There’s so much to see, do and eat in Singapore that travellers might be a tad overwhelmed when they visit.
Singapore is known for its exciting attractions like Marina Bay Sands, Gardens By The Bay and Universal Studios but beyond all that, there’s so much more to explore! To help you see a different side of Singapore, we’ve rounded up this list of 12 must-do experiences to travel like a local. Whether you’re a #foodie, #collector, #socializer, #actionseeker or a #cultureshaper, read on as we take you through the island’s best gems!
[P.S. Check out our 3D2N Muslim-friendly itinerary to uncover Singapore’s hidden gems!]
1. Savour the best halal hawker food in the heartlands
Ask any Singaporean and they’d tell you that the best local food can be found in Singapore’s hawker centres in the heartlands. Singapore’s hawkers are no ordinary stall owners – their good quality of food has put Singapore on the world map and some of them have even won numerous awards and Michelin status. If you’re the kind of traveller who’d travel for food, we’ve got some top picks to help you fellow #foodies out 😊
Bedok Food Centre
Tucked all the way in the east is Bedok Food Centre, or Bedok Corner, as it’s referred to by Singaporeans. This hidden gem serves a wide variety of halal hawker fare ranging from Malay, Indian and Chinese food.
Our first recommendation is none other than Tong Fong Fatt’s signature Hainanese Chicken Rice. Its fragrant and flavourful rice, mixed with the juicy chicken and chilli, is a heavenly combination 🤤
Another dish to try here is Black Carrot Cake and Fried Oyster Omelette from Soon Lee. For the uninitiated, this isn’t a dessert but actually a mix of steamed rice flour and white radish, and shaped into a “carrot cake”. Soon Lee’s carrot cake is perfectly fried with thick sweet sauce and egg – seems simple but trust us, it’s so yummy and comforting!
Halal status: Both halal-certified
Address: 1 Bedok Rd, Singapore 469572
TFF Boneless Chicken Rice (Stall 28) – 11am – 9pm, closed on Wed
Soon Lee (Stall 2) – 10.30am – 9.30pm, closed on Mon
Directions: To get here, you’d need to take the East-West Line to Tanah Merah Station. Then take bus 14 or 45 from Tanah Merah Exit B and alight at Bedok Camp 2 bus stop.
Owned by a Chinese Muslim revert, Deanna’s Kitchen is probably one of the only few places in Singapore where you can savour halal authentic Chinese prawn noodles. The broth for this dish is traditionally made by simmering pork bones but Deanna’s uses chicken instead (plus prawn shells, anchovies and other ingredients!)
Credit: @perryong on Instagram
With all the flavours packed into one, the broth turns out slightly sweet and not too overwhelming, which makes you crave more every time you slurp it. There are various ingredients to choose from (prices start from $3.50) – like regular prawns to big prawns and even bigger ones! Or you can also choose to have clams, crayfish and lobsters, depending on your taste.
Halal status: Muslim-owned
1) 127 Lor 1 Toa Payoh, #02-25, Singapore 310127
Opening hours: 10am – 2pm, 5pm – 8pm (Wed – Fri), 9am – 3pm (Sat – Sun), closed on Mon and Tue
2) Jurong East Street 21, Padi Emas Coffee Shop, Block 214, Singapore 600214
Opening hours: 12pm – 9pm (Tue – Sat), 10am – 2pm (Sun), closed on Mon
BONUS: Haig Road Putu Piring
A visit to Singapore will not be complete without trying out the famous Haig Road Putu Piring. These disc-shaped steamed rice flour cakes are filled with palm sugar (gula melaka) and they are just too hard to resist 😋
Credit: @tamchiakchabor on Instagram
Have it when it’s warm and fresh so the gula melaka will ooze out as you sink your teeth into it. It’s not just the sweet taste of the putu piring that will excite you – the way it’s made by hand in special steamers and the precise timing is almost like clockwork, and it’s really fascinating to watch too. Haig Road Putu Piring is listed in the Michelin guide so if you’re a self-professed #foodie, you won’t want to miss it!
#HHWT Tip: The store now has many outlets across Singapore but we recommend heading to its original store at Haig Road for the most authentic experience.
