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Staying in a hostel for the first time may be nerve-wracking, but you’ll be absolutely fine if you follow these 9 ground rules.
 
1. Say Hello!

say hello Photo by DDP on Unsplash

Many travellers staying in hostels travel solo, and not gonna lie, it gets lonely! It’s likely that you’re not the only one with first night jitters. A simple hello may set the stage for lifelong friendships.
 
2. Be Respectful
You’re sharing a living space with people from all over the world and from all walks of life. Be mindful of the cultural norms of others and don’t be afraid to ask or clarify if you need to. Most travellers are happy to walk you through their culture!
 
3. Use the Lounge

you-x-ventures-1442657-unsplash Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

Lucky you! Your hostel has a lounge! It’s there for a reason, and having your meals there instead of eating under your covers (eww) may help you get to know new people outside of your bunkmates!
 
4. Be Considerate
This shouldn’t have to be said, but unfortunately, many travellers still manage to make a huge nuisance out of themselves. If you’re back in the wee hours of the morning, try your very best not to keep flicking the lights on and off. If you’re leaving at the crack of dawn, try to get your bags packed the night before to minimise rustling. If it’s 3 a.m. in the morning, for the love of the travel gods, please stop chatting!
 
5. Bring a Padlock
This is a life or death requirement. You’re going to have to leave your documents and/or cash in your hostel. Many hostels offer lockers without padlocks, or are happy to loan one to you—at a fee. To save money and ensure that your valuables stay yours, remember to lock up and scramble the combination on your lock, and god forbid you pick “1, 2, 3” as your passcode.
 
6. Earplugs are Essential
Sometimes, you do your very best to be the perfect hostel guest, but you still end up having a shitty experience. Truth is, what the rest of your bunkmates or hostelmates do is beyond your control. Among the most common complaints are noises in the dark. Yes, noises of all kinds. Shushing only goes so far to get inconsiderate travellers to shut up, so do yourself a favour and bring some earplugs. Just don’t sleep through your 5 a.m. alarm!
 
7. Ask about Free Activities

party Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Most hostels provide free city tours with willing local guides. It’s up to you to tip the guide depending on how much you loved or hated the trip. Tip: check with your new friends if it’s your first time in a new city. Some hostels even host free dinners or give out free drinks on certain days, so keep your eyes peeled or check with the friendly staff at the counter!
 
8. Flip Flops
Communal showers are hotbeds for all sorts of microorganisms. Think bacteria and fungi. Remember that bunkmate with smelly feet? His foot fungus will live in the showers forever. Bring a pair of flip flops and make sure to wear it whenever you visit the toilet/showers.
 
9. It’s Great to be the Bottom

hostel bunk beds Photo by Nicate Lee on Unsplash

If you happen to arrive before the rest of your bunkmates and hostel reception gives you a choice, put dibs on the lowest bunk. Nothing feels worse than having to clamber to the top of 3-tiered bunk beds with the lights off trying to make as little noise as possible. You’ll more likely stumble and give your precious knees a deep dark bruise on the super hard planks and wake the entire dorm up. Bless you too if you’ve gotten all things packed and forget your portable charger on the bed. If you’re down under, you can roll in and out of bed at will. Just be careful of low roofs. No matter how excited you are, sit up slowly.
 
The idea of staying in a hostel for the first time may be unsettling, but give yourself time and space. It’s okay to make rookie mistakes; just a simple apology will make things right! We hope our tips go a long way in making you feel more comfortable with staying in hostels. If you’re a pro, drop us a comment down below with your take on how to make hostel stays enjoyable!

Credits:

Header image by Boxed Water Is Better on Unsplash 

Backpacking is a fantastic way to work in some personal development while enjoying yourself, but it’s definitely not all sunshine and roses. From the tedious trip planning procedures to having to deal with logistics on the move, it can get pretty stressful. Here are 10 travel essentials for backpackers that will minimise woes and streamline your travels.
 
1. Packing Cubes

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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These are literal lifesavers for the simple backpacker. Backpacks are soft and odd-shaped, and stuffing your clothes, toiletries, soiled laundry, universal adaptor, etc., can make you feel like pulling your hair out in frustration. Packing cubes are like Hermione’s magic pouch in The Deathly Hallows. Their regular shapes make stuffing your rolled garments easier, and fitting them into your backpack becomes a simple game of Tetris. You’ll be surprised how efficiently packing cubes organise the space in your backpack.
 
