How to Explore Singapore like a Local

Posted March 13, 2017 by Guest Blogger in Features

The Lion City has long been in one’s travel bucket list. It is easy to see why once you set foot on this magnificent city. Despite its small size, Singapore has a lot more to offer than just food joints and shops. If you want an authentic and unforgettable experience in Singapore, skip the touristy lines at Universal Studios, Sentosa, Singapore Flyer, and Marina Bay Sands.

The best way to see Singapore, however, is from a local’s point of view and even stay like a local in their HDB or new launch condo. From quirky souvenirs to unheralded dining centres, Singapore’s lesser-known establishments are culturally rich and can best be described as “hidden gems.”

One of the first things that you will notice about the Lion City is the multiculturalism. Its tiny population of about 5 million people is made up of a rich ethnicity and culture, namely Chinese, Indian, and Malay. Let’s not forget that this number is increasing day-in-day-out. With this multicultural feature, you can only imagine of the different variety of food that Singapore has. 

Singapore compensates its small size by having a huge personality and enthusiasm. It has amazing culinary creations from a number of foreign and local cuisines, burgeoning arts, culture scenes, hawker centres, air-conditioned shopping malls and more. There has also been an increase in the popularity of Singapore’s local theatre as well as dance companies. 

If you want to know and enjoy, then you need to tour it like a local. Here are some resourceful tips to help you explore Singapore like a local. 

Amazing Cuisine

This iconic landmark is home to great and cheap street foods. If you are a food-lover, then Singapore is a great spot for you. Some of the most common delicacies include Hainanese chicken rice, nasi ayam penyet, char kuay teow, curry mee, nasi lemak, economic noodles, wanton noodles, and much more. 

Chinatown also has a lot of restaurants that locals like to dine in. Some of the renowned restaurants by locals include Hong Lim Food Court and East Coast Lagoon Food Village. Not only is the food great, but also cost effective. The seafood here is just out of this world. If you visit high-end restaurants, like any other typical tourist, you might miss such experiences. 

Another place that you can find astounding food is the hawker centre. The food here ranges from bizarre, spicy to sweet. If you are a fan of South-east Asian delicacies or lip-smacking Indian and Malay meals, then you should visit this centre. And since you want to experience the city like any other local, ensure you use your bare hands and chopsticks for your meals. 

Incredible Shopping Experience

Indulging yourself in some retail shopping will also make you feel like a local. Shopping is a shared passion and a major past time among the expats and locals in Singapore. To get the ultimate local experience, one might not get the similar experience in a shopping spree at the luxurious Orchard Road as such places are as westernized as it gets. Join the other budget-conscious and savvy Singaporeans by looking for vintage and unique items in local shopping districts like Bugis, Joo Chiat, Tiong Bahru, and Haji Lane. 

Singapore, just like any other high-fashion city has a number of well-known designers. Desmond Yang, for example, is famed for his versatile, edgy, and form-fitting designs. Sabrina Goh is another Singaporean artist who stocks both men and women’s fashion by mixing asymmetrical and symmetrical silhouettes. 

If you were shopping for offbeat labels, then Haji Lane in the Arab Quarter would be the best place for you. There is the “Blog Shop” here that stocks affordable dresses as well as funky toy cameras. The White Room, on the other side, offers an electric mix of vintage sunglasses and Japanese-inspired designs. 

If you are looking for a gift to bring back home, then Strangelets at the Tiong Bahru is the best place to pick up organically shaped ornaments such as earrings and necklaces. Or, if you are trying to impress an interior design enthusiast you can buy a polar bear bookcase. You can also stop by the Tiong Bahru Commons, home to Nana and Bird’, where you can purchase a beautiful vintage Lego ring or an eco-friendly tote bag. 

You can never miss some trinkets on the streets of Chinatown. But for an overwhelming and memorable experience, you can visit the Mustafa in Little India. This is a mammoth of a shopping centre. It comprises of stores and shops, six-storey high and is open 24 hours a day. You will find anything here, from gold jewellery to electronics. 

This is nothing compared to the Flea and Easy Flea market at the Zouk nightclub. This event only happens four times a year, and it’s to die for. You can find some of the rarest vintage and jewelry during this shopping fair. Always remember to keep an ear to the ground or you might just miss out. 

Recreation and Leisure

Apart from shopping and eating, Singaporeans are also enthusiastic about recreational and leisure activities. That is probably the reason why Singapore has a lot of fun activities that you can do. For starters, you can visit the Singapore Arts Museum and approve of some of the best traditional and contemporary art from around the country. Or, you can treat yourself to a “spookathon” at the Haw Par Villa theme park that is majorly dedicated to Chinese folklore and mythology. Alternatively, you can have a comprehensive tour of the Asian Civilization Museum to intensify your understanding and knowledge of the Pan-Asian culture. 

If you haven’t experienced the amazing visual art of Singapore, then you should pop into the Pinacotheque De Paris. Singapore is also strewn with a variety of speciality museums like the private Intan and the Peranakan Museum which is dedicated to the unique and interesting culture of the Peranakan people and their mixed heritage. You possibly might not miss hearing a local mention the Gillman Barracks. It is a sprawling art museum with artsy cafes and art galleries. 

For the city-oriented activities, you can join the Singapore Footprints “walkaholics” for a tour around town. You will be astonished to find that Singapore is also a home to many flora and fauna despite its city-like status. If you love animals, you can head to the blossoming Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park or the Night Safari.  

Singapore is home to various beautiful parks and beaches dotted around the island, meaning that it might just be that vacation destination that you are looking for. 

Colorful Events and Festivals 

Singapore hosts a variety of events and festivals all year round. Some of the most common among the locals include Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Hari Raya, Christmas, as well as world-class sporting events such as the Formula 1. 

From mooncake eating in Chinese festivals to putting up Christmas decorations along Orchard Road, Singapore has it all. This can be attributed to its multicultural population. Participating in these events and festivals will give you an overview of the culture in Singapore. If you are thinking about going on vacation, try Singapore for a mind-blowing experience. 


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