Singapore may be one of the world’s smallest countries, but if size had anything to do with the flavor of the cuisine, Singapore would break the scale. Here, the flavors are as diverse as the cultures that commingle in the busy seaport nation.
There are large populations of Malaysians, Chinese, Indian and Indonesian people (among others) who call Singapore home. Singapore also spent several years as a British Colony after WWII, explaining why many people speak English.
Many of the “Singaporean” dishes described here did not originate on the island nation. Instead, the cuisine reflects the strong presence and pride of the people from different cultures who live here. While there are restaurants specializing in certain cuisines, it is also common to see Singaporean restaurant menus with signature dishes from other countries.
In Singaporean menus, it is common to find a Malaysian noodle dish and Chinese dumplings alongside a few Indian curry offerings, rounded out by selection of artisan hamburgers.
Even if each migrant group claims their cuisine as the best, there is also a clear understanding that the beauty of Singapore’s cuisine lies central to its diversity. It is also why many travel to Singapore solely because of the food.
Here are our picks for dishes that you must try when visiting Singapore (along with where to find them).
A Word About Hawker Centres & Night Markets
Some of the best (and least expensive) food in Singapore is found in the most humble of places. Hawker Centres are open air or large covered spaces jammed with food stalls and patrons to match. A huge variety of international cuisine can be found within a very small space. Some of them are of such good quality that they have earned bragging rights as Michelin star recipients.
Night markets (or Pasar malams) have similar food offerings but are comprised of temporary stalls that pop up in the early evening. Both are very popular, so plan to wade through crowds of hungry diners, particularly during peak hours.
This Indonesian specialty is a favorite throughout Southeast Asia. Skewers of tender marinated meat are grilled and served with a sauce made from ground peanuts, coconut milk, garlic, ginger and other spices depending on the recipe. We sampled some at at the East Coast Lagoon Food Centre. There are plenty of food options there, and because of its location you can enjoy a nice stroll by the bay when you are done sampling.
Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Boa)
These meaty steamed Chinese dumplings are a bit of juicy dough filled comfort food. We were introduced to the cousin of xiao long boa dumplings while visiting the former republic of Georgia. Khinkali are a bit larger and have thicker dough, but the soup and meaty filling are very similar. Both are best eaten by biting a small hole near the top and slurping up the liquid inside before devouring the rest of the dumpling.
We tried the dumplings at the Din Tai Fung restaurant, and were treated to the sight of them making the dumplings on site. Another treat was the discovery of truffle and pork dumplings! If you can’t wait to go to Singapore to try them, no worries. This highly acclaimed restaurant has locations around the world.
Char Kway Teow
This stir fried noodle dish is among the favorites in Malaysia and Singapore. The noodles are wok fried in dark soy sauce, often with pungent shrimp paste, blood cockles, shrimp and bean sprouts. The secrets to getting the deep rich flavors of the dish are the use of lard and a wok that has been seasoned by years of use.
Since finding a truly seasoned wok requires a seasoned chef, I recommend tracking down Hai Kee Char Kway Teow at the Telok Blangah Crescent Food Centre, Block 11, #01-102. He has been cooking Char Kway Teow since 1967. You can take my word, along with the long line of people waiting for a plate of noodles.
Crab stewed in a slightly sweet and tomato, egg and chili sauce is probably Singapore’s flagship signature dish. Big piping hot bowls of crab are served with steamed or fried buns (mantou) to soak up the sauce.
It also comes with a side of spicy sweet chili sauce. The addition of the sauce brings the flavor up a few notches to achieve sheer perfection.
We first sampled Chili Crab at Jumbo´s Seafood restaurant along the riverfront at Clarke Quay. Very soon after opening the place was absolutely packed, for reasons that we well understood after our first bite. But the seafood with a water view comes with a price. Our one crab set us back about $65 US.
Biryani (or Briyani) is a fragrant rice dish whose cooking technique originated in Iran. Indian settlers brought their version of the recipe to Singapore where it is now a staple in the islands cuisine. To prepare it, the basmati rice and whatever protein and/or vegetable which are to be used are cooked separately, and then joined together along with a curry broth.
