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The most overrated things in Singapore

We can find better things to do with our time and money, come on guys

Simran Panaech
Written by
Time Out Singapore editors
Simran Panaech

We know the term "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" but sometimes, things can get overdone. And while there are plenty of awesome things to do in Singapore, people also tend to overhype not-so-hype things and queue when it isn't always worth queueing for. Just because something gets a lot of attention – or Instagram likes – doesn't mean it's worth your time and money.

Some things are just seriously overrated and will most likely leave you disgruntled and disappointed. Hang on to your seats as we drop some truth bombs about what we think isn't worth the hype. We know you won't agree with everything – and we're not stopping you from checking these places out to satisfy your curiosity – but consider yourself warned.

RECOMMENDED If you're looking for good vibes only, check out the 101 best things to do in Singapore and the best attractions in Singapore

And another one...

Festivals made only for the 'gram

While we enjoy going out and about and trying new and old things which, in turn, helps us gain content for our socials, sometimes, some things can be too much of a good thing. Take festivals, for example. We seem to really enjoy them. There are food festivals, drinks festivals, fitness festivals, light festivals, children’s festivals, so many we can’t always keep up! We know Singapore fights the label of “boring,” so we try our very best to have so many things to do. But sometimes, things can get tiresome when they are similarly featured at separate events. We get that they can be a great round-up of what the island has to offer, especially for tourists or for locals who want a curation of sorts. Maybe a curation of other festivals could be in order, like a really good, non-commercial music one, please.

Instead: Curate your own little fest by exploring Singapore’s (underrated) neighbourhoods like Yishun, Sengkang or Little India. Or find a promising music festival to camp at even right here in Singapore.

Formulaic parties

Speaking of music, Singapore is not exactly known as a music destination. Despite having one of the top 100 nightclubs in the world here and world-famous branding behind another massive nightclub, Singapore still isn’t considered a party destination nor known for forward music tastes. Our radio stations still play commercial Top 40 hits, a done and dusted formula since, probably, independence. While publications do their best to cover the underground scene here, and it’s a pretty thriving one, the general public seem to only be interested in mainstream music and artistes, making us a safe bet.  

Instead: Find out about Singapore’s underground scene by following some of the players on Instagram. Vinyl shops are thriving here and they cater to a growing scene of aficionados who want more unique and eclectic music and parties.


Friday night out in trendy 'hoods

Wait! Don’t get us wrong. We go out on Friday nights too but some areas are way too crowded than they need to be. For instance, Haji Lane, Keong Saik and Boat Quay. You can’t say it’s not true. While they are super fun places to party, eat, drink and mingle at, you have to be ready with your elbows out to push through the jam of people. And the incessant haggling of getting you into a restaurant, yes, we know it’s part of the “charm,” but sometimes, it can get overwhelming. 

Instead: Maybe keep Friday nights for late night clubbing to beat the after work crowds in these areas. Or enjoy these areas on the weekdays. They are just as buzzing but with lesser crowds. Or expand further out and explore the greater areas of Kampong Gelam, Chinatown and the Central Business District (CBD).

International food chains

When these joints recently announced their opening on our shores, even we were delighted at the added options we were going to have. We’re talking about the American chain, Cinnabon, Japanese chain, Mister Donut, South Korean chain, BHC Chicken and Chinese chain, Luckin Coffee. And the lines to make an order – wow, Singaporeans seem to have a lot of time to spare to queue up for food. And of course, once the hype dies down, lines become more manageable and we are all grateful for the normality once again. Do we have to go through this cycle every single time? We hear a resounding yes.

Instead: Give our unique restaurants a whirl, we promise they're just as good and you'll get them in half the time.


The “usual” hawker centres

Not all hawkers are equal. Some, over time, cater to tourists, while others leave locals and residents with a sour taste due to their overinflated prices and less than stellar quality of food. Then, there are others who are underrated and under the radar. They deserve some love too. Singapore is a foodie’s paradise after all, so all should be tasted whenever possible.

Instead: Other than the usual suspects in hawkerdom, try underrated ones in residential areas and find gems in well-known establishments too. Your tastebuds will thank you.

Bubble tea

Whoa, whoa, whoa, before you pick up your pitchfork or click out of this page, let us explain. We love a cup of bubble tea as much as the next guy, but man, we are such a small island with a lot of bubble tea chains. Waiting in line for 45 minutes or more when they first opened. Even now! A study in 2022 showed that Singapore spends $460 million in annual turnover on bubble tea with over 60 brands of bubble tea chains here. Imagine that. 

Instead: Go local with ol’ reliable teh and kopi. It’s cheap, cheerful, usually shorter lines and you’re helping out with small businesses. That’s a win-win for us.


Posing with the Merlion

This one's more for the tourists. Hello! Welcome to Singapore. We're sure you've heard of our national mascot and you might even be thinking about seeing it in the err, flesh, over at Merlion Park. It makes for a cute photo – if you manage to push past all the other tourists doing the exact same thing. Chance are, you'll end up with a bunch of random people in your shot, blocking the view of the real star: Marina Bay Sands glistening over the bay.

Instead: Walk a couple of metres to your left or right for an unobstructed shot of Marina Bay Sands as your backdrop. If you must get a picture with a Merlion, might we suggest these other Merlion statues around the city?

Going to Siloso Beach during the weekend

For a city that's actually an island, we don't really have that many natural beaches where you can soak up the sun with a coconut in hand. Even at East Coast, the area can get overcrowded. Sentosa is most likely your best bet but if you're there during the weekend, it's tough to find a good spot to lay down your mat. The weekend is also when the little ones and school kids come out to play. We want to feel the sand between our toes and wade around clear waters – not watch as some kid pees into the sea.

Instead: Come on a weekday when it's less crowded (think of it as a beach vacay without having to leave Singapore) or try these other beach options that are more secluded.


Monthly sales

We love a good bargain but with so many deals happening throughout the year, the monthly sales of 9/9, 10/10, 11/11, you get what we mean, have kind of lost their appeal. Not only does it encourage overspending and non-sustainability, it can mess with your anxiety in trying to make the dates for these sales. We prefer conscious shopping, thank you very much. 

Instead: In the wise words of Ariana Grande: "I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it." Buy things when you need them. Not just because it's on sale. Or take a gander at these thrift stores, you never know what treasures await.

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