Centrally located within South East Asia and boasting one of the best airports in the world, Singapore is a hot hub for tourists and travel enthusiasts. If you find yourself in Singapore for only one day, whether it be for business or connecting to your holiday, and wondering where to eat, check out these authentic Singapore foods and restaurants.
For a tourist who only has one day in Singapore there needs to be some specific criteria:
1. The restaurant needs to be easy to locate. As an expat, once I unsuccessfully tried to locate a well-known kopitiam for so long, by the time I got there it had closed. Not okay for someone on a time crunch.
2. The restaurant needs to be located within proximity to tourist-friendly locations in order to ping-pong around the city eating and sightseeing.
3. Although queuing is authentic Singapore, someone only here for a day can’t afford to spend all day waiting around.
Breakfast – Tong Ah Eating House
There are many, many kopitiams scattered throughout Singapore. Most of them promise to be the classic, Singapore original, but some can be a bit commercialized. Tong Ah has been providing that true old-world kopitiam menu and vibe since 1939.
Check out their new location, located just across the street from their old home, on Keong Siak.
Come here for: Kopi, kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs (about $4.00 per pax).
What to do in the area: Keong Siak is a stretch of road with beautiful colored shop houses and trendy restaurants. It’s within walking distance to other popular tourist destinations such as Duxton and China Town.
Address: 36 Keong Siak Road 089143 | Tel: 6223 5083
Breakfast – Colbar Cafe
When it comes to authentic Singapore I had to include at least one nod to its colonial past. Colbar dates back to 1953 when it originally served as the unofficial eating house for the British Army barracks.
Come here for: A greasy, English breakfast (about $8-$12 per pax) and a cider beer to wash it down.
What to do in the area: Take a short taxi ride to nearby Kent Ridge Park. The park is great for families or WWII history enthusiasts.
Address: 9A Whitchurch Rd, 138839 | Tel: 6779 4859 | Website
Breakfast – 328 Katong Laksa
A place with this many accolades is definitely worth a try if you’re only in Singapore for one day. Seek out the self-proclaimed ‘best laksa in Singapore’ while navigating a city filled with laksa options.
Come here for: A big, hot, spicy, steaming bowl of laksa (about $5.00 per pax).
What to do in the area: Photography enthusiasts should walk over to Joo Chiat for some of the most beautiful shophouses in Singapore.
Lunch – Maxwell Hawker Center
Come here for: The Anthony Bourdain taste-tested and approved Tian Tian Chicken Rice (about $6.00 per pax) stall is located here at Maxwell, but may have a long queue. Get started with a plate of, well, just about anything, and a Tiger Beer to keep you occupied. There are many other good eats in Maxwell as well, like Jing Hua Sliced Fish Soup and China Street Hainanese Curry Rice.
What to do in the area: Shop till you drop at nearby China Town, or tour the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum just across the street.
Address: 11 South Bridge Rd, 058656
Lunch – Season Live Seafood, Pulau Ubin
While a 20 min bumboat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal to the island Ubin may not be ideal for a first time visitor, if you’re someone who has already seen most of Singapore and looking for some fresh air and something more rustic, Pulau Ubin is a great afternoon getaway from the bustling city life.
With only a small handful of restaurants on the island – located just off of the jetty – all of them offer authentic seafood dishes and water views.
Come here for: The live seafood, right from the tank ($6-$12).
What to do in the area: Rent bikes and cycle around the island, or check it out on foot.
Address: 59E, Pulau Ubin, 508306 | Tel: 6542 7627 | Website
Lunch – Hong Lim Market & Food Centre
Hong Lim is another authentic Singapore hawker center where almost everything there is good. While in season, there is also a large durian stand worth a taste (and a smell).
Come here for: The fried Kway Teow Mee (stall #02-17) and Tai Wah Pork Noodle (stall #02-16) are two popular options ($4-$6 per pax).
What to do in the area: Work off your lunch with a moderate walk to the CBD and Marina Bay area to catch glimpses of the iconic Marina Bay Sands and Singapore Flyer.
Address: 513A Upper Cross Street, 051531
Lunch – Peranakan Inn & Lounge
Peranakan food is often referred to as the true ‘local’ cuisine of Singapore. If you are not familiar, the origin stems from early Chinese migrants settling in Malaysia and on to Singapore and Indonesia and hence a hybrid that sprouted here.
