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Jul 13, 2009 01:52 PM

Solo female diner in HK, Singapore & KL

Where would you send a solo female traveler to eat in Hong Kong, Singapore and/or Kuala Lumpur? I'll have three days in HK, one in Singapore, and three in KL - all in early September.

I'm on a budget, though can splash out when necessary. As I've never been to any of these cities before, I want to stick to the local flavors. I'm an adventurous eater, but don't feel like I need to eat odd organs to get the true feel for a cuisine. (Or do I?) ;)

My main concerns: no sketchy neighborhoods after dark, finding places where solo diners are treated with respect (or where they don't care one way or the other how many people are in your party), and that it's not too confusing to get to the restaurant. And it would be great to find places where I can try several small dishes, as I want to get as much variety as possible but hate to waste food!

I've traveled solo overseas before, and I know this is a relatively safe part of the world for solo women, but I just would love to hear where you'd send a female friend!

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  1. Hi Raconteuse - I just came back from 5 days in KL, 5 days in Bangkok as solo female traveller - you have chosen a great place to go in terms of eating!!
    For KL recommendations check my recent trip report:

    . I would say to skip Restoran Greenview as its too out of the way - the food is amazing but our taxi driver took us for a ride (literally) and we ended up lost ( I was with my brother at the time but had I been on my own i would probably not have gone).
    everywhere else i have listed would be suitable
    if you get the chance to do a day trip to Melaka would totally recommend - and you must got to Nyonya Makko in Melaka - the food is great!!
    have a wonderful time - read the trip report and any quesitons let me know
    (and if all else fails just head for Jalan Alor - a street in central KL near Bukit Bintang monorail station which is crammed with wonderful street stalls selling great food - doesnt matter if you are on your own, very safe and authentic too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: food fascist

      Hong Kong is also pretty easy for a single female traveller. Depending on your ethnicity, I might be a little more careful in some areas, but it's just to avoid being propositioned; you won't necessarily be physically threatened.

      Lots of places for single diners to eat--little HK-style coffee shops, street stalls (which are decreasing in number), etc. Haiphong Road Temporary Market (which is like hawker food courts in Singapore--there's nothing temporary about it, it's just the name) is very easy dining for a single person. Lots of food to choose from, and you don't have to worry so much about language.

      The only problem with travelling alone in HK is that many of the dishes should be served family style, so as a single diner, you don't get to try as much stuff. Even with dim sum, unless you're a big eater you'll only get to try a few things before you're full whereas in a group, you'd get to try a lot more.

    2. don't know much about KL, but singapore isn't a problem for any single female traveler, even at night, and even in all but the sketchiest places. you'll even be fine in the red-light district.
      in singapore, you need to try both the low and the high-end - one thing i love is the mad champagne brunches (book a couple of weeks early!) try "the line" at the shangri-la hotel, or the greenhouse (i think?) at the ritz-carlton. they are full-on, oysters-champagne-salmon-lobster-rare cheese-best meat free flow everything-200 feet of food affairs. they are not sad asian-ish US "buffets". and it's always taittinger or moet, not cheap plonk hidden in a "mimosa".
      you also need to go to newton food centre for outdoor, greasy, noisy, happy culture shock. order everything you want, it's cheap there. get the sambal bbq stingray (skate), the (authentic) satay, the oyster omelette (called oh loo-ark), and the myriad of fried noodles (take your pick). get fresh sugarcane juice to drink, yum. very suitable for going by yourself.
      in the mid-range, there are a whole bunch of places, i'm sure. they come and go really fast, so i don't know. they tend to be VERY trendy and see-and-be-seen, and not all that suitable for one.
      getting to all these places, just hop in a cab. cabs are cheap, safe and easy.

      2 Replies
      1. re: madkittybadkitty

        Thanks, you two! Very helpful and EXCITING recommendations. These will be printed out and pored over and surely covered with sticky fingerprints.

        Food Fascist, I actually just booked a room at Red Palm after seeing your review on Trip Advisor - I'm psyched for having Jalan Alor right around the corner!

        1. re: raconteuse

          great! hope you have a fabulous trip! KL is SUCH a great place to eat!!!

      2. hi raconteuse, there are some great specifics already suggested but in general this is a great region for solo eating because there's so much hawker/street food! no one really cares if you're alone and portions tend to be smaller so you can even sample a couple of things on your own.

        as a fellow solo female diner i sometimes get uncomfortable or feel a little lonely in fancy, formal places where i'm often the only person sitting by herself. at hawker centers and street food markets many people eat alone and there's lots of people watching to keep you engaged. and more opportunities to strike up conversations with those around you since the atmosphere is casual and you're often crammed in closer to fellow diners than you would in a restaurant.

        1. I see you're only going to be in Singapore one day. If it's not a Sunday, you'll miss out on the great brunch experience mentioned in a previous post. The Tiffin Room at Raffles Hotel does a tea everyday and a buffet dinner, if you're interested in that. If you do find yourself in Singapore on a Sunday, I'd advise avoiding Little india. It becomes so crowded that I've felt unsafe on my own, even knowing the language. Any other day of the week, it's a fun, vibrant place to be. I usually stick to street snacks in Little India.

          Most of the hawker centers in Singapore are fine for a single traveler. The East Coast center is nice for dinner as you can sit at a table and watch the sunset at the beach. Sorry, I don't know the names of the individual food stalls, but if you ask the taxi driver for the "New" East Coast hawker center, the last satay stall on the far side of the entrance (if you're facing the beach, it's on your right) has some really good peanut sauce--nice and spicy. The young coconut drink is nice to cool down the spice. I've found that in Chinatown, the stalls on the street are better than any of the inside places.

          It's probably blasphemous to eat in a mall food court when on vacation, but I love the roti prata at Vivocity Hawker center(the upstairs one.) The mall is near the Harbor and you can catch the rail to Sentosa at the upper level. Grab a roti prata on your way or after a morning spent walking around the island.

          Enjoy your trip!

          1 Reply
          1. re: hippiechickinsing

            In my own experience, Little India is not a problem alone at any time, even at night. But I'd avoid the side streets at night and stick to the main areas. It's not that the side streets are unsafe, but I just don't feel comfortable on them late at night (in almost any area in almost any country). But during the daytime, I don't feel unsafe at all, even on Sundays.

            And Mustapha's on a Sunday is so crazy--why miss that experience! :-)

          2. Fantastic tips, everyone - much appreciated!