Whether you’re working or studying, you probably have international friends and colleagues who are interested to learn more about Singapore. And what better way to share our Singapore spirit through some unique local gifts? In the spirit of the 2022 National Day’s theme, ‘Stronger Together, Majulah!’, bring your foreign friends up to speed with our culture by giving them these best Singapore gifts for your overseas friends!
What gifts are Singapore known for?
There are many popular gifts from Singapore that will be a hit among your international friends. This ranges anything from local souvenirs to card games and even clothes! However, there’s nothing quite like local food which are some of the best Singapore gifts for overseas friends. Popular options include salted egg snacks and white rabbit sweets, as well as condiments like chilli sauce and kaya jam. Your overseas friends are bound to love our variety of local beverages like Milo and Chin Chow too!
Singapore gifts for overseas friends: Food
1. Chilli Crab Snacks
Enjoyed in many chilli crab restaurants, the chilli crab has since become a unique flavour for snacks. For starters, we recommend Crusty’s Chilli Crab Popcorn (available on Shopee Supermarket) which is so addictive that you can’t stop popping it into your mouth! As one of the best Singapore gifts for overseas friends, many enjoy the sweet and savoury blend of tomato and chilli sauce flavour. Otherwise, The Golden Duck’s Chilli Crab Seaweed Tempura bundle (available on The Golden Duck Official Store) also makes a great Singapore snack for overseas friends. That’s because it has the perfect balance between the sweetness of crab meat and the smokiness of roast seaweed.
2. Salted Egg Snacks
While salted egg first originated in China centuries ago, it’s hard to deny that it is now a popular flavour in Singapore snacks for overseas friends. We love the salted egg flavour of the addictive Irvin’s Salted Egg Potato Chips (available on Shopee Supermarket) that are fried to a golden crisp. Its light and thinly sliced potatoes also add a nice crunch to the overall flavour. For a healthier option, you can consider the Crusty Salted Egg Soy Skin Crisps (available on Crusty’s Singapore Official Store) which serve as some of the best Singapore gifts for overseas friends. These skin crisps are 100% preservative-free and have just the right balance of sweetness and crunch!
3. Instant Bak Kut Teh (Pork Rib Broth)
Translated from the Hokkien dialect as meat bone tea, bak kut teh is famous for its complex broth of herbs and spices that takes hours to brew. Packing the same flavourful punch and aroma, instant bak kut teh captures its original essence while offering the ease of having it at any time. In particular, we recommend the New Moon Traditional Bak Kut Teh (available on Shopee Supermarket) which is flavourful in taste. Your international friends will also appreciate how it has a tinge of spiciness and is super easy to cook. All you have to do is add the pork ribs in the broth and brew it for 45 minutes. With such convenience, it’s no wonder this is one of the best Singapore gifts for overseas friends!
4. Durian Puffs
As divisive as they may be, it’s undeniable Singaporeans are obsessed with durians. (It has even been incorporated into The Esplanade’s design!) Although the pungent smell of the fruit can be too much for newcomers, you can ease them in with the best durian puffs! Durian puffs are one of the best Singapore snack gifts for overseas friends because of their creamy texture and crisp choux. Specifically, we love the Four Seasons Durian Puffs (available on Four Seasons Durians Official Store) that are filled with fresh D24 paste. On top of that, its bittersweet flavour profile is sure to win your foreign friends over!
5. White Rabbit Candy
Gifts from Singapore can be simple and sweet. That’s especially the case when it comes to popular local snacks like the White Rabbit Candy (available on Shopee Supermarket). As a favourite childhood snack in Singapore, they resemble American Tootsie rolls which are equally addictive! Having been in production since the 1940s, it sure is a reliable brand. As such, the white rabbit candy is definitely one of the best Singapore snack gifts you can get for your overseas friends to try. Psst, yes the inner ‘plastic’ wrapping is edible!
6. Kueh Lapis
Getting the perfect Singapore snack for your overseas friends might sound like a tough job but all you actually need is something as simple as this Delyco Kueh Lapis Layer Cake (available on Delyco Official Store). While kueh lapis has its origins in Indonesia, it is still considered as one of the best Singapore gifts for overseas friends thanks to its sheer popularity here. Taste-wise, you are promised buttery and fragrant layers which contain either chocolate, durian or pandan. Don’t forget to try some of the other best kueh lapis that make for great gifts from Singapore too!
7. Bak Kwa
Commonly eaten during Chinese New Year, bak kwa is another Singapore snack you should let your overseas friends try. We recommend these Sliced Tender Bak Kwa (available on Fragrance Singapore Official Store) from local brand Fragrance which are made of the highest quality ingredients. As such, you can expect a sweet yet smoky flavour. As one of the best Singapore gifts for overseas friends, the bak kwa is freshly grilled and vacuumed packed, ensuring a longer shelf life. Do also scour through this list of best bak kwa which are great gifts from Singapore!
