Best Hawker Centers in Singapore: 8 Must Try Food Markets

Best Hawker Center in Singapore

Never heard of a Hawker Center? Think of multi-cultural food markets that are every bit as diverse as the people that call Singapore home. Set all over the city, these massive markets serve up the best food in Singapore at an inexpensive price. In this post we show you the very best Hawker Centers in Singapore, and how many you can actually sample during your visit! Here’s what you need to know about where to eat in Singapore, the unique dishes to try, and all the must visit Hawker stalls.

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Singapore Travel Inspiration

What is a Hawker Center?

In the 1960’s Singapore’s streets were overcrowded with unlicensed food vendors. Still seen today in less developed nations across the world, this type of unsanitary food sales can cause serious health issues.

As you can imagine, this can be extremely detrimental to the tourist industry of a budding nation.  So in one big push to deal with the negatives of the street vendor scene, the city created these Singapore food markets known as “Hawker Centers”.

Now that all the vendors were in the same place, it became easier to hold them up to proper health standards. Over time, licensing and stiff laws were put into place, crafting the best Hawker Centers in Singapore into what they’ve become today.

Singapore Merlion

Finding the Best Food in Singapore

You’re in Asia now so get ready for some of the most interesting cuisine in the world! Many of the best Singapore Hawker Centers have typical dishes representing each Asian country. However, for every plate you might know you can count on at least five you’ve never heard of.

Duck noodle, rice and chicken, dumplings, spicy meat, chili crab, and fresh cane juice are some of the tamed, but delicious options you’ll come across. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new!

Durian Fruit

The 8 Best Hawker Centers in Singapore

When looking for where to eat in Singapore you should know that these eating establishments are all over the city. Some will appear right in front of you while other Singapore food markets take some hunting down.

In total, this Asian metropolis has dozens of Hawker Centers so it’d be impossible to hit them all. Here’s a list of what we think are the best Hawker Centers in Singapore, and where to find them!

The Best Hawker Centers in Singapore Guide

Maxwell Food Centre

Favorite Dish: Wonton Noodle and the Oyster Omelette   
Nearby Attractions: Chinatown & Singapore Financial District
Location: 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore

Anthony Bourdain made Hainanese Chicken and Rice known to every traveler when he ate at Tan Tan Stall while filming No Reservations. This has since become a must stop at Maxwell Food Centre.

Tan Tan isn’t the only stall that sells it, but they’re guaranteed to have the longest line. Our other favorite dishes at the Maxwell Food Centre are the Wonton Noodle, and Oyster cakes. 

The Best Hawker Centers in Singapore

Golden Mile Food Centre

Favorite Dish: Chili Prawn Noodles and Laksa 
Nearby Attractions: Arab Street, Sultan Mosque, and Golden Mile Shopping Complex
Location: 505 Beach Road, Singapore

Our first experience at the Golden Mile was at 5:30am trying to fight off jet lag, and wandering the streets looking to fill our empty stomachs. Mostly everything was shut down this early, but there was one lone food stall warrior… And you better believe they were open trying to get those early bird customers!

There is nothing like slurping back a bowl of mixed meat and fish ball noodle soup to get the day going. Hands down this was the spiciest thing we’ve ever eaten. So spicy it brought my brother to tears, but so good we were back at 6am the next day craving another bowl!

This Hawker Center serves a range of the best food in Singapore. On our past visit we ventured to find something new, and found one stall that was always packed. Chung Cheng serves up a famous Chili Mee which you can order dry or as a soup. Also, you can never go wrong with a flavorful bowl of Laksa soup. 

Where to eat in Singapore

Best Singapore Food

Lau Pa Sat / Telok Ayer Market

Favorite Dish: Day Time Duck Noodle & Night Time Grilled Beef and Shrimp 
Nearby Attractions: Singapore Harbor Walk, Maria Bay Sands, & Merlion
Location: 51 telok ayer street, Singapore

Telok Ayer Market is a hawker center catering particularly to business professionals. Its location in the heart of the financial district and close proximity to the harbor has made it an extremely popular meeting place. Not to mention the architecture is downright stunning, with an open air concept that’s sure to impress.

We’ve eaten here many times and the meals are always good, but fair warning they will run you $1-2 more for the prime location. In all of Singapore Lau Pa Sat plays host to my favorite dish ever.

The one I dream about every time I think of Singapore. Duck noodle served with picked jalapenos is as good as it gets, and set right across from the centers fruit juice stand you can’t really go wrong. 

There is actually another surprise at Telok Ayer Market! When the sun goes down, the grills come out, and hundreds of tables are set up outside for customers. This Singapore food market had by far some of the best meat and seafood we’ve ever tasted. Choose from pork, chicken, or prawn skewers and order them in bunches. 

Best Hawker Center in Singapore

Chinatown Complex 

Favorite Dish: Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle, Fish Head Soup, and Dragonfruit Shake 
Nearby Attractions: Chinatown, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, and Clarke Quay Mall
Location: 335 Smith Street, Singapore

This is the largest Hawker Center in Singapore complete with over 260 stalls. Being the biggest of all the Singapore food markets, if you can’t find something you like here then you might want to seriously rethink your travel plans in Asia.

Be sure not to hold anything back either because the Chinatown Complex has some the cheapest prices in Singapore.  Typically meals cost just $2-4 Singapore dollars at this Singapore food market. One of the most famous stalls is the Michelin Star rated Hawker Chan serving up its famous Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle.

