Singapore is an island city-state off the southern tip of Malaysia and is one of the most popular travel destinations in Southeast Asia. The multicultural city is thriving with night life, natural wonders, and of course, a culinary scene that is off the charts. Contrary to what 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians might have you think, there is more to Singapore than the glitz and glamour of wealthy classes. In fact, many Singaporeans will have you know that their city is much more accessible than it seems, but it does have its quirks! Here are some things you can only find in Singapore.
Ice Cream Sandwiches With Actual Bread
If you ask for an ice cream sandwich in Singapore, you’d be surprised to have this handed to you. Singapore ice cream sandwiches are sold by street vendors who slice individual portions from a block of ice cream and then wrap it in a slice of bread.
The ice cream comes in various flavors from coffee and strawberry to sweet corn and durian. While some vendors use plain white bread, others have multicolored slices that are flavored with pandan leaf extract.
Unbothered Passengers On The MRT
This woman knew she couldn’t be bothered to stay awake for the commute home. She put her trust in fellow passengers to wake her up when the train reached her stop.
This was not an uncommon sight on the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit, or MRT. With 119 stations all over Singapore, MRT is the preferred mode of transport for locals and tourists alike. The North East, Circle, and Downtown lines form the longest fully automated metro network in the world.
You Otter See This
When roaming the streets of Singapore, you just might happen to run into this family of otters. Usually spotted around Marina Bay or Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, these smooth-coated otters, known as the Bishan otter family, are not shy in the presence of humans.
Singapore classifies the otters as critically endangered. Thought to have disappeared in the ’70s, they reemerged in the late ’90s which is seen as a sign of the success of Singapore’s eco-friendly policies.
Chope A Table To Save Your Spot
Hawker centers are open-air food complexes in Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries. There, you might see an unoccupied table with packs of tissue or other cheap items laid on the table, which means that someone else has already reserved it.
Most Singaporeans acknowledge this unorthodox way of calling “dibs” on a table. But the system, called “choping,” has been considered unfair by many, especially when someone reserves a table that has more seats than they need.
Singlish Signs Make You Scratch Your Head
Spend enough time in Singapore and you’d understand this sign completely. It is written in Singlish, which is commonly spoken among Singaporean locals. There are four official languages spoken in Singapore: English, Tamil, Malay, and Mandarin. Singlish combines all four into a dialect that is hard to understand if you’re not from there.
Most Singaporeans are bilingual, speaking English and whatever language their parents speak at home, which is how Singlish is so prominent. It’s not an official language, however, and is actually discouraged in mass media and schools.
How Do You Like Your Coffee? In A Bag
When you’re craving a quick pick-me-up, Singapore has the perfect on-the-go solution: serving their coffee in a plastic bag. Called “kopi” in Singapore, it is traditionally served with evaporated milk and sugar and is another common street treat that comes at a bargain.
The coffee is indeed hot in the bag, which is why it comes with handles and a straw. Of course, if you have time to sit down, you kopi will come served in a cup.
You Wouldn’t Mind A Layover At This Airport
This might look like an awesome botanical garden or a zoo, but it’s actually the airport! Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport is touted as the world’s best airport and the reason is obvious since the newly-renovated Jewel opened in 2019.
Jewel connects three of Changi Airport’s four terminals, but you don’t need a boarding pass to enjoy its 280 restaurants and shops, its four-story immersive garden, or the Vortex—the world’s largest indoor waterfall.
Sunnies Are Inappropriate Beachwear
Somebody might want to warn Corey Hart to change up his act if he plans on visiting Singapore. This sign was seen at a beach in Singapore and apparently, cheeky signs like this are posted everywhere.
It’s unclear whether this sign was posted out of concerns for people’s safety but they certainly don’t care about your image. From Silioso Beach to Changi Beach Park, nobody cares about how cool you think you look.
Singapore Pringles In Flavors Of The Ocean
Wherever you go in the world you’re bound to find snacks that remind you of home that have their own local twist. Singapore sells Pringles just like the United States, but instead of sour cream and onion or original flavor, you’ll find soft-shell crab, seaweed, and even garlic shrimp!
This is certainly not something for eaters of the picky variety but you should definitely try these if your taste buds are feeling adventurous.
Bakeries With A Sense Of Humor
Would you like some of Bread Pitt’s freshly baked buns? Three for only $2.50 is a steal if you ask us, especially when you take into account the free laughs. Who doesn’t love a place with a punny name?
Bread Pitt is found in Singapore’s Maxwell Food Centre, a hawker center in Singapore’s Chinatown. Other than Bread Pitt, people flock to this hawker center for street food stalls selling chicken rice and dim sum.
Mashed Potatoes At Your Convenience
Have you ever walked into a 7-Eleven and thought to yourself, Hmm, some mashed potatoes sound pretty delicious right about now? In Singapore, they’ve got you covered. You’d be lucky to even find a nacho machine at your local 7-Eleven in America so the thought of having mashed potatoes at the push of a button is almost inconceivable.
The first 7-Eleven in Singapore opened in 1983 and there are now 393 locations all over the island.
