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Singapore

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When in Singapore, the best bet of any self-respecting foodie is to forget the fancy restaurants, at least for a while. If you want to get to know the Lion City, hawker food is where it’s at. Cheap, tasty and surprisingly diverse, it’s everything a backpacker wants in a meal.

To be honest, it’s extremely difficult to pick just a few dishes from the mind-numbing assortment that is available. But since it would take forever for us to finish enumerating the best of hawker fare, we’ll just stick to our absolute favorites. Make sure to have a taste of these, but don’t be shy of expanding your palate to other stalls that you find around the city.

Laksa

Price per Serving: around $4

We just cannot say enough good things about laksa. It’s a spicy rice noodle soup with a mix of coconut milk, beancurd puffs, fish, shrimp and cockles. It is at once satisfying and flavorful and we’re pretty sure will quickly become one of your go-to meals.

Our favorite laksa place is Sungei Roak Laksa, located somewhere between the New World Centre and Avant Theatre. It’s not as rich as other laksas, which can only mean that you’ll be coming back for a second serving.

Carrot Cake

Price per Serving: around $5

This certainly isn’t your typical carrot cake. It’s crispy, savory and doesn’t contain any carrot at all. Instead, it’s made with the visually similar daikon, which is grated, mixed with eggs and flour, and fried until crispy and golden brown. You’ll want to try carrot cake from different places, as each stall throws in its own mix of flavorings and toppings.

One of the best carrot cake places out there is Fu Ming Carrot Cake, located in the Redhill Food Centre. Here, they flavor their carrot cakes with a drizzle of soy sauce. Simple, but it allows the natural flavor and texture of the carrot cake to shine through.

Pork Rib Soup

Price per Serving: around $4

Perhaps calling this a soup is inaccurate. Locals actually call it pork rib tea. At first glance you may see why. It looks like nothing more than pork bones and scraps boiled in water. One taste, however, and you’ll be completely blown away by the complexity of flavor in this simple soup.

Each stall has a different spice mix so it’s hard to choose which one is our favorite. However, we do highly recommend Leong Kee Bak Kut The, which is not too far away from the National Stadium. Leong Kee serves Malaysian-style pork rib tea, which is more strongly flavored with herbs than most.

Kaya Toast

Price per Serving: around $4

While you’re in Singapore, you must try the quintessential Singaporean breakfast, kaya toast. It’s basically layers of bread toasted and slathered with coconut jam in between. It’s absolutely delicious on its own, but most Singaporeans prefer to eat it with soft-boiled eggs and a choice of either coffee or tea.

If you’re a kaya toast newbie, you must try Ya Kun Kaya Toast, which has over 40 outlets all over Singapore. If kaya toast isn’t your thing, you can opt for French toast or what they call “toastwiches”, also served with classic eggs and a hot beverage.

Met A Space Pod brings the Chucky Cheese back into adulting and a perfect place for VIP backpackers or space cadets. It’s the only themed hostel you can find in Singapore, so I’m feeling pretty comfortable in my tiny space pod quarters nestled up to my (not one, but TWO) down pillows and comforter with frequently flowing air ventilation and fold-down TV. It’s such a nice break from all the cheap and sometimes lousy hostels I’ve stayed at. For approximately $50 USD per night (I never said it was cheap), you get a space pod (or coffin, depending on how you look at it) perched along the famous Clarke Quay river where you’ll find plenty of nightlife with dozens of bars and restaurants.  If you’re the party type and don’t plan on bringing home any company, then this is a perfect solution for you. You can get rowdy at one of the bars and then crawl back into your space quarters at the end of the night.

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I’ve never stayed at a themed hotel or hostel, so I was pretty intrigued by the idea being a solo traveler. There were so many modern upgrades like USB outlets that made me kiss the sky. The restroom facilities were very clean (albeit as tight as the pod), and I even had a little privacy screen when lights were out.

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It gets pretty rowdy in the neighborhood, so if you’re a light sleeper they offer earplugs, but honestly, if noise is the type of thing to stir you into Grumpy, I wouldn’t recommend it. That being said, I’d say Met A Space Pod is for a very niche group. If you’re tall (over 6′), you probably won’t fit. If you’re a larger than average size couple, you probably won’t fit. If you don’t like noise, you’re probably not a right fit. Other than that, all others welcome to apply.

 

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