2. Hanging Toiletries Bag

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The seasoned backpacker swears by this. Hostels come in many shapes and sizes, and their bathrooms all have their quirks. Some don’t have ledges or soap holders, and you’re forced to place your 10 bottles of face and body products on the ground. But a toiletries bag with a hook saves you all that trouble and ickiness. Just hook it over the door or on the clothes hook and complete your 10-step cleansing routine.
 
3. Waterproof Flip Flops

flip flops

Credit: erincondren.com

Protect your feet from fungus! Hostel floors and showers aren’t the cleanest, and with the high human traffic and turnover each day, loads of harmful microorganisms lie ready to pounce on the next unsuspecting foot. A pair of rubber flip flops are an inexpensive way to protect your feet, and consequently, your wallet!
 
4. Microfibre Towel

microfiber towel

Credit: Amazon

Ditch your thick, fluffy, cosy towels for a compact and quick-drying one while on the road. It’s life-changing. You’ll get to save space in your backpack and not have to worry about stinking up the hostel room with a towel still damp from your previous night’s bath.
 
5. Hand Sanitizer

hand sanitiser

Credit: ePharmacy.com.au

This goes hand-in-hand with hygiene. Unfortunately, taps and public toilets may not be widely available in some regions, so hand-washing is sometimes left behind as a stay-home luxury. It doesn’t have to be that way. Save yourself from food poisoning by rubbing some hand sanitiser before you eat and after you go to the loo. Please. The number of people who don’t wash their hands after going to the toilet is astonishing.
 
6. Day Pack

day pack

Credit: Patagonia

You absolutely can’t visit attractions with your humongous backpack. Well, you can, but it’s going to be a hassle, especially if you have to squeeze into tight spaces, or if some attractions forbid you from carrying large bags. Grab a day pack, which can range from a small backpack to a simple tote into which you can dump your identification papers, water bottle, snacks, and wallet, and saunter around free as a bird. It also helps you blend into the background and not be a ripe target for pickpockets and robbers.
 
7. Water Bottle

 water bottle

Credit: wirecutter

Do this for the environment. Air travel is one of the biggest contributors to an individual’s carbon footprint these days, and tourism is unfortunately not a very eco-friendly activity. Bring your water bottle along and refill it whenever you can! If you’re in a country with no potable tap water, boiling a kettle of water in the morning and filling your bottle after it cools down saves you one plastic bottle a day and several dollars a week. Every little bit counts.
 
8. Universal Adaptor

universal adaptor

Credit: Amazon

We’re all smartphone dependent, so you probably already know this. Unless you’re travelling within your home country, it’s essential to bring a universal adaptor along as not every accommodation is fitted with international sockets.Sa
 
9. Padlock

padlocks

Credit: Lazenne

Invest in a good padlock before your trip. You can use it to lock up your backpack while you’re out exploring. Furthermore, most hostels which provide lockers loan out padlocks for a fee. Buying a good quality padlock ensures that you can use it for years to come and helps you travel with peace of mind.
 
Did we miss any travel essentials you can’t do without? Let us know in the comments section down below!
The idea of visiting a foreign country alone is daunting, especially for women. But don’t let it stop you from experiencing the wonders of the world’s cultures. Here are 10 tips for solo female travellers to ensure that you stay safe while having fun abroad!

jakob-owens-769496-unsplash

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

1. Plan Ahead

Even if you’re a habitual “pantser” (one who flies by the seat of their pants), travel planning is a good way to take your mind off routine worries so you can travel smarter. Make sure you have your destinations, transfers, and accommodation planned out beforehand to avoid unnecessary worries. Travellers preferring a more spontaneous travel style can do without a detailed itinerary after that.

2. Inform Someone of Your Plans

I’ve known travellers who’ve sneaked off without their parents’ knowledge, but for safety reasons, you should have a point of contact back at home. Give them your travel dates and the corresponding destination and check in with them every so often. A short WhatsApp message saying “I’ve checked in at Happy Hostel” is good enough.

3. Arrive in the Day

Flights that depart and arrive at obscene hours may be cheap, but not the best choice if you’re not familiar with your location and/or destination. Save yourself the worry of having to trek five kilometres to a hostel in the dark in a foreign land and finding it unsuitable. Safety always comes first.

4. Separate Your Cash

The old adage goes, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”, and it never rings more true than when you’re travelling alone. Things happen, and you’ll want to have a backup plan. Most of these involve some cash. Split your stack into three and place one in your backpack, one in your pocket, and the last in your day pack. As you go along in your travels, you’ll figure out a proportion that works for you.

5. Dress Conservatively

We’d all prefer to believe in a world of true equality, where women are not judged or harassed on the basis of their clothing choices. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Err on the side of caution and dress in a way that doesn’t attract attention. Be street smart. If you see local women in tank tops and shorts, you’re probably safe dressing that way. If most cover up, then do the same.