A great place to try Biryani at Allauddin’s Briyani at the Tekka Hawker Centre in Little India. Just remember, this popular center is often packed during peak dining hours. If you can manage to go mid morning or mid afternoon you are more likely to be able to find a seat and avoid the lines.
If you are familiar with Shabu-Shabu, Fondue or Hotpot, then you have a pretty good idea of what Steamboat style cooking is. A large pot of bubbling broth is placed in the center of the table on top of a heating element to maintain the broth at a boil. Then dinners select from an array of ingredients, such as noodles, thinly sliced meats, seafood, and vegetables.
Small nets, ladles and chopsticks are used to retrieve the ingredients. There are also a few dipping sauces ranging from sweet, salty or fiery hot, depending on individual preference. It a very social way to enjoy a meal, and so delicious.
A popular buttery Indian flatbread. It is a thin unleavened bread that is lightly crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside, making it a fantastic vehicle for sopping up curries! It can also be stuffed with a variety of ingredients such as cheese, onions, eggs, or mushrooms, or even sweet ingredients such as bananas, chocolate or durian. A highly recommended place to try it is Mr. and Mrs. Mohgan’s Roti Prata Shop. It is known as “super crispy” and often rated the best roti prata in Singapore. If you go, get there early, they open at 6 a.m. and close when they run out.
Even the name is a lot to wrap your head around. First, there’s the frog. Even knowing that frogs legs are delicacies that are commonly eaten around the world, and probably taste like chicken, right? It still takes some diners a little talking into to order frog. And then there’s porridge, commonly known as a bland breakfast food. Putting them together sounds less than appetizing.
So why then, do particularly late night diners flock to Eminent Frog Porridge, who also by the way has been awarded a Michelin Star for their signature dish. That, in and of itself, makes it worth giving it a try.
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Kueh Salat has an out-of-this-world look that it comes by quite naturally. The dish has Peranakan (or Baba-Nyonya) roots from settlers with Chinese and Malaysian roots dating back to the mid 1800’s. Kueh Salat is a two-layered desert. The bottom layer of glutenous rice colored bright blue with the use of blue butterfly pea flowers.
The top custard layers is made with coconut milk and colored green with pandan leaves. The process for making the dessert is quite labor intensive. Luckily, you can find some to nibble on at HarriAnns, where the sweet Nyonya delights have been made for three generations.
Wanton Mee (also Wantan or Wonton) is a popular Cantonese dish that can be prepared as a dry noodle dish or as soup preparation. Noodles in light broth are often topped with a leafy vegetables, sliced pork and either boiled or fried wontons that are predominately stuffed with shrimp.
In Singapore the drier version of the noodle dish is often served with the wontons in broth on the side. We first sampled Wanton Mee during a food walking tour of Hong Kong. Finding Wonton Mee in Singapore is not difficult as it is sold in many food stalls and restaurants throughout the city.
Nasi Padang is more of a smorgasbord than a single dish. Restaurants that serve Nasi Padang display a number of small dishes filled with various savory delights that they have on offer that day. Each dish is eaten along with steamed rice.
It can be served as a mixed plate, where you choose two specific dishes that are served together on one plate with rice. For larger crowds, lots of small dishes are served family style. It’s a great way to sample a lot of traditional Malaysian dishes all at once.
Some common dishes are Chicken Rendang, a chicken curry dish made with toasted coconut paste, Sotong Hitam (squid cooked in its own ink), Sayur Lodeh (vegetable curry) or Sambal Goreng, a spicy vegetable dish with tempeh.
Ayem Buah Keluak
This deceptively simple chicken stew is a stable in Peranakan cuisine. Its secret is in the use of keluak nuts, which come from the Kepayang tree in mangroves in Malaysia and Indonesia. The nuts contain cyanide and must be cooked and fermented for months before they can be safely eaten. Ayem Buak Keluak has a very rich dark flavor, making this exotic dish a must try during a visit to the Lion City.
Ang Ku Kueh
This little Chinese snack has quite a lot going for it. The first, and most obvious, is its shape, which is that of a small glistening turtle perched atop a little square of banana leaf. The traditional color of these glutinous rice snacks, which are stuffed with various sweet fillings such as bean paste or shredded coconut, are traditionally red (although now they are available in a number of colors and flavors).