Best Singapore gifts for overseas friends: Condiments
8. Chilli Sauce
We guarantee your international friends will latch onto the chilli crab hype in no time at all. Other than chilli-crab Singapore snacks for your overseas friends, there’s also this The Halia Chilli Crab Sauce (available on Provisions Store Singapore Official Store) which goes well with any veggie, pasta, meat or seafood dish. 100% made in Singapore, it is definitely one of the best Singapore gifts for overseas friends that’s truly local. There’s also no artificial colouring and MSG added, making it a healthy choice for all. Check out the best chilli sauces for more recommendations of great gifts from Singapore.
9. Kaya Jam
Whether you call it coconut jam or just good ol’ kaya, this beloved sweet and pandan-rich spread deserves a spot on our list of best Singapore gifts for overseas friends! Made from coconut milk, eggs and sugar, kaya goes well with toasted bread, a breakfast dish that many locals enjoy. Share the kaya joy and give your overseas friends a bottle of Golden Light Kaya Jam (available on SHENG SHENG F&B INDUSTRIES PTE LTD) that is available in local flavours like pandan, nonya and D24 durian.
When it comes to the best Singapore gifts for overseas friends, it’s good to get one from a renowned local brand like Ayam Brand. With a history dating back to 1892, you can rest assured that their items are of high quality and serve as great gifts from Singapore for overseas friends. We love their Tuna Chunks (available on Shopee Supermarket) which can be eaten on the go thanks to its compact can size. Tuna is best enjoyed on toasted bread and can also be made into yummy crispy tuna spring rolls.
11. Laksa Paste
Laksa is a popular Peranakan dish in Singapore that your international friends absolutely have to try! Help them out by getting them this Prima Taste Laksa Paste (available on Shopee Supermarket) as a yummy gift from Singapore. As one of the best Singapore gifts for overseas friends, this laksa paste is created with a blend of fresh spices and herbs. This includes a handful of ingredients such as dried chilies, shallots and lemongrass. You’ll soon be able to whip out a bowl of piping hot laksa noodles or a plate of stir-fried laksa fried rice in no time!
Best Singapore gifts for overseas friends: Drinks
12. Three Legs Cooling Water
Beat the summer heat with a bottle of Three Legs Cooling Water (available on Three Legs Official Store). Made by home-grown brand Three Legs, they come in flavours from original to fruity ones like lychee, guava and lime. Containing deionized water and Gypsum fibrosum, it has also proven itself to be a healthy gift from Singapore for those watching their calorie count. As one of the best Singapore gifts for overseas friends, this cooling water will help your overseas friends stay hydrated!
13. Milo Gao Kosong
Growing up with Milo trucks, Singaporeans know that there’s nothing more comforting than sipping on a cup of this chocolate malt goodness! We love how NESTLÉ has decided to release the Milo Gao Kosong (available on NESTLÉ Official Store) as a healthier choice alternative. By doubling down on the nutritional aspect, Milo Gao Kosong still retains its chocolatey goodness without the added sugar. Touted as one of the best Singapore gifts for overseas friends, it is truly a beverage that foreigners will enjoy. Bored of preparing Milo the traditional way? Check out this list of easy Milo recipes to spice things up!
14. Chin Chow
Chin Chow, one of our many famous local drinks, also makes a unique gift from Singapore. That’s because the refreshing Fortune Sweetened Chin Chow (available on Shopee Supermarket) is well known for its cooling purposes. This is helpful for international friends who are not used to the Singapore heat. More than that, Chin Chow has a subtly sweet yet herbal-like flavour. It goes well with greasy fried food and can be used to subdue the heatiness after a feast at the best durian stalls. Definitely one of the best Singapore gifts for overseas friends that’s practical and useful!
Best Singapore gifts for overseas friends: Souvenirs
15. Merlion Souvenir Gifts
Few Singapore tourist attractions have reached the level of fame that the Merlion has! As the official mascot of our little red dot, your international friends are sure to love gifts from Singapore representing the mythical creature. From Merlion Plush Bags (available on Mount Faber Leisure Group Pte Ltd Official Store) to Merlion Metal Keychains (available on area65 Official Store), these are some of the best Singapore souvenirs and gifts for overseas friends. This way, they will always have a piece of Singapore to carry around with them wherever they go!
16. Singapore Stamps
Have a foreign friend who loves collecting stamps? Help grow their collection with unique souvenir stamp gifts from Singapore! With designs featuring Singapore’s Conscription Act (available on blurberryy) to beautiful artworks of Singapore’s Garden City (available on SKCare), you’ll be hard-pressed to find a stamp your international friend won’t admire. Other than stamps, postcards also make for some of the best Singapore gifts and souvenirs for overseas friends. We suggest this Uniquely Singapore Postcard Set (available on Jo’s Creations Official Store) which features artworks of the quaint Tiong Bahru neighbourhood.
17. Hello Kitty Singapore Girl
What’s a guide on the best Singapore gifts and souvenirs for overseas friends without a Hello Kitty plush toy? Although it has been a while since Hello Kitty appeared as a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy, these cuddly soft toys are still a major deal here. Get your international friends on board the Hello Kitty craze with this special Hello Kitty Singapore Airlines Plushie (available on littleAce), complete with a sarong kebaya uniform and bow. It’s a great gift from Singapore that will especially capture the hearts of young wannabe air stewardesses!
