Singapore for Foodies – a Visa Run or Food Run?

A 60 day Indonesian visa will only get you so far.  It is fairly straight forward to extend, but costs about $60 a person for another 30 days and involves a strange process of getting a letter from a local, with a copy of their identification, and having them vouch for you financially.  Although it was a possibility, we looked for a more exotic way to continue our stay in Bali.

We monitored the Air Asia website, and found a a great deal on a visa run to Singapore.  The flight was about $65 round trip, and although we had to pay $25 for a visa on arrival when we returned to Bali, it seemed well worth it.  After all, we had been detoxing, eating healthy, and were starting to tire of the Balinese cuisine.  Where better to cure all these ailments then one of the food capitals of Southeast Asia?  We were even able to snag our first Couchsurfing gig (albeit through an introduction from a friend).

Singapore for Foodies

Our Couchsurfing hosts, Emily and Chris – trying the crocodile

We have been to Singapore a few times in the past, with our friend Laura indoctrinating us to the food culture, introducing us to Din Tai Fung and Donut Factory donuts.  We have explored some of the tastiest hawker center treats.  And, trust me, Singapore is for foodies.

For this trip, I took it as a personal challenge – how can we eat all of our favorites, and try some new dishes, and stuff ourselves silly in about 48 hours? Gluttony is my favorite sin. 

Singapore for FoodiesWe ate our old standbys, like BBQ sting ray and chicken rice, which is probably the national dish of Singapore.  We ate dim sum, carrot cake, iced kachang desserts, fruity drinks, oyster cakes, BBQ pork, sea bass, crayfish, and dumplings.  We of course had our Din Tai Fung soup dumplings, drank soursop juice, and even tried crocodile.  

We went to tons of hawker centers, or outdoor food courts, including Maxwell Road, Old Airport Road, Adam Road, and Lau Pa Sat.  We became fixtures at the Raffle City mall basement food emporium. We found a new favorite donut place (the Donut Factory disappointed, and has been closing down locations, but J. Co. Coffee and Donuts stepped in nicely).  

We also were able to see our friends, Meiling who we met during our past stays at the Singapore, and YS, who works for a former client from my law firm days.  They both treated us like royalty at some of the hawker centers, ordering dish after dish so we could try as much as possible.  YS said “you can try it all!”

Singapore for Foodies

Hawker Cuisine with Mei Ling

In a little more than 48 hours we ate almost 30 different dishes and almost 10 different beverages.  I was stuffed and bloated by the time we trained back to Changi airport, but entirely happy with our decision to take the food run to Singapore.  

Some tips on Singapore for foodies:

  1. Take the MRT train from the airport to downtown, for a little more than $1.  Public transportation is cheap and efficient.  There is a tourist card for 1-3 days.  If you think you will take more than 5 or 6 rides a day, it is worth it.
  2. Check out the hawker centers.  You cannot go wrong.  They are the cleanest and safest food stalls out there.  Order a few dishes from various vendors and bring them back to your table (or, give them your table number, and they will deliver).  It is also the cheapest way to eat, with many dishes costing as little as S$3.
  3. Try both Laksa and Chicken Rice, the national dishes of Singapore.
  4. Alcohol is expensive, but a large bottle of beer at a hawker center is “only” S$6.  Avoid the western, expat restaurants and clubs if you are looking for cheap drinks.
  5. When you get hot, pop into a shopping mall for air con, a drink, and a snack.  The basement food courts have everything in one place.
  6. Don’t spit, jay walk, eat on public transportation, chew gum, etc. Singapore is a “Fine City” – it is clean and efficient, but comes with a price.  You can get fined for everything!

If you are still doubting that Singapore is for foodies, check this out:

 

And, for those of you who do not want to sit through 5 minutes of eating, check out the highlight reel – a cool 30 seconds flat of Singapore eats: 

8 Comments

  1. I love being a glutton in Singapore! My first time through, a similar 2 or 3 day quick trip, my friends and I made a point to eat 4 or 5 (or 6) small meals a day just to try to cram in as much deliciousness as possible!

    It may not be one of my favorite cities, but it certainly is one of my favorite places to eat!

    Reply
  2. I agree Stephen! I don't really know what to do there between meals as I am not a big shopper. I wish they had nap rooms near the hawker centers, so I could eat, rest, and then eat some more!

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  3. So crocodile tastes like chicken. Seems like your having a great time! I will have to come back and see this video if I get to go to Singapore this year in October.

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  4. AWESOME effort. Half of my family lives in Singapore so I've tried doing this on a couple stopovers but never as successfully as you did. I usually make it a day then break down after roti pratha and bubble tea the next day…you guys really rocked it!

    Reply
  5. Sal! I may be in Singapore in October, so definitely let me know if you make it out! Miss you!

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  6. Matt, I feel honored that someone who has spent so much time in Singapore is impressed with our effort! We can eat with the best of them!

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  7. Well I was going to write a similar post about Singapore but seems you have already beaten me to the key aspects. Of course my visa run turned into 10 days of madness, primarily due to the fact that several other travel bloggers passed through SG at the same time. We had many a drunken $300/night outings too, regretfully. Just when I learn how to budget travel I throw it all out the window!! LOL 😉

    Reply
  8. I was following some of your shenanigans on Twitter, Derek, and it sounded like you had a blast, so perhaps worth it, but $300/night – ouch!!!

    Reply

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