Halal status: Muslim-owned
Address: 14 Haig Rd, Singapore 430014
Opening hours: 10.45am – 10pm daily
Directions: Take the East-West Line to Paya Lebar MRT Station and walk about 11 minutes to Haig Road Putu Piring
P.S. Looking for more halal places to eat in Singapore? We’ve got you covered with these 15 eateries!
2. Discover street art by local artists in Little India
What’s great about art in Singapore is that it’s not just limited to what you see in museums and exhibitions – you can find it on the streets too! One of the places where you can admire street art is in Little India. As part of a public art project called ARTWALK, empty spaces and walls were revitalised with colourful murals that reflect the characteristics or histories of the neighbourhood.
One of our favourites is this mural by Eunice Lim at 67 Kerbau Road. The artwork features colourful buffalos with traditional Indian patterns. The use of buffalos reflects the name of the street (kerbau means buffalo) as well as the significance of cattle in Hinduism.
#HHWT Tip: The mural is located right outside Little India Station Exit E.
Another mural that has caught our attention is this one at 1 Hindoo Road. This long artwork by Izzad Radzali Shah showcases playful caricatures of Little India’s residents doing various poses. It’s a reflection of the vibrant stories and culture of the community living here, so it’s really refreshing 😍
BONUS: Former House of Tan Teng Niah
This next place isn’t exactly a piece of street art but we’d recommend you to visit it while in Little India because of its brightly coloured walls which you can spot from miles away. The Former House of Tan Teng Niah was built in the 1900s by a businessman for his wife and it’s the last remaining Chinese villa in the area. So, a visit here is a must!
While you’re here, pay attention to the architecture of this building which has a mix of Southeast Asian, Chinese and European influences. The roof fixtures resemble that of Malay kampung houses while the long shutter-like windows were quintessential of Western homes – definitely a sight to marvel, especially for all #cultureshapers.
Address: 37, Kerbau Rd, Singapore 219168
Directions: The House of Tan Teng Niah is just a short walk away from the mural at 67 Kerbau Rd.
P.S. Want to see more of Little India? We’ve got just the guide you need!
3. Collect unique souvenirs and local designer items at Kg Glam
It’s no secret that Singapore is known as a shopping haven. If you’re wondering where you can shop for items which are out of the ordinary, then Kg Glam is your best bet! What we love about this area is its ability to balance old and new – there’s an array of shops here from the traditional (carpets, fabrics, Malay garments) to trendy.
Head over to Supermama if you want to bring home a piece of Singapore.
Credit: @supermamasg on Instagram
This Japanese-inspired gallery store makes porcelain with Singaporean motifs such as kebaya prints, Peranakan rose, Merlion and more. So, you’d definitely want to get your hands on these if you’re an avid #collector 😍
Address: 265 Beach Rd, Singapore 199544
Opening hours: 11am – 8pm daily
Did you know that you can find fragrant alcohol-free perfumes, essential oils and scents at Kg Glam too?
Credit: Jamal Kazura Aromatics on Facebook
Head over to Jamal Kazura and you’ll get to customise your preferred scent. Whether you like a floral or citrus scent, you’ll surely find something that suits your fancy. You can also pick something ready-made such as their popular Bella Rose scent.
#HHWT Tip: If you’re looking for an even more customised and boutique perfume-making experience, then head to Sifr Aromatics at Arab St instead!
Address: 27 Bussorah St, Singapore 199445 (there’s another outlet at 728 North Bridge Rd)
Opening hours: 10am – 7pm daily
Local designer items
If there’s one place you shouldn’t miss in Kg Glam, it’s Haji Lane. Locals often refer to it as one of Singapore’s first few hip neighbourhoods and even though it’s seeing a larger crowd of tourists these days, it still hasn’t lost its charm.
Credit: @tianye on Instagram
Walking along this hipster street, you’ll find quirky boutiques and chic cafes. Those of you who love shopping for local designer items might want to pop by Craft Assembly for their uniquely Singaporean crafts and knick-knacks. Look out for vintage apparel, old-school toys, tote bags and magnets among others. Another shop that’s worth mentioning is Hygge – this lifestyle store has handmade trinkets and you can get a personalised gift for a loved one back home!
P.S. Check out these 9 awesome souvenirs to bring back from Singapore.
