For many visitors to Singapore there’s often an itinerary jam-packed with activities, tours and must-sees. Clarke Quay, Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay and Sentosa Island; just to name a few.
While this is all well and good, this pair of travellers was only in town either side of a Japanese holiday: one night in Singers on the way there, and two on the way back.
Due to an early outbound flight to Tokyo, Changi Village made the cut for an overnighter close to Singapore airport. The area is very slow-paced in comparison to the heart of Singapore, and being relatively isolated, it may not be the best choice for a long or short-term stay.
In Changi Village you can enjoy a 2 km Coastal Walk, hang out with the locals in Changi Beach Park, take a boat trip to Pulau Ubin, or check out the eating and drinking scene in and around Changi Village Hawker Centre.
The unofficial heart of the village would have to be Changi Village Hawker Centre – a food-laden enclave saturated with stalls selling so many edibles.
As many out-of-towners seemed to gravitate to the Little Island Brewing Company on the waterfront, we settled on the hawker centre for an afternoon of drinking and eating.
Cooling down from that insane Singaporean humidity came in the form of mango slushy with red tea jelly (2.5) and lemon passion (1.8) from Riverside Cane Juice. It was either this or staying put in our air-con hotel up the road. I forgot how unrelenting the humidity is in Southeast Asia.
It didn’t take long before we found Charlie’s Corner and switched to beer. Ahhh, that’s better. This nifty little pub has your typical Tiger beer, plus Guinness, Summer IPA and Irish Ale. We did’t hang around for the food, but they do an English style breakfast, bacon butties, burgers and fish & chips.
For much cheaper drinking options, it pays to seek out any vendor that has bottles of beer in their fridges. It may just be flimsy plastic cups they give you to drink from, but it’s way cheaper than Charlie’s.
Changi Village Hawker Centre is known for its nasi lemak, but somehow we didn’t end up even trying it. Instead, it was a deliciously refreshing rojak (4) and piping hot fried kway teow (5) from a vendor called Jia Mei.
We couldn’t leave without gorging on char-grilled skewers of pork and chicken from Soon Lee Heng. So incredibly good!
With our Japan travels behind us, our two-night return to Singapore was in a much more central location; just steps from the city’s Orchard Road retail precinct. The Quincy Hotel, where we were shacked up, was the ideal place to kick back and unwind.
Shopping malls do nothing for either of us, so most of our time was spent lounging about, eating, drinking and just a little exploring. Embarrassingly we didn’t even eat out once. No need, as breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and all drinks were included in the room rate. And there’s a pool with a view, which was all mine!
We did brave the humidity, however, and spent time exploring the colourful streets of Little India. Unlike the rest of Singapore which is clean and orderly, exceptions are made with Little India. It can be grotty and rough around the edges, but it’s the narrow lanes, colourful buildings and heady aromas wafting from shops and restaurants that give it appeal.
The recommendation we were given to try Chye Seng Huat Hardware for coffee was a good one, and it isn’t all that far out of Little India. Housed in a former metal and hardware building, CSHH is beautifully set up with a central island counter, an outdoor courtyard and the Annex for an all-senses experience with the coffee bean. Beans are roasted onsite, the espresso is excellent, and the menu has a Western flavour.
Definitely worth schlepping to!
Heading in the direction of Haji Lane, another place worth stopping at is Symmetry. There’s a certain relaxed Australian vibe to the set-up, with a hearty brunch and a Mod-Oz menu featuring crab Benedict, shakshuka and slow-cooked pork belly. Nice spot for an afternoon drink or coffee.
All the guidebooks mention Haji Lane as a hotspot for eating, shopping and plenty of colourful street art. The narrow lane is lined with old houses that were once home to poor Malay families and pilgrims doing the annual “haj”, or pilgrimage to Mecca.
Today it’s somewhere to grab quirky homewares, clothes and footwear; even a Persian carpet. Plenty of cafes and eateries, too, and being part of Kampong Glam, you’ve also got Arab Street and its plethora of shops and restaurants.
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