18. Tiger Balm Ointment
It might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to the best Singapore gifts and souvenirs for overseas friends but the Tiger Balm Ointment (available on Watsons Singapore Official Store) is actually very uniquely Singaporean. From headaches to stomachaches, the local Tiger Balm is used as a remedy for just about anything. Formulated with herbal ingredients that creates its iconic smell, the ointment also helps soothe muscle aches and remedies cough. It’s great for fast-paced lifestyles and can help your friends relieve joint pains without needing to visit the doctor.
Best Singapore gifts for overseas friends: Games
While there are many traditional games that Singaporeans used to play, board games like the Monopoly Singapore Edition (available on Toy Station Official Store) have now risen in popularity. Giving a nod to local culture, we think they serve as some of the best Singapore gifts for overseas friends too. The Monopoly game educates non-local players about our culture and attractions, including landmarks like Resorts World Sentosa and Botanic Gardens. Railroads in the game are also labelled after MRT stations and chance cards include instances like MRT breakdown fines.
20. The Singaporean Dream
Another frontrunner on our list of gifts from Singapore has got to be The Singaporean Dream (The New Normal) (available on The Singaporean Dream – Official). Packed with inside jokes and parodies, this card game is the best Singapore gift for overseas friends familiarising themselves with Singapore. This version of The Singaporean Dream reflects the most iconic moments over the last two years such as the establishment of ‘Safe Distancing Officers’ and health vaccines. Additionally, you can also get The Singaporean Dream: 2021 Booster Pack (available on The Singaporean Dream – Official) for added dream and action cards.
21. Hawker Wars
The best adult card games can double up as fun gifts from Singapore too! Case in point: the Hawker Wars (available on The Singaporean Dream – Official) card game. As its name suggests, Hawker Wars celebrates our beloved hawker culture and food. It is an interactive party game that lets you compete to cook some of Singapore’s most iconic dishes from the best hawker stalls. With a relatively simple gameplay, this is one of the best Singapore gifts for overseas friends who are big foodies! All you have to do is compete for ingredients to make the dish, where every completed dish gets you points. But beware of your friends using action cards to sabo you!
22. The Durian Game
It’s no secret that Singaporeans love durians. Hence, you should definitely let your international friends try some! But when the durian delivery services are taking a while to come, perhaps it’s a good time to play The Durian Game (available on The Mind Cafe Official Store) while waiting. As one of the best Singapore game gifts you can get for your overseas friends, The Durian Game guarantees a fun time ahead! You have to battle it out with your friends by trading out the durians you don’t want, and collect sets to win. Keep an eye for the Table Card though, because you might just be the loser if you don’t!
Best Singapore gifts for overseas friends: Clothes & Accessories
23. Handmade Earrings
Looking for non-conventional gifts from Singapore for international friends? Why not let them accessorise with local food designed earrings! From Ang Ku Kueh and Png Kueh to Love Letters and Kueh Tutu (all available on Miniland Singapore), you’ll be spoilt for choice with these adorable jewellery. Made of resin clay which strengthens the earring and gives it a glossy look, your friend will look good in any picture with these earrings. This is truly one of the best Singapore souvenirs and gifts for overseas friends who are selfie queens!
24. Batik Clothes
Although batik prints did not originate from Singapore, they have since developed a large following here. Anything batik-printed would naturally make for one of the best Singapore gifts for your overseas friend. For instance, this stylish Men’s Batik Shirt (available on HA Mode Official Store) boasts a modern, eye-catching design that also pays tribute to its humble Indonesian origins. As for ladies, this Batik Skirt (available on HA Mode Official Store) would be a great gift from Singapore. The beautiful mermaid cutting of this green and purple skirt takes a trip down memory lane, as it resembles what our ancestors wore in the past when they lived in kampungs.
25. Singlish Tees
Tired of shopping for generic gifts from Singapore plastered with the national flag? Then these Singlish Tees (available on UnniePopupStore) would be right up your alley! With Singlish being a big part of our local culture, this is one of the best Singapore souvenirs and gifts for overseas friends to expand their Singlish vocabulary. It goes beyond the traditional lah and lei, and teaches your friends why we speak liddat at times. Psst, did we mention that these T-shirts are available in eight sizes? Everyone can wear it! If not, we’re sure you’ll find a preferred aesthetic on our list of red and white National Day outfits!
Represent local culture with these best Singapore gifts for overseas friends
Armed with this guide of Singapore snacks and souvenirs for overseas friends, you’re now ready to proudly represent our little red dot to your international friends. In the spirit of national pride, you can also introduce them to some of our favourite local dishes. This includes the best chicken rice stalls which are a source of comfort food and the best rendang spots if they prefer a spicy kick. If not, you can always impress your friends by making some local treats while following these nonya kueh recipes. Don’t forget to make the best of your buck when you shop at our National Day Sale today!
This article was updated on 7 July 2022. Additional research done by Gabriel Choo.