6 tips for discovering Singapore as a local

Singapore has long been a favorite stopover for Australians flying to Europe. A place to stretch your legs, get some tax free, and maybe head out for a Singapore Sling at Raffles if you have the time.

However, Løvebyen has more than just a stopover.

Outside the orchid-edged corridors of Changi is a rich and multicultural city; a destination where Asia’s most intoxicating cultures are united in one place. In fact, there is so much to see, do, touch and taste that you can skip Europe completely and be completely satisfied.

Supertrees of Gardens by the Bay is just one of the fantastic sites in Singapore.

Sumptuous hotels and moody cocktail bars, exciting museums and Michelin-starred restaurants, not to mention theme parks that will make your heart race, are just a teaser of what lies ahead.

However, you must first get to Singapore to experience it. The national airline Singapore Airlines – which operates more than 100 direct flights per 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 sourced five-star experience that whets the appetite of what awaits on landing.

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

The experience on board has also seen remarkable upgrades, with passengers treated to a new ‘multisensory journey’, with a signature perfume and soundtrack inspired by the intricate ‘Batik’ floral motif of the iconic uniform.

The food has also been taken to greater heights, with fresh menus and even street center-inspired dining on selected routes.

When you arrive in vibrant Singapore, you can discover the dazzling delights of the city.

1920s-inspired Atlas Bar has consistently been named the best in the world.

1920s-inspired Atlas Bar has consistently been named the best in the world.

After checking for famous sights such as Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay, it pays to ask a local: ‘Where are you going next?’. After all, they live and breathe the city, with insights that take you far beyond the tourist trail. Many people are just too happy to point you in the right direction.

Here are some local tips to get you inspired.

Tip # 1 – Side steps the main restaurants

Chinatown is the city’s most famous cultural neighborhood. Visitors regularly flock to the main street surrounded by department stores for lunch and dinner, attracted by the rich feast on offer. But just one way back on Mosque Street is Si Wei Mao Cai, a classic Sichuan restaurant preferred by locals for its rich and authentic flavors. They do not reject spiciness for tourists.

Chinatown is home to some wonderful restaurants, especially just off the main street.

Chinatown is home to some wonderful restaurants, especially just off the main street.

Tip # 2 – Check out the Redhill Market and the Street Vendor Center

Hawker Centers is a unique Singapore experience. You will find these street food halls scattered throughout the city, with the locals often stopping by for every meal of the day, thanks to the variety of top quality dishes – Chinese, Indian and Malaysian – at very reasonable prices.

Redhill is one of the city’s oldest street vendor centers and fresh food markets, although it slips under the radar of many travelers.

For the whole experience, visit on a Sunday morning, when the locals shop. They will usually stop for a “copy” coffee and grab some breakfast as well.

Kopi (coffee) and kayato toast are Singaporean breakfasts.

Kopi (coffee) and kayato toast are Singaporean breakfasts.

Tip # 3 – Explore the “less traveled islands”

Although an island nation, Singapore is not just a single landmass. There are several minor dots around the edge. Sentosa is the most famous, but it’s worth exploring some of the lesser known options such as Sisters’, St John’s and Kusa (Turtle).

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

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

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

Tip # 4 – Taste your Michelin-rated street food

Singaporeans do not eat to live, they live to eat. It also makes sense when you consider the quality on offer – there are almost 50 star restaurants in the local Michelin guide.

But if you’re in the mood for something a little more rustic and authentic, check out the Michelin Singapore Bib Gourmand Selection, which rounds out the best street food in town.

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 going, as most visitors usually do, you can go up to the roof garden.

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

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

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

Tip # 6 – Get on the bike at Pulau Ubin

A short boat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal is the island of Pulau Ubin. Decades earlier, granite was mined to build some of the city’s famous buildings. These days, life is going at a much slower pace, with the island a time jump to the 1970s, when the quarry ceased. It is a relaxed, 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 the only mode of transport.

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

What else is worth seeing? You just have to hop on a plane and find out for yourself.

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