Signs That Can’t Make Up Their Minds
It took four signs to pretty much say that you shouldn’t fly a kite at Singapore’s Sentosa Island and it did so by hilariously contradicting itself. This is not a huge mistake made by a city official but it is, in fact, part of an art installation by Singaporean artist Samantha Lo.
Lo is known as the “Sticker Lady” who posts satirical stickers that go against the grain. Her arrest in 2012 sparked outrage over whether her work was considered art or vandalism.
Swim On The Edge Of The World
If there was ever a place that would have you feeling like you’re swimming on the edge of the world, the infinity pool at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Hotel comes pretty close. Their infinity pool is the largest in the world, spanning over 150 meters across the hotel’s Sands Sky Park on its 57th floor.
The pool itself is exclusive to hotel guests but there have been some sneaky adventure-seekers who’ve managed to get up there without a hotel key.
The Zoo Is A Different Place After Dark
Most people head to the zoo with the hopes of seeing their favorite animals, only to be disappointed that they’re either hiding or sleeping. This is largely due to the fact that many animals are nocturnal. The Singapore Zoo has found a way around that by offering night safaris.
You can take a guided tour at the zoo after the sun goes down to see some of the most exciting animals in a more active state—if you dare.
A Sauce Only Found In Singapore
At McDonald’s, there’s a sizable variety of sauces to choose from when you order McNuggets but Curry Sauce isn’t one of them. This flavor is only found in Singapore and it’s to them what Szechuan Sauce is to the U.S. in terms of availability.
Singapore McDonald’s introduced their Curry Sauce sometime in the 1990s and swiftly took it off the menu. But in 2019, Curry Sauce made a comeback and this time in a bottle, which sold out in five days.
Haze For Days
Nope, the lens of the camera that captured this photo isn’t dirty. In May 2019, the Singapore Institute of International Affairs predicted that Singapore was at “moderate risk” of experiencing severe haze similar to what happened four years ago.
In 2015, the haze became so dense that outdoor activities came to a halt and Singaporeans were warned to limit their time outside for their own health safety. This was part of an air pollution crisis that affected much of Southeast Asia during the region’s dry season.
Then What Is The Point?
This sign wasn’t part of Samantha Lo’s satirical art projects and was actually posted in all seriousness. It was initially put up at neighborhood playground in Sengkang after residents nearby complained that children at the playground made too much noise, which would wake up newborns of young families.
After a while, the sign became irrelevant and the town council decided to remove the sign after they started getting harassed by the media about it.
He Really Does Exist
Believe it or not, this young man’s ID card is entirely genuine. Back in 2008, this image went viral due to his strange name. It turns out that bin Suparman is quite a common Javanese name and this guy lucked out when his parents decided on the first name Batman.
Things actually didn’t turn out so well for Batman in 2013, when he was arrested on theft and drug charges.
Non-Committal Soft Drinks
If someone asked you what you wanted to drink and you replied “anything” or “whatever,” in Singapore that might’ve been precisely what you got. In the early 2000s, these drinks were a hit all over Singapore for their creative advertising campaigns. What made them even more fun was the mystery behind what flavor you actually got.
A company called Out of the Box were the geniuses behind this product but the Singaporean soft drink mysteriously disappeared from shelves as early as 2010.
Everything There Is Worth The Wait
Singapore is no place for the impatient. Most food places are decked out with long lines of hungry customers, who are more than willing to withstand the wait for chicken rice, dim sum, kopi, and pretty much any Singaporean street food there is out there.
If you ever find yourself on this island, be prepared to get in the queue. Everyone there knows that the places with the longest lines have the best to offer.
This Fish Cake Caused Some Controversy
When Singapore celebrated its 50th year of independence in 2015, it did everything it could to celebrate. The celebration spawned these fish cakes, which were the cause of ire among many Singaporeans who thought they were “ugly” and “trying too hard.”
Regardless, the uproar caused the Singaporean delicacy to fly off the shelves even though many believed they were getting ripped off. The fish cakes were more expensive because of the “50” cut out in them even though it meant less food.
Is It Really Worth It?
This supermarket is selling a product at a special offer, but if you look closely, the deal isn’t quite what you’d expect. But hey, it’s ten cents less than you would’ve paid, right?
In 2017, Singapore was dubbed the world’s priciest city in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living index. This, of course, is debatable based on what one’s idea of “expensive” is but it ought to count for something that Crazy Rich Asians is based in Singapore.
A Place Where Public Apologies Are A Thing
In American newspapers the classifieds are usually filled with job openings, stuff for sale, and the like. But in Singapore, the classifieds are also a place to make a public apology if one feels so inclined. This person posted an apology for assaulting another man in public back in 2012.
This is apparently a common practice in Singapore and you will often find apology notices of men apologizing to their wives, people apologizing to companies, and others who are asking for forgiveness.
Personal Space Is No Issue
When taking public transportation, it’s generally understood that personal space is out the window but not if this grad student has anything to say about it. Cheng Siew Han was an industrial design graduate student at National University of Singapore and came up with a solution to safeguarding personal space while riding the MRT.
In 2013, she designed the “Spike Away” vest. Obviously, people standing near you would want to keep their distance to avoid getting punctured.