6. Common Sense is Key

Whatever you won’t do back home, don’t do it abroad. This applies to everyone, not only to women travelling alone. Don’t take dark back alleys. Don’t walk through parks at night. Don’t hop into a strangers car. Don’t accept food and drinks from a stranger you just met at a bar. Don’t worry about seeming rude. Your safety is your top priority. Repeat that last sentence again.

7. Deploy Lies

Hopefully it won’t come to this, but if you have to lie to get out of a sticky situation, do it. Buy a cheap wedding ring and point it out when receiving unwanted attention. Being “married” is a surefire way to divert their attention elsewhere. Tell your taxi driver that your boyfriend is waiting for you at your destination or that you’re travelling with family.

8. You Know What You’re Doing

Even if you don’t. Look confident and focused all the time, even when you’re just wandering around or feeling lost. Predators first look for vulnerability in demeanor.

9. Be Sensitive

You’re the visitor to someone else’s home. Do your research beforehand on their cultural norms and pay attention to nuances when you get there. Don’t engage in activities that are frowned upon by your host country. Respect them as you hope they would respect you.

10. Safety Over Money

We budget travellers are extremely careful about where our money goes. But the truth is, if something untoward happens, we stand to lose more than a few hundred dollars of cash. Always read reviews of hostels before booking. Don’t hesitate to find alternative accommodation options if you don’t feel comfortable at your current one. Take public transportation or a taxi if it’s dark out. Choose accommodation in safe neighbourhoods even if it costs more. Your safety is worth more than dollars.
 
We hope this post has been helpful for all you women looking to travel solo! The media often portrays the world as a huge hellhole, but this is far from the truth. Trust your gut and stay alert, and we’re sure you’ll have the trip of your lifetime!
 
Credits:
Header Photo by Wanaporn Yangsiri on Unsplash 

A city break doesn’t have to mean endless malls and restaurants. If you’re tired of Singapore’s top-rated attractions (we won’t hate you), why not take a trip to the countryside for some fresh air and fun? It might be surprising that there are actually many different types of farms in Singapore, specialising in a wide range of farmstock, from vegetables to animals. It might not be Stardew Valley, but it makes for a pleasant day out.

Bollywood Veggies

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Bollywood Veggies is a vegetable farm located in Kranji. Set up by its founders, Ivy Singh-Lim and Lim Ho Seng, in 2000, it has established itself as one of the most well-known farms in Singapore. The farm is filled with signs containing information about the wide range of plants available, but keep a lookout for signs making jibes at Singaporean society and politics. If you’re dropping by, schedule a pit stop at the Poison Ivy Bistro, where dishes made with plants and vegetables from the farm are served along with homemade drinks.

Bollywood Veggies / Poison Ivy Bistro
100 Neo Tiew Road, Singapore 719026
Opening hours: Wed-Fri 7am to 5.30pm (Bistro opens at 8am); Sat, Sun & PH 7am to 6.30pm (Bistro opens at 8am); Closed on Mon & Tue unless PH

Jurong Frog Farm

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Jurong Frog Farm might not be in Jurong anymore, but it still deals in frogs, large American bullfrogs, for the matter. Now run by Chelsea Wan, daughter of founder Wan Bock Thiaw, the farm is diversifying its revenue streams with educational tours and frog-centred dishes.

Jurong Frog Farm
56 Lim Chu Kang Lane 6, Singapore 719164
Opening hours: Sat, Sun & PH 9am to 5.30pm; Tue-Fri by appointment only; Closed on Mon

Hay Dairies Goat Farm

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Hay Dairies is the first goat farm in Singapore. Its founder, Hay, began farming poultry and pigs before moving on to goats when the government shutdown pig farming. The first generation of goats were imported from Minnesota in the USA, and the current stock is the tenth generation. While goat’s milk met with resistance amongst Singaporeans initially, they have slowly warmed up to it. If you’re new to goat’s milk, this is a great opportunity to sample some as Hay Dairies produces and bottles them fresh at the farm!

Hay Dairies
3 Lim Chu Kang Lane 4, Singapore 718859
Opening hours: Mon, Wed-Sun 9am to 4pm, Closed on Tue
Click here for tour information.
http://haydairies.sg/farm-visit-2/farm-tour/

Qian Hu Fish Farm

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Singaporean children will always have fond memories of Qian Hu Fish Farm. Don’t be terrified to see children running around with nets. They’re going for the fishes. Qian Hu Fish Farm offers activities to keep everyone entertained. If you’d like to experience old-school Singapore, opt for the Long Kang Fishing Experience. Arm yourself with a net and scoop up as many fish as you can in 30 minutes. If you’re visiting from abroad, you can’t bring them home unfortunately. You could give them away if you like!