In Chinese culture, turtles are thought to bring longevity and prosperity to those who eat it. The color red symbolizes happiness and good luck. Put them together, add a pinch of deliciousness, and you can see why this is a snack worth tracking down in Singapore. The best bet for finding one that is particularly delicious is the Ji Xiang Confectionery, who have been making Ang Ku Kueh since 1985.
Fried Carrot Cake (Chai Tow Kway)
If you seek out this dish with mindset that ¨Everything tastes better fried, so why not give fried carrot cake a go,¨ think again. The vegetable in this dish is actually daikon radish, known in Singapore as “carrot.” The dish is made with chunks of steamed rice flour cake and preserved daikon that are fried up together with egg and other spices.
There is a white and black version, which includes sweet dark soy sauce in the recipe. A good place to try some is at the Carrot Cake stall at the Chomp Chomp Food Centre located at 20 Kensington Park Road.
Oyster omelettes are a Taiwanese dish that have become in night markets and hawker centers. I initially thought that this dish might be similar to fried carrot cake, which turns out to be nothing like what comes to mind when conjuring up an image of what the dish might be like. Turns out, an oyster omelet is pretty much exactly as the name implies. Eggs are mixed with potato starch, filled with oysters and fried in pork lard. Admittedly, the overall look of the dish doesn’t make it seem so appealing. Put off any reservations, remembering the tastes of many many Singaporeans lining up for a plate qualifies as a pretty sound recommendation to give it a try.
A curry puff is Singapore’s version of an empanada. It’s a thick flaky pastry turnover stuffed with curried chicken and potatoes. Other fillings are also available, such as potato and sardine, egg, or yams. For some of the best curry puffs in Singapore, track down Old Chang Kee, who have been making the savory snack since 1956. There are also many curry puff vendors inside the many malls and hawker stalls throughout Singapore, so finding one to sample is not a difficult task.
Pineapple tarts are one of Singaporean’s favorite sweet snacks. Little bite sized tarts have a buttery flaky crust similar to a pie crust. The gooey filling is made by caramelizing grated pineapple along with sugar and spices. The sweet snack is often made during holidays such as the Chinese New Year. But no worries if you aren’t in Singapore during that time of year, the popular perfect little bite is sold year round.
Getting your hands on a bowl of Claypot Rice in Singapore can take a little patience. Each pot of rice is made individually. The rice is soaked in water for an hour, and then is joined by other savory ingredients such as chicken, salted fish and sausage and vegetables. Then each bowl is given a 20 minute ride atop a flaming charcoal stove.
Fans of the dish particularly love the charred rice at the bottom of the pot. A very popular place to get Claypot rice is the Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice Hawker Stand in the Chinatown Complex Food Centre. Be prepared for waits in the hour+ range to claim your bowl.
Black Pepper Crab
While Chili Crab may stand out as Singapore’s favorite way to serve the crustacean, Black Pepper Crab comes in at a close second. The crab is fried in a sauce made from oyster sauce, soy sauce, chili peppers, a little sugar, and fresh black peppercorns. You´d think the sauce would overpower the delicate flavor of the fresh crab. Trust me, it doesn’t. It’s perfection!
Truth be told, we actually were bigger fans of the Black Pepper Crab over Chili Crab. Our best advice, and the only appropriate action, is to try them both. Our next piece of advice (which you will thank us for if you took our first piece of advice) is to track them down in neighboring Johor Bahru.
Singaporeans flock over the bridge between Singapore and its Malaysian cousin every weekend hunting for bargains. If you do decide on a day trip to Johor Bahru for shopping and inexpensive seafood, try the Tepian Tebrau Food Center, which is known for their seafood. You can take a quick ride using a Grab taxi from the border.
Sambal is one of Singaporeans favorite condiments. This fiery sauce, which is made from ingredients such as chilis, shrimp paste, garlic, galangal and tamarind concentrate, is often served up with traditional Malaysian dishes to crank up the heat. In the case of Prawn Sambal, guaranteed heat is part of the recipe. So if you love spicy food, this one is for you.