Peranakan Inn has a very relaxed, mom and pop feel with top-notch dishes. If you are unsure of what to order, just started pointing at random pictures on their faded menus and whatever comes out is likely to be good and authentic.
Come here for: The fishhead curry, chicken with keluak and the otak-otak fish cakes ($12-$18 per pax)
What to do in the area: Stroll through the old school neighborhood, or take a short taxi ride over to East Coast Park.
Address: 210 E Coast Rd, 428909 | Tel: 6440 6195
Snack – Bee Cheng Hiang, Bak Kwa
Bak Kwa (Dried meat 肉干) is one of my favorite Singapore treats and gift to give friends and relatives. Note to tourists: I have been told by friends that SingPost will not ship bak kwa overseas. You can however buy the vacuum sealed variety and throw it in your suitcase for easy transport.
Come here for: Whatever flavor of bak kwa you fancy. Usually, those behind the counter are happy to give out small samples for you to try (priced per kg, varies depending on the time of year).
What to do in the area: The edge of China Town is not too far from the popular watering holes of Clarke Quay. If you don’t find yourself in China Town between meals, keep your eyes peeled for one of many Bee Cheng Hiang outlets around the island.
Snack – Bengawan Solo, Bakery
Hmmm, who doesn’t love a sweet treat. Bengawan Solo has a huge variety of yummy, authentic Singapore flavors and cakes.
Come here for: My personal favorite is anything pandan or the pineapple tarts ($2-$6 per pax).
What to do in the area: There are four locations on Orchard Road if you are spending your day shopping. There is also a large store on the ground floor of The Arcade if you are down by Marina Bay when hunger strikes.
Dinner – Blue Ginger, Peranakan Cuisine
If you are looking for good Peranakan food, and want to get a little dressed up, check out Blue Ginger. This popular, quaint place is nice for a date night or a small group of friends.
Come here for: Everything on the menu is worth a try. The curries are always my personal favorite ($20-$40 per pax).
What to do in the area:Tanjong Pagar is a popular stretch of road with multiple bars, stores and dessert shops to keep you occupied before or after dinner.
Dinner – Song Fa Bak Kut Teh
Skip the long queues at the popular seafood spots at Clarke Quay and walk around the corner to Song Fa for some classic bak ket teh. This place has been a well-known institutions since 1969.
Come here for: Pork rib soup and braised pork belly ($10-$20 per pax).
What to do in the area: Head just a few steps over to Clarke Quay for an evening of drinking and live music. Note you may want to skip the Reverse Bungey ride after this meal.
Dinner – New Ubin Seafood
If you didn’t have time to make the journey over to Pulau Ubin, visit New Ubin Seafood for all your Kampong-style seafood desires.
Come here for: Get your Singapore garlic baked and chili crab fix here. The baby back ribs are pretty good too ($20-$30 per pax). The ribeye beef is also a popular choice although not that local in context.
What to do in the area: Nestled in a rustic HDB block, there is admittedly not a lot to do in the area, but as a tourist it’s always nice to check out local neighborhoods and get outside of the bright lights of the CBD.
Address: #01-174, Block 27 Sin Ming Road, 575680 | Tel: | Website
Dinner – Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao
Looking for some top-tier dumplings but don’t want to wait in the long queues at Din Tai Fung? Head on over to the Chinatown Complex Market for an authentic hawker feel and amazing, hot dumplings.
Come here for: Steamed dumplings, mini buns and spicy wontons ($4-$9 per pax).
What to do in the area: Personally, I believe the best thing to do here is frequent the craft beer stall nearby.
Address: Blk 335, Smith St, #02-125, Chinatown Complex Market, 051335
Late Night Supper – Springleaf Prata Place
Still hungry? Or depending on where you are coming from, perhaps jet lagged? Singaporeans love their late-night supper spots. The Prata Place offers a relaxed, authentic feel if you are feeling peckish for a fourth meal.
Come here for: Prata, prata and more parta, or anything on the menu that satifies your late-night cravings ($4-$10).
What to do in the area: Nothing, it’s late, get to bed! You’ve had a long day!
Has this list made you hungry enough to plan a one-day trip to Singapore? Look into Singapore Airlines Stopover Holiday program – a solution for getting your chili crab and laksa fix on a time crunch.