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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 

Good day, friends! As the mercury keeps pushing its way up, let’s discover some cool places to get that core temperature in check. This post is brought to you by a writer recovering from heat exhaustion, and take it from me: it is no fun AT ALL.
 
The Food Place
It might sound counter-intuitive to recommend Curry Fish Head on a scorching day, but it has been claimed that consuming spicy foods increases sweating, which in turn helps the body cool down faster. The humidity in Singapore probably negates the cooling effects of evaporating sweat, but Singaporeans really love their spices too much to care. Head over to West Coast Plaza and seek out West Co’z Cafe. They’re Halal-certified, and their Traditional Curry Fish Head comes with thick, fiery gravy, a selection of non-leafy vegetables, as well as juicy, spongy dried beancurd. West Co’z Cafe’s rendition is also one of the most affordable in Singapore.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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West Coast Plaza, 154 West Coast Rd, #02-23, 127371
Opening hours: Daily 11.30am to 9.30pm
 
The Coffee Place
Hot latte may be comforting, but not on an equally hot day. It is indeed a blessing for anyone living in or visiting the tropics that cold brew coffee is now a thing. Nesting in Little India, Old Hen Coffee Bar is well-known for their immaculately bottled cold brews. Fans rave over their Creamy White, a refreshing pick-me-up on a sultry afternoon. For those who prefer unadulterated coffee, their Smooth Black is a hit too.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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88 Rangoon Road, #01-03, Singapore 218374
Opening hours: Mon, Wed-Fri 12pm to 10pm, Sat 10am to 6.30pm, Sun 10am to 10pm, Closed on Tue
Nearest MRT: Farrer Park
 
The Chill Place
If the heat gets seriously unbearable, put on some skates and imagine you’re gliding on the surface of Lake Baikal! Okay, it’s probably not cold enough for that, but The Rink over at Jurong East is the best ice skating experience you can get in Singapore. With the Zamboni deployed after every session, you can be assured of a quality experience. If you’re a novice and you’re not ready to go home with bruised bums, head upstairs to watch the (mostly little) pros fly and pirouette across the ice!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Rink
JCube, 2 Jurong East Central 1, Level 3, Singapore 609731
Opening hours: Varies according to events calendar. Check here.
Rates: $18/adult, $14/child (2 hours, including skate rental; bring your own socks). For more details, click here.
 
The Market Place
If you’re looking for non-tacky souvenirs to remind you of your trip to Singapore, you won’t go wrong with Cat Socrates. Carrying books, bags, and various knick-knacks, this indie boutique is certainly a breath of fresh air in an increasingly homogenised world. Discover Singapore-inspired postcard designs, edgy tote bags, and books by local and regional writers. If you’re a cat person, be sure to keep a lookout for Chestnut and Zoozoo who live in the Bras Basah and Joo Chiat outlets respectively!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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  • 231 Bain Street, #02-25, Singapore 180231
    • Opening hours: Mon-Sat 12pm to 8pm, Sun 1pm to 7pm
  • 448 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427661
    • Opening hours: Tue-Sun 12.30pm to 9.30pm, Closed on Mon

Peranakan Culture in Singapore: A Brief History

  1. Chinese traders began arriving and trading in Southeast Asia from the 10th century.
  2. From the 13th century, many Chinese sailors and traders began settling in Java and the Malay Peninsula, and intermarried with local Malay women. The marriages resulted in a blend of Chinese and Malay cultural elements that would eventually form the unique regional Peranakan culture.
  3. However, while Peranakan is commonly used to refer to the Straits Chinese population, the word Peranakan doesn’t have any racial or religious connotations. In fact, there are Indian Peranakans and Jawi Peranakans and Eurasian Peranakans, and the common denominator amongst these cultures is their unique fusion of regional cultural practices with their own.
  4. Singapore’s Peranakan population is mostly of Chinese ancestry.
  5. Today, most Peranakans have been assimilated under increasingly controversial regional racial profiling practices, identifying as Chinese, Malay, Indian, or Others.

What is Peranakan Culture

There’s no singular marker of Peranakan culture (for the purposes of this article, we’ll take Peranakan to refer to Singapore’s Chinese Peranakan culture). In fact, this writer has trawled through several blog posts and web pages written by Peranakans and while they agree on the influence of the rich Malay culture on their heritage and cultural practices, some reflect on their cosmopolitan mindset and largely Western education while others highlight traditional superstitions and practices such as hiding unmarried adult daughters from public sight.