If you love the idea of trying the Curry Puffs and the Sambal, why not take a cooking class in Singapore where you can learn how to make both? The Food Playground will teach you to make these Singapore classics, along with others, such as Hainanese Chicken Rice, Satay, Laksa or and sweet favorites such as Ang Ku Kueh (red turtles).
Barbecue Sambal Stingray (Ikan Bakar)
Another seafood dish where Sambal sauce takes center stage is BBQ Sambal Stingray. Rather than actually barbecued on the grill, fillets of stingray are slathered with Sambal sauce and then wrapped in a banana leaf before being cooked on a flat top grill. This boneless fish has a firm texture similar to haddock.
One of the places famed for making some of the best BBQ Sambal Stingray in Singapore is the Hei Wei Yuan Seafood Barbecue stall at the Chomp Chomp Hawker Center.
We also sampled Ikan Bakar across the border in Johor Bahru, Malaysia at the previously mentioned Tepian Tebrau Food Centre. We had the fish and pepper crab for a total of $25 US at the Tip Top BBQ stall. Note: price based on weight and current market prices.
Looking at this dish initially gave me pause. ¨What is this?¨ I wondered. I took a taste, and honestly, the question remained. The word Rojak translates to “eclectic mix” in Malay. Knowing that piece of trivia doesn’t exactly clear things up. Rojak is actually considered to be a salad, made up of a combination of fruit and vegetables along with dough fritters. The salad is covered with a sauce made with shrimp paste, sugar, lime and chilis, and then covered with chopped nuts. Given its unusual make up, it really is worth trying in Singapore. Don’t try to overthink it and identify the flavors. It’s as unique as it looks. Just enjoy!
Hainanese Chicken and Rice
Hainanese chicken and rice is a dish that looks very simple. You have to wonder what the fuss is all about when first presented with the dish. The fact that a hawker stall in Singapore was actually awarded a Michelin Star for their version might capture your attention. And you take your first bite, and that should pretty much clear up any confusion you might have about why this is one of Singapore’s favorite dish. It’s delicious. First there is the tender juicy chicken which is poached in a fragrant broth. White rice is served on the side along with a rich soy based sauce along with a sweet chili garlic sauce. The chili sauce, in our opinion, is the star of the dish, bringing the flavors to a whole new dimension.
You can track down a plate in Chinatown, where the Michelin starred chef, Chan Hon Meng, now makes his famous chicken rice in a brick and mortar restaurant in air conditioned comfort. Lion Fan Hong Kong Soya Chicken Rice & Noodle
Ayam Masak Merah
Ayam Masak Merah is a favorite Malaysian dish that starts off with chicken rubbed with turmeric and fried. Anything that begins with fried chicken is already off to a good start. It’s then simmered in a tomato based curry sauce and served it with creamy Coconut Rice, or savory Nasi Tomato (a spiced basmati rice with tomatoes). Not too spicy, a hint of sweetness, and lots and lots of flavor.
Hokkien Prawn Mee (Prawn Noodles)
Hokkien Prawn Mee (or Hokkien Mee) is a common dish found in the Hawker Centres of Singapore. Egg or Rice noodles are stir fried in a fragrant broth and combined with eggs, shrimp and pork strips. Diners often add a dollop of spicy sambal sauce or lime for extra flavor. It comes in different varieties, from a pan fried noodle version to more of a soup, and with either thick or thin noodles. Either way, it’s fantastic. A good place to try it is at Come Daily Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee stall #02-27 at the Toa Payoh Hawker Centre.
Popiah are fresh spring rolls filled with a variety of fresh vegetables and served with a dipping sauce (such has hoisin or a sweet chili). The wrappers are made from wheat flour (unlike their Vietnamese cousin’s rice paper wrappers). These refreshing rolls are a great way to enjoy fresh produce and take a break from some of the heavier rice and noodle dishes Singapore has to offer. A good bet for trying Popiah is Old Long Popiah, who have been making the crunchy rolls since 1930. You can find them at stall #01-03 at the Kim Keat Palm Market and Food Centre.
