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5 Best Hawker Centers in Singapore

By Kathryn Foley
01 March 2020
5 Best Hawker Centers in Singapore

It would be impossible to visit Singapore and not eat your way around a hawker center, but ask five Singapore locals which is the best in the city and you’ll get five different answers. These open-air food courts are a staple part of Singapore’s street food culture and an intoxicating mix of the cuisines and flavors that make the city’s food scene so deliciously diverse. So if you want a taste of the real Singapore, the Chinese, Malay, Indian, and flavors from other far-flung corners of Southeast Asia and Europe, check out this guide to the best hawker centers in Singapore. Just come with an open mind, be ready to choose your own live crab, and maybe wear something loose - you’re in for a lot of eating.


Old Airport Road

Old Airport Road

If you’ve only got time to visit one hawker center in Singapore, make it Old Airport Road. It might not be the prettiest, but who cares when the food is this good? You’ll find all of Singapore’s signature dishes (and then some; this spot has over 168 stalls), so rest assured you’ll get an authentic taste of Singapore's food culture while being in good company - this food court is a local favorite and is a well-loved, and slightly well worn, a feature of the Singaporean food scene. Everyone from kids on their way home from school to their grandparents coming here for a fix of their favorite hawker dish; it’s the real deal and slightly off the tourist trail. From silky smooth chee cheong fun to crispy fried carrot cake, fragrant Hainanese chicken rice to bowls of rich lor mee broth, Old Airport Road serves up some of the best hawker food in Singapore, and honestly, spending a few hours here doing nothing but eating is one of my favourite things to do in Singapore.  Open 8am - 11pm daily. 

Tiong Bahru Market

Tiong Bahru Market

Photos: Creative commons

If you’re looking for an authentic local breakfast, look no further than Tiong Bahru. Known among locals to be one of the best spots in town for a quick breakfast before work or for a leisurely brunch with friends, this market offers some of the best in Singapore's street food. Adding to its authentic feel, this spot is located above a traditional wet market. Get here early, explore the ground floor where traders hawk everything from fresh fish to flowers, then head upstairs and enjoy your meal knowing where the ingredients have come from! Just remember that since it opens so early, most stalls wind down early too so you won’t be able to get your hands on much after lunch. As far as hawker centers in Singapore go, this spot makes some of the most delicious mian jian kueh, a peanut pancake that’s fluffy and chewy all at the same time; the stall at Tiong Bahru has been around since the sixties when the market was just a single-story complex and the second generation owners are proof that practice really does make perfect!

Open daily from 7 am.

Tekka Centre

Tekka Centre

Photo: Creative Commons

Although you will find Chinese and Malay hawkers cooking up a storm at Tekka Centre, this complex is really known for its Indian cuisine. You’ll find more stalls serving Indian food here than at any other hawker center in the city, so make sure you try the neighborhood favorites like roti murtabak, a flatbread stuffed to bursting with spiced meat or sardines served with fiery sambal. Located in Little India, this is definitely one of the best hawker centers in Singapore. It is a neighborhood landmark where you’ll find some of the best Indian food around, and the local community who loyally flock here and queue up for their favorite dish (the melt in the mouth biryani from Allauddin’s is a must-eat) is testament to that! Eat like the locals do and ditch your knife and fork, scooping up delicious mounds of saffron yellow rice and chicken with your hands instead.

Open daily: 6.30 am - 9 pm.

Lau Pa Sat

Lau Pa Sat

Photo: visitsingapore.com

Although prices at this spot are a little steeper than other hawker centers Singapore it’s justifiable given its location in the heart of the city’s business district and the fact that it’s one of the more beautiful hawker centers around. But mainly, Lau Pa Sat is worth a visit for its satay! It’s business as usual in the main food court, but as dusk falls, the stalls along satay street start to come alive as fires are lit and hungry locals start arriving for their fix of the best of Singapore's street food. So before it gets too busy, join the crowds and wander along the outer edge of the market where hawkers will be busy grilling every variety of satay you could wish for over an open flame. Whether you’re tempted by chicken or lamb, you prefer the traditional style or you fancy trying the Chinese and Malay twists that are on offer, or you want to try a bit of everything (I don’t blame you) - I promise that dinner here will not disappoint!

Lau Pa Sat is open 24 hours daily, but each stall sets their own hours. Satay street opens from 7 pm.

Chomp Chomp

Chomp Chomp

Photo: Creative Commons

This market tends to be a local-only affair (locals and you, that is), since it’s located outside of the city center in Bishan, and you won’t really find this hawker center in Singapore's guidebooks. And if the authentic local vibe isn’t reason enough to visit, Chomp Chomp is unusual since it’s a night market, making it the perfect place to head if you want to eat dinner like a local and sample the best hawker food in Singapore. It’s open every day from 6 pm, so head out into the suburbs and make an evening of it; snag a table in the middle, take your time eating your way around the stalls (don’t miss the satay and grilled bbq stingray), and soak up the bustling local atmosphere as Singaporeans stop by for a bite on the way home from work or before they head out for the evening!

Open daily: 6 pm until midnight.