CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28274615
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28274615
Singapore isn’t a cheap travel destination, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save while you’re here! Hotels in Singapore are notoriously pricey, but the city’s clean and unique hotels are here to give the big chains a run for their money. Here are the top 10 hostels in Singapore for maximum comfort at minimum price.
Adler Hostel is a boutique hostel housed in an art deco shophouse in the middle of Chinatown. Just footsteps away from Sri Mariamman Temple, the hostel is decked in contemporary chic. Equipped also with a tastefully decorated lounge, it certainly feels more like a boutique hotel than a hostel. The curtained pods provide privacy and there’s even a fancy coffee bar to provide you with liquid energy.
Located in the city centre, hipstercity is an independent luxury hostel for budget travellers. You’ll get burned out from bunking with ten other travellers in close proximity sometimes, and hipstercity offers you a break from that at prices lower than hotels. Their single beds come with full-length privacy curtains that basically compartmentalise your space so you can lie back and recharge. If you’re travelling with your partner or friend, they offer double loft beds too! The hostel is also equipped with a cafe that morphs into a movie lounge by night!
Ever wondered what it’s like to be on a spaceship? Located mere footsteps away from Kallang MRT station, Spacepod@com provides clean, comfortable pods you can hide away in and live out your interstellar fantasies! Travellers are happy with the novel sleeping experience, convenient location and FREE laundry between 7pm and 7am. They weren’t too pleased with the single toilet shared by all guests.
6 Jalan Ayer, Singapore 389144
Phone: +65 8183 5636
Another space-themed hostel, The Atlas Station provides individual sleeping pods wired up with electricity! The capsules could have come right out of a space opera (dun dun dun dun duh-dun dun duh-dun), and you can even choose whether you want a front (peasant) or side (nobility) entrance.
The Atlas Station
424 Race Course Rd, Singapore 218670
Phone: +65 6291 5113
Situated right in the heart of Bugis, Coral Hostel is a fantastic choice for heritage lovers on a shoestring. Travellers love the hostel for its squeaky clean interiors, comfortable beds, and superb location. Its beds are fitted with individual reading lamps! However, the rooms are quite small and there is no common space for socialising, so you’ll have to weigh your priorities!
Atlantis Pods @ Bugis is situated along the bustling Tan Quee Lan Street in Bugis, a prime location for travellers looking to visit the Arab Quarter. With Bugis MRT only a short walk away, getting around the country is incredibly convenient too. Each pod is equipped with a personal reading light, electrical socket, hanger and fold-down table, so you can use the energy saved from climbing up and down the bunk beds for sightseeing instead. FREE towels and toiletries are available, so you can save precious space for souvenirs!
The Bohemian is located just a block away from Chinatown MRT station. The hostel is great for travellers looking for a central spot to put down their weary heads. Light sleeper? Select their soundproof pods equipped with a personal reading lamp and an international electrical socket! The receptionists are kind and helpful, and there is a FREE one-way departure shuttle service to the airport. No need to worry about clogging up the trains with your huge backpack!
OSS Backpackers Hostel is located in Lavender, surrounded by a diverse range of food establishments. The rooms may be simple, but the price and convenience more than makes up for it. Travellers loved the hostel for its cleanliness, great location, comfortable beds, and decent breakfast for the price. Be sure to check out Mustafa Centre just 600m away to stock up on travel essentials!
Happy Snail Hostel is located away from the hustle and bustle of the city in the quiet neighbourhood of Bukit Merah. It’s a mere 15-minute commute to town with the perks of homeliness, camaraderie and a true immersion into Singaporean living. The rooms and decor may by simple, but the spirit of travel more than makes up for it. Travellers love the common space, free tea and coffee, comfortable beds and the communal spirit. It seems that Happy Snail Hostel manages to attract travellers who are looking for forge friendships, so you might just find a fellow snail to roam the streets with!
Beary Best! by a beary good hostel occupies a restored shophouse in the heart of Chinatown. It sits just a stone’s throw away from major attractions and a wide range of food establishments, making it the perfect choice for travellers interested in food and culture. Beary Best! by a beary good hostel also has a lounge and pantry for travellers to get to know their newfound friends over a round of video games and some coffee! The hostel even has a roof terrace if you prefer the sun and fresh air.