Peranakans are also known as Babas and Nyonyas, honorific terms meaning Mister and Madam respectively. This recognises their status as Straits-born children, and differentiates them from the large wave of Chinese immigrants who arrived in the 19th century. Because of their status as early immigrants and their predominantly Western education, Peranakans could acquire civil service jobs easily, and many of them served as middlemen between the British and the local non-English-speaking population. This helped them acquire wealth and assets and it’s why so many crazy rich Singaporeans are Peranakan.

Many Peranakan families are Catholic today, but some still worship gods and deities from different religions as per the surprisingly traditional practice that honours the diversity of religions and cultures of the Straits.

Fun fact: Did you know that Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, was Peranakan?

Peranakan Food

Peranakan cuisine is also known as Nyonya food as culinary duties traditionally fell to the women who would spend hours in the kitchen grinding spices and making gravies. It’s full of regional influences both in culinary skills and ingredients used. The rempah (spiced sauces) are characteristic of Malay cooking, while ingredients such as rice noodles and pork reflected Chinese influences. Peranakan cooking is available mostly at Peranakan specialty restaurants, However, nyonya kueh and dumplings can be bought at street food stalls or in mall shops. Here are some acclaimed eateries to patronise while you’re here:

Candlenut

Candlenut is an oily nut not unlike macademia. It’s predominantly used in Southeast Asian curries and stews, as the high oil content allows the base to thicken and become creamier, giving the region’s cuisine their distinctive richness. Candlenut restaurant, on the other hand (sorry for going off-topic), is Singapore’s only Michelin-starred Peranakan food establishment. Helmed by Chef Malcolm Lee, the restaurant serves Peranakan classics refreshed for the contemporary palate. Only fresh ingredients are used, so you can be assured of quality. However, a meal at Candlenut doesn’t come cheap, and for cultural purists, the updated recipes may not satisfy. That said, gourmet seekers will undoubtedly find dining at Candlenut a unique experience.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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17A Dempsey Rd, Singapore 249676
Opening hours: Sun-Thu 12 to 3pm and 6-10pm, Fri-Sat 12-3pm and 6-11pm

Violet Oon Singapore

Violet Oon is Singapore’s authority on Nyonya cuisine. Cutting her teeth on journalism, she quickly found her niche in food reporting, and eventually started her own food magazine in the 80s. Her passion in food seeps through every aspect of her life, and eventually led her to start the Violet Oon chain of restaurants in Singapore. Now with four outlets each with its own special menu, the business is still growing steadily, and Violet’s children contributing to new ideas relevant for the modern connoisseur. Diners love the consistent quality of dishes such as Buah Keluak Ayam, Dry Laksa, and Kueh Pie Tee, though they note that the some of the flavours may be acquired tastes. Again, this is a pricier option, but a good, authentic way to sample Peranakan food in Singapore.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Violet Oon Singapore
Various outlets including ION Orchard and National Gallery Singapore
Check website for addresses, menus, and opening hours

IVINS Peranakan Restaurant

For those on a tighter budget, IVINS Peranakan Restaurant offers great bang for buck. Traditional Peranakan dishes such as Udang Masak Nanas (prawns cooked with pineapples in tamarind gravy) retail for less than $10, and the communal nature of Peranakan dining means you can place orders for several dishes and plates of rice, and share them amongst your companions!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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21 Binjai Park, Singapore 589827
Opening hours: Fri-Wed 11am to 3pm and 5pm-9pm, closed on Thu

Peranakan Language

Singaporean Peranakans have mostly been absorbed into the country’s racial categories and mainly converse in English today, but each community (Chinese, Chitty, Jawi) have their own Malay-based creoles inflected with other languages and dialects such as Hokkien, Portuguese, Arabic, and Tamil.

Peranakan Culture in Singapore: Where to go

Itching to learn more about Singapore’s Peranakan culture? Here are the places committed to educating both locals and travellers on Peranakan culture in Singapore.

Rumah Kim Choo

Rumah Kim Choo (Kim Choo House) hosts workshops and activities such as food tastings and kebaya fittings to provide an immersive experience for visitors. They also have an in-house boutique and gallery for all your souvenir needs.

