Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Travels | Exploring SG on a Budget: Where to Go, Where to Eat, and Where to Shop! Part 2

Singapore's famous Roasted Chicken Rice

So the post where I wrote about the places I liked the most in Singapore was a lot longer than I expected (Well, there are certainly more which aren't included in my blog!). So I cut my post into two parts.

Where to go when you're hungry? Read on!

Get A Taste Of The Singaporean Cuisine

Why pay for expensive meals at restaurants when you can taste local food for S$2.50 or S$3.00 per meal? You can find cafeteria-like eating houses popularly known as 'hawkers' or 'coffee shops' anywhere in Singapore and they offer cheap but good food. Most are found near train stations or in the void decks of residential buildings, locally called as 'HDB'. 

Most malls have food courts such as Food Junction or Kopitiam, and they are found mostly at the top levels. They will cost a bit more because they are air-conditioned but the food almost tastes the same.

But if you want to be more adventurous, here are some famous hawker areas you can try:

1) Lau Pa Sat

Lau Pa Sat offers a wide varieties of food and a must-try is the satay, which is like kebabs. Lau Pa Sat is ideal for big groups because of the big space.

Nearest train station will be Telok Ayer along the Downtown Line.  Take Exit A and walk about 273 meters.

2) MakanSutra
The priciest option among those listed here but you pay for the view and the ambience.
Makansutra is open from 5pm until 2am every Mondays until Thursday. The place is open until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. On Sundays, the place closes 1 hour early at 1am.

The nearest MRT station is City Hall station and take the Esplanade link-way route.

3) Newton Food Centre

I haven't been here, honestly, so I can't say much about the food. But if you are near the area, go and try!

The nearest train station to Newton Food Centre would be Newton MRT. Take Exit B and walk for about 163 meters.
Wherever you eat, don't forget to try the famous chicken rice (steamed or roasted chicken) or the chicken biryani, which is an Indian recipe, or the nasi lemak, which is rice cooked with coconut and served with chicken and fried anchovies.

For noodle-lovers, I recommend the Char Kway Teow, white/black carrot cake, oyster cake, seafood crispy noodles and Pontian noodles. Try the Pontian noodles with chilli but if you don't like spicy food, order it with black sauce instead.

Crispy noodles in a small wok. Yum! Served at a food center near Lavender MRT.

Roti Prata. Having evolved from an Indian dish, it is served plain, or with egg, or with onion, or with cheese.

Laksa, a spicy noodle soup which combines Chinese and Malay cuisine.

Rojak, a fruit and vegetable salad dish which originated from Indonesia.

* Food in Singapore is usually served with chilli but if you don't like spicy food, INFORM the server immediately. Or, you can have the chilli separated (especially with the biryani) so you can control the spiciness.

Where To Buy The Essentials

Singapore can be a good place to shop, if you know when and where to look. Singapore is known for the IT shows (happens three times a year) where you can buy gadgets at a cheaper price, if not, with lots of freebies. There's also the 'Great Singapore Sale', which happens during the months of May until July (National Day sale).

Keeping track of warehouse sales is also a good way of purchasing items by the bulk, and I used to subscribe to promotions blogs but the items offered are off-season and sizes can be difficult to find in cases of clothes and shoes sales.

What about chocolates for pasalubongs? What about toiletries? What about other kikay stuffs that a girl needs?

Well, panic no more! I have found some shops that offer cheaper products than those found in the supermarket though you need to search for them carefully, because they are found near residential areas and not near hotels or tourist spots.

1) Valu$  

OMG as in ohmygulay! These shops are sprouting like mushrooms nowadays and they are mostly found near MRT stations, if not on the topmost floors or basements in malls. They offer cheap chocolates, biscuits and other stuffs that are pasalubong-worthy (is there such a word?) that I go crazy whenever I shop at one. The biggest branch I have seen is in Toa Payoh, found near the entrance/exit to the MRT station but there is one inside West Mall (third floor, if I remember right) at Bukit Batok, and at the basement of Causeway Point Mall in Woodlands.
Hubby's having a hard time choosing which to buy :)

If you are staying anywhere but near these places, fret not. You can search for the nearest branch near you online :)

Make sure to check the expiry date, though, because cheap price comes with a price (what?).

2)  Pink Beauty, Venus Beauty and Beauté Spring

Forgot to pack in your toothbrush or toothpaste? Your monthly visitor came in a bit early? Toiletries at supermarkets like Fairprice (locals call it NTUC) and Giant are quite expensive and you'll need that extra cash to buy souvenirs for your family, friends and co-workers. If you don't mind walking a bit, try to look around at the shops outside MRT stations for the above-mentioned shops for they sell toiletries at a cheaper price. Sometimes, they even have promos and sell hand wash for S$1.00 per refill pack (Yes, I did gave hand wash away as pasalubong before :D).

3) Daiso

What can go wrong with anything for only S$2.00? The items found at Daiso may not be made in Singapore but finding unique products like a banana-holder or an apple-slicer can be useful and exciting :)
Daiso branch at Simei mall.

Daiso also offers food and drinks and you can find them in some shopping malls like Plaza Singapura and Vivo City.

4) Uncle Shops
          I don't know why a friend call them as such because some shops are manned by an Aunty (he-he) but these are the shops found outside MRT stations or below HDBs. HDBs have vacant ground floors, called void decks, and some HDBs have converted these void decks into shops and they offer stuffs you might need for a lower price.

5) SKP

If  you ever decide you need cheap party bags to put your pasalubongs into or your stuffs won't fit in your luggage anymore and you need to secure the balikbayan box you bought with packaging tape, SKP is the place to be.

SKP offers inexpensive gift wrappers, party bags, microwavables and other plastic containers. The downside? SKP shops lurk among the establishments near the MRT stations, almost hidden but there is one at the third floor of Lucky Plaza.

6) Guardian and Watsons

These establishments are everywhere, you can easily find even with eyes closed! And the biggest plus, they put some products in promotions as cheap as S$2.00 per piece all-year round! Some chocolates and goodies are also marked-down compared to the supermarkets so just be patient in scouting for what you need.

7) Lucky Chinatown

Yes, this is a shopping haven for souvenirs- key chains, can openers, ref magnets and other what-have-yous. The bonus part? You can explore the temples in the area and the shopping complex in Chinatown is nicely lit during Chinese New Year. 
Lucky Chinatown is very easy to find. It's right outside the train station!

And there's my mom who got so excited with all the abubots she found.

The style of the buildings in Chinatown gives you that rustic feeling that will make you return again!

Inside the Chinese temple in Chinatown.

Chinatown at night during Chinese New Year.

These lanterns really gave me that nostalgic feeling.

* Wear comfortable shoes. It is easier to shop around when your feet are not hurting.

* Be careful in taking photos inside some shops.

* Don't be shy to ask for directions. Especially when it's a kabayan

There. But again, this list is not exhaustive of all choices and options. Stay tuned for more posts :D

Disclaimer: Some routes may have changed from the time I have written this. Singapore's transportation improves rapidly so better check gothere.sg to find your way in case my suggestions become inapplicable.

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