Category Archives: Singapore

Tolido’s Espresso Nook Bugis Singapore front

Tolido’s Espresso Nook, Bugis, Singapore: Cheapish Cafe, Good Food

What’s not to like about a cafe which does all day breakfast and fantastic coffee? Tolido’s Espresso Nook is exactly this and does a roaring trade as a result.

Located on the pinggir of what we would refer to as Bugis and a short walk away from most of Kampong Glam area, Tolido’s is not one of those places which relies on location to grab customers. It relies on good quality food at a good price.Tolido’s Espresso Nook Bugis Singapore insideThe menu is quite large and features a lot of pancake options, French toast, baked eggs and omelettes.

We tried the pandan pancakes and fell in love. 3 fluffy pandan flavoured pancakes drizzled with gula Melaka and topped with coconut ice cream. A southeast Asian flavour explosion.Pandan Pancake di TolidoWe also tried the stout glazed bacon French toast and again, it was super delicious.French Toast at TolidoBut what’s really interesting about this place is that they are able to produce dishes like this at these prices. We’d normally expect to pay about 50% more for this style of food in Singapore.Tolido’s Espresso Nook Bugis Singapore insideThe cafe is laid back and comfortable and nowhere as stiff and snobby as most upmarket Singapore cafes. This suits us perfectly!Tolido’s Espresso Nook Bugis Singapore counterTolido’s Espresso Nook is a must visit if you love cafe food and coffee. Please note that some dishes contain pork and some don’t.

Tolido’s Espresso Nook
Cnr Jalan Sultan & North Bridge Road, Bugis, Singapore
Opening Hours: 08:00 – 18:30 (closed Monday)
Closest MRT: Lavender (green EW11)
Pandan pancake: $10.90
Bacon French toast: $12.00
Cappuccino: $5.50
Hojicha latte: $6.00

Ji De Chi Dessert, Bugis, Singapore: Crazy Good Asian Desserts

Set right in the heart of Bugis on a street famous for its wacky Asian desserts, Ji De Chi is a must visit if you love shaved ice, sago and other Taiwanese style desserts.

The menu at Ji De Chi starts off with sago puddings with mango and moves onto mounds of shaved ice in an array of flavours such as cendol, black sesame, blueberry and green tea. There’s also glutinous rice balls, waffles and Mille crepes.Ji De Chi Dessert Bugis Singapore mango puddingThis place is so so crowded around 9pm when everyone has already finished dinner and is longing for something sweet. And it’s no wonder. The desserts are extremely delicious and fresh and the service is really fast. You won’t need to wait around long for your order to arrive.

Lastly, if you’re not entirely convinced of the menu here, perhaps try Dessert First next door which looks just as good, but we haven’t yet tried it.

We’re fans of Ji De Chi Dessert and we recommend it for a sweet treat if you’re in the Bugis area.

Ji De Chi Dessert
8 Liang Seah St #01-03, Bugis, Singapore
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 23:00
Closest MRT: Bugis (green EW12 / blue DT14)

Mille crepe: $6.20
Mango pomelo sago: $6.20

Killiney Kopitiam Orchard Singapore front

Killiney Kopitiam, Orchard, Singapore: The Original That Started The Chain

If you’re getting tired from walking up and down Orchard Road and desperately need a coffee, Killiney Kopitiam is great choice. Located just 200m off Orchard Road, make sure you add this to your itinerary.

Killiney Kopitiam has been operating at this same spot at 67 Killiney Road since 1919 and since 1998 has been branching out across Singapore (and the world). So if the name of this kopitiam sounds familiar, that’s because the name that started here has travelled the world.Killiney Kopitiam Orchard Singapore insideIn true kopitiam style, the coffee is strong and chocolatey, the kaya toast thick and crispy and the laksa bursting with spice and flavour. But most people are going to simply pop in here for a drink so we highly recommend the lime juice. So refreshing!

Killiney Kopitiam is extremely popular because it’s the original and most famous and if you come here at the wrong time, you’ll have to wait for a seat. Turnover is fast, so you’re unlikely to have to wait more than a few a minutes for a seat.Killiney Kopitiam Orchard Singapore coffeePrices here are quite cheap especially when you compare it to normal Singapore coffee shops or fancy juice places. Highly recommended.