This popular Chinese dish is also a favorite in Singapore’s Hawker Centres. Braised or roasted duck is the star of the dish, served alongside rice and served with hard-boiled eggs and preserved vegetables. For a little extra flavor, opt for a serving of the thick soy based sauce drizzled over the top. A popular place to grab a plate is the Gi Goose and Duck Rice stand at Tekka Hawker Centre in Little India
Fish Head Curry
Fish Head Curry is exactly what it sounds like. Soup with a fish head, staring up from the bowl. While that might not sound like your first choice for lunch, Singaporeans adore it. The broth is flavored with curry and layered with vegetables. The fish head, which is clearly the most important part, is sometimes fried before adding it. For those who are up for trying it, but lack the stomach for eating the whole fish head, try the fish “cheek.” It is probably one of the most flavorful and tender pieces of whole fish, and probably one reason the soup is so popular.
Peanut Pancake (Min Chiang Kueh)
These sweet cakes are enjoyed most often as a breakfast treat or mid day snack. The fluffy pancake has a slightly chewy texture that was surprising but quite nice. Beyond peanut, other popular fillings include red bean paste and shredded coconut.
Laksa (Curry Noodles)
One bite of Laksa and suddenly, a new realization will wash over you. In that moment, you were introduced to your new favorite noodle soup for the first time. It’s that good. Laksa is a Peranakan (intermingled settlers from Malaysia and China) dish. It starts with a curry paste with the best of fresh Asian flavors, like lemongrass, chilis, galangal (ginger) and Kaffir lime. Add in some pungent flavors such as shrimp paste and a little sweet and sour notes from tamarind paste or lime juice. Mix it together with a stock and creamy coconut milk. Finish it with seafood, beef or chicken, then top with fresh herbs and bean sprouts. There is a lot of things going on in one bowl, and they all get along just fine.
Can’t wait to Singapore to try it? Here’s our recipe for Beef Laksa with substitutions for specialty Asian ingredients if you don’t have a market that stocks those items near you. You’re welcome!
Bakkwa – Fire Grilled Pork Jerky
Bakkwa (Bak Kwa), also known as Rougan, was brought to Singapore by the Chinese. The preserving technique used to make the sweet and salty snack food is similar to that used to produce jerky. Thin slices of pork are mixed with soy, sugar and other seasonings, such as Chinese five spice. It is then fire grilled over a charcoal fire rather than air dried, which gives it a slightly smoky flavor. The popular snack is consumed traditionally during the Chinese New Year. Head to Chinatown to try it at Bee Chen Hiang, who have been making Bakkwa, year round, since 1933.
Kaya Toast and Soft Boiled Eggs
Soft boiled eggs and toast is a pretty standard in households where I grew up. In Singapore, as you probably already guessed, basic toast and eggs are done with a twist. Dry toast is slathered with green colored kaya jam, which is made from coconut cream, sugar and pandan (a green leaf used as a flavoring in Malaysian recipes). The soft boiled eggs are served in a bowl and drizzled with light and dark soy sauce. The toast is then dunked in the eggs and breakfast is served! Ya Kun Kaya Toast has been cooking up the dish in their coffee houses since 1940. They have locations throughout Singapore and Asia.
Nasi Lemak is essential to Malaysian cuisine. It looks deceptively simple. Plain rice on the side, so what? But Nasi Lemak is actually made with coconut cream, which adds more texture and flavor to dishes than just plain rice. Beyond the main dish that may be served with it (pictured here with one of our favorites, Chicken Rendang), it is often served with sliced eggs, cucumbers, boiled peanuts and fried anchovies. Of course, the spicy sambal sauce is always readily available to add a kick of spice.
Soya Beancurd (Soy Pudding) Tau Huay
I’m going to be honest here, beancurd was not my favorite bite in Singapore. This very popular dessert is made from coagulated soy bean milk along with a sweet syrup. It is served both hot and cold. What surprised me was the slightly sour flavor. Perhaps I was just unlucky in my purchase that day, but it shocked me how many people were lining up for the stuff. I actually expected it to be too sweet, but not so much.
Pandan Cake, or Pandan Chiffon, has the honorable distinction of being named the National Dessert of Singapore. Pandan Cake is a ring sponge cake with a consistency that is similar to Angel Food Cake. The green color comes from the use of the Pandan Leaf, which also adds a light floral flavor. The slice shown here has a jelled layer for a little extra eye appeal.