4. Explore the charming neighbourhood of Chinatown
It’s always nice to be an #explorer in interesting neighbourhoods when you’re travelling. Chinatown is one of those neighbourhoods where you can find tourist hotspots but yet, still immerse yourself in the daily lives of the locals and that makes it a perfect place for travellers to explore 🤗
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum
With its striking red and white exterior and Tang dynasty-style architecture, it’s hard to miss the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum. It might not have had a long history (opened in 2007) but it’s one of Singapore’s must-see cultural sights as it houses hundreds of years of important Buddhist art and history.
The temple is said to house sacred artefacts of the Buddha including the temple’s main highlight, the tooth relic as well as others like bone and tongue relics. It’s fascinating to also observe the local Buddhists’ devotion to their faith.
Address: 288 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058840
Directions: From Chinatown Station exit A, walk 3 for minutes to the temple.
Multicultural facet of Chinatown
Usually when we travel and explore new places, we tend to discover things that we’d otherwise not have known about. At first glance, you might think that Chinatown is just a place to learn about Chinese culture but in actual fact, it’s so much more than that!
While Chinatown has many traditional Chinese decorations and shops selling Chinese goods, believe it or not, the neighbourhood is also home to a large Hindu temple (Sri Mariamman Temple) and one of the earliest mosques in Singapore (Masjid Jamae Chulia)! The best part is, they are along the same street as the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple too, which makes it even more striking. This multicultural facet of Chinatown is what makes it worth exploring – you can experience a myriad of Singapore’s cultures in one place 😊
People’s Park Complex
Beyond the tourist attractions and souvenir shops in Chinatown, the neighbourhood is also home to residential buildings and hidden picture-perfect spots where locals hang out at. One building that perfectly blends these 2 elements is the People’s Park Complex.
Consisting of a shopping mall on its lower floors and residential apartments on the higher floors, People’s Park’s rooftop car park is a haven for Instagram enthusiasts. Stepping foot here will make you feel as though you’re on the set of an 80s action movie – definitely an unexpected find among Chinatown’s hustle and bustle!
#HHWT Tip: Snap away and admire the sweeping view of Chinatown plus Singapore’s skyscrapers. But do be quiet as the building is still home to many residents.
Address: 101 Upper Cross St, Singapore 058357
Directions: To get to the rooftop, take the lift up to the 5th floor, head up to the staircase right beside the lift landing before reaching the car park.
5. Shop till you drop for the best bargains
Who says shopping in Singapore has to be expensive? Well, believe it or not, you can snag some value-for-money buys if you know where to look 😉
Shopping all day, every day? Yes please, #collectors! This 24-hour complex is a shopping paradise and it’s not just locals who shop here, many tourists have found their way here too. You can find almost anything at Mustafa – affordable sportswear, electronics, clothes, textiles, groceries, souvenirs… the list is endless!
Get your fix of Merlion-themed souvenirs and Singapore-themed t-shirts, or stock up on exclusive chocolates and snacks that you can’t find back home. Your experience shopping here is definitely one of a kind.
Address: 145 Syed Alwi Rd, Singapore 207704
Open 24 hours
Directions: Mustafa Centre is a 5-minute walk from Farrer Park MRT Station.
Bugis Street Market
Next is Singapore’s largest indoor street market, Bugis Street. The market is a labyrinth of over 600 stalls selling cheap clothes, shoes and accessories. With just $10, you can expect to get a decent pair of jeans! If you’re looking for Singapore-themed t-shirt and bulk souvenirs to bring home, you can purchase them here at an affordable price too 😅
Credit: @yotarooooo on Instagram
If you’re feeling tired from all the shopping, there are many snacks and drinks stalls here for you to recharge. The market is spread out over 3 floors and we hear the second floor is Korean-themed, so all you KPop fans will enjoy shopping here!
Address: 3 New Bugis Street, Singapore 188867
Opening hours: 11am – 10pm daily
Directions: Take the East-West Line to Bugis MRT Station. Bugis Street is located just opposite Bugis Junction.
Queensway Shopping Centre
Opened for over 40 years, most Singaporeans would know Queensway Shopping Centre for its selection of over 200 shops selling affordable sportswear and shoes. You won’t get the latest edition sneakers or jackets here but rest assured, they come at a much cheaper price than what you’d get at other malls.
