Singapore, a small island nation which effortlessly juggles many hats: global financial powerhouse, a collision of cultures, a foodie’s paradise- it’s an interesting place, and at first glance can seem a bit sterile and superficial but dig a little and you’ll be rewarded with genuine experiences. If your visit here is fleeting, there are more than enough places to see, things to do and food to eat to fill your time. Beware, this guide does not include the likes of Singapore Zoo or Sentosa Island but is geared towards those who are looking for an authentic experience minus the price tag. Read on for our Singapore travel guide, tips on what to do, where to eat and where to stay in Singapore..
Note: all addresses & directions for restaurants, activities and sights are listed at the bottom of this post.
Disclaimer: Chasing a Plate’s stay at 5footway.inn was complimentary. All opinions are our own.
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Get those skates on because there is lots to see and much to eat! Singapore is a paradise for food lovers and you’re going to start the day off exploring Chinatown. Being the largest historical district in Singapore, there is lots to discover here-shopping malls, the Chinatown Heritage Centre and epic hawker centres. Both the Chinatown Food Complex and the Maxwell Road Hawker Centre are incredibly popular with both locals and tourists alike and it’s at either one of these that you should break your fast.
There are so many dishes to sample and so many stalls to choose from that it can be a bit mind-boggling deciding what to eat but we think when in Singapore Hainanese chicken rice is pretty mandatory (Maxwell Road’s Tian Tian Chicken Rice is popular), otherwise you might want to eat at one of Singapore’s cheapest Michelin starred meals- Hong Kong style soya sauce chicken rice at Liao Fan (address below). The original stall is in the Chinatown Food Complex, but there is also a new, larger restaurant on Smith Street. At $4SGD/$2.80USD a plate, you can’t really go wrong!
Seeing as you’re in Chinatown it’s only a short walk over to Boat Quay and Clarke Quay down by the Singapore River. It’s a pleasant stroll- you take in the grand building that is the Asian Civilisations Museum, Parliament House and the unmistakable Marina Bay Sands Hotel. But for a more local neighbourhood, jump on the MRT to Bugis Station and make your way into Kampong Glam, the traditional Malay area of town. It’s an interesting, lively neighbourhood- a mix of tourist-centric stores, local eateries, design focused gift shops and bars which surround the Sultan Mosque standing sentinel over the community.
After all that walking, you’re bound to be starving right? And boy are you in the right place! Make a beeline for Singapore Zam Zam (address below), a restaurant that’s been around since 1905 whose specialty is murtabak- a kind of pancake which is stuffed with meat, garlic, onions and egg and is eaten with curry sauce. This place is loud, packed with locals and the food is excellent. If you have room, actually, even if you don’t, hop foot it to Overrun and order a cendol soft serve for dessert. A traditional dessert found in South East Asia, cendol is an enticing concoction made up of coconut milk, pandan rice noodles, kidney beans, shaved ice and gula melaka (palm sugar). Overrun’s modernised version of this dessert is damn delicious!
So you’ll be thinking that you can’t visit Singapore and not check out the famed Orchard Rd right? Well jump on the MRT and hop off at Orchard Station but before you hit the shops, head into the Ion Mall, which is connected to the station and take the escalator up to the 4th floor. Here, you can join the queue waiting to take the elevator up to the 55th floor to Ion Sky for an epic view of Singapore, plus it’s free!
Once you’re back on ground zero, you can hit Orchard Road. In all truth, it’s no Champs de Elysee, just shopping mall after shopping mall offering everything from high end luxury goods to fake perfume. But if you’re after a spot of retail therapy, you’re in the right place!
Now, we know what you’re thinking- cocktail hour is fast approaching so jump back on the MRT and head to City Hall Station. Now we know it’s touristy (and expensive!) but if you’re swayed by the romanticism of Singapore’s colonial era, then a Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel is mandatory. The national drink of Singapore can be sipped at the Long Bar, where it was first created in 1915, whilst you shell peanuts tossing the husks onto the floor- the only place in Singapore where you can legitimately litter!
Bottoms up! The night is young so it’s back on the MRT for you and it’s time for a change of scenery. Little India in the evening is abuzz with lights, people and SPECTACULAR food! Have a stroll about and wander down some of the lanes to get a glimpse at local life. Once your tummy starts rumbling, the Tekka Centre is the place to go for cheap, local, Indian Muslim fare. Our pick is the biriyani at Yakader Dum Biryani washed down with a teh tarik or an iced lime tea.
Phew! What a day!
24 hours in Singapore, DONE!
We hope this Singapore travel guide has helped you eat and explore like a traveller, not a tourist.
Check out more of our travel guides like Kuala Lumpur Travel Guide, Must Eats Bangkok and 48 Hours in Taipei.
Travel in Singapore:
The public transport system in Singapore is a breeze to use, it’s cheap and it takes you everywhere you need to go. If you plan to use it more than once or twice we suggest you buy a EZ-Link for $12 (it comes with $7 credit) upon arrival. It means you avoid having to buy a single ticket each time you travel and you end up saving around 50% by using the card rather than buying fares as you go. We use the app Maps.Me to guide us around cities by GPS using offline maps.
No matter where you’re travelling to we always recommend you have travel insurance. We use and love World Nomads. The great thing about them is that you can purchase travel insurance while you’re already travelling!
Where to stay in Singapore:
Locations at Boat Quay, Chinatown, Bugis and Ann Siang.
Room rates start at $28SGD/$19 USD for dormitories and $80SGD/$56 USD for a private double room.
Book directly with 5footway.inn and get 10% off your stay by using our special promo code “CAP10”. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org to book. Valid until August 2017!
Accommodation in Singapore is PRICEY. But you don’t want to stay in a dive right?! Enter 5footway.inn, the largest group of boutique hostels in Singapore. We stayed at Project Boat Quay right on the Singapore River but 5footway.inn have properties in all the central neighbourhoods around Singapore. Both dormitories and private rooms are available with shared bathroom facilities and breakfast included. You’ll find 5footway.inn do things a bit differently- all guests receive a free Handy Device which comes equipped with unlimited data and free international calls to selected countries, there are iMacs for guests to use and the properties allow guests to experience a bit of local culture through its art, even its breakfasts (think teh tarik and kaya toast)!
Chasing a Plate’s Pricing Guide
$ under $5SGD/$3.50USD per person
$$ around $10SGD/$7USD per person
$$$ upwards of $30SGD/ $20USD per person
Places to eat in Singapore:
Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken & Noodle $-$$
78 Smith Street
Open Thursday to Tuesday 10:00am to 7:00pm
Singapore Zam Zam $$
697-699 N Bridge Rd
Open daily 7:00am to 11:00pm
18 Baghdad St
Tuesday to Thursday 12:00pm to 8:30pm
Friday 2:00pm to 9:30pm
Saturday and Sunday 12:00pm to 9:30pm
Tekka Centre $
Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore
Open daily 6:30am to 9:00pm
The Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel $$$
1 Beach Road
Sunday to Thursday 11:00am to 12:00am
Friday & Saturday 11:00am to 1:30am
Things to do in Singapore:
2 Orchard Turn, Level 56, Singapore
Open daily, 3:00pm to 6:00pm
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