Issue No. 5 : From Singapore's "boutique hostels"

to gourmet street-foods...



Hello everybody and welcome to the fifth issue of "Singapore Travel Tips"!


So… What is in this issue of our newsletter? 


Enjoy the read!

Roni Shwartz




A) Somewhere to put your head at night: Singapore's "boutique hostels"…


Backpacking has changed a lot since the 1960s and 1970s and in many places around the world (especially in the "western world") rundown cockroach-infested guesthouses with squeaking beds have long given way to modern, comfortable and spanking clean establishments where those who are willing to fork out a little extra can really sleep in comfort and enjoy themselves at a fairly sane cost (although it is far higher than what a true backpacker will agree to spend on accommodation)…


Being Southeast Asia's most modern (and expensive) metropolis, it was only obvious that Singapore will be one of the first cities in the region to have such modern and stylish hostels and, indeed, quite a few of them have sprung up in the last few years and they seem to be doing really well…


Most of Singapore's "boutique hostels" can be found along the characterful streets of Chinatown.  They are nestled within beautifully restored shophouses and offer their patrons a spotlessly clean premises, as well a vivid interior design and a plethora of facilities and little treats: From free use of their modern internet-stations to a decent breakfast, and from a nice hangout area, or a TV lounge, to a rooftop "refreshing pool"… But the "pod-style beds" seem to be the real draw, and although they are significantly pricier than an ordinary dorm bed, many of today's backpackers seem to be happy to pay for the pleasure…


Singapore's most popular "boutique hostels" include Matchbox The Concept HostelWink Hostel5footway.inn Project Chinatown 1Hangout @ Mt. Emily  and  River City Inn.


To read more about Singapore hostels and guesthouses, take a look at our mini-guide: "Cheap hotels, Hostels and Guest houses".



Click here to get some of the best possible rates for hostels and

low-cost accommodations in Singapore and throughout Asia!



B) Sights and stories of Singapore: WWII war sites in Singapore


Although WWII sites are not what most visitors come to Singapore for, some of them are well worth visiting, especially if you have a little bit of time and WWII history interests you…


1) The Battle Box, which we already mentioned on the first issue of this newsletter, was the bunker of Fort Canning and the headquarters of the British forces during the Battle of Singapore.  You can join a guided tour here and watch an interesting presentation that recaptures the fierce battle against the Japanese invaders, during World War II.


2) Perched on the westernmost tip of Sentosa Island (near the Underwater World), Fort Siloso, Singapore's mightiest coastal fortress, was originally built by the British in the 19th century and refortified during the 1930s, when winds of war started to blow from Japan…


The fort boasts a labyrinth of tunnels, bunkers, observation points and cannon positions, and the visit is truly interesting, especially thanks to the vast restoration and preservation works that brought it back to its heydays... Life-size mannequins are scattered across the fort, depicting the dramatic battle that took place here during World War II, together with sounds and other effects that enhance the experience...  There is also an impressive collection of old British canons, old maps and WW II movies...

(To read further about Fort Siloso and its history, click here.  For visitor's information, click here)


3) The Changi Chapel & Museum is dedicated in memory of those World War II POWs (prisoners of war), civilians and soldiers alike, who managed to survive the horrors of Japanese captivity, thanks to their courage and willpower...

Inside the small museum, you can see the inhuman conditions that POWs had to suffer, alongside a collection of their personal effects, including letters, photographs and paintings they drew while in prison (for more information, click here).



Singapore Tours: Discover the city with those who know it best!.



C) Restaurant of the fortnight: Straits Kitchen


Housed within the lavish Grand Hyatt, bang in the heart of the city, this outstanding buffet-restaurant serves the very best of Singapore's (and Southeast Asia's) street-food and Hawker-centre delicacies in a stylish 5-star hotel environment. 


The impressive spread boasts a wide selection of familiar favorites, from Chilli Crab to Peranakan-style Popiah  and from Otak Otak to the precious "Buddha Jumps Over the Wall" soup...


Prices are quite reasonable for such a splurge: Around SG$ 40 - 50 for either lunch or dinner buffet.


Lunch-buffet is served from 12noon - 2:30pm, while dinner buffet is served from 6:30 to 10:30pm



Grand Hyatt Hotel, 10 Scotts Road (Near the corner of Orchard Road and just a heartbeat from MRT Orchard)


Phone: 6738 1234                                                                               Website



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D)   Authentic eatery of the fortnight: Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee


Housed within one of Chinatown's most popular hawker-centres, this small and unpretentious food stall draws people from far and wide for its Char Kway Teow.


