Food in Singapore is taken very seriously. From cheap hawker fare to Michelin-starred fine dining, food-enamoured Singaporeans will line up for it, Instagram the hell out of it and passionately debate whether it is up to the hype. Don’t fret about finding a place to chow down, as each neighbourhood is home to local hawker centres and coffeeshops dishing up some of the island’s best meals for just a couple of bucks. Simply follow your nose or join the longest queue whatever morsels lie at the end, they are almost guaranteed to be scrumptious.
Head to Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Gelam are great places to start if you’d like to try the local Chinese, Indian and Malay cuisine respectively, while the neighbourhood of Joo Chiat/Katong is filled with restaurants serving Peranakan classics.
2019 saw the Lion City upping the ante as a global food capitol, with 44 making the Singapore Michelin Star list, and a host of restaurants and eateries being awarded the Bib Gourmand. If world class dining is what you crave we suggest securing a seat before you touch down in Singapore. Reservations at a number of these restaurants have been known to take months to secure.
A visit to Singapore just wouldn’t be complete without a foray or two into the local hawker centres. Pay a visit to Chinatown Complex Food Centre, home to 260 food stalls including Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle, a hawker selling the world’s most affordable Michelin-starred dish.
Kaya Toast, made from a sweet, coconut jam, and delicious silk-stocking tea or coffee.
Fried Carrot Cake, This savoury carrot cake has no carrot, the core ingredients of the cake are rice flour and white radish, which some call white carrot. The mixture is steamed, then cut into cubes and fried with garlic, eggs and preserved radish called ‘chai poh‘. Commonly referred to as ‘chai tow kway‘ in the Teochew dialect, these smooth and soft fried rice cakes can be found in almost every hawker centre. It is served black (fried with sweet dark soya sauce) or white (original).
Chilli Crab, This Singaporean iconic seafood dish is a must try to complete the culinary exploring journey of any traveller.
Hainanese chicken rice, It’s so important to Singaporeans they even made a movie about it, a Romeo and Juliet inspired piece called The Chicken Rice War which tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers at the centre of their families’ bitter chicken-rice feud, played out mostly in a Hawker Centre.
The concrete jungles that once dominated Singapore’s skyline are slowly giving way to green skyscrapers, which look more like living ecosystems than business hubs. Fervently working towards its “City in a Garden” dream, the nation is ploughing money into becoming more sustainable and, well, green. Head out of town a little and you’ll find plenty of walking trails, treetop jungle bridges, wildlife galore and the city’s green jewel, the Unesco World Heritage–listed Singapore Botanic Gardens: these are the lungs of Singapore.
When the sweltering outdoor heat gets too much, Singaporeans love ducking inside for a spot of retail therapy and a good dose of air-conditioning. Orchard Rd is the queen of shopping malls: with all the high-street brands, plenty of high-fashion houses, and a few discount outlets thrown into the mix, everyone’s needs (and more often wants) are catered for here. If you prefer your shopping a little less mass-market, head out to local neighbourhoods for independent designers, quirky art galleries, bustling markets, Chinese medicines, Persian carpets and a sari or two.