Travel Itinerary: 3-day food safari and attractions in Singapore

February 21, 2020

It's 2020 and it is still a jungle out there. I did a piece about a 3-day Singapore food and attractions itinerary on NOW Magazine way back in 2014 and I'm updating it again here with the latest!

Don’t let the neat and sterile image of this country fool you. When it comes to food, culture and things to do, it’s amazing how much is packed into such a tiny place. But it all makes sense. After all, we are at the heart of Southeast Asia, where races, religion and languages all merge in a geographical melting pot. Navigating such a jungle, concrete or otherwise, is no easy task so I’ve planned a 3-day itinerary that’s guaranteed to ensure a sampling of our best food and attractions.

Day 1 – Friday

10am: Breakfast at Killiney Kopitiam

Start off your day with some local breakfast from one of the most iconic coffee shops in Singapore – the Killiney Kopitiam at 67 Killiney Road. Order the kaya toast, kopi/teh and half-boiled eggs set to give you the energy boost you’ll need for the rest of the day, while soaking in the unique atmosphere.

11am: Chinatown shopping, Tea Chapter, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Walk around Chinatown and buy some souvenirs from the teeming markets here. Observe the mixture of Chinese and Indian architecture, check out the temples on Temple Street and North Bridge Road and perhaps spot some locals playing chess! Don’t miss a visit to Tea Chapter on North Bridge Road, which has a wide variety of rare and premium tea leaves for sale and tasting.

12pm: Lunch at Maxwell Food Centre

Grab some lunch nearby at Maxwell Food Centre, which is popular among office workers so be sure to head there early! Here there is a good selection of local cuisine so you’ll be spoiled for choice. The famous Tian Tian Chicken Rice that's raved by Anthony Bourdain is located here and a perennial favorite among those who prefer the more heavily flavoured version. Personally I prefer a bowl of fish soup with rice noodles.

2pm: Singapore Zoo OR Gardens by the Bay Flower Dome and/or Cloud Forest

For animal and nature lovers, the zoo is a great place to visit despite its out-of-the-way location, because it is a truly world-class destination. With its blend of fantastic displays, dedication to animal welfare and large collection of exotic animal life, it truly is one of the world’s best. If you have time, the Night Safari and River Safari are also worth a look.

If the outdoors is a little too daunting, stay within the city centre and visit our famous Gardens by the Bay domes (gently air-conditioned). Both domes have their own merits though the cloud forest has a more interesting indoor waterfall feature.

6pm: Dinner at Satay Bay or Glutton's Bay beside Esplanade

If you're curious to try local "street food" that was featured in Crazy Rich Asians, you must try our satay with peanut sauce, and grilled sambal stingray, alongside Hokkien Fried Seafood Noodles. You can get all that at Satay by the Bay near the Gardens by the Bay compound, or outside at Glutton's Bay beside the Esplanade, our theatre/concert venue of choice.

OR KEK Seafood (travel out by taxi to Bukit Merah area)

Both Malaysia and Singapore claim that the chili crab hailed from their shores, but I don’t really care where it came from – only where can I get the best without being charged an arm and a leg! The answer lies at KEK Seafood at Alexandra Road, which is a local zichar "stir fry" restaurant offering up a good selection of chilli, black pepper or salted egg crab.

7.45pm OR 8.45pm: Supertree Grove Rhapsody and Marina Bay Sands Light Show

Head to a free 15-minute light and music show at the Supertree Groves beside the domes after Gardens by the Bay.

(CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19 till further notice) Then, walk over the bridge and get to the bay front, in front of Marina Bay Sands Shoppes to enjoy another free light and laser show at 9.30pm (on Fri/Sat there's another show at 11pm).

After Gardens by the Bay, walk over to check out Marina Bay Sands, which is home to a convention centre, celebrity restaurants, a theatre and many flagship stores. There's also the Art Science Museum exhibits to check out in the day. All ground-floor temptations could be set aside though if you head up to Ce La Vie skybar (free entry) for that unforgettable view of Singapore with drink in hand!


Day 2 – Saturday

10am: Breakfast at Tiong Bahru Market

Start your day with a hearty local breakfast at the Tiong Bahru Market, where the usual rules apply – follow the queues! Try the famous steamed rice cake with preserved radish and chili from stall #02-05 Jian Bo Chwee Kueh – the rice cakes are made by hand daily! Grab your local kopi from 238 Coffee at #02-81, which has the local stamp of approval!

11am: Tiong Bahru stroll or croissant

After you’ve finished your breakfast, take a stroll around Tiong Bahru and admire the art deco architecture of this atmospheric housing estate. Dotted with eclectic cafes, restaurants and boutiques, this happening neighbourhood includes one of my favourite shops, Books Actually on Yong Saik. If salty, carb-heavy dishes is not your thing, try the original Tiong Bahru Bakery for their famous croissants and kouign aman pastry!

1pm: Lunch at 40 Hands or Loo's Hainanese Curry Rice

If you can still eat, pop into 40 Hands cafe across the road for lunch, one of Singapore’s better bistro and cafes, where the menu offers fresh sandwiches, hotdogs and good coffee. If you prefer something a bit more local, try out the popular Loo's Hainanese Curry Rice.

3pm: Haji Lane shopping

Take some time to explore the indie and local designer quarter on hip and trendy Haji Lane and the surrounding streets of Kampung Glam, near Bugis. What used to be a mainly Muslim enclave has recently been gentrified to include lots of fashion and fun, so there’s lots to see and plenty of places to enjoy a refreshing snack or drink – this is where to head for shisha pipes and mint tea. Drop by Good Luck Beerhouse for a pint and dim sum if you need some respite. (See below for where to go for good Thai food nearby too).

