When Food Is Culture: A Guide to Singapore

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Advisor - Ashtin Robison
Curated By

Ashtin Robison

  • Singapore

  • City Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Solo Travel

  • Luxury Travel

  • Downtown

  • Shopping

  • Insta-Worthy

three tall buildings lit up at night on the water surrounded by sprawling modern city
Curator’s statement

When I think about Singapore, one word comes to mind - food. To quote the late, great Anthony Bourdain: "What you do in Singapore is eat." Food is not just at the heart of Singaporean culture - it is the culture. Singapore is an intriguing paradox. The over-the-top indulgence and glamour of Singapore's downtown core and Marina Bay quite literally towers in contrast to its much more understated neighborhood hubs that are still destinations in their own right. My advice? Indulge in the over-the-top grandeur. Immerse yourself in Singapore's diverse Asian culture. And most importantly: eat.

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Things to do in Singapore

a flat rooftop restaurant at the top of a skyscraper with blue skies

Changi Airport - The world's best airport is a destination in and of itself. There's an indoor waterfall, two movie theaters post-security, two hedge mazes, art installations, and a rooftop lap pool with a jacuzzi that you can literally use on a layover.

Marina Bay Sands - The crown jewel of Singapore's Marina Bay. Affectionately known as "MBS", Marina Bay Sands hotel is a world of its own. Luxury shopping, dining, nightlife await. Evening water and light shows in the bay are great for the whole family.

Gardens by the Bay - A feature of MBS, Gardens by the Bay is a mostly free, sprawling futuristic garden. Think Jurassic Park meets Avatar.

Chinatown - Singapore is home to many diverse neighborhoods, but few are as vibrant as Chinatown. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Sri Mariamman Temple are not to be missed.

Kampong Glam - Spend an afternoon in the Arab Quarter, and enjoy a Turkish coffee or smoke some hookah at the end of Muscat Street with views of Sultan Mosque. Look for stickers in shop windows that signify if the business is Arab owned.

Treetop Walk - Singapore is very urban. If a break from the concrete jungle sounds nice, look no further than a hike that includes a 250m long freestanding suspension bridge between Bukit Peirce + Bukit Kalang.

Sentosa Island - Singapore is made up of 63 islands, one of which is Sentosa, a beach resort island away from the glamour of Marina Bay. Take a day trip from the city or spend a few days at a 5-star resort.

New Years Eve at Star Island - There may be no better place in the world to ring in a new year than Marina Bay. Join half of a million people for a spectacular fireworks and culture displays with the backdrop of Singapore's downtown skyline. It is absolutely over the top.

Day Trips

Grab a bus or take a taxi and head north to the Singapore/Malaysia border. Once you've crossed into Johor Bahru, enjoy sites like visit the Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple or if you're traveling with kids, burn some energy at Legoland Malaysia.

Places to eat & drink in Singapore

a quaint chinatown with large skyscrapers in the distance


Hawker Centers - A hawker center or stand is essentially an open air food court with small stalls that serve everything from snacks to full on meal from cuisines all over the world. They are sprawling, busy, and a feast for all senses. Lau Pa Sat near Raffles Quay has a Victorian vibe to it and serves as a great introduction to Hawker Centers.

Anju - Reservations are essential at Anju, where modern Korean food meets an interesting selection of rice, clear, and grain liquors.

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice - Located in Maxwell Food Center in Chinatown, this is one of the most famous Hainanese chicken rice stalls in Singapore with a spot in the Michelin Guide. Expect a long queue. This is classic Singaporean comfort food.

Birds of a Feather - Western comfort food meets Sichuan flavors on Amoy Street in Chinatown.

2am: dessertbar - It's a colorful world of sugar at this dessert bar. Vegan and keto options available.


Stay Gold Flamingo - Coffee service starts at 8am most days, and "golden hour" features discounted cocktails and small bites. Try the Aperol Kombu Spritz made with strawberry kombucha.

Level33 - The world's highest urban microbrewery. Craft beers and craft beer cocktails are crowd pleasers. Reservations cane be made on their website.

Native - Unusual cocktail ingredients (spoiler alert: its ants!) in a design forward mostly recycled bar will make an experience to tell your friends back home about.

Ce La Vi Singapore Skybar - Make a reservation well in advance because access is exclusive. Expect to pay a premium for incredible views of the city that you won't find elsewhere.

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Angela Ong's guide, A Local's Ultimate 5-Day Singapore Itinerary.

Advisor - Ashtin Robison

Travel Advisor

Ashtin Robison

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Asia & Southeast Asia.