Singapore’s street food scene—along with its tourism trade—is booming. Here’s where to wander if you find yourself pounding the pavement in search of the best satay, chilli crab, or chicken rice.
Though once considered sensationally dull, Singapore has evolved from a mere long-haul layover (according to Skyscanner, 150,000 people pass through Singapore’s Changi Airport every single day) into one of the most interesting and unusual cities of the ‘New World’—with electric trees, swimming pools that float on top of buildings, and a street food scene to rival that of Istanbul or Bangkok.
But unlike those cities, Singapore’s street food is no longer sold on the street. Starting in the late 1960s, the government began moving hawkers (the local term for street food vendors) into clean, purpose-built centers where locals and visitors alike can stuff themselves silly on endless and inexpensive varieties of Pan-Asian cuisine.
Today, Singapore has some 218 hawker centers. Such is their renown they’ve become the focus of innumerable TV shows and arguments over who makes the best chicken rice or chilli crab; local newspapers The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobaoare also award annual accolades for Singapore’s top hawker masters. Here’s where those who opt to spend time in Singapore should go for their hawker fix.