When planning a trip to Singapore, there’s one thing on many travellers’ minds more than anything: food. And, oh, how spot on you’d be in setting your main goal of visiting the Lion City to eating your heart’s content at one of the best hawker centres in Singapore!
After visiting dozens of cities on the continent, I can say with unshakeable certainty that Singapore is one of the best food cities in Asia; nay, the world. And nowhere in this fine city-state is there a better way to experience complete food bliss than in one of the top food courts in Singapore.
For the uninitiated, these food centres are a massive part of the Singaporean food culture. Although they sound a little dubious, they’re best described as a food court taken to its most logical extreme. On its own, visiting a hawker centre is a must-have cultural experience in Singapore. Of course, the real treat isn’t to just walk around aimlessly, but to partake in the gastronomical nirvana that awaits!
Not sure how to get started exploring the scene? Here’s a quick guide…
Top Singapore hawker centres: 13 must-try places to eat
Chinatown Complex Food Centre
Want to get acquainted with Singapore’s food culture? Start with the massive and central Chinatown Complex Food Centre. The famed food complex is situated in the heart of—you guessed it!—Chinatown. It delivers a wealth of top-notch food options at affordable prices. There’s enough here to keep your tastebuds exploring for hours—if not days. (This is, after all, the largest hawker centre in food-obsessed Singapore!)
Unsurprisingly, the Chinatown Complex Food Centre is heavy on Chinese-inspired dishes. At the food stalls, you can enjoy them all: wonton noodles, char kway teow, Hokkien mee, chicken rice, dim sum, lor mee, and bak kut teh.
At Chinatown Complex Food Centre, other more “local” popular Singaporean foods also await. Keep on the look out for favourites like satay, laksa, and chill crab here.
The most popular stall here is Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle (#02-126). Better known as Hawker Chan, the food stall is famous for serving up the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal. There’s also a branch on nearby Chinatown Food Street, but it’s not quite the same as enjoying a meal at the original location.
Another popular choice is Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice (#02-197/198). It’s one of the most famous places to eat claypot rice in Singapore.
Nearest MRT station: Chinatown MRT (NE4), Exit B
Hong Lim Market & Food Centre
Looking for a more local, yet central, Singapore food experience? Explore the Hong Lim Market & Food Centre. Although, it’s located only a few blocks north of the Chinatown Complex, it’s often overlooked by travellers. It’s not a reflection of the quality of the food, but its location, tucked away from the main streets of Chinatown.
Snake your way into Hong Lim Market & Food Centre and you’ll be treated to a sprawling two-storey food extravaganza. The food court is chock-loaded with some of Singapore’s most famous food stalls. There’s even a couple Michelin-starred gems here!
On your Hong Lim Market & Food Centre trip, keep on the lookout for Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa (#02-66). It serves up a delicious & aromatic laksa that’s among the city’s best. Ah Hong Curry (#02-57/58), serving up mind-blowing spicy curry noodles, is another top choice at Hong Lim Market.
Nearest MRT station: Chinatown MRT (NE4), Exit G
Maxwell Food Centre
The popular Maxwell Food Centre completes the trifecta of stellar hawker centres in the Chinatown area. This one-floor food court offers a superb variety of local dishes to suit all tastes.
Much of its fame these days was no doubt sparked by a visit from the late Anthony Bourdain. On Parts Unknown, he dubbed the signature fragrant rice dish at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice one of his favourites in Singapore.
(Truthfully, the chicken rice found elsewhere in Maxwell Food Centre is often as good—and without the perpetual long queue! Try out Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice to test the theory.)
Already exhausted the chicken rice stalls? There’s a handful of other dishes worth seeking out at Maxwell Food Centre.
Taste the pork congee and fish porridge from Zhen Zhen Porridge (#01-54), char kway teow from Marina South Delicious Food (#01-35), and wonton noodles from Guang Dong Wanton Mee (#01-99).
Nearest MRT station: Chinatown MRT (NE4), Exit B
Old Airport Road Food Centre
Although a little further afoot, Old Airport Road Food Centre gets high praise from gourmands. It’s often recommended by Singaporeans as one of the best places to eat in Singapore.
This iconic food court isn’t just one of the largest in Singapore but one of the first. Some of the food stalls here have operated for generations. To put it mildly: You’re gonna get to experience some pretty legendary food while digging in here.
As you’d expect, all the Singaporean favourites are found here. You’ll find everything from char kway teow and Hokkien mee to rojak and kway chap.