Getting Hungry? Try making some of these dishes yourself! Here are some of our favorite recipes:
Ice Kachang (Ais Kacang)
This is another dish in Singapore that left me scratching my head. It starts out simply enough with shaved ice and sweet syrup. We’ve all tried shave ice at one time or another, nothing unusual about that. But then things take a turn down another road completely. The name Ais Kacang translates to “bean ice” in Malay, which gives you a clue to the direction we’re going.
The toppings of your choice are then installed. Typical additions include red beans, corn, roasted peanuts, attoa chee (fruit that looks like a peeled grape), cubes of agar agar (red bean jelly) and roasted peanuts. The whole thing is covered with a creamy topping such as evaporated or coconut milk or crowned with ice cream. Like many things, this dessert doesn’t ned to be understood to be enjoyed. At the very least it will certainly produce a photo that will impress your instagram followers.
A great place to grab a dish is at Annie’s Peanut Ice Kacang at the Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre, 20 Ghim Moh Road #10-35.
Nonya Kueh Lapis
Nonya Kueh Lapis is a traditional Peranakan snack made by steaming rice a mixture of rice flour, tapioca flour, water, sugar, coconut milk and food coloring to produce a soft rice-flour pudding. You can eat it all together or enjoy it by peeling off each layer one at a time. It’s delicious either way.
Not a Singaporean dish, but durian certainly deserves a honorable mention. This controversial fruit has as many detractors who hold their nose at the odor, as well as fans who line up to enjoy its custard-like texture. Many places have banned durian with prominent signs in places like hotel entrances or train and bus stations indicating “no durian allowed.”
Singaporeans, in contrast, have embraced the fruit. We saw (and smelled) it everywhere.
Singapore Sling (Photo credit: Shyripa Alexandr)[/caption]
We couldn’t finish an article about Singapore’s cuisine without giving a nod to the Singapore Sling. The sweet red gin based cocktail was indeed reputed to have its origins in Singapore. That said, you won’t find it on many drink menus. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying one while you’re here. If you haven’t found an occasion to try a Singapore Sling, surely a visit to the country is the appropriate time to enjoy a glass, even if you have to order off menu. Why not? Cheers!
Getting Around Singapore
Singapore has an extensive train/subway system, or MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) along with many bus routes to get around. Here is a handy link to a guide published by Visit Singapore. While we did use the MRT system, we found that using Grab, a private cab or ride share company like Uber, was pretty inexpensive and easy. We never had to wait long, the drivers were all professional and friendly, and we didn’t have to exchange any cash between us. It was also nice to be able to use Grab when we first arrived in Singapore so that we didn’t need to track down local currency right after getting off the plane.
Best Time to Visit Singapore
The weather stays pretty consistent in Singapore, although there are more rainy days around November and December. Peak tourist season runs from mid-December though June. The highest number of visitors is around the Chinese New Year, which follows the lunar calendar and occurs between January and February.
Things to do in Singapore
The tiny island state of Singapore is not only packed with delicious food, there is also plenty to do and see. Much of Singapore has been designated as natural preserves. These areas have been made accessible with walkways from where nature can be enjoyed while treading lightly on the landscape. Singapore has also cultivated areas, such as their botanical gardens. These beautiful areas also boast some pretty amazing manmade enhancements where nature meets the modern era, with some eye-popping results. It’s one of the things that makes Singapore such a remarkable place to visit. Here’s a list of a few things not to miss during a visit to Singapore.
Where to Stay in Singapore
We first started our search for a place to stay in Singapore with our go-to resource for medium to long-term stays (which is how we tend to travel). However, our old friend Airbnb wasn’t much help, mostly because there are questions about whether renting out apartments on the platform is legal in Singapore. For that reason, there were very few available and those that were tended to be expensive.
We did find, however, that we could rent a modern apartment, complete with fast internet, a good sided gym and pool, for about $700 US per month, right across the river in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. It turns out that the inexpensive prices in Malaysia have attracted many Singaporeans to the Country, particularly on the weekend where many buy gas and groceries, stay in luxury hotels and eat out in restaurants for a fraction of the price. So if you are willing to deal with multiple border crossings, which can be a lengthy process during peak commute hours, Johor Bahru may be a good option.