Credit: Johan Koh on Facebook
Head over to LE Way, Sports World or I-Run to get yourself a decent pair of running shoes and if you need to get other sports apparel, head over to Transworld Sports or Sports Finesse instead 🤗
#HHWT Tip: There are many shops selling the same thing here so, don’t purchase something at the first store you see! Browse through the different shops first before making a decision.
Address: 3 Queensway, Singapore 149073
Opening hours: 10am – 10pm daily
Directions: Take the East-West Line to Queenstown MRT Station and walk about 18 minutes to Queensway.
6. Be your own artist at ArtScience Museum
In a modern city like Singapore where things are constantly changing, art is also becoming more diverse and it’s not just limited to still art pieces. With the help of technology, you can now join local art enthusiasts and #cultureshapers in interacting with immersive digital art installations at the Future World: Where Art Meets Science exhibition at ArtScience Museum.
Visitors can interact with the exhibit at Transcending Boundaries. The different elements in the installation will respond to the human body and change its course.
One of the stunning concepts is Transcending Boundaries, which fully immerses you in a garden with waterfalls, butterflies and flowers. It’s even complete with sounds of nature. In a time span of an hour, you’ll experience a change of seasons throughout the year – watch as seasonal flowers like sunflowers and cherry blossoms grow, bloom, scatter and wither. Not only will you be able to interact with the ever-changing artwork, but you’ll also be able to blend in and be part of the installation. It’s both a feast for the eyes and intriguing for the mind 😍
At Sketch Town, you can colour an object, place it in a digital scanner and it will be part of the installation. You can touch it on the wall to animate it!
Another interesting installation is Sketch Town – it’s an imaginary town which is based on Singapore with iconic landmarks like ArtScience Museum, Gardens By The Bay and Marina Bay Sands. What’s interesting about this is that you can add your own touch to the installation. Simply draw a building, car or anything you’d like on paper using the crayons provided, place it in a digital scanner and the object you draw will automatically turn into a 3D animated object. And you can even touch it and see it move in the installation!
As more and more people contribute to the installation, the artwork will keep evolving and an individual contribution becomes a collective experience shared by everyone. It’s heartening to see how art can be shaped by a whole community ☺️
Address: 6 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018974
Admission times: 10am, 11.30am, 1pm, 2.30pm, 4pm and 5.30pm (last entry).
Admission fee: $19 (Adults), $14 (Child, Students, Seniors)
7. Uncover spectacular views at Henderson Waves
It’s time to unleash the #explorer in you and uncover the magnificent view from Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge, Henderson Waves. At 36 metres above the ground, this bridge is part of Singapore’s 10-km Southern Ridges nature walk and it connects Mt Faber Park to Telok Blangah Hill Park.
The bridge is usually a rest area for hikers as they can sit on the wooden benches, admire the view and take in the cool breeze. In case you’re wondering, the bridge is called a “wave” as it has curves and twists which resemble a wave.
While you’re here, you’ll notice amazing views of the lush greenery set against the backdrop of the Singapore skyline. Try to spot the iconic curved roof of the Reflections at Keppel Bay condominium (left) if you can. On a sunny and clear day, the view also extends out to the sea 😍
#HHWT Tip: To fully experience Singapore’s natural charms, we recommend heading to the starting trail of the Southern Ridges Walk at Mt Faber before reaching the Henderson Waves and then continuing on to the Telok Blangah Hill Park.
Address: Henderson Rd, Singapore 159557
Open 24 hours
8. Surprise your taste buds with fusion dishes
With a blend of so many different cuisines in Singapore, it’s no surprise that local chefs and homegrown cafe owners have taken to experimenting with food to create fusion dishes. If you’re a #foodie, you won’t want to pass up on these enticing treats!
The Malayan Council
Contrary to its name, The Malayan Council (or TMC) is actually a Singaporean establishment specialising in Malay-Western fusion dishes. Malay food, which is traditionally rich in flavour, is used to enhance the taste of well-known Western dishes.