The most famous dish at Old Airport Road Food Centre, however, is soya beancurd. Plop yourself into the long queue at Lao Ban Soya Beancurd (#01-107) or 51 Soya Beancurd (now closed) to see what the fuss is all about.
Nearest MRT station: Dakota MRT (CC8), Exit A
Tiong Bahru Market
The landmark Tiong Bahru Market is located in the historical Tiong Bahru neighbourhood. It’s a pleasant surprise for travellers used to Singapore’s older food courts.
A recent renovation has changed the face of Tiong Bahru Market. The food market is now one of the airiest, cleanest, and most comfortable in the city. It’s a particularly good introduction to Singaporean hawker fare. If the thought of eating at informal food stalls leaves you squeamish, Tiong Bahru Market is a great primer.
Among Singapore’s hawker centres, Tiong Bahru Market is unique. It offers both a wet market on the first floor and a sizeable food court on the second floor.
Of course, there’s an endless multitude of dishes to try here. For lor mee, one of the most famous hawker stalls here is 178 Lor Mee (#02-23). If you’re craving roasted duck rice, try out Lee Hong Kee Cantonese Roasted (#02-60). The yong tau foo at Hui Ji Fishball Noodles and Yong Tau Foo (#02-44) and prawn noodles at Min Nan Pork Ribs Prawn Noodle (#02-31) are also worth seeking out.
Tiong Bahru Market is also a popular place to try chwee kueh. This uncomplicated dish combines a silky steamed rice cake with a pickled radish. Jian Bo Chwee Kueh (#02-05) is one of the best places to try it in Singapore.
Nearest MRT station: Tiong Bahru (EW17), Exit B
Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre (Telok Ayer Market)
Spending time in the central business district? There’s a good chance the Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre (often also referred to as Telok Ayer Market) will catch your eye.
Lau Pat Sat dwells among the city’s most impressive modern architecture. The food court’s 120-year-old pavilion is one of the most popular places to eat in Singapore. The building showcases a unique wrought-iron design. Inside, you’ll find ample seating and a diverse selection of mouth-watering foods.
In my visits to Singapore, Lau Pa Sat became one of my favourite places to eat. Whereas other centres often present a challenge in finding a place to sit, there’s 2,500-odd seats here. Outside the lunch rush, you should have no problem finding a place to plop down to eat.
Although you can rarely go wrong with trying new foods in Singapore, I took a particular liking to the char kway teow at Lai Heng Fried Kway Teow (now closed). The dish douses fried wide rice noodles & seafood with dark soy & pork lard. The noodle soup at the Qiu Lian Ban Mian hawker stall is also outstanding.
Roaming around the Lau Pa Sat area in the evening? Don’t miss the chance to get your Singapore BBQ meat fix on Satay Street.
Satay Street is located on Boon Sat Street behind the pavilion. The nightly experience sees Singapore’s top satay vendors set up shop on the street-side. From the stalls, they offer up their most succulent attempts at the popular street snack.
Nearest MRT station: Telok Ayer (DT18), Exit A
Rarin’ to try Indian food while in Singapore? There’s no better place to tackle your deepest cravings than at Tekka Centre in Little India.
The moment you enter the three-storey food complex, your olfactory sense will become overjoyed. The air is filled with the savoury smells of Singapore’s tastiest curry dishes and other Singaporean favourites.
The Tekka Centre is favourite hotspot in the Little India food scene. Eating here is bound to impress both your palate and your wallet.
The hawker centre is most famous for its biryani. This popular Indian rice dish is served with chicken or mutton and flavoured with various spices. Allaudin’s Biryani (#01-232) is one of the most popular hawker stalls at Tekka Centre. It’s a great place to indoctrinate your tastebuds to this flavourful dish.
Nearest MRT station: Little India (DT12), Exit A
Makansutra Gluttons Bay
Sure, it gets flak for being a little less than authentic. But it’s hard to argue that Makansutra Gluttons Bay isn’t one of the finest places to eat in Singapore.
To some, the cuisine here may feel more run-of-the-mill and overpriced compared to other food courts. But—my, oh my!—the views at Makansutra Gluttons Bay are hard to beat.
Let’s leave behind the claustrophobic indoor quarters elsewhere in Singapore. Makansutra Gluttons Bay is an open-air food court. It’s perched on the edge of Marina Bay, opposite the iconic Marina Bay Sands.
This food court is a great place to spend the wee hours of the night. Pull up a chair. Sip on a pint of Tiger and chomp down satay or chilli crab to the lights of Singapore’s skyscrapers shining into the waters of Marina Bay. It’s as rewarding an experience as any for your Singapore itinerary.
