9 spots in Singapore to frequent if you want to be a true local

Photo: Philippe Put

Photo: Philippe Put

A trip to Singapore typically includes the latest tourist attractions such as the infinity pool on top of Marina Bay Sands, man-made Gardens by the Bay to re-dressing Sentosa island and Orchard Road over and over again and the UNESCO site of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Yet for those who live here, there are other spots that we go to again and again. They are the familiar sights and tastes of what we know as truly local.

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

1. The Projector

 The ProjectorSingapore, SingaporeThe Projector is an old-time cinema that showcases indie movies and other eclectic titles. Due to the obscurity of its location and the niche movies it shows, this place is not within the radar of most except for the local arts and movie enthusiasts. Judging from the regular turnout for most screenings, this place is doing a decent job of providing an alternative entertainment option for the locals.
#history #movietheater


The Projector is housed within Golden Mile Tower which, together with Golden Mile Complex, is thought of as “Little Thailand” in Singapore. Thai eateries abound and even a Thai supermarket can be found here.

2. Beach Road Prawn Mee Eating House

 Beach Road Prawn Mee Eating HouseSingapore, SingaporeThere may be many prawn mee (local slang for “noodles”) stalls scatter around this island but this eastern stall stands out from the ordinary. Simply put, big prawns, savoury pink stock that oozes sweetness from the prawns, tangy noodles with the right amount of springiness. This is quintessential local fare.
#cheap-eats #localfood #localculture


This place holds special memories for many of us who used to grow up in this area. A typical lunch affair includes a hearty bowl of noodles and then an espresso at Penny University next door. While the architectural landscape has changed much, this eatery seems untouched.

3. Old School Delights

 Old School DelightsSingapore, SingaporeOn days when I just want some comfort food that reminds me of my mum’s cooking, I head down to this joint. Here, I can find my childhood dishes like Nasi Lemak or Kway Pie Ti served consistently in their fullest flavour. A little fact bite: the dishes hold a faint Peranakan tinge that pays homage to the owners’ heritage!
#localfood


This venue has games like five stones and Old maid playing cards. With communal seating available in the bistro, it makes it easy for family and friends, young and old, to gather together for a good meal and fun on a weekend.

4. Mustafa Centre

 Mustafa CentreSingapore, SingaporeMustafa is a mega store wonderland. It carries anything and everything under the sun at a bargain, from stationeries, clothes, watches, electronics, toiletries, desserts to fruits, vegetables and meat. And best of all, it’s opened 24/7! I come here to run my errands when I can only get off the hook after 9pm.
#bargains #nightlife #nightmarket #localculture #food


This place can be a lifesaver for many of us who work late at night and still need to run errands or buy last-minute groceries.

5. Queensway Shopping Centre

 Queensway Shopping CentreSingapore, SingaporeThis nondescript shopping centre has always been a regular bargain haunt for sporting and racket wares by the locals. Prices here are competitive so you may want to check out a few stores before plodding your money down. Best things are the little stalls tucked in various corners that sell local delectables to satisfy your tummy after a long day of shopping!
#bargains #sports #localculture


Built in 1976 for the purpose of providing an outlet for recreational goods, the baby boomers grew up in this mall and judging from the regular crowd there, it is still serving the later generations well.

6. IMM

 IMMSingapore, SingaporeIMM is located at Jurong East, the western part of Singapore. Best time to visit this place is during off peak hours like weekdays, unless you want to soak in the crowded atmosphere. This shopping mall is within walking distance from Jurong East Interchange.
#clothes #bargins


Orchard Road is not synonymous with shopping in Singapore. If you want to stretch that dollar and are looking for mid to high-end range of products, head down to IMM in the west. There are also other shopping malls in the vicinity to satisfy your shopping needs like Westgate, JCube and JEM, if IMM is not enough for you.

7. Ministry of Durian

 Ministry of DurianSingapore, SingaporeMinistry of Durian is located at Upper Paya Lebar Road, best to call prior visit just to ensure the Syrians are not sold out! There are buses from Serangoon MRT Station to reach here.
#localculture #localfood


When it comes to durians, it can either be a love or hate affair. For many locals (and even some foreigners), this is a taste worth lining up. Ministry of Durian at Upper Paya Lebar Road attempts to demystify the various sub-species of durians with an introductory chart prior your order. This place can be a great entry point for those clueless in their first foray of durian tasting.

8. Dairy Farm Nature Park

 Dairy Farm Nature ParkSingapore, SingaporeSingapore may be better known for its water sports though there are still oasis of greenery on this small island. One of the regular hiking spots by the local community is the Dairy Farm Nature Park. There are many small hiking trails left by volunteers and it is always refreshing to discover new trails on each visit!
#hiking #cityhike


It is not unusual to see couples, young children, joggers, cyclists and hikers sharing the same space on weekends. Be sure to pack sunscreen and mosquito repellant!

9. Geylang nightlife

 GeylangSingapore, SingaporeGeylang nightlife may be infamous for its red light district activities but it holds a lot more. Most notably, the locals come here for supper with its many choices. The buzz at night here can be quite a sight too!
#localculture #food #casual #open-late #cheap-eats #nightlife


Many shops cater late in the night selling grocery, sundry and telco stuff to foreign workers. A visit to Geylang in the late hours can be an entertainment by itself.