Singapore Country Guide



Hawker Centres

The cheapest and most popular places to eat in Singapore are the hawker centres, essentially former pushcart vendors directed into giant complexes by the government. The foods are cheap (SGD2-5 for most dishes), hygiene standards are high and the food can be excellent - if you see a queue, then the food must be great! However, ambience tends to be a little lacking in many of the hawker centres and there is definitely no air-conditioning but a visit is a must when in Singapore.

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Hawker centre in Singapore

Hawker centre in Lau Pa Sat

First reserve a table by parking a friend by the table, note the table's number, then place your order at the hawker stall of your choice. Employees deliver to your table and you pay when you get the food. Note that some stalls (particularly very popular ones) have signs stating "self-service", meaning that you're expected to bring the food yourself to the table. At almost every stall you can also opt to take away (ta pao) in which case the employee packs your order in a plastic box or bag and even throw in disposable utensils. Once you are finished, just get up and go as tables are cleared and cleaned by hired cleaners.

Every district in Singapore has its own hawker centre and prices decrease as you move out into the boondocks. For tourists, centrally located Newton Circus (Newton MRT), Gluttons Bay and Lau Pa Sat are the most popular options but does not make them the cheapest or the tastiest, and the demanding gourmand would do well to head to Chinatown or the heartlands instead. Many of the best food stalls are located in residential districts, away from the tourist trail and do not advertise in the media. So the best way to find them is to ask the locals for their recommendations.

Hawker centre in Singapore

Inside the the Lau Pa Sat hawker centre

If you miss western food, most hawker centres will usually have at least 3-5 stalls offering western type dishes. One of these is Botak Jones, specialising in American-style meals and with stalls operating in several hawker centres including Toa Payoh, Woodloods, Ang Mo Kio, Clementi Bedok Depot, Bukit Batok, Serangoon, Orchard and Marine Parade.
Portions are generous and prices are much cheaper than what you would pay for similar meals at a restaurant.

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