Day 2 in Singapore started off with complimentary breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express Orchard. Had fruits, cheese, sausages, bacon, and a different type of fried noodles or rice each day. Not bad for continental breakfast and the chef and servers are super nice.
After our tummies were full, we headed out to explore. The closest MRT was Somerset and I would highly recommend getting either a Singapore Tourist Card that provides unlimited travel for a certain amount of days if you’re there for only a short period or the EZ-Link Card which offers stored value and is more like pay per use. You can get both of these at most MRT stations or at the airport. The EZ-Link Card has a non-refundable cost of $5 so is only a good deal if you stay around a week like we did. The transit system here is awesome and trains are extremely clean. Maps are so easy to follow and I highly recommend downloading a map app on your phone which provides you with the quickest way to get around. Transit here is extremely cheap with many of our rides being under $1! What a steal compared to Vancouver…
Anyways, our first destination was to check out Chinatown. You can get off right at the Chinatown station and take Exit A.
I recommend checking out Pagoda Street if you want to buy Chinese souvenirs but this area is quite touristy. If you walk around the area you will also hit some open markets with more local goods. There is also the Chinatown Food Street with hawker stalls. My favourite was looking at the colourful houses on top of these shops which made it feel like you went back in time.
Continue walking and you will find the Sri Mariamman Temple which is a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, known for her power to cure illnesses and diseases. The entrance is covered with detailed sculptures of mythological beasts and people. Quite an eye catcher and you can also enter into the temple, although you will need to remove your shoes. We skipped this part.
Moving on, we somehow wandered into the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum. This is a Buddhist temple and you are able to enter for free as well. However, those with shoulders or thighs showing will require a blanket which they can provide.
Wandering around again, we spotted Maxwell Food Centre, which was definitely on my list of places to visit. We decided to grab lunch early which was a good idea.
Maxwell Food Centre is covered and looks very similar to most of the other hawker centres that we would visit later on. At most hawker centres, the stalls will have a sign showing whether it is self-serve or full service. Self-serve means that you will need to line up, order, and wait for your food at the stall. This is the case for most of them. All hawker stalls also show the grading of their cleanliness and any that are A or B are good to go from our experience.
We had originally anticipated the much talked about Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken, but for some reason it wasn’t open that day. We settled on Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice which had the exact same banner and a long line up. Apparently this is opened by a former employer of Tian Tian…
Since we weren’t too hungry, we shared the Steamed Chicken Rice which came with a side of soup and added the hard boiled eggs. This was only $3.50 SG which was a deal! The portion was a bit small but perfect for one. The rice was absolutely delicious and the chicken was tender with a nice jelly on the skin. Pretty good but I can’t say how it compares with Tian Tian since we didn’t get to try. We also got a Soursop Guava Slush which was extremely refreshing! Gotta get the tropical fruits here.
Following lunch, we took the MRT from Chinatown to Clarke Quay station. Clarke Quay is a historical riverside quay which was used for trade back in the day. Today, it is more of a tourist area with the river being used for cruises for tourists.
We crossed the river and found colourful buildings all along the quay. The area now houses expensive restaurants and nightclubs. Since it was daytime, they were all empty. I presume they are bumping during night time.
Since it was extremely hazy and humid outside, we decided to head over to The Shoppes at Marina Sands for some air conditioning. The shops here are high end so of course we weren’t going to be doing any shopping here. However, it’s worth checking out if you’re a shopper since it’s very pretty inside.
Although we weren’t planning to shop here, I highly recommend checking out the Louis Vuitton shop here. They have some interesting goods here that appear to be limited to Singapore. Like this chili crab suitcase… A tip is to go to their highest floor and exit to the balcony. You will be able to get a view of the Singapore skyline for free.
Since we were pretty hungry, we decided to just eat at the food court at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. A bad idea, since this food court is overpriced and food is quite average.
We ended up sharing the Char Kuey Teow which is a flat rice noodle stir fried with Chinese sausage, bean sprouts and beef. We found that there were way more bean sprouts than noodles… Would skip this.
We were planning to visit Gardens at the Bay after dinner since it would be all lit up, but we exited the mall and realized it was pouring… We ended up heading back to our hotel, but along the way stopped by 313@Somerset, a mall right at the Somerset station. This mall offers more affordable shops, so we did a bit of browsing here. We then tried Toast Box, which is known for their kaya toast.
Kaya toast is served with soft boiled eggs. And by soft boiled, they are very soft boiled. You crack these open and mix in soy sauce and pepper and stir it up. You can slurp this with a spoon or dip your toast in it. Kind of gross in the beginning, but I quite enjoyed it after…
We ordered their classic Kaya Toast which comes with a thick slice of butter. Oh, this is so bad for you, but so delicious at the same time. Kaya is a coconut jam and along with the butter, this is a killer breakfast or midnight snack. We had this along with an almond milk and satisfied our late night craving. However, Toast Box is definitely not the best for kaya toast. I highly recommend Ya Kun which I will write about later on. You can find both shops almost everywhere you go.
We called it a night since it was raining pretty heavily. Some goodies I found at the supermarket were Singapore only flavoured cup noodles. Mmmm my favourite was the Black Pepper Crab! Great souvenir to bring back for foodies.
Chinatown Pagoda Street: Take Exit A from Chinatown Station
Sri Mariamman Temple: 244 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058793
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum:
288 S Bridge Rd, Singapore 058840
Maxwell Food Centre: 1 Kadayanallur St, Singapore 069184
Clarke Quay: (Take Exit C from Clarke Quay MRT Station) 3 River Valley Rd, Singapore 179024
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands: 10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956
Toast Box at 313@Somerset: B2 313 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238895