Beyond the Tourist Traps: 10 Authentic Experiences to Have in Singapore

Welcome to the vibrant city-state of Singapore, where bustling streets, awe-inspiring architecture, and a melting pot of cultures converge. While the city is renowned for its dazzling skyscrapers and world-class attractions, there’s a hidden side to Singapore that often remains undiscovered by the average tourist. In this article, we invite you to venture beyond the well-trodden path and explore the authentic heart of Singapore. Get ready to embark on a journey of unique encounters and offbeat experiences that will unveil the city’s true essence.

From immersing yourself in local traditions to indulging in mouth watering street food, we present you with 10 unforgettable moments that will leave you with a profound appreciation for this enchanting destination. So, pack your curiosity and let’s delve into the lesser-known treasures that await you in Singapore. Get ready to go beyond the tourist traps and embrace the authentic spirit of this remarkable city.

1. Experience a Michelin Star Meal at a Hawker Centre

As a staple in every Singaporean’s life, hawker centres provide a wide array of affordable food options to fit our busy lives. Whether it is on lunch breaks or on the weekends, you will inevitably find the most popular hawkers swarmed with happy customers. With Singapore having one of the most renowned street food scenes in the world, some of our hawker stalls have earned their rightful recognition from both the locals as well as the Michelin man. Here are some hawker centres with stalls that have been adorned with the highly-coveted Michelin stars.

Hong Lim Market & Food Centre

With the highest number of Michelin-food level stalls in a single place, Hong Lim Market & Food Centre is definitely at the top of this list. Some of the stalls with Michelin stars include Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Me and Ah Heng Duck Rice.

Chinatown Complex

As the largest hawker centre in Singapore, Chinatown Complex has 5 Michelin star level worthy stalls. Some of which include Fatty Ox HK Kitchen, Ann Chin Popiah and 168 CMY Satay.

Maxwell Food Centre

Many people may know Maxwell Food Centre because of Anthony Bourdain, who raved about the Hainanese chicken rice at Tian Tian, one of the Michelin star stalls in the hawker centre. The other Michelin level stall in the centre is Rojak Popiah & Cockle.

2. Snack like a Local at Biscuit King

Selling a wide variety of traditional sweets, snacks and biscuits as well as some old-school games, you can count yourself an honorary local after visiting Biscuit King. Located just a few doors down from another famous restaurant – Casuarina Curry Restaurant, Biscuit King is definitely a must-visit if you want to impress the Singaporeans you meet. Some of the local favourites and classics we recommend trying include Iced Gems and Potato Wheel Crackers

3. Have a Family Day at East Coast Park

Skip Sentosa and head straight East for a taste of life on the weekends for Singaporeans.
East Coast Park isn’t a place high on tourists’ lists making it the perfect chill out spot for a relaxing beach day. What’s more is that East Coast Park has lots more to offer than just the beach! On the weekend, you can find locals from all walks of life engaging in fun activities such as cycling, rollerblading, waterskiing, BBQ-ing, camping and more. 

4. Watch the Sunset at Bedok Reservoir Park

Another underrated spot in Singapore is Bedok Reservoir Park. Catch a beautiful view of the sunset between 6.30 to 7pm either having a picnic on the grass or across the boardwalk where you can have a relaxing and romantic stroll. 

5. Go Kayaking

Tired of exploring on foot? Experience Singapore on water! Whether you love water sports or just looking for a new way to get around, paddling around the waters will give you a new perspective on the city as well as a unique experience most tourists don’t get.

Water sports is a pretty huge pastime for a lot of Singaporeans so join in on the fun to experience Singapore like a local. To get a picturesque view of the Singapore skyline, we recommend kayaking at the Water Sports Centre at the Singapore Sports Hub or the Lower Seletar Water Sports Centre at Lower Seletar Reservoir for the opportunity to get up close and personal with local wildlife. 

6. Cool off with Street Ice Cream

In order to beat the tropical heat, we Singaporeans have adapted by strolling the streets with ice cream in hand. Spot our local aunties and uncles alongside their ice cream trucks at various popular locations in Singapore and cool off like a local with ice cream (sandwiched in a slice of colourful bread).

7. Visit Iconic Murals

Art can be found everywhere and it cannot be more true for Singapore. Home to a wealth of iconic wall murals and street art, spend the day hunting for these beautiful photo opportunities through Singapore’s diverse neighbourhoods. From the enclave of Little India, the quaint neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru to the bustling neighbour of Chinatown, get inspired by local street art. 

8. Travel Back in Time

Take a walk through the old Singapore and experience history in real time. Transport yourself back into life in the 60s with a visit to the kampong. Translating to a village or community, most of the older generations of Singaporeans grew up in kampong houses. As one of the only kampongs left in Singapore, Kampong Lorong Buangkok is an enchanting relic, serving as a time machine to simpler times where livestock roam freely and dirt roads connected these kampong houses made of wood and zinc roads.

9. Take a Trip to Pulau Ubin

If you’re curious to explore a different side of Singapore, away from the towering skyscrapers, consider embarking on a half-day excursion to Pulau Ubin. Just a short 10-minute bumboat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal, Pulau Ubin transports you to a Singapore of yesteryears, characterised by charming stilted houses and a wonderfully unhurried pace of life. Much of the island remains unspoiled by modern development, creating a natural haven for birds and unique wildlife species. Discover the serenity of Pulau Ubin, where nature and nostalgia converge to offer a truly enchanting experience.

10. Get Lost in Kampong Glam

Packed with colour and life, Kampong Glam offers an edgy glamour that encompasses the spirit of the youth in Singapore. This area is home to boutique shops and local brands, amazing food and beautiful artworks everywhere popular with locals and tourists alike on the weekends. Pick up some unique souvenirs from local brands you cannot find anywhere else in the world!

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