Local expert Lionel Lee of Wanderhow shares how to travel Singapore like a local.
How to Travel Singapore Like a Local
All my travelling experience brought me to a single realization. The best way to travel is to travel like a local because they know their place best.
What to eat, where to play and how to get from one place from another.
No disrespect to any travel bloggers, but my experiences tell me that the locals know all the local gems and secrets. This is really how you discover the magic of any place.
If you want to travel to Singapore like a local, here are my recommendations for the best local hot spots.
What are the Best Singapore Attractions
1. Gardens by the Bay (South)
To Singaporeans, Gardens by the Bay is just another big garden with plants from all over the planet in our garden city. “Like what’s the big deal?”
It was only after I spoke to many travellers that I realized the importance of Gardens by the Bay to Singapore’s tourism scene and why it is ranked #1 attraction on Tripadvisor for Singapore.
Gardens by the Bay’s Flower Dome and Cloud Forest are uniquely Singapore and you will not be able to find this amazing collection of plant life anywhere else on the planet.
The Flower Dome and Cloud Forest open from 9 am to 9 pm.
When to Go: Usually, I will advise travellers to visit any attractions early so that they can avoid the crowds. But for Gardens by the Bay, my recommendation is to visit in the afternoon from 4 pm to 5 pm so to see the gardens at sunset.
That is also the time that they light up the Supertree and it will give you a whole new experience.
Local’s secret tip
2. Gardens by the Bay (East)
While Gardens by the Bay (South) has 2 beautiful conservatories and a nice garden in an indoor fully air-conditioned area.
Ask any locals: the true beauty of Gardens by the Bay is across Marina Bay at Gardens by the Bay (East).
How to Get There: From Gardens by the Bay (South) walk towards Marina Barrage cross the Barrage and walk along the water body, you will arrive at Gardens by the Bay (East). The whole walk is 1.7km.
At the end of your walk, you will be rewarded with this complete skyline view of Singapore. The Garden is always quiet and peaceful unlike the one across Marina Bay.
3. Satay by the Bay
The go-to-place for food at The Gardens by the Bay is Satay by the Bay. It is located right beside Gardens by the Bay (South).
You can get a full suite of local food that you will find at any hawker centre. It just may be a little bit pricey.
4. Old Airport Road Hawker Centre
Just an 8 to 12-minute car ride away is one of Singapore’s most popular hawker centres at Old Airport Road!
The reputation and taste of old-time stores with low prices are what draws locals to them day after day.
The Hawker Centre – Dining in Singapore
The reason the Hawker Centre’s are so significant is that you cannot find anything like them anywhere else in the world.
Whenever I am travelling, I always try to find the local version of hawker centre.
I am unable to find it in the U.S, Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, Philippines, Thailand, Shanghai, Brunei, Taiwan (some resemblance in their night market).
You may find something similar in Malaysia because they are our neighbour.
Hawker stalls offer a wide variety of cheap local food all in one location.
I urge every traveller visiting Singapore to dine in a hawker centre at least once. Below is the list of Hawker Centres that I selected because they are near to tourist spots:
Where to Eat in Singapore
- Old Airport Road
- Chinatown Complex Food Centre
- Maxwell Road Hawker Centre
- Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre
- Tekka Centre (Great Muslim and Indian Food)
There is also a trend of cafes popping up in Singapore over the last few years. This is not your typical Starbucks and coffee bean type of café.
Such cafés have great ambience, great atmosphere and most of all great food and drinks.
They are typically located along at the fringe of our town area.
Getting Around Singapore
Train & Bus
In Singapore, the train and bus share the same distance fare system.
Travelling by train can get you to most major areas. And then you hop on a bus to get even closer.
For travellers, the train would often be more than enough to get by in Singapore because most tourist attractions have a nearby train station.
Learning the bus routes can be slightly more daunting but you can always find yourself ending up at a train station one way or another.
Private Hire (Uber or Grab)
Uber and Grab are the 2 largest ride-hailing apps in Singapore.
Most of the travellers I know use Uber extensively in Singapore. I believe this is due to Uber being a global brand and also the outright price that is agreed upon before the ride.
Travellers can consider using Grab as it is a more localized version of Uber and would often provide promotions.
Taxi is often the priciest option to travel around in Singapore.