Praised as the cheapest Michelin Star meal in the world, it’s well worth the wait to taste it. Another must try is way in the back of the Hawker Center. Here there is a line of stalls serving Singapore’s delicious fish head soup! 

Top Singapore Food Markets

Tekka Center

Favorite Dish: Mutton Masala with Nan 
Near By Attractions: Little India, Mustafa Centre, and Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
Location: Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore

Looking for somewhere a little different to eat in Singapore? Well I hope you’re ready to transport to India! This is easily one of the best Hawker Centers in Singapore, and is clearly unique from the rest. It’s wilder and messier, but in the best sense possible. Random curry smells float through the air, and there are countless storefronts where you can get your Indian food fix.

Yes, you can get the typical Asian food here. However, if you’re making the trip to “Little India” you might as well eat like the locals. If you’ve never been to India then this food will surely entice you to make it there someday. I guess until then you’ll still have the Tekka Center in Singapore!

Tekka Hawker Center

Newton Food Center

Favorite Dish: Seafood, Shrimp, Cockles, and Chilli King Crab
Nearby Attractions: Orchard Road, Forum Shopping Mall, and Little India 
Location: Newton, Singapore

This awesome Singapore Hawker Center is also known by the names Newton Food Circle or Newton Circus for how the stalls are arranged. It is popular for tourists looking for where to eat in Singapore and locals alike.

Recently it gained global recognition for being featured in the blockbuster hit Crazy Rich Asians. Located near the ritzy shopping area of Orchard Road, you will see fewer stalls here and higher prices. The most popular dishes range from traditional noodles and rice to a surplus of seafood. 

Hong Lim Market & Food Centre

Favorite Dish: Laksa 
Nearby Attractions: China Town and Chinatown Complex Food Centre
Location: 531 A Upper Cross Street, Singapore 

Hong Lim is just a few blocks from the popular Chinatown Complex Food Centre, and has two stories of stalls serving a variety of local and international dishes. As one of the oldest Hawker centers in the city, Hong Lim is actually more popular with locals than tourists.

During the daily lunch rush the entire place feels like it’s going to explode with lines as people snake their way between the many stalls.  This place has everything from pork noodles and peanut filled pancakes, to cold brew floral tea and massive bowls of crawfish prawn.

The one warning about the Hong Lim Market is many stalls go until they’re sold out and then that’s it. This means after the lunch rush the most popular stands may be done for the day. If you want your pick of the best Hawker stalls make sure to go early! 

Hong Lim Market Food Centre

Old Airport Road Food Center

Favorite Dish: Kway Teow
Nearby Attractions: Singapore Sports Hub
Location: 51 Old Airport Road, Singapore

Old Airport Road Hawker Center has taken the crown as one of the oldest and most beloved of Singapore’s best hawker centers! This famous market is just outside of the city center, but the longer trip is well worth it.

Lines and lines of stalls run through the old building showcasing all the options for what to eat in Singapore. The range of food you can find here is overwhelming, so its best to go with a big group (or when you’re really hungry) to sample a few different options. 

Airport Road Singapore food markets

Hopefully we helped point you in the right direction so you eat your way through the best Hawker Centers in Singapore! Have any questions about about our favorite dishes, or what to eat in Singapore? Let us know in the comments below! 

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar

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Where To Stay In Singapore 

Ultra Luxury – Marina Bay Sands  – If you’re looking for the ultimate in Luxury then welcome to one of the best hotels in the world. We stayed at the Marina Bay Sands on our most recent visit to Singapore, and it blew away our expectations. Not to mention swimming in the infinity pool will be the top highlight from your whole time here.

Fun Vacation – Parkroyal on Pickering– It doesn’t get much more green and lush then Parkroyal on Pickering! This fun vacation hotel is literally one of the greenest hotels in the world. Plant life covers the hotel to make it a unique experience in Singapore.

Hostel Life – hipstercity hostel – Fun hostel in the heart of downtown Singapore. Enjoy both private and dorm rooms, and a comfortable common area.

For more places to stay in Singapore you can explore the latest prices here!

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Singapore Travel Planning 

 Flights: We always find deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we got flights from Athens to Singapore for $230 USD, and Singapore to Thailand for less than $50! 

 Accommodation: Compare competitive sites for hotels such as Booking.com and Agoda. Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for activities all over Singapore. You can book everything from a Singapore Highlights Bike Tour to a Gardens by the Bay E-Ticket, and even a private food tour with 10 tastings

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Here’s all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists! Including electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

Singapore Travel

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4 Comments

  1. Kim Lester
    September 18, 2021 / 7:21 pm

    We are living in New York and planning to visit Singapore for 21 days Jan / Feb 2022.
    Which hotel would you recommend, has a small pool and gym and near MRT ?
    Unless there is NO Quarantine otherwise will not be able to make it.
    Thank you.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      September 19, 2021 / 1:35 pm

      Hi Kim! Sounds like a great time! We recommend several hotels at the bottom of each post. However, for a longer visit like yours (21 days) you may want to consider looking into an apartment and not a hotel. Have fun!

  2. November 25, 2020 / 10:57 pm

    Next flight to Singapore please!! I have wanted to visit a hawker center in Singapore ever since I watched Anthony Bourdain walk around and try out some fun looking food. Now this blog has me sold! Those duck noodles look and sound amazing. Thanks for sharing!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      November 25, 2020 / 11:22 pm

      Yes it’s all the best food of Southeast Asia rolled into one! Hope you get to go and explore the hawker centers someday ( :

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