Having been in Singapore already three times during our travels to and from Asia and Australia, we’ve got to the point of knowing one or two things about the so called “Capital of Asia”.
Singapore is a rich city-state, but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong in a travel-on-a-budget itinerary.
Many travellers skip it entirely because it is expensive, however there are ways to save money when in Singapore too.
In this article we want to help you find the best places where to eat well in Singapore without breaking the bank.
WHAT IS A HAWKER CENTRE?
The first thing to know about food in Singapore is that the cheapest options can often be founded within hawker centres.
A hawker centre is basically a huge food court with dozens of different stalls preparing any kind of food and drinks you can think of in Asia. Usually you can find Chinese, Malay, Japanese and Indian stalls, other than local ones. Drinks are always to be purchased at a separate dedicated stall.
Keep in mind that cash only is accepted, so come prepared with some small notes to pay for your meals.
Hawker centres became popular around the 80’s, when the local government decided to forbid hawkers to go and sell food in Singapore, gathering them in one place instead.
Eating at any hawker centre has many pro’s: prices are cheap, they’re indoor protected from sun and rain, food is fresh and prepared on-the-spot, and the seating area is very large so you can always find place, even if you are a big group of people.
Let’s see our 5 favourite places to eat cheap food in Singapore.
1. LAU PA SAT FOOD COURT (TELOK AYER MARKET)
Lau Pa Sat is arguably the most popular hawker centre in Singapore, thanks to its position at walking distance from Marina Bay. It is also referred to as Telok Ayer Market.
Even though it is always quite busy, you should be able to find a seat within the geometrically shaped area that hosts over 2,000 people.
Prices are slightly inflated due to the proximity to Singapore’s CBD, but the variety and quality of food available are definitely worth your money, together with the overall cleanliness (see cover photo for reference).
For example we had a great teppanyaki pepper chicken with rice by a Japanese stall for only 5.90 SGD (4€).
Lau Pa Sat is so popular that you can find stalls open 24/7.
2. MAXWELL HAWKER CENTRE
In the heart of Chinatown, Maxwell Hawker Centre is your best option for cheap Chinese food. Main dishes typically cost between 3-5$.
Despite having more than 100 stalls, the seating area is not so wide. Maxwell is always open for business (8am-10pm) but currently under renovation on one side (early 2020), which should give the food court some space for new stalls and tables.
3. THE SUMMIT – SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENS
If you are planning to visit the stunning Singapore Botanic Gardens, you’ll have to think about where to eat lunch, since the area is a few square km’s wide and far from the city centre. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
We were lucky enough to step into a small eatery by the University Faculty of Law called “The Summit” while visiting the Ethnobotany Garden.
Food here is tasty and not pricey at all. Handmade meat dumplings cost us just 4$! The place is open during the day only.
Check our map above to see the exact location.
4. LITTLE INDIA TEKKA HAWKER CENTRE
Little India Tekka Hawker Centre is the kingdom of samosas, curries, and biryani.
Situated on Serangoon Road, Tekka Hawker Centre is a 3-storey complex where, surprise surprise, flocks of Indians come to enjoy the cheap good food. The feeling is truly to be in India, with great smells, colours, and people hand-eating traditionally.
Prices are clearly not as low as in India, however we got 3 samosas for 4$. Tekka Hawker Centre closes at 10pm.
5. CHINATOWN STREET FOOD, SINGAPORE
The choice of Chinese food will never end in Singapore, after all 75% of the citizens come from China over here.
Vibrant Chinatown offers more good places to eat for little, with a proper covered food street right next to the night market. You can either take away or try and find a seat, however we recommend the former and getting snacks from at least a couple of places.
Other than duck and dumplings specialties, chicken satay is famous too here, 10 skewers are normally sold for 7$.
Street food vendors sell until around 11pm.
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- MID RANGE – Hotel Boss: starting from 60€/night, modern rooms with city view, and a whole floor with swimming pool, gym area and gardens.
- MID RANGE – Holiday Inn Clarke Quay: a guaranteed cozy stay at trustworthy Holiday Inn, perfectly located at walking distance from vibrant Clarke Quay riverside.
- BUDGET – Dream Lodge: one of the top rated hostels in Singapore, offering dormitories beds with curtains, situated in Lavender neighbourhood, just 500m from MRT metro services.
- You can book all your stays in Singapore with free cancellation here.
HOW TO GET AROUND
- Walking around is doable in the city centre, including areas of Marina Bay, Gardens by the Bay, Chinatown, Clarke Quay.
- MRT Metro is the best way to travel to/from Singapore Changi Airport, Botanic Gardens, Little India. Tickets start from 1.70$ (2.80$ from Changi). Daily passes from 10$/day.
- Taxis or even better Grab cars are the fastest and best option if you travel in groups of 3 or 4 people.
- Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Even if you trust yourself, you can’t always trust others. Better safe than sorry! Get your quote here.
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