Killiney Kopitiam
67 Killiney Road, Orchard, Singapore
www.killiney-kopitiam.com
Opening Hours: 06:00 – 23:00 (Selasa sampai 18:00)

Coffee with milk: $1.60
Lime juice: $1.70
Chendol: $4.00

Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar Lavender Singapore inside

Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar, Lavender, Singapore: A Really Sexy Coffee Shop

We popped into Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar when we were staying in Little India as it’s just a short walk from where we were staying. And boy are happy we did.

The concept of the coffee shop is to have a coffee experience where you can watch the baristas make your coffee because they’re working at a bar which is completely surrounded by customers. In other words, a 360º bar. It’s really cool.Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar Lavender SingaporeOf course, the fit out of this cafe is incredible — world class. It has a bit of an industrial look which has been all the rage for almost a decade now, but it’s more modern and classy than that. Lighting is fantastic and seating is very cool. We loved our seat against the wall.

We had coffee and cake here and both were fab. The coffee is as good as any we’ve had in Singapore and the cake was an interesting sticky fig pudding. We’re guessing it’s a take on sticky date pudding.Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar Lavender Singapore foodPrices for food here are reasonable for the quality you get and slightly cheaper than some other high end Singapore cafes. Coffee is the same as most other upmarket coffee shops in Singapore — overpriced! $5.50 for a cappuccino or latte.

We really love Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar and we highly recommend coming here if you love coffee, cafe food or even if you are just in the area and feel like some cake. Awesome.

Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar
150 Tyrwhitt Rd, Lavender, Singapore
www.cshhcoffee.com
Opening Hours: 09:00 – 22:00 (Friday/Saturday until 24:00)
Closest MRT: Lavender (green EW11) or Farrer (purple NE8)
Main meals: $18-20

Cappuccino: $5.50

Mural at Academy Roastery Cafe

A.R.C (Academy Roastery Cafe), Bugis, Singapore: Good Coffee, Great Murals

A.R.C is a one of those upmarket coffee shops that Singapore is becoming more and more famous for. Serving both coffee and food, it’s a popular place for brunch and coffee with many Singaporeans and foreign guests alike.

We’ve had coffee here, but not the food so we can’t comment whether the meals here are good or not. What we can say is that the coffee is excellent. World class.A.R.C Academy Roastery Cafe Bugis Singapore Coffee MachinePerfect temperature, smooth coffee taste and perfectly textured milk. Susan had the vanilla latte and really enjoyed it mainly because it’s much sweeter than a normal coffee.A.R.C Academy Roastery Cafe Bugis Singapore cappuccinoThe interior design of the cafe is that typical minimalist bare concrete look with wooden benches and won’t win any design awards for originality, but it’s pleasant nonetheless.

Outside there is a massive mural on the wall which is a tourist attraction in itself. You’ll often see people here with tongsis in hand taking selfies. And we highly recommend it because it’s simply one of the best murals we’ve seen in Singapore.A.R.C Academy Roastery Cafe Bugis Singapore insidePrices here are expensive when compared to a Singaporean kopitiam, but they are normal for Singapore. Definitely a place to come if you’re a coffee lover.

A.R.C (Academy Roastery Cafe)
29 Sultan Gate, Bugis, Singapore
www.arccoffee.sg
Instagram: a.r.c.coffee
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 22:00 (Saturday/Sunday from 09:30)
Closest MRT: Bugis (green EW12 / blue DT14)

Cafe latte: $5.00
Vanilla latte: $5.50

Usman Restaurant Little India Singapore front

Usman Restaurant, Little India, Singapore

Located on the bustling Serangoon Road where you might end up if you’re shopping, Usman Restaurant is a Pakistani/Northern Indian restaurant with great prices and amazing food.

It’s a food stall kind of place rather than a formal restaurant meaning you’ll be eating from plastic tables and in an open air environment.