5:30pm: Little India walkabout

After scouring the streets of Kampung Glam, continue your exploration of Singapore’s cultural hubs in Little India. In contrast to Singapore’s ordered streets, this chaotic, but so very authentic neighbourhood is almost like travelling to India without taking a flight! Enjoy the intoxicating aroma of exotic spices, curry and incense. If you are feeling peckish and up for an early dinner, Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant at 19 Upper Dickson Road and Sakunthala's at 88, Syed Alwi Road both serve up really good Indian vegetarian (and otherwise) cuisine.

8pm: Keong Saik Road dinner: Potato Head or Kok Sen

Next head to Keong Saik Street in Chinatown to one of Singapore’s hottest new additions for some well-deserved dinner and drinks. Potato Head Folk has great cocktails on their rooftop, alongside some of the best burgers in town.

For those who can't get enough of local food, try going to Kok Sen restaurant on Kenos Saik instead. It's a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant famous for their big prawn hor fun (a rice noodle dish) and claypot yongtaofoo. Along with that, feel free to order a few vegetable dishes to share.

10pm: Drinks and live music at Clarke Quay

After Chinatown, take your night into the next gear and head to Clarke Quay for some live music. There are many bars here with regular bands like Pump Room or Cuba Libre. There is always a lively atmosphere in Clarke Quay so walk around and make the most of it before hitting one of the legendary clubs like Attica or F Club.

2am: Supper

If you still have energy and hunger beckons, take a taxi to Makansutra’s Glutton Bay, near the Esplanade, for the Singaporean institution ‘supper’. End your day with some satay and spicy sambal stingray, or soak up the booze with some roti prata with curry.


Day 3 – Sunday

10am: Breakfast at Halia, Botanic Gardens

Start off your morning with a pleasant breakfast in Halia, surrounded by greenery from the UNESCO Heritage Site. Take a walk after around the compound and enjoy the lush surroundings, including a visit to the Orchid Garden and around the Symphony Lake. Do apply mosquito repellant however if you are prone to being bitten, and bring some water with you.

12:30pm: Take a taxi into Sentosa ($2 entry fee during 12-2pm and 5pm onwards otherwise it is $6)

Sentosa offers heaps of adrenaline-fuelled fun, be it for families, couples or friends. Visit Universal Studios for Hollywood-inspired rides and fun, Wavehouse for surfing and the Skyline Luge for some downhill go-karting action. Or jump into the unknown on Megazip, an exhilarating 450-metre ride to the beach from Imbiah hill. Alternatively simply chill out at Tanjong Beach Club, where beautiful people congregate on Sunday afternoons to people watch and relax.

8:30pm: Dinner at Skirt at W Singapore or Vivocity Food Republic food court

To ensure that your 3-day tour comes to a gastronomic climax, have dinner at the acclaimed steakhouse, Skirt at W Hotel. Serving high quality meat in a stylish setting, this is the ideal way of ending your 3-day food safari in Singapore. Be warned though, there is a dress code so bring suitable attire to look your best!

If expensive steak is not your thing, go to Singapore's 2nd largest mall, Vivocity at Harbourfront. The Food Republic foodcourt at the top floor where you exit from the monorail has excellent local food stalls, including Chilli Ban Mee, Beef Noodles, Char Kway Teow and Hokkien Mee.

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Other notable food places to check out:

1. "Day time" hawker centres with extremely good concentration of nice food include Newton Food Circus near Orchard Road (get the stingray from Alliance Seafood), Amoy Food Centre (weekdays only) inside the Central Business District and Keong Saik Road, and Old Airport Road Food Centre (more towards east side) for wanton or prawn noodles.


Also try out Hong Lim Food Centre and Chinatown Complex Food Centre (both in Chinatown area) if you can fight with the crowds! There's also a local craft beer shop inside Chinatown Complex Food Centre called Smith Street Taps if you want to cool down in the heat!

2. Kin at Straits Clan, 31 Bukit Pasoh Road near Outram MRT for Peranakan food. Google the term, it is a unique merger of Chinese, Eurasian and Malay cuisines found in Singapore and parts of Malaysia. Nearby there's also Gibson Bar for cocktails and Flagship in the basement for whisky. In between there's Humpback for oysters.

3. Laksa is my personal recommended dish for tourists as a must-try. A shrimp and coconut milk broth, plus prawns and rice noodles, alongside cockles (you can say no cockles if you don't like) and laksa leaves with chilli. 328 Katong Laksa is a good one, or if you are really a fan, try the Sungei Road Laksa at Jalan Berseh (nearest MRT Lavender).

4. For really good authentic Thai food, go to Beer Thai at Golden Mile Complex. The entire building is like a little Thailand with a grocery store and even mookata (hotpot) shops. Golden Mile is also relatively near to Kampong Glam, Haji Lane area so you can go after you're done there.

5. Must try for all tourists other than local laksa is the Xiao Long Bao, or small-basket dumpling, which Taiwanese restaurant Din Tai Fung does extremely well. The pork dumplings are steamed so soup oozes out from the thin skin wrapper. There's a Din Tai Fung at the basement of Raffles City Mall (near National Gallery). Other ones as good are Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao, and Imperial Treasure. Paradise Dynasty (the flagship is in Wisma, Orchard Road) has multi-coloured XLBs as well which are good.

6. Dim Sum places are excellent for brunch too - google "dim sum around me" and look at the ratings and reviews. Usually quite accurate. Old school ones include Red Star and Kam Boat, but Imperial Treasure Yi Dian Xin at Raffles City Basement's also excellent!

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OK that's it for now, hope this is helpful!

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