spaces
When I was an incoming student stepping into UTown for the first time, I was just awestruck. Confident and smiling university students in their best school fits walked along the pebble-paved paths and there were just so many yummy restaurants to choose from.
If you are lucky, you just might spot the NUS cats! With its relaxing ambience and greenery, UTown really is the perfect spot to enjoy NUS’s student life.
Whether you’re eating, studying or slaying, you can do all of that here. The best part is that UTown is open to the public! So whether you are a student or not, here are ten things to do in UTown!
Also read: Do You Know The NUS Cats?
Why did NUS build UTown?
UTown was built in Aug 2011 and intended as a college town to bring students from all different fields and interests together under one roof. It is situated across the NUS Kent Ridge campus as an extension and built in order for more students to experience campus living.
Step into UTown and immediately you will be met with a fantastic sunroof and all sorts of students stepping off the NUS shuttle bus into the picturesque town area.
It features many Residential Colleges (RC) such as Tembusu and Cinnamon, and is similar to the college towns of Oxford and Cambridge where students can live and study together.
Fun fact: The land was first used as a golf course known as Warren Golf Club before it was closed to make way for UTown.
Eateries at UTown
1. Find fan-favorite Korean dishes like Bibimbap and Ramyeon at Hwang’s
Hwang’s is absolutely one of the best places to go to eat some yummy Korean food with your friends. Though the queue can be quite long during lunch and dinner, it’s absolutely worth it for a hot plate of barbeque chicken and mackerel with a side of savory seaweed soup and rice! (SGD$ 7.20)
During lunch, they sell kimbap, which are sushi rolls stuffed with ham, pickled radish and egg for only SGD$3.50! It can easily be a full meal that you can carry to your next class as it is wrapped up in aluminum foil for easy eating.
Drinks such as the fan-favorite Korean banana milk as well as self-dispensed ice lemon tea and barley tea are available to help quench your thirst. (About SGD $2.50 and below)
2. Step into the future at the unmanned convenience store OctoBox
Octobox is a unique 24-hour convenience store located at Stephen Riady Centre. What makes the convenience store special, however, is that it is completely staffless!
To enter, Scan your palm on a biometric scanner at the entrance. Once authorised, the doors will swing open for you to enter and you can head over to pick out your items!
There are lots of affordable snacks available for the average penny-pinching student here, from potato chips (SGD $2.65) to hot pot soup bases (SGD $6.95) for late night hot pot parties with your friends.
Inside, you can choose what you want to purchase and simply just walk into the checkout booth. Place your items on the counter and all the items you have selected will automatically appear as a shopping list without needing to scan each item one by one by yourself! Purchases can be made using your phone, as the store adopts a cashless system (no more carrying bulky wallets around)!
3. Find tasty and affordable Italian food at Sapore Italian Restaurant
With a super cosy interior, Sapore Italian Restaurant lauds itself as a good place to bond over meals with friends and family. Italian pieces reminiscent of a down-to-earth eatery in Italy line the main wall, adding to that warm inviting feeling as you sit back at your table.
Birthdays, functions, and charity events can also be held here if you need a comfortable and good event space! Vegetarian options are also available on the diverse menu. Its signature dishes include tiramisu (SGD $6.50) and various pizzas (about SGD $20).
4. Get your yummy fluffy bread at the Triplets Bakery
A new kid on the block, Triplets is your common Singapore-style bakery with an assortment of fan-favourite breads such as sausage buns, pizza bread and other rarer finds including honey toast and custard bread (about SGD $2.50 and below).
With affordable breads and other snacks and biscuits, Triplets is perfect for time-strapped students who need to grab a quick bite to fill their growling stomachs before running after the NUS shuttle bus to their next class.
5. Get your supper fix at Super Snacks
Super Snacks is definitely a hotspot for students staying in UTown searching for their next supper snack. Maybe super was a intentional play on the word supper?
You will find crowds of students late at night here, queueing up patiently because they know how worth the wait is for the food here! And the best part is, Super Snacks is open till 2am! So if you are grinding for that next submission while at UTown and need some brain fuel, this is the go-to place for many students!