We’ve tried a range of food and drinks here and we really love the daal (lentil curry), butter chicken and briyani dishes. We especially love the icy cold and refreshing life juices and sodas. Aside from these dishes, there plenty of naan options, vegetables and assorted curries. It’s awesome!Usman Restaurant Little India Singapore foodBut we just can’t go past that butter chicken. It’s so tender!

It’s definitely worth coming here if you’re in the area and if you really want to eat cheaply, just order some daal and white rice. It’s possibly one of the cheapest meals in Singapore! A great place also if you need a late night meal.

Usman Restaurant
238 Serangoon Rd, Little India, Singapore
Opening Hours: 12:00 – 02:00
MRT terdekat: Farrer Park (purple NE8)

Plain naan: $1.20
Chicken briyani: $5.50
Daal: $1.50
Butter chicken: $5.00
Lime juice: $2.00
White rice: $1.00

Komala Vilas Little India Singapore banana-leaf

Komala Vilas, Little India, Singapore – Vegetarian Food

Everyone knows that Little India is a haven of culinary tourism, but sometimes it’s difficult to know which restaurants are the best. Well, after trying a lot of places in Little India, we can safely say that Komala Vilas is one of the best and what’s more, it’s halal.

Started in 1947, the restaurant has been around so long that it must be good. Dishes range from dosai to mixed rice dishes which come with lots of different side dishes and mixing sauces.Komala Vilas Little India Singapore dosaiSome of the food here is spicy, but on the whole the food is more flavoursome rather than spicy. The mixed rice dishes are wide and varied, but we can safely say that the standard “rice meal” is awesome. Cauliflower, potato, beans, okra and dhal all in their own Indian sauces. The chutneys and sauces on the side are really interesting and full of flavour as well.

For a cheaper meal, try the dosai (Indian bread) which comes in about 60 configurations. We most recently tried the masala dosai and it was also so delicious. A 40cm long dosai filled with spiced potatoes and served with 3 different dipping sauces. It is so cheap for what you get and it’s almost enough for 2 people, depending on how hungry you are.

Also highly recommended are the mango lassis. A mango yoghurt drink that is sweet, milky and slightly sour. Perfect to wash down your dosai with.Komala Vilas Little India Singapore insideThe ordering process is quite simple. Go to the counter where they have menus. Select the dishes you want and pay straight away. Take your receipt and give it to one of the waiters and your meal will arrive about 5 minutes later.

Most people here eat with their hands, but utensils are also provided if you don’t like getting your hands dirty.

If you want to try authentic Indian food while you’re in Singapore, Komala Vilas is definitely a good choice.

Komala Vilas Restaurant
76 Serangoon Road, Little India, Singapore
www.komalavilas.com.sg
Jam Buka: 07:00 – 22:30
Closest MRT: Little India (blue DT12 / purple NE7)
Rice Meal: $8.50

Masala Dosai: $3.90
Mango Lassi: $4.10

Lau Pa Sat, Marina, Singapore

Built in the late 1800s, the iconic and historical Lau Pa Sat is a modern food court located just a short 10 minute walk away from the Merlion, Marina Bay and Chinatown. Some may also refer to this food court as Telok Ayer Market which is the historical Malay name for this market.

The stunning octagonal heritage building is made from iron and sports massive fans to push the air around the structure. Packed within the building area clusters of food stalls selling a wide range of foods including Indian, Singaporean, Korean and even Western.Lau Pa Sat Marina Singapore Roasted Delight

We’ve tried a few dishes from a few stalls here including roasted pork noodles, Mango Milk Ice and roasted chicken rice.

While we loved each one of these dishes, we could have spent day after day here trying out all the different stalls. And honestly, this food court caters to all tastes!

Those looking for halal food will find it here no problem as there are a number of Indonesian, Malay and Indian stalls. If you’re not too worried about official halal certification, but just want to avoid pork, there are also lots of stalls like this too.Lau Pa Sat Marina Singapore Chicken RiceWhat’s really handy about this hawker centre is that it’s central but also open really late. This means you can stay out late near Merlion and Marina Bay and still get something to eat here. Just know that some stalls start to close at around 9 or 10 and the number of stalls still open as the night winds on does dwindle.