Qian Hu Fish Farm
71 Jalan Lekar, Sungei Tengah, Singapore 698950
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9am to 6pm, Sat & Sun 9am to 7pm
Visit their website for information on available activities.

Kin Yan Agrotech Farm

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Kin Yan Farm prides itself on pesticide-free farming. The organic farm supplies produce such as mushrooms, wheatgrass, edible cacti, and leafy vegetables to local supermarkets and food establishments. Their mission is to provide wholesome, organic food to the people. To learn more about the farm, its philosophy and its produce, join them on a 1-hour tour for just $5.

Kin Yan Agrotech Pte Ltd
220 Neo Tiew Crescent, Singapore 718830
Opening hours: Daily 9am to 5pm
http://www.kinyan.sg/

Where to Stay

gardenasia

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Melissa Celestine Koh (@melissackoh) on

gardenasia provides a resort experience right in the Kranji countryside. Sadly, the Kranji area is located quite far beyond the city, and travelling to and fro itself can be exhausting. Spending the night in rural Singapore is sure to rejuvenate and energise weary travellers. We’re impressed by the wide array of facilities available at gardenasia. The rooms are fully equipped with state-of-the-art AV systems and exude contemporary chic, and there’s a pool right outside for your daily swim. For your meals, head to the bistro for dishes created mostly with fresh ingredients sourced from the surrounding farms.

Do also check out the education centre where classes are conducted for the general public to learn more about the agricultural industry in Singapore.

gardenasia
240 Neo Tiew Crescent, Singapore 718898
Opening hours: Daily 10.30am to 10.30pm
http://www.gardenasia.com/index.php

Gallop Resort

Skip the hotels or hostels in town! For a immersion in Singapore’s agricultural countryside, it’s well worth shelling out a few more dollars for a night or two at Gallop Farm Resort. Go to sleep in the peace and quiet of rural Singapore and wake to the sounds of nature. It’s the perfect way to relax and recover during a city trip with tight schedules.

Gallop Resort
10 Neo Tiew Lane 2, Singapore 718813
Opening hours: 24 hours; Office: Daily 8am to 9pm
https://www.gallopresort.com/

One might say that Singapore’s food culture is Singapore’s culture, and they won’t be far from the truth. Food is an integral part of the daily lives of people living in Singapore, and nothing reflects the patchwork of cultures that make up the republic more than Singaporean cuisine. It’s safe to say that Singaporeans don’t eat to live; they live to eat.

While it would be loath of us to prescribe a certain way of travelling, we feel that skipping out on food in Singapore means missing out on a great chunk of culture. The museums and architecture are great, but they lack a certain viscerality. Singapore food culture goes beyond taste. Every dish of significance carries with it a history—be it of joy or hardship, and what’s truly special is how age-old recipes have been adapted over the years to incorporate local flavours, making Singaporean cuisine as distinctive as it’s delicious.

Singapore food culture is having roti prata and teh tarik to start the day, a hearty plate of nasi lemak to fuel your afternoons, and a flavourful serving of chicken rice to end the day. Though these dishes have different ethnic origins, Singaporeans will proudly claim them as their own, regardless of the ethnicity they identify with. It won’t be a stretch to say that Singapore food culture is born out of serendipity and it’s a huge unifying factor for all Singaporeans.

Top 5 Dishes to Try in Singapore

Chicken Rice

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Singapore’s chicken rice was brought to its shores by Hainanese immigrants and adapted with local flavours. Blanched or roasted chicken is served with rice boiled in chicken stock, then drizzled with sauce cooked in chicken fat. It’s an explosion of flavour that the appearance doesn’t justify. Singaporeans will tell you that the chilli sauce makes or breaks the dish. Every chicken rice stall has their own fans, so it’s really up to you to discover your favourite!

Laksa

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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You’ve probably heard of Singapore laksa before. Rich, creamy, and full of zing, the curry noodles are a mainstay of Singaporean cuisine and will leave you hungry for more. Its origins are murky, but it is thought that laksa was born out of the intermarriage of Chinese traders and Malay women, hence, the fusion of Chinese soup noodles and Malay spices. Each bowl of thick rice noodles is filled with spiced coconut milk broth, shrimps, fish cakes, bean curd skin, a dollop of sambal chilli, and finished with a dash of chopped laksa leaves. What a feast!

