The best hawker centre in Singapore is a hotly contested title, and it’s true you can ask 10 different people and get a different answer each time. Singaporeans are passionate about their food, which means the only way to find out which is the best hawker centre in Singapore is to try them all yourself. However, with our wealth of experience of eating in hawker stalls across Singapore, we have compiled this list, complete with locations, tips on what to eat and a general explanation of price.
For the uninitiated, Singapore hawker centres are basically large food courts with stalls around the perimeter serving everything from full meals to snacks and drinks. You’ll usually find a selection of local dishes as well as flavours from across the world, including Chinese, Malay, Indian, and western. The mood is vibrant, the dishes are cheap, and enjoying lunch in a tightly packed hawker centre is a genuine Singaporean experience not to be missed.
Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre
Your taxi driver might not tell you that Lau Pa Sat is the best hawker centre in Singapore – they’ll probably say it’s too crowded and not what is used to be – but it’s certainly the most popular. It’s also the biggest, seating up to 2,500 people.
Located right in the heart of the Central Business District and walking distance from Chinatown and Marina Bay, this 120-year-old building is comprised of huge cast-iron frames that were originally shipped from Scotland. The place is huge too, so expect to find a vast range of food from all over the world. Prices are inflated a little due to its close proximity to the CBD and recent renovation, but most basic rice and noodle dishes come in at around $S5-7. It’s also known as Telok Ayer Market.
Location: 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582
Old Airport Road Food Centre
The Old Airport Road Food Centre is not particularly pretty, but this isn’t a beauty contest. Located a little outside the city centre and not that well-frequented by tourists, this 30-year-old food centre is widely considered by locals to be the best hawker centre in Singapore, both in terms of value, and more importantly: taste.
Specialities here include the satay noodles, char kway teow (noodle dish), and rojak (an Indonesian fruit/vegetable salad). Prices are consistent with the rest of Singapore’s hawker centres, with a basic noodle soup costing less than $S5 – although you can pay more like $S10 for larger meat-based dishes.
Location: Block 51, Old Airport Road, Geyland, Singapore
Open: Daily from 6am to 11pm
Phone: +65 6756 0266
Maxwell Road Hawker Centre
Located in Chinatown, Maxwell Road Food Centre is inevitably one of the best places to come in Singapore for cheap Chinese food. Must-try dishes include the classic Hainanese chicken and rice, as well as the fried oyster omelette, and hearty fish broth.
There are over 100 stalls, but seating isn’t particularly generous, so you might have to wait for a seat a peak times (during lunch times on weekdays). You probably won’t pay much more than $S4 for a plate of rice and chicken or bowl of noodles, whilst the stalls selling grilled meat and speciality seafood charge around $S8-10 for some dishes.
Location: 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore
Open: Daily from 8am to 10pm
Chinatown Food Street
It’s rare to find a bad hawker centre in Singapore in terms of the quality of the food, but some do tend to be a little bit rough in terms of appearance. Chinatown Food Street is not certainly not one of them, though – this row of renovated shop houses and stalls can be found all under one shiny new glass roof, and is an extension of the popular Chinatown Night Market.
The emphasis here is firmly on the Chinese flavours, with roasted duck with rice or noodles being the choice dish. However, satay skewers, as well as grilled meat and seafood, also prove popular. The crowd is quite touristy so expect to pay a few dollars more than your average hawker centre in Singapore.
Location: 335 Smith Street, Singapore
Open: Daily from 11am to 11pm
Tiong Bahru Market
Tiong Bahru Market is famous for being one of the best hawker centres in Singapore for breakfast and brunch. Many of the stalls here open as early as 7am and close quite early too, meaning it’s the ideal spot for your first meal of the day.
That said, you might want to wait until lunchtime to indulge in the best of what Tiong Bahru has to offer as it’s mostly meat based. Go for the roasted duck, pork ribs with noodles, boiled pork leg or stick with a simple Hainanese chicken over rice and you can’t go wrong. Prices are cheap too, with basic noodle and rice dishes starting from $S3.
Location: 30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore
Open: Daily from 7am (stalls close at various times in the afternoon and evening)
This 3-storey complex lies at the gateway to Little India on Serangoon Road, and is one of the best hawker centres in Singapore to find cheap and generously portioned curries, with the overwhelming dish of choice being Biryani.
Although a little bit rough around the edges, the local Indian crowds that flock here for their fill is a clue to the quality of the food. Biryani dishes – complete with rice, a choice of chicken or mutton, poppadum and sauces typically cost between $S6-8. If you’re feeling brave you can also try your hand (quite literally) at eating like the locals do: ditch your spoon and folk and scoop up the curry into your mouth using just your right hand!
Location: 665 Buffalo & Serangoon Roads, Singapore
Open: Daily from 6.30am to 10pm
Singapore Food Treats
Lying in the shadow of the giant Singapore Flyer that towers into the sky above, the Singapore Food Treats is a modern hawker centre that features lots of props and nostalgic decor, creating a 1960s Singapore theme.
The range of food stalls isn’t the most comprehensive in Singapore, but this spot is well worth a visit purely for its central location and fun atmosphere. As well as all the delicious food, there’s also a mini antique shop as well as a pleasant garden area underneath the Flyer.
Location: #01-09/12, Singapore Flyer 30 Raffles Avenue, Singapore
Open: 10.30am to 10.20pm
Chomp Chomp Hawker Centre
Chomp Chomp Singapore – also known as the Serangoon Gardens Food Centre – is one of the famous hawker centres in Singapore among locals. Due to its location outside the city centre, near Bishan, Chomp Chomp isn’t usually included in your average Singapore guidebook.
That’s not to say Chomp Chomp doesn’t get busy. Come in the evening to witness the place buzzing, with chefs preparing freshly grilled stingray, barbecued chicken wings, noodle broths and sticks of juicy satay right in front of you.
Location: 20 Kensington Road, Singapore
Open: Daily from 6pm to midnight
Makansutra Gluttons Bay
If you enjoy a meal with a view, Makansutra Gluttons Bay is probably the best hawker centre in Singapore. Whilst the food choice is sturdy (must-tries here include the chilli crab, oyster omelette and rotis), the location is Glutton’s main selling point. Situated right by the bay, the views across the water are fantastic.
The nearby Esplanade Theatre also put on regular street performances to entertain you while you eat. This hawker centre is open-air and one the latest to close for the night in Singapore – so if you’re after some late-night fills (as late as 3am on the weekend) Makansutra Gluttons Bay is a good bet.
Location: #01-15, Esplanade Mall 8 Raffles Ave, Singapore
Open: Monday–Thursday from 5pm to 2am, Friday–Saturday from 5pm to 3am, Sunday 4pm to 1am
Satay by the Bay
One of the best attractions in Singapore is Gardens by the Bay, with its famous SuperTree Grove and more recent additions of the spectacular Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. If you’re heading this way – which you should at least once in Singapore, don’t forget to save room for a trip to Satay by the Bay, which is located within the park. Of course, the speciality here is satay skewers.
The air is filled with aromas from barbecued pork, chicken and beef, which is all served up with a generous helping of that rich peanut sauce. There’s also an onsite bar and plenty of other food stalls if you’re not a fan of satay. Find it by entering Gardens by the Bay (free) and follow the signposted route along the water’s edge – or jump on the free shuttle bus.
Location: Gardens by the Bay 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore
Open: Daily from 11am to 10pm