My personal favourite is the Hawaiian chicken sandwich (SGD$ 4.90) to which I love to add on a sunny-side up egg for that incredibly delicious egg yolk that pairs perfectly with the crispy savoury fried chicken batter and soft bread bun. I am literally drooling just thinking about it because this is really one of my favourite things to eat in UTown!
The waffles here are also incredibly popular amongst students and come in a variety of sweet and savoury flavours including maple syrup and cheese (SGD $2.00). Piping hot, they make for a good sweet bite to treat yourself to on a cold rainy day. Just like a good warm hug!
Also read: Yong Tau Foo in NUS and Where To Find Them
Study Spots at UTown
6. Escape the heat at the Education Resource Centre
The Education Resource Centre is well-known by many NUS students. With many tables and chairs here, students love to study here. You can study here any time you want, even late into the night if you wish because the outdoor tables are available 24 hours. The Mac Commons Room in the Education Resource Centre also provides Mac monitors to study with!
One of the highlights is the Starbucks with an incredibly strong coffee aroma wafting through its big cafe. Studying inside is hence an incredible option for those that love cafes and a good old latte.
7. Breathe in the fresh air at the open air tables at Stephen Riady Centre
The Stephen Riady Centre hosts many CCA activities with its fantastic dance studio and practice rooms where bands and clubs hold their auditions and practice sessions. Besides that, its open air design is great for studying at.
My favourite spot are these round brown wooden tables you can find scattered across the building. Some come with power sockets next to them if you need to charge your devices. With great fresh air and big fans, these spacious tables offer a great space for a productive study session.
Slay with your friends at UTown
8. Take a breather with nature at the UTown Green
If we are talking about UTown, you can’t forget about the green. UTown Green is a sprawling green field and a super picturesque spot for everyone. If you are visiting NUS, take a picture beside the big #NUS signage and post it on your Instagram. Exchange students love this photospot the most to show to their family and friends back home.
Rest under the trees or spend some quality time with your friends. Have a good chat on the stairs by the grass patch’s stairs. Trust me: the open grass field and cloudy skies just make you open up your heart and the next thing you know, you’ve segued into a good catchup talk with your friends.
Students love to play sports like frisbee or have a picnic on the grass as well! Sometimes you may even spot students stargazing with huge telescopes in the middle of the field! But be careful because after it rains it can be incredibly muddy…
9. Get energised at Sports Facilities
The gym is well equipped with quality equipment like treadmills and weights for those looking to stretch their muscles and get some exercise in. Access is free for all NUS students so no membership is required. The gym is located inside the Stephen Riady Centre with a good view of the stunning UTown as you work out!
Do note that to use the gym however, you must bring your electronic student ID card from the uNivUS app, towel and running shoes or you will not be allowed to enter. This is to make sure is everyone is safe while in the gym!
Besides the gym, some of you may not know that we have our own Marina Bay Sands at UTown! This pool above the Stephen Riady Centre is an open-air recreational pool for those who want to take a relaxing and cooling dip to let off some steam. Like the gym, it is free to use for all NUS students.
10. Enjoy Live Performances and Concerts
Ready to rock your world? With COVID restrictions being eased, it’s safe to say that one of the biggest highlights is the resumption of physical events here at UTown! This includes the Supernova concert where students watch live concert performances and saw student clubs strutting their stuff! Sit down on the grass as you lean back watching live music.
The Arts festival had genres from everything under the sun including jazz, contemporary dance and Japanese pop. So if you are looking for some fresh live gigs or you love a good concert, you best check your NUS Telegram channels regularly because these events pop up from time to time and are incredibly fun. Don’t say BOJIO!!
UTown really is a great place for a simple hangout spot or as a space to chill . It’s also a great place to grab your skateboard to cruise around or even for a safe night-time walk too, which are some of the things I love to do the most in UTown.
But of course, we are all students first! Sometimes, I camp out till late at night and burn the midnight oil at the Education Resource Centre because definitely, it’s study hard, play harder here in NUS.
See you around UTown the next time you’re on campus!
Cover image credits