Singapore is at the crossroads of some of the world’s most vibrant and delicious cuisines. It really is one of the greatest places in the world to eat; blessed with access to the freshest ingredients and full of food-loving locals.
Hawker centers are a great place to see and taste the astounding diversity of Singaporean cuisine, but these massive, budget food markets only tell half the story. Singapore’s cuisine can also be subtle, refined and surprising.
The many cultures of Singapore – and especially the Malay, Chinese and Indian traditions – compete for your attention, offering delectable delights for your taste buds. From Peranakan (Straits Chinese) dishes (such as Nyonya laksa) to fragrant Indian curries to local satays and spicy noodle dishes, Singapore will leave you satisfied…and maybe a pound or two heavier!
1. The Singapore Sling
One of the most iconic cocktails in the world is the Singapore Sling; a drink whose name evokes visions of colonial grandeur, luxury and tropical decadence.
Invented sometime between 1910 and 1915 by Raffles Hotel bartender Ngiam Tong Boon, the drink’s ingredients are often disputed.
The current International Bartenders Association recipe is a sweet punch-like concoction featuring a laundry list of ingredients (gin, cherry brandy, Cointreau, Benedictine, Genadine, pineapple juice, lemon juice and bitters), though it’s certain that the original recipe was a more refined and stately affair (probably just gin, cheery liqueur, Benedictine and pineapple juice).
One thing beyond doubt is that the best place in the world to drink a Singapore Sling is in its birthplace: the famous Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel. While the unsuspecting will get their order filled from a pre-mix, if you ask nicely for a shaken version, the bartenders will be happy to oblige.
2. Hawker Centers
A must on any trip to Singapore is to visit a hawker center; a variety of food stalls under one roof. The hawker stalls are somewhere between street food and a restaurant, with lots of seating, eating utensils provided, and a wide variety of foods available.
Singapore has an extraordinary blend of local delicacies to sample, from Hainanese Chicken Rice, Nasi Lemak, Laksa, Rojak, Beef Kway Teow and Fish Head Curry. And then there’s the Peranakan, Indian and Malay cuisine! It’s a foodie’s paradise, with tasty, fresh food available all day and long into the night.
Find a hawker center – there are lots, including Tiong Bahru, the Esplanade, Maxwell Road and Changi Village – and ‘chope’ (reserve) a table by leaving something small on it (a packet of tissues is a favorite). Find a tasty stall and order your dish. Tell them your table number and they’ll bring your food and drinks to you. Pay when the food arrives (cash only!).
Even if you’ve been street-food shy in the past, hawker centers are are a wonderful and safe experience.
3. Singapore Pub Crawl
Take a break from the official history of Singapore by enjoying a drink or two and soaking up the other side of Singapore. This is the walk if you want the alternative story - a perfect cocktail of bank breakers, vandals, terrorists, drugs and one fine lady.
Heard of the English knight loved by two women but despised by a man of the cloth? The father-and-son team that did the Empire proud but were labeled as vandals by some? What about the man with no head for figures who broke the Queen's Bank? Or the lawmakers who pushed opium?
Savor these tales while imbibing ales in charming pubs along the picturesque river bank. Swig, swagger and stagger through the back lanes of history. Highlights include the Asian Civilisations Museum, Boat Quay, Cavenagh and Elgin Bridges, Street of Mercy, Brokers' Alley and historical pubs.
4. Dine in the Sky
All great cities of the world have a big wheel these days, and Singapore is no exception. Lifting you 165 m (540 feet) into the air, the Singapore Flyer is the world’s largest observation wheel, providing amazing panoramic views of the city, the sea and the surrounds.
Enjoy a 90-minute fine-dining experience
with panoramic views aboard the Singapore Flyer. It towers above Singapore's iconic landmarks - Marina Bay, Singapore River, Raffles Place financial district - and features the world's first full-butler dinner service in the sky. You'll make two complete rotations over the course of 60 minutes on this architectural and engineering marvel.
5. Eat Breakfast Amongst Orangutans
Enjoy the flexibility of this private Singapore Zoo tour
where you will experience a new concept in animal keeping with the Singapore Zoo's beautifully landscaped gardens and very few cages. This morning tour is your chance to enjoy a 'Wild Breakfast" with three of the friendly animals, including the famed Orangutan.