My foreigner friends always ask me where they should visit in Singapore, and what local food they should try. Other than giving them my recommendations, I usually love to buy them some souvenirs they can bring back, especially yummy snacks! 😛
Being a traveller myself, I often like to research beforehand what souvenirs I should bring back home. I love buying souvenirs from different countries, big or small, expensive or cheap. The important thing is that they MUST be unique and able to capture the memories of each place I visit.
After searching the internet for a list like that for my own country, Singapore, I felt so disappointed at some of the items listed, and decided to do up my own list. So here is it!
Curated by myself, a true blue Singaporean. And these are things even I would buy for myself!
At the very end, I have also listed down the 5 items to AVOID buying no matter how tempting they are.
The best part is that these are mostly Singapore local- brand souvenirs.
1. Song Fa Bak Kut Teh 松發肉骨茶 (Herbal Pork Soup) Instant pack
If you are coming to Singapore, I am pretty sure a visit to try one of Singapore’s best local dish is on your list. If not, please do make a trip to try the bak kut teh at Song Fa! Their instant pack is also on sale in their shops. I have tried this many times, and the flavour is EXACTLY the same as what you can get in the shops. Other than pork, you can also use chicken(tried and tested). It is very, very delicious and all my foreign friends love this. I’ve also observed that the shops often have many Japanese visitors too!
2. Bee Cheng Hiang Bak Gwa – BBQ Pork Slices
I personally loveee bak gwa, and it’s something I look forward to every Chinese new year (yes we eat this as part of the festivities). However, they sell this all- year- round, perfect for days when we just want to pamper ourselves! It’s basically barbecued pork with a sweet glace, kinda like jerky, but less tough and more chewy. It’s delicious. Although there are many brands to choose from, I personally feel that Bee Cheng Hiang serves the best traditional bak gwa.
The locals love this. I am sure tourists will too. Other than at its outlets around town and in various malls, Bee Cheng Hiang is also available at Changi airport terminal 1(transit area) , 2(public and transit area) and 4(public and transit area). Click here for its various opening hours.
3. Ya Kun Kaya
If you don’t know yet, Kaya is basically a sweet jam made from eggs, coconut and pandan leaves. It’s flavour is kinda complex yet it goes so well with bread and biscuits! I love Kaya and many locals eat it at home. Do note that not all Kaya-s are made equal, and it is important to choose a well-known brand to avoid disappointment!
Ya Kun serves one of the most traditional breakfasts in Singapore, and its Kaya is one of the most famous around. There are many outlets in Singapore(almost every mall has a Ya Kun!), best for a traditional coffee break too.
For your shopping convenience, this is available at Changi Airport terminal 3 Public Area, Basement 2, and is open 24 hours.
4. Popo Fish Muruku Ikan Fish Cracker
I think South East Asiam countries are really good at coming up with crispy snacks and we grew up saving our pocket money for them. Weirdly though, I only discovered this snack when I was an adult and to me, it is the MOST delicious crispy snack I have ever tried. I have recommended this to my tourist friends recently and they cannot stop eating it, ended up buying a jumbo pack home! Hehe. Made from fish, the flavour and texture makes it so, very, addictive. Yummy!
You can find this at the little snack shops in Bugis Street.
5. Plum Candy
This is a slightly tough, sticky, clear candy with a sour plum in the middle. I love this when I was a kid and I still do! The taste is very addictive and kinda unforgettable! Ver good as a snack after a meal. Adults and kids love this. You can also probably find this at the little snack shops in Bugis Street.
6. Salted Egg Yolk Potato Chips – The Golden Duck Co
This particular snack is probably one of the latest to be introduced in the world of south east asian snacks. Haha. While it’s new to the scene, it is definitely not to be messed with. This award- winning snack is DELICIOUS and has gone international within a short period of its launch. Made from chips dusted with salted- egg yolk sauce, there were a few occasions that I finished an entire pack by myself in one sitting. I’ve tried both the fish skin and potato crisp version, and love the latter more. Both are delicious though! Try both if you can!
Other than at its outlets (click for full list), this snack can also be found conveniently at Changi airport terminal 3, basement 2, public area.
7. Tai Sun Fried Prawn Rolls
You can easily find them at Ba Gwa shops or at supermarkets! These are very, very addictive. I personally recommend a famous local brand Tai Sun, as they are easily available at small and large supermarkets, and they taste delicious.
8. TWG Tea – Tea and related Merchandise
This is more of a luxury souvenir brand, but they do have gifts under $50 as well. I have been to their tea salons many times and have always admired their souvenirs like the tea /biscuits sets and very nicely packaged tea boxes. I’d recommend having afternoon tea or lunch/dinner there as well because their food, service and ambience is actually well worth the time (and price).
You can find their locations on their website here. You can also make your purchases online too.
Locally designed bags and accessories
I love locally designed goods and 2 places at the top of my head are always Gallery & Co and Naiise.
9. Gallery & Co Museum shop at the National Gallery
Online store: https://galleryand.co
This is a great and convenient place to stop at, after visiting National Gallery Singapore.
Online store: https://www.naiise.com
I personally have bought stuff from Naiise for my Singaporean friends as gifts for their birthdays. Locals love it just as the tourists do! There’s lots of quirky products there so I love to window shop whenever I pass by an outlet.
Bonus: Souvenirs you should NOT buy in Singapore for your friends back home
1. Merlion- shaped chocolates
I will be mad if someone buys me this. Like, really mad, and probably be close to tears.
Because firstly, it is pretty obvious that it’s a last- minute thought, bought at a random souvenir shop in the airport. Secondly, chocolate does not represent Singapore and we are not famous for chocolates.
2. Prima Taste Laksa
I really have no idea why people recommend this to buy on their blogs! I have a feeling they are probably paid to do so. Please, please, do not buy this because it does not taste anything like Laksa. I have tried it before, and nonono, it ain’t no Laksa. The noodles are not laksa noodles, and the soup tastes watered- down and lacks the essence of laksa.
3. Random ‘Singapore’ Keychains
No matter where you go, please do not buy key chains for people.
If you are cost- conscious, a piece of hand- picked dried local leaf is still way more thoughtful than a piece of stupid metal.
4. ‘Bohemian’ fake leather bracelets from Chinatown or Bugis street
Because Singapore is not well-known for its leather. And these are probably more representative of places like Bali!
5. Durian Candy
It does not taste anything like durian, the KING of fruits. If your friends back home would like to try durian, please buy a real fruit for them (Or get them to come to Singapore to try 😛 ).
So that’s it! I hope the above list is helpful for your shopping needs when visiting Singapore! I really hope you can try the tasty snacks I have recommended. I love buying local snacks from overseas because they most represent local flavours! Let me know if you have any other recommendations or questions in the comments!