Credit: @hbolyna on Instagram
Some of TMC’s most popular dishes are their Roti Kirai Beef Ribs (malay net crepes), Asam Pedas Fish and Chips and Lemak Chilli Padi Pasta. The Roti Kirai Beef Ribs deserve a special mention as the tender meat is topped with their special thick gravy, making it an irresistible dish. The Lemak Chilli Padi Pasta comes with yummy smoked duck and the sauce is creamy and spicy. The food at TMC has some really bold flavours but it’ll definitely please the #foodie in you.
Halal status: Muslim-owned
1) 22 Dunlop St, Singapore 209350
Opening hours: 11.30am – 11pm daily
2) 71 Bussorah St, Singapore 199484
Opening hours: 11am – 11pm daily
We’ve introduced you to some local hawker favourites earlier. Now, be prepared as we introduce you to hawker food but in a hip and modern setting. Popular hawker food, as we know it, has been redefined at Hawkerman. This eatery brings 3 popular hawker stalls together under 1 roof – Warong Kim’s, Tenderfresh and Ah Boy Popiah.
Credit: @ailinhidayahchoo on Instagram
Not to mention that the dishes have interesting Singlish (local Singapore slang) names too. For instance, the Bao Ka Liao platter (literally means “take over everything”) lets you taste the best of the 3 hawkers – Tenderfresh’s crispy and juicy spring chicken, Warong Kim’s signature Hokkien mee and Ah Boy’s yummy spring rolls – this is a modern take on how hawker food is usually prepared 😆
Credit: @nazrisg on Instagram
You can also expect some twists in their desserts too. Try the Durian ‘N Jack Popiah – durian ice cream is wrapped in spring roll skin and topped with jackfruit slices. Popiah is traditionally a savoury dish but now it’s made into dessert instead!
Halal status: Halal-certified
Address: Singpost Centre #B1-128/129, 10 Eunos Rd 8, Singapore 408600
Opening hours: 11am – 10pm daily
9. Unleash your adventurous soul at Pulau Ubin
Are you an #actionseeker looking for somewhere off the beaten track that’s far away from the city? Then the unspoilt nature and rustic charm of Pulau Ubin will be just what you need. Most locals would have stepped foot on Pulau Ubin at one point in their lives, either for school camps or simply for some outdoor adventure fun. There’s no doubt that Ubin is truly a local’s playground.
Credit: @_nurul.aisyah on Instagram
If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, a hike up Ubin’s tallest hill, Puaka, will set your heart pumping. But the breathtaking view at the top will make all that climbing worth it as it overlooks the Ubin quarry. There’s even a small ledge where you can pose and take plenty of photos for the ‘gram!
Credit: @jihoon_kris on Instagram
Another activity that’s really popular in Ubin is cycling! Cycling is a great way to get in touch with the island’s nature and you’re bound to run into Singapore’s last few remaining kampungs (villages), or even spot some wildlife.
Go beyond the well-paved biking roads and into the wilderness where you’ll find rugged trails instead. Cycle to Chek Jawa Wetlands for a chance to discover the rich marine wildlife there or challenge yourself to the Ketam Mountain Bike Park – it’s the first in Singapore to meet international standards for mountain biking competitions. Whichever trail you choose, you’ll definitely get to satisfy your thirst for an action-packed adventure 😎
#HHWT Tip: Do be very careful when cycling in Ubin as you might encounter slippery and muddy slopes or rocks, so make sure your wear a proper helmet, knee and elbow pads.
Directions to Pulau Ubin: From the city, take the East-West Line to Tanah Merah Station and from there, take bus 2 to Changi Village Bus Terminal. Take a bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal to Pulau Ubin. The bumboat ride costs $3 (additional $2 if you bring a bike).
10. Go kayaking at one of Singapore’s water spots
You’re not about to let that adventure streak in you go away. It’s time to ramp up the action with a kayaking adventure! In case you’re wondering, there are many water sports centres which allow kayaking in Singapore’s rivers, reservoirs and even the open sea.
Marina Reservoir is the place to go if you’re looking to kayak AND enjoy a view of Singapore’s stunning skyline at the same time. This spot is usually popular with dragon boating competitions and school activities, so a leisurely kayak here is perfect if you want to blend in with the sporty locals.