Nearest MRT station: Esplanade (CC3) or City Hall (NS25)
Chomp Chomp Food Centre
Once you’ve hit up all the top hawkers in the city centre, drift up to Chomp Chomp Food Centre. It’s located in the Serangoon Gardens area in Singapore’s north.
This busy food court is popular among local residents & foodies from around Singapore. It’s got a plentiful selection of Singaporean favourites. And at prices lower than the food courts closer to downtown.
Your tastebuds will be delighted with the food at Chomp Chomp Food Centre. It’s got everything you’d expect from a top Singapore hawker centre. From spicy & savoury dishes like sambal stingray and BBQ chicken to sweeter delights like carrot cake and sugar cane juice, it’s all here.
To taste a legendary local favourite, brave the perpetual queue at Ah Hock Fried Hokkien Mee (#27). Order their famous hokkien mee. In true Singaporean style, their hokkien mee spins together thick egg noodles and thin bee hoon noodles with seafood in a rich prawn broth. Smother it with sambal paste for a jolt of spice.
Ah Mai Satay Bee Hoon (#17) also serves up some of the best satay bee hoon in Singapore.
Nearest MRT station: Serangoon (CC13), Exit B
Amoy Street Food Centre
Amoy Food Centre sports an enviable location near the central business district. It’s a favourite food court among Singapore’s caffeine-wired office workers crunching numbers nearby.
Like nearby Lau Pa Sat, the top hawker stalls at Amoy Food Centre suffer from long queues at peak meal times. (And you’ll find that they’re often closed at other times of the day. You’ve been warned.)
There’s a slew of amazing dishes to try at Amoy Street Food Centre. Don’t leave without stopping at the Michelin-starred A Noodle Story (#01-139). Their signature noodle dish blends Japanese-style ramen with wontons, roasted pork, and prawns. This, my foodie friend, is a game-changer.
Other popular stalls at Amoy Street include Ah Ter Teochew Fishball Noodles (#01-14) and Han Kee Fish Soup (#02-129).
Nearest MRT station: Tanjong Pagar MRT (EW15)
Satay by the Bay
Worked up an appetite while wandering around the spectacular Gardens by the Bay? Scoot on over Satay by the Bay for quick a bite!
This outdoor food court sits on the edge of the northeastern corner of the gardens. It specializes in—as you might have guessed —Singapore’s most famous BBQ dish, satay.
Even if you’re not into satay, plenty of other delicious Singaporean foods await at Satay by the Bay. Other top-notch local favourites here include char kway teow, carrot cake, hokkien mee, roti prata, and laksa.
Nearest MRT station: Bayfront (DT16)
ABC Brickworks Food Centre
Built in the 1970s, ABC Brickworks Food Centre was one of the first centres to kick off Singapore‘s UNESCO-recognized hawker culture. It’s located on Jalan Bukit Merah about 30 minutes east of downtown.
ABC was named after the Archipelago Brewery Company, Singapore‘s first commercial brewery. Although the brewery’s since moved elsewhere, its original location still pleases the palate. (Albeit in a different way!)
Start your ABC Food Centre taste-testing adventure with Tiong Bahru Yi Sheng Fried Hokkien Mee (#01-13). The popular local food stall serves up some of the city’s finest fried prawn noodles.
Be sure to also carve out time for the Michelin Bib Gourmand recommended herbal soups at Ah Er Soup (#01-141). The juicy char siew at Fatty Cheong Roast (#01-120) is also worth a try.
Nearest MRT station: Redhill (EW18)
Golden Mile Food Centre
Opened in 1975, Golden Mile Food Centre has long been a fixture in the Singapore food scene. The hawker centre is steps away from Kampong Glam. It’s a great detour if you’ve built up an appetite while exploring Singapore’s historical charms.
Golden Mile Food Centre is chock-loaded with two floors of vendors serving all of the city-state’s favourite dishes. With its proximity to the Arab-Malay quarter, the centre is a great place to sample Halal and Malay fare like nasi lemak, sup tulang, and nasi ayam.
At Wedang (#B1-19), you can taste Indonesian and Malay favourites like gado-gado and bee hoon soto ayam. Ah Xiao Teochew Braised Duck (#B1-43) has served some of the city’s tastiest braised duck since the 1990s. The yong tau fu at Golden Mile Special Yong Tau Foo (#B1-44) is also some of the finest in Singapore.
Nearest MRT station: Nicoll Highway (CC5)