Singaporeans are the masters of metaphor. Take, for instance, “Singapore has a rojak culture” or “Your English very rojak”. “Mixed” might be a good word, but it doesn’t pack as much power, and dare we say, flavour.
Well, this rojak in question is actually a Southeast Asian salad. There are two types of rojak sold in Singapore, the Indian Rojak and the Chinese rojak. The dish sold by Chinese hawkers comprises fruits, vegetables, fried dough fritters and tofu skin, doused in sweet, thick gravy made from fermented shrimp, and topped with a sprinkling of peanuts. Hence, “rojak” meaning “mixed” in Singlish.
As much as we’d heartily recommend this dish, it definitely isn’t as healthy as the vegetable-based salads you’ll find at Western diners. But it’s worth a try for its sweet-savoury umami goodness. Trust us. Singaporeans swear by Brothers Rojak, situated in Clementi, about 30 minutes west of the city centre. It’s worth a shot if you’re venturing out of the built-up areas for a sight of everyday life. Beware of the queue at Brothers, though. Expect to wait 30 minutes for a plate of rojak during peak hours.
449 Clementi Ave 3, #01-211, Singapore 120449
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9.30am to 9.30pm, closed on Sun
Nearest MRT: Clementi
Singapore has a specialty coffee roaster, and many third-wave cafés buy their beans from them. Common Man Coffee Roasters started out with a mission to make great coffee accessible to everyone. They’ve since moved beyond serving the average Joe an average cuppa joe (#sorrynotsorry) and morphed into an established institution in the local coffee scene. Their coffee is strong and aromatic with a good depth of flavour, but be warned that brunch prices are a little steep for the common man or woman.
Common Man Coffee Roasters
22 Martin Road #01-00, SINGAPORE 239058
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7.30am to 5pm, Sat & Sun 7.30am to 6pm
Nearest MRT: Tiong Bahru
The Katong Antique House is a one-of-a-kind “museum” displaying Peranakan artefacts. Owner and former President of the Peranakan Association, Peter Wee, has sadly passed away, but his legacy lives on in the house. The Peranakan Association has taken over the upkeep of Katong Antique House to preserve the Peranakan culture in a city obsessed with economic progress. Drop by for a taste of a bygone era and to learn more about the daily lives of the Peranakans in Singapore. Be sure to make an appointment prior to your visit.
Katong Antique House
208 East Coast Rd, Singapore 428907
Opening hours: Daily 11am to 4.30pm by appointment only
Phone: +65 6345 8544 (call for appointments)
What do Singapore’s insomniacs do at 3am? Go shopping, of course. Mustafa Centre is near and dear to all restless night owls burdened by 9 to 6 life. The departmental store is open 24/7 and is perpetually filled with people on bargain hunts. Whatever it is that you’re looking for, you’ll very likely find it at Mustafa. Think cameras, vacuum bags, shower gels, eggs, and even gold bars. It’s absolutely worth taking the time to stock up on travel essentials there.
145 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207704
Opening hours: All day, all night
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 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 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 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!
3 Lim Chu Kang Lane 4, Singapore 718859
Opening hours: Mon, Wed-Sun 9am to 4pm, Closed on Tue
Click here for tour information.
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 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
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.
240 Neo Tiew Crescent, Singapore 718898
Opening hours: Daily 10.30am to 10.30pm
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.
10 Neo Tiew Lane 2, Singapore 718813
Opening hours: 24 hours; Office: Daily 8am to 9pm
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.
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!
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!
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 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).
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.
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.
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.
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:
A single meal at a hawker centre: $3-$5
Three meals at a hawker centre: $10-$15
A single meal at a cafe, no drinks: $20-25 pp
A single meal at a cafe with drinks: $30 pp
A single meal at a restaurant: > $40 pp (the sky is your limit)
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:
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.
Strange branding, dingy packaging, and absent ingredient lists. Why go for pricey Oreos and Skittles when you can have iced gem biscuits and spectacle chocolate candies? Without further ado, here are some Singapore snacks to try for when you’re not feeling up to it.
