SINGAPORE: It’s the first of its kind in Singapore: A hop-on-hop-off tour bus that takes its passengers right to the heart of what the Republic is best known for - its food.
Every Singaporean has a favourite hawker dish or store and detailed reasons to back it up, and the Makan Bus aims to bring both tourists and locals to these heartland favourites with a specially curated tour route.
This new initiative by online travel platform MeGuideU offers 10 stops on its current single route, which starts at Orchard Gateway Mall and goes on to local food hotspots like Balestier, Thomson, Sin Ming, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Toa Payoh.
The food line-up is a plethora of choices, ranging from chicken rice, roti prata and bak kut teh to Indian rojak, claypot crab noodles, mee rebus and nonya kueh.
Yu Kee House Of Braised Duck is also one to visit, according to the Makan Bus. (Photo: Nisha Karyn)
For a one-day pass costing S$28, passengers can hop on and off the Makan Bus which runs daily from 11am to 7.30pm at 20-minute intervals. On top of a guided brochure listing all the recommended eateries on the route, there will also be an on-board tour guide who will talk about the history and culture of the area and introduce the cuisine available at the different stops.
According to the company’s chief executive John Ng Pangilinan, the Makan Bus concept differs from other food tours available because it allows flexibility in both itinerary and food choices. With a hop-on-and-off concept and a fee that does not include the food, passengers can tour at their own pace and eat whatever they want, whenever they want, according to their individual tastes and preferences, he said.
Makan Bus is supported by Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) Experience Step-Up Fund, a scheme aimed at encouraging projects that enhance visitor experience and satisfaction in Singapore.
Said STB director for Travel Agents and Tourist Guides Ong Ling Lee Lee: “We are seeing more visitors, particularly the free and independent travellers, venturing outside of the usual attractions to gain a deeper understanding of Singapore and our way of life. We are therefore glad to support Makan Bus through our Experience Step-Up Fund as this tour makes it easier (to access) our heartland areas and sample authentic local delights at the same time.”
For now, Makan Bus has a fleet of six vans that seat 13 people each. There are also off the beaten track sight-seeing attractions thrown into the food route, such as MacRitchie Reservoir, Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall and the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, the largest Buddhist temple in Singapore, which passengers are encouraged to explore after their meals.
According to Mr Smith Leong, Makan Bus co-founder and marketing director, the recommended stalls on the route were chosen after much extensive research, "and not just the obvious choices”. The list is made up of a mix of well-established places, as well as the ones that are most talked about by the experts - Singaporeans themselves. All participating food outlets have a sticker stating they are part of the Makan Bus route, he added.
Looking ahead, the people behind Makan Bus are hoping to expand the route to other parts of the island including the eastern and western part of Singapore. Also in the pipeline is the development of a Makan Bus app that will allow passengers to upload photos, share about the food scene in Singapore and rate the food and stops they have experienced during their tour, said MeGuideU.