Char Kway Teow, one of Singapore's "must-trys", is a dish that originated from the cuisine of Penang, in Malaysia.  It consists of flat rice noodles that are fried over very high heat with light and dark soy sauce, chili, prawns, cockles, garlic, eggs and Chinese chives.  Sometimes slices of Chinese sausage and fish cake are also added.

It is fried in pork fat, with crisp croutons of pork lard, which give it its characteristic taste, and while it is not exactly the kind of food your cardiologist would recommend, it is certainly delicious!


If there are not too many impatient customers behind you, ask them nicely to give you some extra chili and cockles, as it can really make a difference (especially if you like spicy food…).


¾ Daily, from early morning till afternoon (after 4 pm) - Closed on Sundays (Long queue during lunch)


Prices are VERY reasonable (SG$ 4 – 5).


02-18 Hong Lim Food Centre, Block 531A, Upper Cross Street, Chinatown (near Chinatown Point).



Click here to get some of the best possible rates for hostels and

low-cost accommodations in Singapore and throughout Asia!



E) An event worth knowing about: Festivals and live concerts


1. Organized by the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), the Southeast Asian Film Festival runs along the month of March and features 20 challenging works by Southeast Asia’s key and emerging filmmakers...


Click HERE for the full details


2. The Mosaic Music Festival, one of Southeast Asia's best music events, is produced and hosted by Esplanade - Theatres on the bay ("The Durian"). Held annually in March, this 10-day festival brings to the Singapore audience performances from a wide spectrum of genres - from jazz and world to funk, electronica, folk, indie, R&B and hip-hop...


This year's list of participants includes O.M.D, Architecture in Helsinki, Craft Spells, Vicente Amigo and Stacey Kent, just to name a few, and there are more than a few free shows and activities...


Click here for the full details (and tickets).


3. OMD, the early 1980s British group which is best known for hits like "Enola Gay" and "Souvenir" will perform in Singapore this Saturday, 10th March, as part of the upcoming Mosaic Music Festival.


For more info and tickets, click here.


4.  Olivia Newton-John, one of the most awarded singers in history, will perform a single concert at Singapore's Esplanade Theatre ("the Durian") on the 27th of this month, where she will bring to life hits like Xanadu, Magic, Physical and, of course, the legendary songs from "Grease"...


For more info and tickets, click here.


5.  "Voyage de la vie", Resorts World Sentosa's resident musical, features dance and performance art which fuse contemporary and classical ballet, Broadway Jazz, martial arts and exhilarating acrobatic acts into a dazzling collage of movement... Truly spectacular!


For more information and tickets, click here.



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F)     Exhibitions


1.  "The Tang Shipwreck: Gold and Ceramics from 9th-century China".  Held at the Asian Civilisations Museum, this fascinating exhibition brings to life the story of a 9th century Arab merchant ship which wrecked in the Java Sea, while sailing from China back to the Middle East… More than a hundred exquisite items are on display.


For more info, click here


2.  iLight Marina Bay, Asia's first and only sustainable light art festival, is held from today, 9th March, to 1st April, and features more than 30 innovative and environmentally sustainable light art installations (with a strong focus on works from Asia) that can be seen in various spots around the bay (see map)


Admission is free.  For more info about the "festival" and the different installations, please click here


3. Held at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) "The Collectors Show: Chimera" brings together major works of Asian contemporary art from private collections around the world and provides an opportunity for art lovers to familiarize themselves with contemporary art from this part of the world… (Click here for more details).



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G)   Tip of the fortnight: Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari


If you plan to visit both Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari, you'll better spend the afternoon at the zoo, finish the visit when the zoo is about to close, and then move onwards to the neighboring Night Safari... This way you can spend the morning in town, or wherever you want, have lunch, and move to the zoo right after.


Save your precious holiday time! Book a tour to Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari and explore them with those who know them best!



Well folks, that is all for this issue… I hope you enjoyed the read and look forward to sending you our next issue in two weeks' time.


Meanwhile, as a frequent traveler in Asia, you might also have an interest in our other newsletters: Hong Kong Travel Tips, which brings the best of what Hong Kong has to offer, straight to your inbox, or Asia Cheap Eats, where you can find out about Asia's BEST inexpensive restaurants.


And one last thing… For those of you who missed the first three issues of this newsletter, here is a link to them…



All the best, Roni




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