DSC_8750

109 / 111 East Coast Road, Singapore 428800 / 428801

Check out the activities available and book your slot here.

Peranakan Shophouses

What’s a visit to Singapore without the mandatory photo of gorgeous pastel-coloured Peranakan shophouses? Take a moment to admire the colourful tiles adorning the facades of the buildings and snap as many photos as you will. It’s free!

DSC_8823

Koon Seng Road, Joo Chiat

Katong Antique House

Katong Antique House belonged to Baba Peter Wee until his passing in 2018. He was the ex-President of the Singapore Peranakan Association and was very committed to preserving Peranakan tradition and educating the public about Peranakan daily life. The Katong Antique House is testament to his efforts. It contains multitudes of everyday objects donated by Peranakan families and offers an insight into the lives of Singapore’s Peranakan population back in the day.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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208 East Coast Rd, Singapore 428907
Opening hours: Daily 11am to 4.30pm by appointment only
Phone: +65 6345 8544 (call for appointments)

Baba House

The Baba House is managed by the National University of Singapore. It once belonged to Peranakan shipping tycoon Wee Bin, and its exterior and interiors have been carefully preserved to reflect a typical Peranakan home of the time. The original furniture and household objects are still intact and on display. However, curious visitors are required to book an appointment in advance for a heritage tour conducted by historians.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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157 Neil Rd, Singapore 088883

Visits by appointment only. Book in advance here.

Book an immersive experience with us and learn more about Peranakan culture in Singapore through heritage site visits and mini food tours!

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!
What’s up, amigos? We’re in the middle of March (already?!), and we can’t believe it. It’s been sweltering here in Singapore, and this writer has lapsed back into her shameful bubble tea habits.
 
The Food Place
Ah well, how about a refreshing ice-blended drink to turn down the heat this week? No, we’re not referring to Starbuck’s Frappés. You can get those anywhere. For tropical, caffeine-free option, head down to Satay by the Bay, a hawker centre nestled within the world-renowned Gardens by the Bay. Scout out the beverage stall and order a cup of Coconut Shake. Made with fresh sweet coconut juice and coconut ice-cream, this is a drink you’ll see yourself cradling on the beach. The taste is reminiscent of fresh coconuts, not the preserved UHT-packed juice sold in supermarkets.
 
satay by the bay
 
Beverage Stall
Satay by the Bay
18 Marina Gardens Drive, #01-19, Singapore 018953
Opening hours: Daily 11am to 10pm
 
The Coffee Place
You know what the name “Craftsmen” reminds me of? Kingsman. With such a name, one would expect the coffee bar to be purveyors of top quality coffee. Perhaps as testament to their craft, they seem to have a loyal and expanding following. To top off the cake, they’re also known for their welcoming staff and cozy workspace. Exactly what you’d expect from men and women of craft.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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33 Mohamed Sultan Rd, #01-05, Singapore 238977
Opening hours: Sun-Thu & PH 8.30am to 9pm, Fri, Sat & Eve of PH 8.30am to 10.30pm
 
The Hipster Place
For those curious about contemporary art, head over to Gillman Barracks to find out more. A former military garrison, Gillman Barracks now houses art galleries and restaurants for art lovers, collectors, and newbies alike. It’s a welcoming space for artists and non-artists.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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9 Lock Road, Singapore 108937
 
The Market Place
Naiise began as a humble startup in 2013. Looking for ways to help Singaporean designers reach an audience, its founder created an online platform that showcases and sells quirky products by local designers. Within four years, Naiise has expanded its digital presence into physical stores both in Singapore and Malaysia, and an eCommerce outpost in the UK.
 
naiise
Credit: The Cathay
 
2 Handy Road, The Cathay, #B1-08, Singapore 229233
Opening hours: Daily 12pm to 10pm
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 

The Food Place

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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Brothers Rojak
449 Clementi Ave 3, #01-211, Singapore 120449
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9.30am to 9.30pm, closed on Sun
Nearest MRT: Clementi

The Coffee Place

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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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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 Historical Place

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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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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)

The Market Place

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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Mustafa Centre
145 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207704
Opening hours: All day, all night

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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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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.

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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.

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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