Although Singapore is known for its innovative architecture, perhaps the main reason to travel here is to explore the incredible food scene! Eating is a way of life in this city-state, with a range of different cuisines represented in the hawker centers and fine-dining establishments. The food culture of Singapore was shaped by its history as a trading hub. Over the centuries Chinese, Malay, Indian and European traders brought their culinary traditions to the city and in turn helped to create a melting-pot society.
The most famous example of this is the popular Hainanese Chicken Rice. No matter where you are based, you won’t be far from a local restaurant or shopping mall serving up the poached chicken and fragrant rice staple. It makes for the perfect lunch, as it’s quick and delicious. Another hit among Singaporeans is Laksa: curry noodle soup that is often accompanied with seafood (fishcakes and prawns). This dish is widely consumed by Pernanakans – those with a mixed Chinese and Malay heritage.
Indeed, there are even specific neighborhoods dotted across the city where you can find the exact ethnic foods you want. Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Gelam are all microcosms of their homelands and collectively boast superb gastronomy. But if you can’t decide which fare tickles your fancy, you can always head to the nearest hawker center to be spoilt for choice. Lau Pa Sat is one such place where you can gorge on local delicacies and international cuisine, inside a rebuilt Victorian building.
Open-air food courts like Lau Pa Sat are regulated by the government to ensure prices stay affordable and hygiene standards are met. Today over 110 hawker centers are located in Singapore, and there are plans to build even more to cater to the ongoing needs of residents. Many of the city’s hawkers run second and third generation businesses – with their parents or grandparents setting up street food stalls decades ago. They lean on traditional family recipes and add exciting new flavors to stay modern.
While there are endless places to eat and foods to try in Lion City, we highly recommend getting in touch with Hello! Singapore Tours and booking one of their award-winning foodie adventures. Their food tours have been acknowledged by Tripadvisor with the Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Award for 2020 and 2021. This outfit specializes in culturally immersive experiences which combine Singapore’s top attractions with hidden gems. Eating like a local is a breeze on either their private or small group option.
Best Food Tours in Singapore
Private Food Tour
The Private Singapore Food Tour can be booked any day of the week from 9:00 am to 15:00 pm, typically lasting for six hours. Groups of up to 10 can be accommodated for, so it’s the perfect day excursion for hungry families or groups of friends. Throughout the tour, you will be diving into Singapore’s rich food culture and learning why the locals love eating so much! It begins in the Katong neighborhood, which is the eastern portion of the central region, with stories about the early Chinese immigrants being told.
In addition to enjoying a selection of Chinese and Peranakan dishes – such as Bak Chang (rice dumplings) and Laksa – you will also be learning about the lives of the immigrants. Subjects like their employment, how they lived and who they married are covered. The Peranakan culture spawned when the first waves of Southern Chinese settler men came to maritime Southeast Asia and married Malay women. After the East Coast, you jump on the public bus to the popular hawker hotspot – Old Airport Road.
Many “hawker legends” are to be found in this food court and they cook up distinctly Singaporean dishes including Hokkien Mee (Fujian noodles), Rojak (vegetable salad), Popiah (spring rolls) and Carrot Cake. Trying one or two of these meals will keep you fueled until the next stop in the Kampong Glam district – home to the Malay community and the magnificent Sultan Mosque. All sorts of Malay, Arabic and Indonesian goodies can be tried here from Beef Rendang to Murtabak (stuffed pan-fried bread).
The final stop is Little India, where you will be sampling the savory dish Dosa and wrapping your lips around Indian sweets. All in all, a minimum of 10 tastings will be provided within six hours – ensuring that you leave the experience with a full belly! One important thing to note though is that the food tastings involve a bit of meat, milk, gluten and spice. If your diet (for whatever reason) restricts any of those ingredients then you might be better suited to booking a non-food tour with Hello! Singapore.
Lastly, this food tour runs rain or shine. If you didn’t know already, it can rain in Singapore any time of the year – so make sure you bring an umbrella with you just in case of a downpour. Singapore is the type of city where you can’t worry about the weather. You just have to accept what comes your way and make the most of it. Luckily, food is one of those experiences that doesn’t require good weather conditions. When you are slurping down noodles and gorging on deserts, you won’t pay attention to the rain at all!
Small Group Food Tour
The Small Group Singapore Food Tour follows the same itinerary as above but this time in a mixed group of eight guests maximum. These tours run every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9:00 am to 15:00 pm. It’s a great option for solos or couples who want to make new friends while immersing themselves in Singapore’s famed foodie culture. Over the course of six hours, you will get the opportunity to discover the unique history and set of stories behind the cuisine as well as the restaurants that you eat in.
Other Tours with a Food Component
Travelers should know that Hello! Singapore also offers food components to their other excursions, so you can always book one of those if you want to focus on a different aspect of the Garden City. The Private Customized Walking Tour, for example, can involve foodie elements without becoming a full-blown food tour. You can tailor it however you please – choosing the attractions and neighborhoods that pique your interest, while letting Hello! Singapore throw in a couple of local secrets for good measure!
Another possibility is to go with the Private Singapore History and Culture Tour. As the name suggests, you will be covering topics that take you through the modern history of Singapore – from the founding of the city-state by Raffles up until the present day. Highlights include exploring the architecture of the Civic District, taking a river cruise, visiting Merlion Park, learning about the reforms implemented by Lee Kuan Yew, eating Chicken Rice at the Maxwell Hawker Center and enjoying a nice tea ceremony.
This is a wonderful alternative for cultured travelers who like to get a broad understanding of a destination’s history, while munching down on some fantastic food! It’s both informative and entertaining, and makes for good exercise too. You will be walking for approximately nine kilometers at a slow pace while doing the sightseeing. Hopefully the sun is shining and you can capture some beautiful photos. Singapore is an endlessly fascinating place and the more you delve into its history, the more surprises it delivers you.
Final Thoughts on Singapore Food Tours
As you can see from the tours above, there is something for every epicure to enjoy. You might want to have a full day dedicated to Singapore’s most authentic cuisines or sample a little bit of the foodie culture through a different experience like the history tour. Whatever your preference, Hello! Singapore is hands down the best company in town for this type of adventure. They boast a perfect 5-star rating on Google and as mentioned before have gained awards such as Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice.
Their team consists of Singaporeans who work as professional guides. Each team member (Gee Soo, Su Ling, Daryl, Pamela, Richard, Gene, Bibi and Kwang Wei) has a passion for sharing their knowledge of Singapore with tourists and they can do so in a number of languages. English, Cantonese, Mandarin and Malay can all be requested with one of the amazing guides at Hello! Singapore. Beyond explaining the facts and figures, this team loves nothing more than sharing a laugh or delicious morsel with guests!