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Things to do while in Singapore

Posted By Alan Wee, Friday, February 3, 2017
Updated: Friday, February 3, 2017
Singapore is a great introduction to Asia, everyone speaks English, taxis are reasonable to travel around in, the streets are clean and SAFE (you can wander around alone pretty much anywhere at any time of the day), food is good and reasonable.  We are a major financial hub for South East Asia, so we have all nationalities here, in addition to the native Chinese, Malay and Indian population.  This means you can get anything from a fantastic grilled Japanese eel meal, craft brewed German beer, Swiss rosti, authentic Italian, Middle Eastern cuisine and pretty much anything in between.  Our multi-cultural background promises lots to see and experience.
First, around SNEC
You can get food around the hospital, but its still hospital food.  If you have some time, the surrounding areas have some gems.
Tiong Bahru Market
This is one of the oldest wet markets in Singapore.  If you stay around the SNEC area, make it a point to go to Tiong Bahru market in the morning for breakfast before the day's work starts and see how we locals start our day.  The first floor houses the stores that sell meat, fish, vegetables, spices and household items.  It's quite a special experience to walk around and take in the sights, sounds and smells.  
The second floor has all kinds of food stalls selling Chinese, Malay and Indian food.  Walk around the second floor and have a look at what the locals are eating before trying out something.  Good recommendations might be fried carrot cake (savory radish flour cake fried with eggs), traditional kaya jam on toast (sweet coconut jam), Soya milk made fresh (Teck Seng Soya Milk is the bomb!
The Tiong Bahru area is slowly gentrifying so you find nice upmarket food options like the Tiong Bahru Bakery, PS Cafe, Open Door Policy etc.   There are a fair number of quaint shops to poke around in as well. 
Nylon Coffee Roasters
Widely recognized as one of the best coffee places in Singapore, they are owner-run and roast their own coffees in house.  Dennis and Jia Min take great pride in seeking out the best green coffees they can get their hands on and presenting them in a way that shows off the coffee's attributes.  They don't serve food but have lots of neighboring shops that do a nice meal. 
Highlander Coffee
These guys have probably been around a long time in the coffee scene.  They also serve their own house blend that is sensibly dark roasted and tasty. They have nice sandwiches and wraps.
There is a nice cluster of food places about 10 minutes from SGH that is worth exploring.


Man Man Unagi restaurant serves Japanese grilled eel.  They fly in live eels from Japan.  The head chef has 20 years of experience preparing unagi.  They dispatch the live eel in the window and grill it to order.   This rivals some of the best grilled eel meals you can get in Japan: crispy on the outside and meltingly soft on the inside.  Excellent stuff, but there is a queue that starts from 11:30am and doesn't really die down till 1:30pm or so.  Last orders for lunch are at 2:30pm.


Apiary ice cream is set up by 2 young guys and is 2 minutes walk from Man Man. Try my favorite Ferrero Rocher Ice cream which I happily drive across town for when the mood strikes.  Or they have an excellent selection of ice creams that they prepare in house.

The Botanist is an excellent coffee place that serves a refined lunch menu. It's botanical themed interior helps with escaping the heat as well!

There are also many excellent dining options on Keong Saik Street near SGH.


Burnt Ends is extremely well respected among the fine dining crowd and serves a really excellent lunch.  Not cheap but worth the money!
Smith Street, Temple Street, Mosque Street
This is an area of nearby Chinatown that is nice to explore for the shops and food along with the Chinese and Indian temples (for the shutterbugs).  You can spend a few hours wandering around, shopping and eating.  There are a whole cluster of shops on Temple Street that supply equipment to the F&B industry (Sia Huat, Lau Choy Seng), you can look inside and gawk at the huge size and variety of cooking tools & vessels and pick up some nice buys
Haji Lane, Arab Street, Sultan Mosque, NOX, MRS PHO
This area has lots of nice shops selling quirky interesting fashion, knick knacks and good food.  It is a traditional Malay area and houses the spectacular Sultan Mosque which you can visit and photograph. I'd definitely recommend checking this area out, it's a crowd-pleaser for both the guys and the girls.
NOX is an interesting concept (since we're all "eye" people).  It's a restaurant where you dine in pitch darkness and are served by visually impaired wait staff.  You can tell them what you don't eat, but otherwise everything served to you is a mystery which you then discuss with your dining friends and finally talk with the sighted wait staff at the end of the meal.  Quite an experience and you should make reservations.
MRS PHO is an authentic Vietnamese eatery that is cheap, good and comes complete with slightly rushed and brusque service.  I really like the food here.
Once the day's activities are done, some food recommendations to go try with friends:
These guys serve amazing food and are one of the more exciting culinary concepts around.  They serve modern Middle Eastern cuisine that has big flavors and makes people happy when they eat it. Definitely worth going in a group so you can try lots of stuff!

Nude Seafood
This place is run by a really passionate team with lots of heart.  One of the owners comes from a seafood trading background, so they have access to really excellent quality seafood.  They use modern cooking techniques and serve up seafood in very exciting and tasty ways (they smoke their salmon in-house and it tastes unlike any of the commercial stuff you might be used to) 
Chye Seng Huat Hardware
Contrary to the name, this is actually THE groundbreaking coffee establishment in Singapore.  They setup shop in a traditional industrial area (hence the name) and totally renovated the building.  It's now a hip cafe on the ground floor.  They have a coffee roastery and coffee academy on the premises.  At night, it's a buzzing craft beer spot. 
Night Safari and the Singapore Zoo
The Night Safari is something I recommend people check out, simply because there are not many night zoos around the world and I think we do a good job.  Most people will come about  7pm, but I recommend coming about  9pm and plan to leave by 11pm+ (it closes at  midnight).  You can take a tram around the zoo but there is sometimes a long queue.  The night safari is designed so you can walk and explore it as well.  It's fairly cool at night so this can be a nice option.
The Singapore Zoo is really good too if you can spare the time during the day to visit.


For the shutterbugs among us - here's a list of photo venues I highly recommend checking out!
Cultural: Little India, Chinatown:There are a good number of Indian temples and Chinese temples to take photographs at in addition to the authentic shops and eateries.
Tiong Bahru Market: In addition to the good eats around this place, there are also interesting market activities to take photos of. I like watching the fishmongers expertly fillet the various fishes using a big old Chinese cleaver. 
Architecture: One Fullerton gives a nice view of the marina bay and the Marina Bay Sands casino (looks like a ship on top of 3 buildings), you can also admire the Fullerton hotel which used to be the general post office during British colonial times.  Take a short stroll over to the Victoria Concert Hall and the Cavenagh Bridge for old British architecture. And then it's another short walk to explore the national gallery which is pretty big and always has a few exhibitions going on.
Flora & Fauna:  The Singapore Zoo is fantastic for the greenery and natural enclosures for the animals. The other good spots for greenery are the Gardens found nearby the bay, in addition to the Singapore Botanic gardens (a UNESCO heritage site). The botanic gardens are worth a visit because they are fairly accessible, and there are amenities like a cafe.  It's free to enter and explore but you can also arrange a small group and contact the botanic gardens directly and they might be able to host a small group to move around the gardens.


This is only the smallest sample of what Singapore has to offer visitors and I think you will enjoy your visit!


Google Maps is an amazing program - I was able to create a custom map of the different locations mentioned above. This map includes extra places to visit in addition to the places mentioned in the article. Look forward to seeing you all at ICOP!!

Alan Wee runs around for his work most of the time visiting hospitals and clinics in his role as a service and applications engineer with an ophthalmic equipment company. He manages to find time to explore the many eateries and interesting spots around Singapore.

Tags:  blog  education  Educational Meeting  ICOP  Singapore  Special Events  Travel 

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Permalink | Comments (3)

Comments on this post...

Barbara S. McCalley says...
Posted Friday, February 3, 2017
Wow, looks like some really great places to eat and fun things to do in Singapore. Sure wish I could be there, but I guess I'll have to live vicariously through a few OPS members who are attending.
Permalink to this Comment }

Alan Frohlichstein says...
Posted Monday, February 6, 2017
This was a really helpful blog. I will keep the list handy.
Permalink to this Comment }

Timothy J. Bennett CRA OCT-C FOPS says...
Posted Monday, February 6, 2017
The unagi sounds fantastic. I'll have to try that!
Permalink to this Comment }

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