Hawker centres or kopitiams (coffeeshops) are uniquely Singaporean and found just about anywhere around the island. These places are open-air, so be prepared for a hot and noisy affair, considering that some house hundreds of hawker stalls and are thronged with locals. Meal standards do not differ much from place to place, though well-known stalls serving great food tend to attract perpetual queues.
Essential tips about Hawker Centres:
Reserve a table
Make sure to reserve a table before ordering your food, so that the vendor will know where to serve you. However, certain stalls are “self-service”, meaning you’ll have to wait for your food at the stall before returning to your table. You can reserve a spot by leaving 1 member of your group behind to “stake your claim to the table”.
Know the price before eating
You are free to order from any stall within the hawker centre. Most stalls display their menus on pinboards above the stall front in English. Though some stalls may not list their prices, most do. You are free to ask the price of any food item. Subsequently, let the vendor know your table number. Ensure you settle the final price that you are paying before food is served. There have been cases of visitors being fleeced over the price of seafood at hawker centres.
Generally, you pay upon ordering
Rule of thumb here: Self-service stalls accept immediate payment. Non self-service ones accept payment upon serving you your food. Older hawker centres might have drink store owners coming to you asking for your order. It is entirely alright to decline to order. In most other cases, you will have to go to the drinks store to place your order and give your table number.
No eating etiquette
Due to the confluence of many cultures, there is no prevailing eating etiquette in Singapore. Do not feel pressured if you see an Indian eating with his/her hands, or an old Chinese man drinking beer with his legs raised on the seat next to him.
Enjoy to the full
Lastly, while the ambience might be uninviting at first, most visitors cite hawker visits to be their most memorable dining experience. Soak in the heat and noise whilst enjoying the wide varieties of food! That’s the hawker way.
Famous Hawker Centres
|Hawker Centre||Getting There|
|Newton Food Centre||Alight at Newton MRT station.|
|Chomp Chomp Food Centre||Bus 315 & 317 from Serangoon Bus Interchange takes you to Serangoon Gardens, where the food centre is located. The interchange is a short walk from Serangoon MRT station.|
|East Coast Lagoon Food Village||Refer to “Getting To” East Coast Park|
|Old Airport Road Cooked Food Centre||Take Bus Service 16 from Dhoby Ghaut MRT station, alight at bus stop “Old Airport Road Blk 39”|