Roti Prata

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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A heavy meal isn’t what most of the world would start the day with, but for Singaporeans, it’s never too early for dough soaked in vegetable/chicken/fish curry. Brought to Singapore by South Indian immigrants, Singaporean children (and adults) jump for joy when prata is on the menu for breakfast or supper. While prata is available for takeaways, nothing beats watching the prataman toss and slap the dough onto the griddle. 100% full sensory experience.

Nasi lemak

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Nasi lemak probably originated in neighbouring Malaysia, but it’s inseparable from the Singapore foodie experience. A simple, inexpensive meal available at most hawker centres, the plate consists of rice cooked in coconut milk accompanied by sweet sambal (shrimp paste) chilli, fried ikan bilis (anchovies) and peanuts, cucumber slices, telur goreng (fried egg), and a meat of choice—fried chicken, fried ikan kuning (yellowstripe fish), or otah (grilled fish cake).

Carrot cake

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Let’s clear this up: Singapore carrot cake does not contain carrots. Instead, this Teochew dish consists of soft dough cubes made of white radish and rice flour fried with garlic, eggs, and preserved radish. It’s served with sambal chilli (see a pattern?), which only brings to prominence the marriage of sweet and savory.

Singapore Food Culture: The Present

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Regarded as communal dining centres, hawker centres are the backbone to Singapore’s livelihood. It is the only place Singaporeans of all stripes break bread with each other without regard of one’s social class. It is for this reason that the Singapore government is hoping for Singapore’s hawker culture to be nominated for the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

However, there are concerns about the future of Singapore’s hawker centres especially with the retirement of first generation hawkers. Food vending is an arduous business with uncertain gains, and the young are pursuing careers in the areas more directly related to Singapore’s economic growth. There is a very real threat to the loss of the unique Singapore food culture. To encourage more youths to take up the mantle, the government has set up the Incubation Stall Programme to halve the costs of renting a stall for six months.

Singapore Food Culture: The Future

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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As hard as it is to come to terms with, Singapore’s hawker culture is waning. The future is uncertain. However, with globalisation in full force, people around the world have taken interest in Singapore’s food culture and many have even left their homes to share their cuisine with Singaporeans. Singapore has definitely developed a fondness for and openness to foreign flavours. Both Singaporean and foreign restaurateurs have set up shop selling fusion food, marrying the diverse local flavours with foreign ingredients.

Singapore Food: How much to Budget

Fortunately for foodies, cooked food remains one of Singapore’s most accessible exports—if you know where to look. Hit up the many hawker centres scattered throughout the island. A rule of thumb is the closer it is to the downtown district, the higher the price. Else, absolutely feel free to explore!

If you’re into gourmet cuisine and fine dining, Singapore is a regional destination for that too. However, you will need to deepen your pockets considerably. Here’s a quick guide:

Budget

A single meal at a hawker centre: $3-$5
Three meals at a hawker centre: $10-$15

Pretentious Hipster

A single meal at a cafe, no drinks: $20-25 pp
A single meal at a cafe with drinks: $30 pp

Gourmet

A single meal at a restaurant: > $40 pp (the sky is your limit)

Singapore Food: Where to Eat

Hawker centres are available in every district as part of the government’s efforts to maintain accessibility to cooked food. All the better for everyone! Most hawker centres will serve the five dishes listed above, and ultimately, the best taste boils down to personal preference.

Cafes and restaurants are mostly available downtown, around the Tiong Bahru and Tanjong Pagar districts. Higher end fare is common at the Marina Bay area. However, there are most definitely a few surprises out of the way.

For a general guide, visit these five Singapore food blogs below:

  1. Daniel Food Diary
  2. Eatbook.sg
  3. Lady Iron Chef
  4. Miss Tam Chiak
  5. Seth Lui

Singapore Food: The Takeaway

Singapore’s food culture is as diverse as its population, sometimes even more so. The fusion of mainly Malay, Indian, Chinese and Eurasian flavours led to the flourishing of Singapore’s strong food scene, and with globalisation in full swing, it seems that we can only expect more experimental ideas and novel tastes to hit the shores. To be honest, we can’t wait! And we hope that you’ll join us to learn about and enjoy Singapore’s culture through its cuisine.

Hullo friends, and welcome back to our weekly feature of places to check out in Singapore! We sincerely hope that we don’t run out of cool stuff to feature soon.

The Food Place

What’s Singapore’s best known dish worth flying halfway around the world for? A ‘deceptively simple’ meal made out of boiled poultry and rice, chicken rice never fails to satiate our appetites.

