In Singapore, eating is practically a national pastime, and the best place to experience the depth and diversity of the nation's melting pot gastronomic scene is at a hawker center. Similar to a mall food court (but way better), a hawker center brings several food vendors under the same roof, so you can sample favorites like chilli crab, Hainanese chicken, fish head curry, and chicken satay all at the same table.
Lau Pa Sat
This giant hawker center, located in the heart of Singapore's financial district, houses nearly 100 vendors with enough seating for more than 2,000 people. Its location inside a restored Victorian structure from 1894 is a charming bonus.
The Chinatown Complex Food Centre ranks among the largest in Singapore, with more than 260 food stalls selling all the must-try dishes, from chilli crab and barbecue stingray to chicken rice and dim sum.
Set in Little India, it's easy to spend hours munching on South Indian tiffin, tandoori breads, and biryani at the Tekka Center. A smattering of Chinese vendors also sell dishes with mainland influences.
Geylang Serai Market
This is one of Singapore's biggest and busiest wet markets, known as a great place to sample Malay and Indian flavors. The food stalls are on the second floor—don't miss the spicy stingray, fried fish, or banana fritters.
Marine Parade Food Center
A favorite for hungry locals and visitors near the east coast, Marine Parade has resisted efforts to renovate, lending it a classic feel. Popular dishes here include Malaysian-style beef noodles, nasi lemak, and Chinese-style chicken curry puffs.
Maxwell Food Center
Located in Chinatown, this hawker center features 100-plus stalls specializing in Chinese-influenced dishes, such as Singapore's iconic Hainanese chicken rice, Chinese porridge, and seafood fritters.
Newton Food Center
Due to its convenient proximity to Orchard Road, the Newton Food Center is one of the most accessible hawker centers for tourists. Over 80 stalls serve a range of foods, but seafood and satay dominate the scene.