Credit: Loke Jun Jie on Facebook
The best part is, you’ll get an impressive view of the Gardens By The Bay, Marina Bay Sands and Singapore Flyer without jostling with hordes of tourists! You can rent the kayaks (around $12) from several operators like the Singapore Sports Hub’s Water Sports Centre and PAssion Wave @ Marina Bay. Take your pick from closed deck, sit-on-top kayaks, 2-seater or 4-seater kayaks!
Water Sports Centre
Address: 8 Stadium Walk, Singapore 397699
Opening hours: 7am – 8pm
PAssion Wave @ Marina Bay
Address: 11 Rhu Cross, Singapore 437440
Opening hours: 9am – 6pm, closed on Mondays
Looking for respite from the busy city? Then kayak at MacRitchie Reservoir instead, Singapore’s largest nature reserve. The calm waters here, set against the backdrop of the abundant rainforest will make you forget that you’re even in Singapore for a moment!
Credit: Prince Miranda on Facebook
Only a small area of the reservoir is designated for kayaking but that’s enough for all you #actionseekers to have your fix of water sports. You can rent your kayaks ($15 per hour) from Paddle Lodge by the Singapore Canoe Federation. While you’re here, try to spot nature enthusiasts doing some fishing, hiking or even bird-watching 😉
Opening hours: 9am – 10.30am, 2pm – 4.30pm daily
Directions: You can get to Macritchie Reservoir Park by taking buses 162, 166, 167 or 130 from the city.
11. Mingle with the crowd at Wanderlost Lounge
Singapore is a great place to interact and meet people from all walks of life. So, if you feel like getting out of your comfort zone for a bit and find other like-minded #socialisers or simply looking for a place to hang out with friends, we know just where you should go – Wanderlost Lounge!
Opened in December last year, Wanderlost is a refreshing Muslim-friendly addition to Singapore’s nightlife scene. Serving non-alcoholic mocktails and halal bites, Wanderlost is set in the midst of skyscrapers in Singapore’s CBD and they have a nice rooftop space which is perfect for chilling out and socialising.
Credit: @lizah_mohamad on Instagram
Not only is the space pretty cool, but Wanderlost has creative mocktails to boot! Its drinks are inspired by childhood novels. Whether you’re sipping on Alice In Wonderland, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, or The Alchemist, you can guarantee it’ll leave you wanting more. The drinks are flavoured with natural distillates, spices, and fruits, meaning they’re a healthy alternative to soft drinks too 😋
#HHWT Tip: If you’re feeling a little hungry, order some savoury dishes to go along with your mocktails. Our top picks are their Swedish meatballs, chicken drumlets, grilled beef tacos and mesquite-grilled chicken chop.
Halal status: Muslim-owned
Address: 15 Enggor Road, Realty Centre #12-01, Singapore 079716
Opening Hours: 5.30pm-late (Mon-Sat)
Reservations: +65 6909 7701 or book via their website
12. Enjoy free music at Esplanade
One great thing about Singapore is that there are many activities to do round the clock, even at night. Who says you have to hit the bars or clubs to enjoy the nightlife in Singapore? When night falls, you can check out Singapore’s thriving arts and music scene at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre.
Credit: @scribblyfinch on Instagram
No matter what type of music or artform you’re interested in, everyone is welcome to sit in and watch the performances at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre, because music brings all #socialisers together!
Credit: Soe Zaw on Facebook
From live gigs by rising bands to dance performances and even traditional music, this place is always buzzing with entertainment. Who knows? You might just discover some new music. Not to mention that the performance area overlooks the Marina Bay as well, which makes for a great ambience to enjoy music as well.
Address: 1 Esplanade Dr, Singapore 038981
We hope this guide has given you a better idea of how to experience Singapore through a local’s perspective. Whether you’re a traveller exploring beyond the usual tourist spots, an art enthusiast or looking to set your heart pumping, you can always find something to do here.
Of course, for avid shoppers and self-professed #foodies, Singapore has no lack of unique places to shop and eat too. It’s so wonderful to see that in a seemingly small and busy city like Singapore, many experiences are made possible because the locals are passionate about what they do! So, the next time you’re in Singapore, try these experiences out for yourself so you can feel the #PassionMadePossible in this lovely city 😉
P.S. That awesome trip to Singapore is calling! Fly Scoot to Singapore and enjoy affordable fares and deals.
This article is brought to you by Singapore Tourism Board.