The dish was brought to Singapore by poor Hainanese immigrants from China, and thereafter adapted out of necessity to ensure that every last drop of flavour is squeezed out of a single chicken. Each vendor has its own secret, but in general, chicken rice is prepared thus: a whole chicken is boiled then hung to dry. The resulting broth is used to boil the rice, make soup to accompany the dish and contribute to the fragrant soy sauce sprinkled over the finished dish. It’s surprising how much flavour a bird can impart.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by 🍴Angela Likes Food (@angelalikesfood) on

Food enthusiasts would probably have heard of Tian Tian Chicken Rice, a Michelin-starred hawker stall lauded by Gordon Ramsay and the late Anthony Bourdain. Critics love the rice which is tasty enough to be eaten on its own, as well as the slippery chicken. Unfortunatley, some have found standards to be slipping lately, but since you’re here, we’d recommend you give it a go!

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur Street, #01-10/11, Singapore 069184
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 11am to 8pm, Closed on Mon

The Coffee Place

Chye Seng Huat Hardware Store might sound like a dusty shophouse out of the 1940s, but don’t be fooled by this one. The front of the building might retain its old school elements and signboard, but its interior and back house a coffee roaster, a fully-fledged cafe, and a workshop space.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Critics and coffee aficionados rave about their cold brew which makes for essential post-lunch drinking when the weather gets unbearable and the eyes start drooping.

Chye Seng Huat Hardware
150 Tyrwhitt Rd, Singapore 207563
Opening hours: Tue-Thu, Sun 9am to 10pm, Fri-Sat 9am to 12am

The Hipster Place

If you’re wandering around Tiong Bahru, visiting bookstores or stopping by for coffee, don’t miss Curated Records. A rare gem in a highly digitised city, Curated Records offers vinyl records for the music lover and vintage enthusiast. A glance through Google Reviews suggests that the store covers most genres, from classic rock to movie soundtracks, so you’ll likely find something that suits your music tastes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by CURATED RECORDS 酷瑞特唱片行 (@curatedrecords) on

The owner is apparently very friendly and passionate about the whole vinyl business, so chat him up if you need someone to share your obsessions!

Curated Records
55 Tiong Bahru Rd, Singapore 160055
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 1pm to 8pm, Closed on Mon

The Market Place

For cheap quality produce, head east to Geylang Serai Market, one of Singapore’s biggest and busiest wet markets. Situated in Geyland Serai, one of the oldest Malay settlements on the island, the market was given a fresh design and a new roof directly inspired by traditional Malay Minangkabau architecture.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Dixon (@eatshootsleep95) on

Geylang Serai Market is the perfect place to stock up on ingredients to whip up good, hearty Malay dishes. Check out the Malay and Middle Eastern spices if you’re looking to diversify your pantry. The best part? Prices at the market are among the lowest in Singapore, so you can shop with ease of mind!

Geylang Serai Market
1 Geylang Serai, Singapore 402001
Opening hours: 6.30am to 12pm daily (wet market), 8am to 10pm daily (food centre)

Say that again?

If you ask a friendly local, they’ll most likely tell you, “Singapore nothing to do one sia!” You then regret your decision to holiday on this tropical island, crying into a cup of overly-sweet coffee. But hold up! Singaporeans are not known for lying, but they’re spending most of their time at work or studying instead of exploring the country. So thank them for their very biased opinion, and scroll down to find out if there really is nothing to do in Singapore. But first, let’s rectify that cup of coffee.

Get Caffeinated
It’s no lie that Singaporeans are an overly caffeinated bunch. We’re not referring to Robusta or Arabica coffee, though those are widely available in the country’s burgeoning cafe scene, if that’s more of your thing. Let’s explore one of the many coffee shops and hawker centres. Anyone will do. There will be a beverage stall, and I’ll give you $7 for a Starbucks if they don’t sell coffee. Now, click through to this nifty infograph here to place your orders.

View this post on Instagram

This hit the spot BIG TIME! Nondescript coffee stall at Hong Lim Food Complex blew our socks off with the perfect cup of kopi si bei kao siu tai (stupidly strong coffee with less condensed milk). Located on the ground floor, next to the Teochew porridge stall.

A post shared by Kopi Box Vending Machine (@kopiboxasia) on Jun 30, 2017 at 3:25am PDT

It’s no latte or cappuccino, but it’s a cornerstone of Singapore’s food and drinks culture. You won’t be the first foreigner to fall in love with cheap caffeine.

