Singapore: Hanging out for Hawker Centres!

Why Singapore?

Singapore often seems bypassed as a layover, rather than a stopover, when flying to or from New Zealand…

We had heard about how well it is set up for families, and how ‘clean and safe’ it is, AND we had heard about the dumplings… and so began looking in to how we could explore a bit more of the cultural side to Singapore, without jumping on the resort-side of the island.

What we loved…

Hawker Centres

The food scene of Singapore is definitely worth all the raving. We became hooked on hawker centres! ‘Hawker Centres’ are a common sight in Singapore, and are literally an open-air complex housing different kinds of stalls and booths that sell a wide variety of food at inexpensive prices.

Dunman Food Centre, Onan Lane.

Dumplings (far too many dumplings!):

… ‘Grass Jelly’ and something else pretending to have something to do with cashews and tofu:

Grass Jelly and tofu
Harry practising his reading at one of the nearby restaurants….

East Coast Bay Park

We knew Singapore was renowned to be well set up for families, and as soon as we set out on day one to explore East Coast Bay Park we could feel it everywhere. The playgrounds are massive, free, and dotted around regularly. Even the public toilets have tiny toilets and special sections for children! We hired bikes, including one for Harry, and cycled right along the waterfront park towards Marina Bay.

Gardens by the Bay and the Skywalk

We definitely took a moment to admit and enjoy being our touristy-selves atop the Skywalk at Gardens by the Bay. It’s incredible!

Amazing views of Singapore and the harbour, and indoor walks that have you literally winding up through tree-top gardens and waterfalls, with different sections dedicated to different climates and regions of the world!

(A note for the Skywalk though… it is also slightly wobbly when walking… I am still in trouble for getting the giggles!) .

Exploring Joo Chiat

Joo Chiat is an area in the east of Singapore known for its multicultural heritage: Malays, Indians, Peranakans and Eurasians.

That is definteiyl apparent on a first walk up Joo Chiat road – you can find shops, restaurants, food, mosques, and temples that represent all of those cultures.

It is a great location to enjoy parts of that history of Singapore, and to find out a bit more about the colourful cultural mix that it represents today.

Where to stay

We loved Betel Box! We stayed there on week two of our trip, and when we arrived back at the end of the year it was such a nice feeling to be welcomed again by owner Uncle Tong; “Oh my goodness! Look how much you two have grown!”

Betel Box is in Joo Chiat Katong, and is easy to find by bus from the airport (even arriving late at night/early hours of the morning), a great location for nearby restaurants and hawker centres, and about a 20-30 minute walk to East Coast Park Beach.

The family room at Betel Box

Getting around

Its easy to walk and bus around Singapore! We made the most of using the Grab app for taxies, and were supported by the hostel to figure out the best ways for us to navigate Singapore with kids, and to reach each of the destinations we had planned for.


  • Average daily spend (food, transport, admissions etc): $140 NZD
  • Average accommodation per night: $110 NZD

%d bloggers like this: