24 hours in Singapore | Cheap eats at Newton Hawker Centre

24 hours in Singapore

I loved what I eventually saw of Singapore. The very short time I spent there left me wanting to see more and I even kept thinking to myself, “yes I could see myself living here”.

Things didn’t exactly start off with a bang though. Adam and I chose to take the night bus so we arrived in Singapore with enough time to check out the city before our flight to Bali the next day.

It turns out the day bus was probably the way to go.

A rough introduction

Perhaps it was an unusual day or perhaps it was the area, but there was nowhere open to sit let alone eat or drink until 11am. And we’d arrived at 5am. We couldn’t check into our hostel until 1pm so we found ourselves wandering the streets trying not to pass out.

Pair that with hostel staff shouting at you for quietly asking to leave your bags with them and it makes for a testing situation and not exactly the best introduction!

Singapore streets

Over night bus to Singapore from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I’ve mentioned after a number of long journeys and especially after taking a 34 hour train, anything under 5 hours now seems like a piece of cake. It turns out the over night bus from Kuala Lumpur was actually pretty killer, in fact that seemed to be the case for all our bus journeys in Malaysia.

Despite the large comfy seats, the air con seems to always be on full blast – I’m talking absolutely freezing with layers on! This makes sleep impossible and then you need to jump off the bus halfway with your luggage and queue at border immigration mid-way through the night.

I would therefore 100% recommend getting the day bus and there are plenty that run daily from Kuala Lumpur’s TBS station to Singapore’s Beach Road.


Newton Hawker Centre to the rescue

I’m someone who cannot function on less than 6 hours sleep so a nap was inevitable after checking in and therefore cut into our limited time there. So where does one go once they’ve awoken in a new city and haven’t eaten properly since the day before? On the hunt for some excellent food of course!

Newton Hawker Centre, Singapore
~ Newton Hawker Centre food stalls

Singapore’s Hawker Centres

Luckily a visit to a Hawker Centre (similar to a food court) is considered a must do when in Singapore. So, with only 24 hours to spare I was extremely happy knowing I could tie in my desperate need for awesome food whilst ticking off an ‘attraction’.

These are the places to come for reasonably priced food in otherwise pricey Singapore. The relaxed food stall set up and cheap prices are no compromise for the food quality though and the variety is incredible. Thanks to Singapore being a melting pot of different Asian food and culture, you’re spoilt for choice between the likes of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and many local specialities such as the famous Singapore Chilli Crab.

Newton Hawker Centre food stalls, Singapore

Newton Hawker Centre

There are so many hawker centres and food stalls throughout Singapore that deciding which one to go to can be a challenge. However it appears they all have their own charm so I know if I were there longer I’d have tried as many as possible! I was vegetarian at the time and Adam is the biggest carnivore so, during the usual struggle to find somewhere to suit us both, we read about the Newton Hawker Centre. It comes highly rated for good reason and you can bet it’ll be packed out with both tourists and locals.

Getting there is really easy on Singapore’s clean and efficient MRT. You just need to head to Newton station and it’s a 2 minute sign-posted walk from there.

Newton Hawker Centre, Singapore

Due to the rough start to the day and my usual craving for Indian food, I treated myself to not 1 but 2 curry dishes and a massive garlic naan. This was an easy option for a vegetarian but you can also find meat free alternatives dotted about. I typically couldn’t say no to a sugary lemon soda to wash it all down with. Adam checked out the chilli crab but it was unfortunately too pricey for one person so went for chicken satay and fried rice “Kwee Heng” instead and said it was pretty good.

As you arrive at Newton, the hawkers will likely direct you to tables next to their stalls in the hope you’ll order from them however there’s no need to be pressured into it. It’s perfectly fine to shop around, just make note of the table you’re sitting on and you can go and order across the court. Your food is delivered to your table as soon as it’s ready.

Indian feast at Newton Hawker Centre
~ My Indian feast at Newton Hawker Centre

Extra info for 24 hours in Singapore


It’s a well-known fact that Singapore is expensive! You can forget your Southeast Asia price perks here and expect to pay $20+ a night for a hostel dorm bed. It’s therefore wise to book ahead to find a good deal and especially if you’re planning to stay on a weekend.

We struggled to find something cheap (or as cheap as can be in Singapore) last minute. Despite the rude welcome, the accommodation turned out to be fine and very clean as expected! We stayed around Clarke Quay, a nice and convenient location 5 minutes walk from the MRT station.

Changi Airport

Getting to Changi Airport from the city is easy and vice versa with the MRT. They offer free 2 hour tours from the airport – definitely worth it for those with time to kill on a stopover.

I’ll be well prepared for next time with both the accommodation and the arrival time! I can’t wait to go back to Singapore with time to explore properly.

Have you been to a Hawker Centre in Singapore? What would you do if you had 24 hours there?

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16 Responses

  1. Gabi October 7, 2015 / 8:20 pm

    After reading the Italian journalist Tiziano Terzani (which I cannot recommend warmly enough), this country made me so curious that every time I have the chance to read about it, I do so with extreme interest. Your article was a good opportunity to learn even more and pictures were something I eagerly wanted to see about this land!
    Thank you
    Gabi recently posted…All those who wander, we wonder

    • Jade October 8, 2015 / 11:13 am

      Happy you enjoyed the post Gabi and thanks for the recommendation!

    • Ale October 12, 2015 / 8:37 pm

      Same for me… as I’m Italian and totally in love with Terzani!! Can’t wait to visit this place then!!!

  2. A Swede Abroad October 8, 2015 / 6:20 am

    I’ve been lucky enough to spend 3 days in Singapore and I still want to come back! There’s so much to see. I love the mix of asian good and the super technology. A 34h train journey sounds painful though!

    • Jade October 8, 2015 / 11:21 am

      I’m glad you agree! Exactly, it’s definitely got an East meets West vibe 🙂

    • Jade October 10, 2015 / 3:14 am

      Thanks Simone!

    • Jade October 10, 2015 / 3:17 am

      Good idea, it’s so worth spending a little extra on a flight sometimes 🙂

    • Jade October 10, 2015 / 3:19 am

      Thanks Jackie, I’m glad you found it helpful 🙂 . Exciting!

  3. Voyager October 10, 2015 / 2:07 pm

    Nice article and appetizing food, the Indian food looks quite appetizing, especially to us, we are both Indian and Vegetarian! have spent a couple of days in Singapore couple of years ago.

  4. Jade October 10, 2015 / 11:57 pm

    Thank you! Haha I couldn’t resist, Indian is my favourite!

  5. Martin w November 1, 2015 / 11:44 pm

    So do you recommend day bus vs. Flight ?

    • Jade November 2, 2015 / 8:34 am

      Apart from the freezing air con, the buses are really comfortable and cheap so wouldn’t be an issue in the day if you have time. On the other hand, you can find some good deals with Air Asia so it really depends on your budget and schedule

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