Workout Outdoors
Singapore is arguably too hot for most locals who very much prefer the air-conditioned comfort of shopping malls. It’s a shame, really, as the authorities put a great deal of effort (and money) into building and improving park infrastructure around the country. Pick early mornings and late evenings to avoid getting burnt to a crisp.

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Run on well-paved roads in the Botanic Gardens, go hiking along the MacRitchie Reservoir trail and walk across Southeast Asia’s very first freestanding suspension bridge, or bike along the park connectors linking up green spaces around the city. With warm weather 365 days of the year, exercising outdoors won’t be a pain…except when it rains, of course.

Eat
When all else fails, eat. Forget about McDonald’s or Subway! You haven’t been to Singapore if you’ve never sampled its hawker cuisine. Singapore has a diverse and established street food scene. Give your tongues a good workout.

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Insider tip: skip Newton Food Centre for cheaper grub. We recommend Old Airport Road Food Centre, Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre, and Bukit Timah Food Centre.

Infiltrate the Neighbourhood
Singapore does have the requisite glitz of a tourist town, but it gets old. Just like stepping into the hundredth cathedral on a Europe trip, visiting attraction after attraction can be exhausting. In-between visiting the expansive (and expensive) Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore Zoo, how about a visit to the heartlands? These are largely residential areas home to most Singaporeans. It might be intimidating to venture off into the suburbs, but it’s 100% worth the effort. The residential districts are where Singaporeans feel free to roam in flip-flops and slip unselfconsciously into baffling Singlish.

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Explore Tiong Bahru, one of Singapore’s first residential districts, just on the fringes of the city centre. It’s popular with both locals and expatriates for good reasons. There are cafes to recharge in and indie boutiques to explore.

Get Artsy
The last thing Singaporeans will associate with their country is the arts. However, this is not to say that the arts scene doesn’t exist in Singapore. It does, but many of the locals still associate it with impracticality and/or snobbery (fight me!).

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While you’re here, check out the many heritage museums on offer at the civic district, the marvellous Art Science Museum at Marina Bay, and pop by one of the arts events on offer year-round.

Whaddup, everyone? It’s your very normal Insider writing (again). This week, we’re shaking things up a little. We’ll still be featuring seemingly random snippets of Singapore life, but we’re turning our focus to locally vouched-for food and entertainment options so you know you’re only getting the best. Of course, we can’t guarantee that you’ll like our recommendations, but we don’t want you to fall into the tourist trap. Scroll down for our first feature of the week: Laksa!

The Food Place

Ah, the rain. Singapore gets its fair share of thunderstorms every year, which provides immeasurable relief to its citizens. However, if you hail from cold, cloudy and muggy lands, the rain might remind you too much of your gloomy home (*cough cough* London *cough cough*). If the clouds roll in during your stay in Singapore, please don’t board the next flight to Tonga. Arm yourself with a brolly, waterproof flip flops, and an empty stomach, and splatter your way to the nearest food centre for some hot, spicy, creamy goodness, aka laksa.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Terry Katong Laksa offers creamy, flavourful broth with a generous sprinkling of laksa leaves and a delectable lump of sambal chilli. Despite numerous exhortations from her mother to never consume broth (because anything tasty=MSG), this writer always guiltily slurps up every drop when eating at Terry’s. Well, with no sugar or MSG, this is probably one of the least damaging laksas in Singapore. The stallholder is also really friendly, speaks great English, and will check on your comfort level with cockles and spicyness before adding them to your bowl. Do us a favour and find out if his name is really Terry.

Terry Katong Laksa
Bukit Timah Food Centre
51 Upper Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore 588172
Opening hours: 7am to 10pm daily (Generally runs out by 8pm, so be there early)
Nearest MRT: Beauty World

The Coffee Place

We figured coffee-ism and hipster-ism shouldn’t be conflated even though they pretty much go hand-in-hand. Because coffee now seems to be an essential component of modern living, hipster or not. For times when you feel the urge to treat yourself, we’ll show you coffeehouses that give Starbucks a run for its money. Most of them are homegrown and independent, and are very attentive to the quality of coffee they put out.

If you’re groggy and ravenous on a weekend morning, why not drop by Kith Café, a Singaporean chain known for their delicious and tummy-stuffing brunch menu. Ordering a cup of their coffee is also a fantastic way to kickstart the day. A unique blend, it’s rich, flavourful, and packs a good but not overpowering punch.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Kith Café
Various Locations: Ascott Orchard, Winsland House, Spottiswoode Park, Bras Basah, etc. Please check http://kith.com.sg/ for exact location.
Opening hours: Varies according to branch. Most open by 7.30am.