Locals would only use this option if Uber or Grab is having surge pricing and there is really no way out. The flag-down fare, distance and waiting time fares are clearly displayed on the window of the back seat.
Taxi fares are also subjected to an additional surcharge of 25% – 50% during peak and wee hours (midnight to 6:00 am). There is also a surcharge of 3/5 SGD from the airport.
Useful Apps in Singapore
Local apps are often overlooked. When I went to Shanghai for work, I almost went crazy because I could not use Google and Whatsapp. Knowing a few local apps would have helped.
Let’s face it, we are reliant on our phones.
Burpple is the authority on finding great food in Singapore.
Foodpanda, Deliveroo and UberEATS are the main food delivery services in Singapore.
My website Wanderhow is where you can forget about everything you just read in this article and ask a local for his/her insights.
It is a Singapore Travel Guide that gives tips by locals to travelers. Locals give recommendations in the discussion group on where to eat, where to stay and what to do in Singapore.
And those are my favourite tips and recommendations for traveling to Singapore. If you want more advice, be sure to check out my website.
Do you have any local recommendations to add?
For more information on Singapore you may enjoy these articles:
- The Best Things to do in Singapore – A Local’s Guide to the City
- 3 Days in Singapore – The Perfect Singapore Itinerary for First Timers
- Where to Stay in Singapore – The Best Neighborhoods and Accommodation
- Outdoor Activities in Singapore
- A Tour of Haw Par Villa in Singapore
- The Best and Biggest Festivals Around The World
Lionel Lee of wanderhow.com believes that the best way to learn about a place, as a traveller, is to ask the locals.
He created Wanderhow so that he can help travellers from all over the world learn more about Singapore through his personal insights. Join the community on Facebook.
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17 thoughts on “How to Travel Singapore Like a Local”
It’s a well-known fact that millions of tourists are visiting Singapore to explore and discover the adventures, historical landmarks, famous shopping malls and much more. So there is no doubt that Singapore is one of the perfect destinations and this country has more malls per capita ratio than any other place of the world. Not only that, it has some of the most lavish restaurants in Asia. Singaporeans love shopping just because of there are the diverse and budget-friendly market places as well.
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There might be no bigger foodie paradise than Singapore. Old Airport road is a great alternative to some of the other hawker centers closer to the downtown tourist area. Another farther out hawker center worth visiting is Adam Road. A local hang out, it’s worth the trip outside of the central business district. Don’t miss out on the BBQ stingray!!!!
For family vacations, it is a perfect place where you can enjoy and spend quality time with your family and friends. It has a lot of experiences and itineraries that will give a wonderful experience. Singapore is also very neat and clean. A good blog I would say. Thanks
Singapore is a beautiful country. The culture, the tours , the people of Singapore more loving.Thanks for sharing this blog.
I love singapore, especially when I am not there for work. Very insightful blog post would definitely remember some of your blog tips (Like avoiding the taxi’s) when next I visit.
Excellent. I fly into SIN on April 4th for a week so this will be a great help! Thanks muchly!
Perfect timing for this post as I may be going in April. I love the garden idea and cannot live without Uber so glad to hear they use it there!
Stunning! I envy you so much hahaha, must be hell of an experience!
Great article and so stunning pictures. I also never traveled to Singapore but i wish to be there soon. I just heard Singapore is one of the most visited tourist destinations.
the author is right that the real experience of travelling is to travel as a local citizen of that place because you can get the get each every information where to go and what to eat and this is the real magic of travelling and this is what every visitor wants environment and taste and as you all know that singapore is the gateway of tourism so everyone please read this once because im damn sure that it will definitly help you..and in the end thanks to the author
You have shared really very nice post, this guide will help people more. Thanks for sharing this post.
It’s always so amazing to visit Singapore. Your blog really is helpful. Thanks for sharing.
Ah wow some great help and tips in here, thanks! The Gardens By The Bay looks awesome! Singapore is definitely on our list and will definitely be checking back here when we go!
Great! post. Very helpful. The captures are lovely. Thanks for sharing.
Singapore is so amazing destination and you share great tips to enjoy things of Singapore like a local boy. Food and monuments both are really good to enjoy. I really love that food. thanks for sharing that amazing guide.
I’ve been to this place and wherever you go, the place is so clean and perfect. Tried walking around the city for almost two hours at night but all is worth it. The people are so friendly and accommodating. I also love their selfie cafe near Arab St. 🙂