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When in Singapore | Culture, people, things to do and memorable brands
When in Singapore
Cultural Currents

The city where ‘East meets West’, Singapore blends a combination of Asian and European cultures. Its stunning architecture displays influences and styles from different places and periods – from the modern day skyline to decorated shophouses in the older neighbourhoods. The cultural spirit of the city is borne out of its geography – the full scope of Asia can be found in the handful of ethnic districts that serve the local communities, each area distinctive in its architecture and the make-up of its streets.

Singapore is renowned for delicious, varied and affordable food and its convivial, multi-cultural hawker centres (food courts) are a reflection of the city community spirit. It’s not uncommon to see locals sharing a meal made up of Malay satay, Indian biryani and Chinese oyster omelettes.

Singaporeans have a unique social behaviour around eating in hawker centres where communal tables are shared by a group of strangers. Known as ‘chope’, locals reserve seats by placing personal items such as name cards, umbrellas or tissue packs on them. It’s considered practical by locals as, after having bought food from one of the stalls, they don’t want it to go cold while they hunt for a seat – although occasionally it can cause disputes!
 
 
 
 

The city where ‘East meets West’, Singapore blends a combination of Asian and European cultures. Its stunning architecture displays influences and styles from different places and periods – from the modern day skyline to decorated shophouses in the older neighbourhoods. The cultural spirit of the city is borne out of its geography – the full scope of Asia can be found in the handful of ethnic districts that serve the local communities, each area distinctive in its architecture and the make-up of its streets. Locals will happily travel to a particular neighbourhood in search of a specific shop.

Singapore is renowned for delicious, varied and affordable food and its convivial, multi-cultural hawker centres (food courts) are a reflection of the city community spirit. It’s not uncommon to see locals sharing a meal made up of Malay satay, Indian biryani and Chinese oyster omelettes.

Singaporeans have a unique social behaviour around eating in hawker centres where communal tables are shared by a group of strangers. Known as ‘chope’, locals reserve seats by placing personal items such as name cards, umbrellas or tissue packs on them. It’s considered practical by locals as, after having bought food from one of the stalls, they don’t want it to go cold while they hunt for a seat – although occasionally it can cause disputes!

an interesting thing to do

Make sure to visit Gardens by the Bay, a huge, colourful, futuristic nature park, completely man-made from reclaimed land on the waterfront. As well as being home to hundreds of trees and plants from many different countries, Gardens by the Bay has the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and is completely self-sustained on renewable energy. Go during the evening, take the skywalk around the Supertree structures and enjoy the beautiful display of lights.


Make sure to visit Gardens by the Bay, a huge, colourful, futuristic nature park, completely man-made from reclaimed land on the waterfront. As well as being home to hundreds of trees and plants from many different countries, Gardens by the Bay has the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and is completely self-sustained on renewable energy. Go during the evening, take the skywalk around the Supertree structures and enjoy the beautiful display of lights.

One local brand

The queue that stretches every day across Chinatown Food Complex, Singapore’s largest hawker centre, has become an attraction in its own right. If you wait patiently in line for several hours, you’ll be treated to the world’s most affordable Michelin-starred meal: a plate of soya sauce chicken and rice costing less than half the price of a Big Mac. Liao Fan: Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle – a family-run chicken stall much like any other you’ll find across the city – has become an unlikely brand sensation. On gaining his Michelin star, the owner Chan Hon Meng entered into a partnership with Hersing Culinary, opening an 80-seater flagship restaurant Hawker Chan in Chinatown near the original stall. The partnership has plans for global expansion.

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With thanks to Ipsita Sarkar for her unique, cultural insights.