The Hipster Place

There sure are as many hipsters than there are the hipster-avoidant these days. We think this is a good place to feature indie business in Singapore, because. (It’s hip to not finish sentences, okay?)

One of the most insufferable types of hipsters is the literary hipster aka book nerd. Spot them with their bug-eyed glasses, canvas totes with Shakespeare quotes, and slightly ungainly way of walking. If in pairs, you might catch snippets of Russian words such as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Bulgakov, and Kalashnikov in their conversation. What? Kalashnikov isn’t a Russian writer? Damn.

If you’ve got a literary bent, check out BooksActually, a bookstore carrying titles specially curated by the owners. It also houses the largest collection of Singaporean literature, which makes it a great place to bring home some unique souvenirs for your hipster friend who is definitely not you.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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BooksActually
9 Yong Siak Street
Singapore 168645
Opening hours: Sun and Mon 10am to 6pm, Tue to Sat 10am to 8pm
Nearest MRT: Tiong Bahru

The Market Place

Put on your lousiest outfit, comfy but inexpensive shoes, grab a trolley or eco-friendly shopping bag, and go shopping for fresh produce and foodstuff! Tekka Market is well-known for a reason. Even if your accommodation doesn’t come with an attached kitchen, a morning spent squeezing with anxious locals and watching market stallholders going about their busy day is an experience in almost too sanitised Singapore.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Check out this fantastic post by Sassy Mama for the 10 best stalls to visit if you’re looking to whip up a good meal or two!

Tekka Centre
665 Buffalo Road, Singapore 210665
Opening hours: 6.30am to 9pm (market stalls likely close by 1pm, but there are shops and cooked food stalls upstairs)
Nearest MRT: Little India

Hitting the road on Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean giving up your old habits! If you’ve always been one who expresses love through gifts, look out for local crafts and make use of promotions to keep your SO happy. We’ve rounded up the best gift ideas and promos in Singapore this February so you can give your partner the best surprise.

1. O Rose!

Roses are red, that much is true, but violets are purple, not freaking blue.

You can’t go wrong presenting a rose stalk. Everyone recognises the rose as a symbol of passion. Good news, because Singapore’s Far East Flora is offering Free Shipping on all bundles and bouquets.

FarEastFlora Bear Bundle

Image credit: shopee.sg/fareastflora

This rose+bear bundle retails for $29.90 on Far East Flora’s Shopee page. There’s free next day delivery, so just give your hostel reception a heads-up, have a meaningful day out with your date tomorrow, and surprise them when you get back!

2. Personalised Toiletry Bag

Showering in hostels doesn’t have to be a pain. Shampoo, shower gel, shaving cream, face wash, razor, deodorant… There’s only so much two hands can carry. A toiletry bag with a hook attached is a godsend for backpackers. You know what’s better? One embroidered with the owner’s name. No more confusion in crowded hostel bathrooms! Send your date on a wild goose chase while you hurry down to That Corner Shop in Tanjong Pagar to get the deed done.

Toiletries Bag

Image credit: thatcornershop.com

Personalised Toiletry Bag, $34.90

That Corner Shop
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11am to 5pm; Sat 11am to 7pm; Closed on Sun
Address: 10 Anson Road, International Plaza, #02-02, Singapore 079903
Nearest MRT: Tanjong Pagar (Exit C)

3. Artisan Chocolates Crafted in Singapore

There is no denying that chocolates make fantastic Valentine’s Day gifts. Artisan chocolatiers have popped up all over Singapore in recent years, each offering their own unique selection of flavours. ANJALICHOCOLAT is one such chocolate-maker with intricately crafted pieces and specially curated collections. If your date loves Singaporean food, a 4-piece FROM SINGAPORE lah box will make a truly memorable gift. From Singapore Sling to kaya toast, you can spend the night discussing the nuances of the flavours. Or just devouring them. We won’t judge.

Anjalichocolat_Singapore

Image credit: www.anjalichocolat.com

FROM SINGAPORE lah, 4 Piece Box, $15

The shop also has classic offerings like milk, white and semi-sweet chocolate for those who prefer the unadulterated stuff. This writer thinks you’ll have it good either way. The best part? You don’t have to worry about stuffing it into your backpack.

ANJALICHOCOLAT
Opening hours: Daily 10am to 7pm
Address: 73 Loewen Road, #01-15 & 16, Singapore 248843
Nearest MRT: Queenstown; take bus 111 and alight 5 stops later Opp Chatsworth Rd. ANJALICHOCOLAT is a 9-minute walk away.

Need some ideas on what to do tomorrow? Check out our guide here!