If you’re the type of tourist who wants to immense in the culture of a country you are visiting, chances are you tend to avoid crowded, touristy, and over-hyped places. You most likely gravitate towards and explore the road less traveled . Here are some less touristy things to do in Singapore from a tourist’s point of view.
EAT KAYA TOAST FOR BREAKFAST
Kaya toast is a well-known snack in Singapore and Malaysia. Kaya toast is prepared with kaya (coconut jam), a topping of sugar, coconut milk and eggs, pandan, and sometimes margarine or butter. It is generally served on toast, and also sometimes on crackers. It is considered a breakfast staple, and remains popular in Singapore. The dish is sometimes dipped into soft-boiled egg with a little dark soy sauce and white pepper (As seen in the picture above).
This was the first meal I had in Singapore. The first time I went there, my friend Pat and I ate at Ya Kun Kaya Toast in Chiangi Airport before venturing out. I find the combination of toast with coconut jam and eggs to be weird at first but surprisingly, they matched.
Singaporeans and Malaysians often consume this food with a cup of tea or coffee, which has merited the snack’s inclusion in many coffee houses. The Singaporean companies Ya Kun Kaya Toast and Killiney Kopitiam are franchises which have proliferated by this popular snack.
This delicacy is credited to the Hainanese. Many Hainanese worked on British ships as kitchen hands. When they settled in the British colonies now constituting Singapore and Malaysia, they started selling the foods which they prepared for the British, including coffee, toast, and French toast, to the local populations. They replaced the Western jams and preserves favored by the British with native coconut jams.
HAVE COFFEE AT SELFIE CAFE IN HAJI LANE
We saw this cafe while walking along Haji Lane. Its a cozy and quaint cafe amidst the busy Haji Lane that you might overlook it at first. Once you go inside though, you will be transported to a perfect chill spot. Perfect for resting after walking around Bugis area. We already went back to Bugis Junction to look for a place to chill but went back again to Haji Lane just to have coffee here. Another choice was the cat cafe but the prices were a little steep so being the cheapskate that we are, we went back to Selfie Cafe.
My drink with our selfie printed on it. <3 I ordered the Selfie Butterscotch Frappe (8.50SGD) and the boyfie ordered the Selfie Chocolate – HOT (7.50SGD ) No selfie. 🙁 (The server informed us that the printed picture wont last in a hot beverage but the boyfie insisted on getting hot choco so we got that with no selfie. )
Selfie cafe’s selfie wall. You can have your picture printed for an extra charge.
WALK AROUND THE CITY
We tried exploring the area just to know the city better so we did a little walking around. Okay, we actually got lost. HAHA but good thing we did though. While walking, we passed by this park somewhere in Lavender and fell in love with the calm and serene ambiance of the place. I suggest you do to. Who knows? you might find your own gem in Singapore. Besides, walking is good for you. Walking makes you more aware of your surroundings and you tend to notice small things that you normally wont on a regular day hurrying to your destination.
This is where we realized we want to live in Singapore. <3
INSTEAD OF STAYING IN A HOTEL, TRY RENTING AN APARTMENT
I booked our room via airbnb, a website . Click on this link to register and receive at least $25 or its equivalent to your currency when you sign up and book your first room.
So, What is Airbnb? Airbnb is an online community marketplace where guests can book spaces from hosts. Its similar to an online reservation system but instead of hotel rooms, you rent/reserve rooms in actual homes.. It might seem a little scary at first but it really works. Just be vigilant enough to check the reviews and ratings of the places you are renting to avoid any inconvenience. Also, it really helps to ask questions and converse with the hosts prior to booking to avoid misunderstandings.
We rented a room in Lily’s place located in Chinatown, one of the busiest places in Singapore. Right in the heart of it all, I must say. Overall, the stay was nice and pleasant. We did not encounter any inconvenience during our stay there. More details about this in the next blog posts.
Pictures grabbed from their Airbnb listing.
GO SHOPPING AROUND CHINATOWN
Chinatown with haze. Our apartment was located within walking distance of chinatown station exit C. The picture above is near exit B, I think. Unfortunately, when we travelled to Singapore, the haze was kinda thick but we weren’t forced to wear a face mask up until our third and last day in SG.
Lucky Mall and lanterns lining the streets at night. Chinatown is great for shopping and buying souvenirs to take home to your loved ones. The prices are usually cheaper compared to other places. Be sure to practice your bargaining power.
Pro Tip: When asking for a discount, go for half the offered price first and then go up until you and the seller agrees to a decent price.
I was mistaken for a Japanese national while shopping. I asked a seller for the price of a bag in English and he replied “ni-ju-go” which is 25 in Japanese. Oh, how I wish I was really Japanese!
TRY CHICKEN RICE AT HAWKERS
You can find hawkers at nearly all busy places in Singapore. Some even operate 24 hours so you can always grab a bite no matter what time it is. Due to the abundance of other nationalities in Singapore, the food choices are quite big ranging from Malaysian, Indonesian, Indian, Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Japanese cuisine. One thing I noticed in every hawker places we visited is that Chicken Rice is a staple food.
BUY ART MATERIALS OR ART BOOKS AT BRAS BASAH COMPLEX
One of the places I always visit every time I am in SG is the Bras Basah Complex. This is four floors of heaven for art geeks! I can get lost in it for hours and hours. My favorite store would be Basheer Graphic Books (located at the top floor) because most of the art/graphic books I’ve been eyeing for quite a while can be found here plus they give 20% discount to students. They also almost always have books on sale so be sure to check it out.
(Art Friend, 3rd level)
(ArtMark, 4th level)
Artmark is relatively smaller compared to Art Friend. Their selection of copic markers is nice though as well as other writing mediums. Being small, it helps you buy only the things that you actually need as compared to Art Friend, where you can get lost because of the number of selections and types of art materials available. On average, I spend at least two hours in Art Friend.
Disclaimer: Some pictures here are not mine. Credits to the rightful owners.