6 tips to discover Singapore like a local

Singapore has long been a popular stopover for Australians flying to Europe. A place to stretch your legs, shop for some duty free and perhaps head to Raffles for a Singapore Sling if you have the time.

However, the Lion City is more than just a stopover.

Beyond the orchid-lined corridors, Changi is a rich and multicultural city; a destination that combines Asia’s most intoxicating cultures in one place. In fact, there is so much to see, do, touch and taste that you could skip Europe altogether and be perfectly content.

Gardens by the Bay's Supertrees are just one of Singapore's enchanting attractions.

Gardens by the Bay’s Supertrees are just one of Singapore’s enchanting attractions.

Luxurious hotels and atmospheric cocktail bars, fascinating museums and Michelin-starred restaurants, not to mention heart-pounding theme parks are just a taste of what awaits.

First, however, you must come to Singapore to experience it. National carrier Singapore Airlines – which operates more than 100 non-stop flights a week from seven Australian cities – is the perfect way to do it.

From the moment you check in, the Star Alliance member rolls out the red carpet, delivering a locally-influenced five-star experience that whets the appetite for what awaits you upon landing.

With a flight time of just over five hours from Perth, or around eight hours from Sydney or Melbourne, there is ample opportunity to enjoy the airline’s renowned hospitality, comfort and cuisine, along with recent improvements offering a deeper cultural connection must.

The onboard experience was also remarkably enhanced as passengers were invited on a new “multi-sensory journey” with a signature perfume and soundtrack inspired by the intricate “tie-dye” floral motif of its iconic uniform.

Dining has also been taken to a new level, with fresh menus and even Hawker Center-inspired dining on select routes.

Upon arrival in vibrant Singapore, you’ll be ready to discover the city’s dazzling delights.

Inspired by the 1920's, the Atlas Bar has been consistently voted among the best in the world.

Inspired by the 1920’s, the Atlas Bar has been consistently voted among the best in the world.

After ticking off well-known sights like Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay, it’s worth asking a local, “Where to next?” After all, they live and breathe the city, with insights that will take you far beyond the tourist trail. Many are only too happy to point you in the right direction.

Here are some local tips to inspire you.

Tip #1 – Walk past the main restaurants

Chinatown is the city’s most famous cultural district. Visitors regularly flock to the shop-lined High Street for lunch and dinner, drawn by the lavish array of feasts on offer. But just one street back on Mosque Street is Si Wei Mao Cai, a classic Sichuan restaurant favored by locals for its rich and authentic flavors. They do not refuse sharpness for tourists.

Chinatown has some excellent restaurants, especially right on Main Street.

Chinatown has some excellent restaurants, especially right on Main Street.

Tip #2 – Visit Redhill Market and the Hawker Center

Hawker centers are a unique experience in Singapore. You’ll find these street food halls scattered across the city, where locals often stop by for every meal of the day, thanks to the variety of top quality dishes – Chinese, Indian and Malay – at very reasonable prices.

Redhill is one of the city’s oldest hawker centers and fresh food markets, although it slips under the radar for many travellers.

For the full experience, visit on a Sunday morning when the locals are doing their shopping. They usually stop for a “Kopi” coffee and also grab some breakfast.

Kopi (coffee) and kaya toast are the staples of Singaporean breakfasts.

Kopi (coffee) and kaya toast are the staples of Singaporean breakfasts.

Tip #3 – Explore the “Lesser Traveled Islands”

Despite being an island nation, Singapore is not just a single landmass. There are several smaller ones scattered around its rim. Sentosa is the best known, but it’s worth exploring some of the lesser-known alternatives like Sisters’, St. John’s and Kusa (turtles).

These islands are all accessible by ferry from Marina South Pier, or you can charter a private boat to visit them all, then drop anchor and watch the sunset set the sky ablaze.

Singapore is home to some beautiful beaches and little-known islands.

Singapore is home to some beautiful beaches and little-known islands.

Tip #4 – Sample Michelin-rated street foods

Singaporeans don’t eat to live, they live to eat. That also makes sense when you consider the quality on offer – there are almost 50 starred restaurants in the local Michelin guide.

But if you fancy something a little more rustic and authentic, check out the Michelin Singapore Bib Gourmand Selection, which rounds up the city’s best street food.

Fried Kway Teow Mee in Outram Park, listed in the Michelin Singapore Bib Guide.

Fried Kway Teow Mee in Outram Park, listed in the Michelin Singapore Bib Guide.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum is one of Chinatown’s most visited attractions. Instead of seeing the big Buddha on the ground floor and walking like most visitors do, head to the roof garden.

There you will find a peaceful oasis that is home to the 10,000 Buddha Pavilion, which houses a prayer wheel engraved with intricate scriptures.

A roof garden is hidden atop the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown.

A roof garden is hidden atop the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown.

Tip #6 – Get on your bike in Pulau Ubin

A short boat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal is Pulau Ubin Island. Granite has been quarried here for decades to construct some of the city’s most iconic buildings. These days, life moves at a much slower pace, with the island taking a trip back in time to the 1970s when mining ceased. It’s a laid-back, low-key escape where you can rent a bike and explore one pedal at a time.

Pulau Ubin is Singapore's answer to Rottnest, with bicycles as the only mode of transport.

Pulau Ubin is Singapore’s answer to Rottnest, with bicycles as the only mode of transport.

What else is worth seeing? All you have to do is hop on a plane and find out for yourself.

Singapore Airlines lets you discover the best of the Lion City and beyond.