We really love Lau Pa Sat. Some food critics might say that this place is not authentic because it’s an odd shape, the stalls are more modern than other food centres and that there are a lot of tourists here. But we can safely say that this is a proper hawker centre. It’s just more modern than many others, but the variety of food and the prices are similar.Lau Pa Sat Marina Singapore Roast PorkSo if you want a bite to eat late at night or are lazy to make a long trek to a hawker centre in one of the suburbs, then we highly recommend Lau Pa Sat. It really is good.

Lau Pa Sat
18 Raffles Quay, Singapore
Opening hours: 24 hours (most stalls close during the night)
Roasted Pork Noodles: $4
Mango Milk Ice: $2.90
Roasted Chicken Rice: $4

How to get from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I really had no idea how I was going to get from Singapore into Malaysia before the day of departure. Was I going to take the train or bus were the main decisions to make first of all. Secondly, is it cheaper to catch a bus to Johor Bahru (Larkin terminal) first and then change to a Malaysian bus or get a bus straight through from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur? After finding out where the bus to Johor Bahru departed from, I decided to give this option a lash!

The bus from Singapore to Johor Bahru in Malaysia, just across the border, leaves from the Queen St Bus Terminal right next to Arab St and very close to Little India. Look it up on google maps for the exact location. From here, there are a number of bus options all taking you across the border to Johor Bahru. Firstly there is the public bus 170 which picks up passengers along the way as it travels to the border. It costs $1.60, there is no space to store luggage and many people stand up for the journey. Secondly there are a few private bus companies charging $2.40. These buses also have no space for luggage, but because the buses travel half empty, you can just plonk your bags on a spare seat. These buses do not stop before reaching customs/immigration at the border.

The Border

Lemur at Singapore Zoo
The border can feel like a jungle

The border has two aspects to it. Firstly you must clear the Singapore exit requirements on the Singapore side of the causeway. Everyone exits the bus here and takes all of their luggage with them as you will not be catching the same bus on the other side. You go through the normal immigration/customs procedures and look for a bus that looks similar to the one you departed 15 minutes before.

Once on the bus, this will take you through the no man’s land to the Malaysian border post. Here you will be required to take all your luggage off the bus again, fill out an entry card and clear customs/immigration. Once you have completed this process, you head back downstairs and try and find another one of your buses. My experience was that the private buses come much less frequently on this side of the border than the public ones. Still, I only had to wait about 15 minutes for a bus to turn up to take me to the Larkin terminal. It is also possible at this point to simply walk into the centre of Johor Bahru if you want to spend the night there.

Larkin Terminal


At the Larkin terminal in Johor Bahru there are buses to all over Malaysia. Everywhere. And the buses are cheap. My 4 hour bus journey to Kuala Lumpur cost just Rm31 — less than $10. There are a range of food stalls here and a market so you can get a cheap bite to eat without any problem. Buses to KL leave 6 times every hour with a range of companies. One piece of advice: don’t purchase a ticket from a tout as they are notorious scammers. Just head to a window and buy a ticket. Transnational have a good reputation, but cost a little more than the rest. My Transnational bus was only 3 seats wide meaning I had plenty of room.

Arrival in Kuala Lumpur

Jaguar at Singapore Zoo
Who doesn't love a jaguar?

You arrive in the outer suburbs of Kuala Lumpur approximately 13km from the centre of town. This isn’t much of a problem as for 50c, you can catch the train towards Masjid Jamek. Every bone in my body wanted to catch the train away from Ampang, but in reality, you want to head in the Ampang direction to get to the centre of KL. Where you want to get off the train is up to you, but be warned that information at the bus terminal/train station is very poor.

So there you have it. It’s easy and cheap to simply catch a few buses and a train to get to central KL. Forget going direct from Singapore for $30 by bus and forget the train unless you’re a train buff. Bus to Johor Bahru, then bus to southern KL bus terminal and then train to central KL is the way to go!

Giving Singapore a Second Chance

I first visited Singapore a couple of years when doing a visa run from Bali which was part of a larger 4 month journey around southeast Asia. I guess the purpose of the visit had something to do with how I felt during my short stay in Singapore — that of a destination that I was simply there to transit through and not to explore with any great effort.

I left Singapore at that time thinking that it was the only non-Asian country in southeast Asia and far too expensive for a cheap-arse like me. I really didn’t like it.

Singaporean Kids
Singaporean Kids

When looking for flights to Indonesia for my current jaunt, I checked all the usual points of entry such as Bali, Jakarta, via Malaysia…and also Singapore. It just so happened that I got a really good deal on a ticket to Singapore from Melbourne — $200 for an 8 hour flight. So rather than skip straight through Singapore as my first instinct told me to do, I decided to hang around a little bit longer to do some walking, some eating and some animal watching. It turned out to be a fantastic experience helped by an Indophile friend I met on my first night, Judith.

Walking

I love walking. I especially like walking when I’m in a new place so that I can get my bearings and feel at ease. It’s also the best way, in my view, to get a feel for a place and to discover hidden treats. It’s often too easy to whip out a copy of the Lonely Planet and make a beeline to a restaurant or activity thereby passing all the cool stuff in between — like creepy alleys, culinary delights and my favourite — banal local life.

The Esplanade (Durian) Singapore
The Esplanade (Durian) Singapore

Around the harbour area there are some really cool things to see on the architectural front. My favourite is probably what is referred to as the ‘durian’. It’s real name is the Esplanade and it regularly hosts world class performing artists in its concert hall and theatre. Other buildings I loved were the Marina Bay Sands which charges $20 to get to the top op unless you are sneaky like me in which case you can as if you are staying there and use the internal elevators.

Eating

Singapore has always been known as a great food destination, but I never saw it on my first journey. This time I was determined to crack the nut that is the hawker centres where I’d read it was possible to get a good feed for under $3 which is good value in anyone’s language. Judith and I hit up the Old Airport Rd food hall for starters and it delievered the goods. I got myself a laksa with a massive dollop of sambal balancing precariously on the side. Needless to say I needed hardly any of it as it was spicy enough for me.

Laksa with Sambal
Laksa with Sambal

I also got around to a few hawker centres near Little India and they all dished up lovely food. The mainstays of most of these joints was chicken rice, prawn mee and miscellaneous crazy Chinese stuff that didn’t take my fancy. It truly is possible to eat great food on the cheap in Singapore.

Singapore Zoo

Apart from walking around aimlessly, was there anything else I did? Why yes there was, as the sub-heading might suggest. Judith and I headed off to the Singapore Zoo. Being a fan of giving local transport a go, I indicated to Judith that I had the directions to the zoo all sorted out. After the first bus told us to get off in the middle of nowhere, we looked for a cab. Apparently there is some weird ‘no pickup’ rule in Singapore (one of about a billion rules that you can’t be expected to get a handle on) and we walked around a little like zombies (sans drool) until we managed to get to a bus stop (perhaps the same one that we were dumped off at). We jumped on another bus, jumped off it again just up the road and changed to the zoo bus. All in all, a silly decision by me to do public transport. For a few dollars more, it would have been better to get a direct tourist bus or even a cab.

Hamadryas Baboon at Singapore Zoo
Hamadryas Baboon at Singapore Zoo

The zoo itself is incredible. It’s easily the best zoo I have ever been to although that’s not really saying a whole lot since I’ve not been to that many. Top on my list of wishes was to see a mandrill. I did indeed see a couple of mandrills and that made my day. I think the mandrills, 80 hamadryas baboons and the jaguars were my faves. I think it’d be pretty easy to spend a full day there, but we breezed through quite quickly as Judith had a plane to Indonesia to catch. The next time I visit Singapore I wouldn’t mind doing a night safari which apparently goes from next door.

So all in all my visit to Singapore was a successful one. I stayed at the Inncrowd in Little India which truth be told was a little disappointing for the $15 price tag. 10 bed dorms, no decent spot to put your bag and a breakfast not worth bothering with. Free WiFi was nice, but who needs that nowadays anyway?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Singapore. Ever been? Want to go?