No Singaporean childhood is complete without these colourful biscuits. The plain biscuit cuts through the sweetness of the icing perfectly.
Available at Fairprice. Or venture to Biscuit King to get them by weight!
Made of Chinese hawthorn fruit and sugar, this is a dangerous snack to be had in front of the TV. Before you know it, there will be ten torn wrappers in front of you and you’ll wonder where the Haw Flakes themselves have gone.
Available at Fairprice and Giant.
These are like Southeast Asian Maltesers, except they’re not very tasty. Also, the mascot looks strangely like Doraemon…except with ears. Well, the lure is in the toy that comes with it. Much like Kinder Joys, each pack comes with a cheap plastic toy you’ll only discover after opening the pack. Hey, cheap thrills, ya know?
Available at Munch Munch.
At only 20 cents per piece, these ice lollies are the perfect heat busters on a sunny day. I have no idea what they’re filled with, but my guess is coloured sugar water. Not exactly healthy, but a Starbucks Frappuccino probably contains much more sugar.
To be honest, they haven’t been around much these days, but you might get lucky at mamak shops or local mom and pop stalls.
These were a mandatory part of Children’s Day gift packs. Oh so colourful and tangy, these were also a known choking hazard. This writer’s mother used to watch her consume these jellies with hawk eyes until they were mushed and swallowed. I was convinced I liked the yellow lemon ones until I watched this episode of Backyard Science and began suspecting that they were all the same.
Try Valudollar? You know those shops with shady-looking “Fire Sale” signs? Yep, it’s my favourite shop.
These smol round balls may look plain, but they’re melt-in-your-mouth addictive. Just the right amount of sweetness combined with creamy milk flavouring makes this a wonderful snack for toddlers and the young at heart.
Apollo Chocolate Wafer might not live up to today’s discerning consumer’s tastes, but it’s a very inexpensive way to deal with chocolate cravings. Manufactured just across the border in Malaysia, the wafers are still popular and widely available throughout Singapore today.
Available at Fairprice.
Credit: Traditional Treats
Eyeglass chocolate derives its name from its packaging. Consisting of two detachable loops of colourful candy pieces, this reminds me of Luna Lovegood’s glasses. Nevertheless, it’s pretty fun to pop those candies out of their pockets.
Available at Munch Munch.
White Rabbit is known for its edible rice paper almost as much as it is for its creamy milk candy. Although it sounds strange, the texture of melting rice paper in your mouth adds a layer of sensation to the candy-eating experience. Just look at all the folks who got mad when a Los Angeles ice-cream parlour removed the paper when producing their White Rabbit flavoured confectionery.
Available at Fairprice.
Oh my! Instant ramen that doesn’t need to be cooked? Yes, please. Mamee Noodles have won the hearts of many children in Singapore and around the region for its crispy noodles and umami seasoning. It’s the perfect snack for when you crave something substantial but really don’t feel up to cooking.
Available at Fairprice.
The packaging. What in the world? Baby crackers? Fret not, for these are savoury fish-flavoured crackers. It tastes better than it looks or sounds, I promise. Also, their branding and community efforts are pretty good these days, we must say!
Available at Sheng Siong Supermarket and ValuDollar.
They aren’t the most realistic-looking teddies, but they’re stubby and hilarious. Unfortunately for them, they’re going straight into our mouths to be masticated into a beary delicious chocolatey mush. Sorry not sorry.
Available online at Redmart. We’re not sure where to get these bears in physical stores. If you see them out and about, give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These may not be the most healthy or tasty snacks you’ll ever eat, but they’re a cornerstone of Singapore culture and childhood. Be sure to try some while you’re here, and let us know what you think in the comments section down below!
Disclaimer: If there are any Malaysians and Indonesians about, we’re well aware that these snacks were huge parts of your childhood too. This writer’s uncle used to own a provision shop in Johor after all (yes, I had loads of free snacks).
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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!
55 Tiong Bahru Rd, Singapore 160055
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 1pm to 8pm, Closed on Mon
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.
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)