Despite the bargain prices in Malaysia, we did enjoy hoping back over the border for a few overnight stays to enjoy the river front, wonderful hiking, Chinatown and many other attractions Singapore has to offer. A search on the Agoda and often found the best rates. Our favorite hotel was the Furama City Center. We stayed in Executive level rooms, which allowed us to a have free breakfast, great views (including of several firework displays), and a great spread in the Executive lounge from 6 – 8 p.m. every night. Plus the location, close to the financial district and Chinatown, was perfect.
Note: for bargain hunters, there are some hostels and budget accommodations in Singapore, which are also listed on the Agoda website.
Currency in Singapore
At this writing, 1 Singapore Dollar equals .75 US Dollars, .98 Canadian Dollars, .65 Euros and 3 Malaysian Ringgits. Check XE Currency Converter for current rates.
Can You Drink the Water in Singapore?
In a word, yes! Go ahead and drink from the tap. The water in Singapore is perfectly safe to drink.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Singapore?
Here are a few prices for typical attractions, foods, and restaurants in Singapore (in Singapore Dollars).
Dinner at a mid range restaurant for 2: $55
Lunch at a midrange restaurant: $23 per person
Meal at a Hawker Center: $6
Cocktail in a tourist or downtown location: $25
Glass of wine in a tourist or downtown area: $15
Pint of beer at a locals bar: $10
Admission to Universal Studios: Adults $79, Children $59
Admission to the Zoo: Adults $35, Children $23
Hotel Room (mid range): $150 – $300
How to Find Travel Deals to Singapore
The best way to find a travel deal, no matter what destination interests you, is to be as flexible as possible. Deals can be found by stretching out your fare search dates over several weeks. There are plenty of deals to be had if you are willing to deal with less than perfect itineraries, such as off-peak departure times or longer layovers. NOTE: We’ve found some cities offer interesting tours and other perks for travelers on long layovers (including Singapore).
Singapore Visa Requirements
Citizens from most countries can travel to Singapore without a visa for 60 to 90 days. Travelers need to have a valid passport that won’t expire sooner than 6 months. You can find more information about Visas here.
Good to Know
Life is very clean and orderly in Singapore. The crime rate is very low, and you won’t find trash piling up in the streets. Part of the reason for that are the strict regulations regarding conduct. Littering and jaywalking, for repeat offenders, can bring fines of 2,000 dollars, jail time and even caning.
And don’t even think about taking drugs into the country. Singapore has some of the strictest drug laws in the world. Visitors may be surprised to receive a slip of paper upon entering the country, warning of punishments up to and including the death penalty for drug trafficking.
That said, we never felt at all stifled during our stay. Many cultures share the small space and respect each others traditions. For example, it’s fine to wear shorts, but be prepared to wear (or be given) a skirt or scarf to tie around your waist when entering certain mosques. It’s a relaxed place built for the enjoyment of the people who live there and all who chose to visit.
Last Thoughts about Visiting the Lion City
Visiting Asia for the first time can be intimidating. There are many Asian destinations that can be crowded and a little unforgiving of those that don’t understand the norms. For some, having those kinds of cultural experiences are part of the whole point of travel. For others, feeling out of place can push them a little to far out of their comfort zone.
Singapore strikes a balance that makes it easy for anyone to enjoy. It’s easy to get around, it’s very safe, most people speak English, and there is a lot to do. Generally the pace, beyond peak times at the hawker stands, is pretty reasonable.
The other balance lies within having a very modern city that has carved out areas where one can experience a culture that has existed for thousands of years (such as in Chinatown or Little India). Within a short distance, there are also expanses of land for enjoying nature.
There are many faces of Singapore, and how you like to travel can easily dictate the experience you will have. It’s a gateway to travel that we can highly recommend. While there, most of all, don’t miss the food. It’s a good place to begin a journey that will take you just far enough out of your comfort zone to lead you down a path to exciting experiences you may have never imagined.
If you are lucky, you may find yourself feasting your eyes on views like this: