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SINGAPORE | Singapore is famous for it hawker centres and street food and for good reason – it’s where you’ll find some of the best food in the world. Singapore might be a relatively new nation, but its food history is rich and varied, taking elements from its Chinese, Malay and Indian population. Back when Singapore was a poor country, many people would make a living selling food (hawking) from street side food carts. Many of today’s hawker stalls can in fact trace their heritage back to the original street food carts that used to be so common on the streets of Singapore.

In the 1960s, as Singapore started its rapid march towards modernisation, these carts were brought inside by the government, into centres specifically designed for the sale of food in a more regulated, structured and hygienic environment. Today health inspectors perform regular checks on hawkers and each hawker stall is required to clearly display its sanitation grade, which can range from A to D (A is best).

There are approximately 220 hawker centres dotted across Singapore today, so to make your life easier here are 10 of the best, including some of the must visit stalls and must try dishes. For a more detailed look at the kinds of food that you can find in Singapore’s hawker centres, and other places to eat in the city, check out The City Lane’s Singapore Food Guide and Geylang Food Guide

Is your favourite hawker centre on the list? What’s your favourite hawker dish in Singapore? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

top 10 best hawker centre singapore street food

Maxwell Food Centre

Maxwell Food Centre is one of the best known hawker centres in Singapore, due to its central location in Chinatown and the famous Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice and its competitor next door, Ah-Tia. Featuring over 100 stalls, its popularity hasn’t affected its quality and Maxwell Food Centre is still just as popular with locals as it is with tourists, although there’s arguably better chicken rice to be found elsewhere in town.

top 10 best hawker centre singapore street food

top 10 best hawker centre singapore street food

Maxwell Food Centre

1 Kadayanallur Street
Singapore

Chinatown Complex

A personal favourite of ours, Chinatown Complex is located a stones throw away from the more touristy parts of Chinatown and is always full of locals chowing down something delicious. It’s the largest hawker centre in Singapore with over 260 stalls meaning you won’t have any trouble finding something good to eat here. Because there are so many vendors, prices here are very reasonable too. There are also 2 fantastic craft beer stalls (The Good Beer Company and Smith Street Taps) at Chinatown Complex, giving the centre an interesting point of difference to the others. Must try vendors are Lion City Chicken Rice and Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodles.

top 10 best hawker centre singapore street food

top 10 best hawker centre singapore street food

top 10 best hawker centre singapore street food

top 10 best hawker centre singapore street food

Chinatown Complex

355 Smith Street
Singapore

Changi Village Food Centre

It’s not the most central hawker centre but Changi Village’s location to Changi Airport makes it a good option for those who only have a layover of a few hours and want to squeeze in some great street food. This place is heaving in the mornings, with the excellent carrot cake and nasi lemak offerings keeping locals coming back for more. Wash down your breakfast with a delicious cup of the local Kopi.

top 10 best hawker centre singapore street food

top 10 best hawker centre singapore street food

top 10 best hawker centre singapore street food

Changi Village Food Centre

2 Changi Village Road
Singapore

Tekka Centre

Located in Little India, Tekka Centre is notable for its large selection of Indian street food stalls. There are Chinese and Malay vendors here doing great stuff too, but a visit to Tekka isn’t complete without trying some Briayni and roti prata. Visit Allauddin’s for Briyani and Prata Saga Sambal Berlada for prata. The fresh fruit and vegetable stalls at Tekka are fantastic too.

top 10 best hawker centre singapore street food

top 10 best hawker centre singapore street food

top 10 best hawker centre singapore street food

top 10 best hawker centre singapore street food

top 10 best hawker centre singapore street food

Tekka Centre

665 Buffalo & Serangoon Roads
Singapore

Old Airport Road Food Centre

Open since 1973 and home to 168 stalls, Old Airport Road Food Centre is considered one Singapore’s best hawker centres. It’s open all day and is famous for its satay bee hoon, char kway teow, and rojak vendors. Especially worth checking out if you have a sweet tooth are Lao Ban Soya Beancurd and 51 Soya Beancurd.

Old Airport Road Food Centre

51 Old Airport Road
Singapore

Tiong Bahru Market Hawker Centre

Tiong Bahru is a laid back neighbourhood at the the Tiong Bahru Market Hawker Centre is set apart from others by its Art Deco architecture. It’s located above one of the city’s best wet markets and, since recent renovations it’s also one of the most pleasant and cleanest hawker centres in town. A must visit is Jian Bo Shui Kweh, which serves up its famous chwee keuh – rice cakes topped with saucy pickled vegetables.

Tiong Bahru Market Hawker Centre

83 Seng Poh Road
Singapore

Telok Ayer Market / Lau Pa Sat

Telok Ayer Market is more commonly known as Lau Pa Sat, which translates to “Old Market” due to the fact that the cast iron building that houses the hawker centre is 178 years old. Located in Sinagpore’s financial district, the hawker centre itself dates back to 1973 and is famous for its satay. Visit Boon Tat street next to the market in the evenings to sample some great (although not the city’s best) staty.

top 10 best hawker centre singapore street food

Telok Ayer Market / Lau Pa Sat

18 Raffles Quay
Singapore

East Coast Lagoon Food Centre

Located on the beach, this is perhaps the most laid back of Singapore’s hawker centres. 63 stalls with a view of the ocean selling a range of dishes with fresh seafood as the focus makes East Coast Lagoon well worth a visit. Try the Kiam Chye Ah (Salted Vegetable Duck Soup) from Leng Heng BBQ Seafood & Claypot Deluxe and the You Char Kway Rojak  from Kampong Rojak.

East Coast Lagoon Food Centre

1220 East Coast Parkway
Singapore

Chomp Chomp Food Centre

Chomp Chomp Food Centre isn’t the largest hawker centre in Singapore (it only has 36 stalls), neither is it the most convenient located for visitors however many locals count it amongst their favourite. It’s small, crowded and chaotic and should be on your list for 2 reasons. The sambal stingray from MacPherson Seafood BBQ and barbecued chicken wings from Good Luck Barbecue Chicken Wings. The various satay stalls here are very popular too, and everyone has their own opinion about which is best.

Chomp Chomp Food Centre

20 Kensington Park Road
Singapore

Newton Food Centre

Newton is one of the most famous hawker centres in Singapore from a tourist point of view, owing to its many write ups in tourism guides and its proximity to Orchard Road, however the only reason it’s been included in this list is as an avoid. Overzealous touts, stalls that overcharge and no real examples of the best of anything mean you’re better off going elsewhere. You won’t eat badly here as such but given everything else that’s available elsewhere, why would you bother?

Newton Food Centre

500 Clemenceau Avenue
Singapore