Singapore: City of Colour

Favourite moments from my recent Singapore trip.

Singapore was one of those places I might consider visiting if I had a layover, especially with the new billion dollar remake of the aiport. And to be frank, it was never on the top of my travel list. However, I now have family living there (my older brother), and as a graduation trip, I thought it would be nice to spend time with my family so I took my parents and little brother there. We spent most of the trip in Singapore, and escaped to Malaysia for a long weekend.

I didn’t really have many high expectations, nor did I plan much. I knew Singapore was awesome for food, but what else was there? However, I was pleasantly surprised by Singapore. It’s a beautiful city, full of culture and colour as evidenced by the diverse food choices and ornate religious buildings from every religion at every corner. Whether you are just here for a layover, or on a holiday for a couple of days, here are some of my favourite moments from my 5 day trip in Singapore.

A Foodie’s Dream

Sydney has always been a great place for anyone that loves trying different cuisines. Singapore elevates this to the next level. Singaporean cuisine is heavily influenced and inspired by so many different cultures including Malaysian, Chinese, Indian and much, much more. Here are my favourite foods in Singapore, and some suggestions on where to get them!

✨ Jenny’s Favourite: Bak Kut Teh
Song Fa Bak Kut Teh

If I think about comfort food, the very first thing I would think about is soup. In Cantonese culture, soup is integral to every dinner. Your parents boil broth for hours with the most obscure Chinese ingredients (that I still struggle to identify in Asian stores) so that the family could enjoy a nutritious serving of soup at the start or end of your meal (or both, in my family’s case). That’s why, my favourite food in Singapore was bak kut teh (roughly translating to meat bone tea), a pork rib dish served with broth.

There are three types of Bak Kut Teh.

  • The Teochew style, which is light in color but uses more pepper and garlic in the soup.
  • The Hoklo (Hokkien), uses a variety of herbs and soy sauce creating a more fragrant, textured and darker soup.
  • The Cantonese, with a soup-drinking culture, add medicinal herbs as well to create a stronger flavoured soup.

The one you see above at Song Fa Bak Kut Teh is the Teochew kind. What I love about Bak Kuh Teh is not only the fact that the soup is incredibly tasty and the meat falls right off the bone, but also the side dishes that often come with it, as you can see below. Finish it off with some rice, or rice noodles, and that just becomes the perfect meal.

👍🏻 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

If I were to list all of the amazing meals I have had in Singapore, it would require a whole dedicated blog post. For brevity’s sake, I wanted to also recommend some other highly recommended dishes to try in your Singapore trip. Pictured from left to right:

  • Doufuhua (or Tofu Fa): a Chinese dessert made of really, really soft tofu that melts in your mouth. The one pictured is from Lao Ban Soya Beancurd and was definitely one of the best I have ever had.
  • Hainanese Chicken: I probably don’t want to know what they put in this chicken because it was the smoothest and most tender chicken I have ever had. Try it out at Tian Tian’s Chicken Rice at Maxwell Food Centre if you are ever around Chinatown.
  • Kaya Toast: a breakfast staple in Singapore, kaya toast is simply white toast with deliciously sweet coconut jam. It’s often served half-cooked eggs (where I often drizzle with soy sauce) and a drink, like teh tahrik (Singaporean milk tea). You can find this almost at any Singaporean cafe, but I had mine at Toast Box and Dong Po Colonial Cafe.
  • Thai Steam Boat: when trying to find some food close to our hotel, we found a little centre full of Thai food serving steam boat, a combination of hot pot and BBQ.
  • Teochew Congee: funnily enough, this was the dish my parents wanted to try the most, probably because it was nostalgic to them. Difference between Teochew congee and normal Cantonese congee? It’s a lot thicker, and much more glutinous. It’s typically served with an array of side dishes like pig feet, fish and more.

Note that I am allergic to seafood so I can’t judge, but I do hear the Singaporean Chilli Crabs are great (though pricey).

And of course, the best way to understand the food scene in Singapore is to go to a hawker market. Whilst a lot of the food aforementioned is not usual hawker market food, you can find good doses of laksa, wonton noodle soup, har mee, oyster omelette and other Singaporean classics.

Simply Colourful

Singapore is such a vibrant country! I was taken aback by how culturally diverse it is. With little pockets of different cultures everywhere, you can easily feel like you are transporting from one country to another. I highly recommend just spending a day or two exploring some of the cute little cities in Singapore. I mostly just took a Grab (Singapore’s equivalent of Uber), which is extremely cheap if you have more than one passenger, or just simply walk!

 

Some of my favourite vibrant areas in Singapore include as pictured above:

  • Little India: take a walk within Little India and explore Hindu temples, stalls that are selling Indian-inspired clothing and goods, eat delicious South and Northern Indian cuisine and explore the multi-layered, 24 hour Mustafa Centre, famous for its amazing bargains.
  • Kampong Glam: possibly one of my favourite areas of Singapore, Kampong Glam resides in the Malay-Muslim district of Rochor. It’s an incredibly trendy area, with colourful art and graffiti, cute cafes and delicious food. Head over to Haji Lane (pictured), Singapore’s “hipster” area, where you can shop around trendy boutique stores.
  • Chinatown: no city is complete without a Chinatown. Singapore’s Chinatown is bustling with delicious food, hawker markets and beautiful temples like the one in the picture, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.

Sightseeing

👍🏻 Gardens by the Bay (3-4 hrs)

Potentially one of the most iconic landmarks that you might see a lot on Instagram is Gardens by the Bay, the world’s largest indoor garden. Honestly, I never would put a garden on my itinerary whenever I travel, but I knew my family would enjoy it so I went. And wow, I was so pleasantly surprised that it became one of the highlights of the trip!

 

The garden consists of the “outdoor” area, with the Supergrove Trees and other smaller gardens, and then its two main attractions Cloud Forest and Flower Domes, which requires you to pay an entrance fee. I was amazed at they were able to elevate the beauty of nature through architecture and clever arrangements. I was in awe the whole time!

Sentosa (Day Trip)

 

Sentosa is a unique man-made island that was essentially built to be the “vacation spot” in Singapore. With beaches, mini theme parks, exciting museums and thrill rides all across the island, it’s an amazing place with a lot to explore if you have children. The highlight of our day trip here was probably the cable car ride to Sentosa that allowed us to have a bird’s eye view of Singapore. Out of all the activities I listed here, I would probably give this one a miss if you have less than 3 days.

👍🏻 Night Safari (3-4 hrs)

 

Just like how I am not really a big botanical garden fan, I am also not really someone that visits zoos when I go overseas. This was an exception! This one was of the activities my brother had recommended and organised for me. A truly unique experience where you get to get close (like, really close) to some nocturnal animals that you would normally not be able to capture at a daytime zoo. Get close to hyenas, rhinos, tapirs, elephants and so much more! Don’t forget to hop on the tram ride to tour around the zoo with ease.

Final Comments

I absolutely adored Singapore. I felt like I was in a perfect city the whole time! My family and I spent around 5 full days in Singapore, which was plenty for us. By the end of it, we were running out of landmarks to check out, though definitely still had a lot of food on the list to try. If you love food, you definitely won’t be disappointed. If you are keen to see how a city can live in harmony with such diversity, you also won’t be disappointed. Singapore, I’ll be back!

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