6 souvenirs tourists can’t leave Singapore without

Locals may find some of these souvenirs tacky but tourists just can't get enough of them

6 souvenirs tourists can’t leave Singapore without
29 Jul 2015

6 souvenirs tourists can’t leave Singapore without

In case you haven’t heard, the humble pandan cake has been named one of the world’s best cakes by CNN Travel, alongside Italy’s tiramisu, Japan’s doriyaki and Indonesia’s lapis legit or kueh lapis.

Fluffy and moist, the pandan chiffon cake has been called a “revelation” for its “natural woodsy flavours” – whatever that means – and is a favourite of not only locals but also tourists, who have been known to buy them as souvenirs either for themselves or at the request of friends back home.

But the pandan cake isn’t the only “it” souvenir from the Little Red Dot. Here are six souvenirs that tourists can’t get enough of – all made in Singapore, of course.
 

Pandan chiffon cake
29 Jul 2015

Pandan chiffon cake

A childhood favourite of Singaporeans, the pandan chiffon cake, or "green cake", is to Singapore what Tokyo Banana is to Tokyo. Tourists are mad about it and even celebrities like Andy Lau, Tavia Yeung and Jolin Tsai have been known to haul home boxes of the light and fluffy cake when they are in town.

In fact, the fragrant and moist chiffon cakes are so popular in Hong Kong that they are now sold in bakeries there. But Bengawan Solo isn’t losing any sleep over the competition. The Singapore bakery chain reportedly sells more than 1,000 boxes of pandan cakes daily, with a majority swiped by tourists at its three airport stores.

Photo: Superfinefeline.com

Tiger Balm ointment
29 Jul 2015

Tiger Balm ointment

Though it is available in more than 100 countries and even online, tourists still grab a jar – or a dozen – of the famous pain-relieving ointment as souvenirs when they are in Singapore. Perhaps purchasing it locally provides an assurance of the quality of the product, or maybe it can be attributed to the home-grown brand’s success in marketing its products as souvenirs (notice that Tiger Balm is stocked in gift shops at tourist attractions?), and even the locals buy them as gifts for friends and family abroad.

Photo: Tiger Balm

Bak kwa
29 Jul 2015

Bak kwa

It is not just the locals who indulge in bak kwa, or dried BBQ meat, during Chinese New Year. Tourists are also known to be such big consumers of the sweet yet savoury jerky that it has earned a spot on their must-eat list when in Singapore. Barbequed to perfection over a hot charcoal grill, these moist and tender meat snacks, though best eaten fresh, are also favourites to take home to slowly savour. 

And we can see why. Unlike pandan cake, which can be a bit cumbersome to bring on the plane, bak kwa can be vacuum sealed to retain its freshness and checked in with the luggage. Some retailers like Fragrance and Bee Cheng Hiang even sell them individually vacuum-sealed in tiny bite-sized packs which can be kept longer and pass the most anal of customs (yes, we’re looking at you Australia).

 

Pre-mixes and pastes
29 Jul 2015

Pre-mixes and pastes

A visit to Singapore is considered incomplete without having tried the hawker food. And for those who want to take home a taste of Singapore, ready-to-cook pastes, sauces and pre-mixes of the city’s much-loved dishes are the answer. Laksa, chilli crab, kaya, bak kut teh, you name it, we’ve got it. And best of all, they are conveniently sold at supermarkets and come with cooking instructions so the dishes can be easily recreated and enjoyed. So popular are these pre-mixes that even established restaurants like Soup Restaurant and Jumbo Seafood have jumped on the bandwagon and bottled their own sauces for sale.

Photos: Prima Taste, Ya Kun, Jumbo Seafood and Ayam Brand

“Fine City” T-shirts
29 Jul 2015

“Fine City” T-shirts

Singaporeans think they are tacky and wouldn’t be caught dead in them but to the tourists, they are amusing. The funny “Fine City” tees, which lists the things one can get fined for on the little red dot, are not only great keepsakes, they are a reminder of Singapore’s unique culture and an invitation to openly mock its uptight and infamous laws. And for only S$5, why not? Sure beats the “I heart SG” or Merlion tees. 

Anything with the SIA batik print
29 Jul 2015

Anything with the SIA batik print

The iconic Singapore Girl is well-known around the world and so is her stunning uniform, the sarong kebaya. Designed by Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain, the Singapore Airlines uniform is so famous that its signature batik print has been reproduced onto everything from umbrellas and placemats, to men’s shirts and even replicas of the SIA uniform - in all shapes and sizes no less. And the tourists just lap it up, something which still baffles us after so many decades. Maybe they just needed uniforms for their Singapore restaurant overseas?

Bonus: The obligatory photo with the Merlion
29 Jul 2015

Bonus: The obligatory photo with the Merlion

This is not something one can buy but a must-do for tourists and even celebrities - yes, that’s Korean star Ha Ha (left) and Taiwanese actor Chen Bo Lin (top right) - when they visit the Merlion Park: take a cliché shot with Singapore’s national icon, the Merlion. From “showering” to “drinking” from the Merlion and, erm, just being the Merlion, they will go to great lengths to pose for the hilarious photos as though it’s never been done before.

Photos: Twitter

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