How to Satisfy your Wanderlust for South Korea, Japan and Thailand Locally

If you’ve been craving an overseas adventure like we have, let us show you how you can explore South Korea, Japan, and Thailand, all within sunny Singapore.

It’s hard to resist a cup of aromatic Thai milk tea from Tuk Tuk Cha. Image via

The end-of-year holiday season is here and the annual itch to travel abroad is back. With the new Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) arrangements, we can finally scratch that itch and hop on a flight abroad to destinations like South Korea, which was voted in a 2020 Straits Times poll by Singaporeans as the number one country they’d like to have an air travel bubble with, followed closely by Japan and Thailand. But if traveling is still not an option for you, fret not, because you can easily visit your favourite holiday destinations within Singapore.

No, we don’t mean watching immersive walking videos or any of that virtual reality jazz—we mean exploring some of the retail shops and services available in Singapore that remind us of our travels abroad. From eateries to departmental stores, and even to spas, embark on your next adventure to South Korea, Japan, and Thailand with a visit to some (or all) of these places.

South Korea

K-shop till you K-drop

Myeongdong, Hongdae, and Ewha Women’s University are some of the best shopping havens within Seoul. If you’ve missed the feeling of shopping your way along these streets, drop by Coo.Seoul+, where you can find dresses for all occasions as well as wardrobe staples like camisoles and culottes, all in that distinctively feminine Korean style.

Apart from fashion, Korean beauty products can’t be missed. The K-beauty scene is truly one-of-a-kind, with its perfect combination of celebrity endorsements, quality ingredients, and affordable products that actually work wonders. Visit innisfree, Etude House, or Sulwhasoo to pick up all things skincare, from moisturisers to serums, sheet masks to facial cleansers that will leave your skin glowing in every selca.

  • Coo.Seoul+ — Plaza Singapura, #B1-28 to 29, open 11am to 8.30pm daily.
  • innisfree — Bedok Mall, #01-30; Bugis Junction, #01-109 to 110; Junction 8, #01-23 to 24; Plaza Singapura, #01-63 to 64; Tampines Mall, #01-35 to 37. All outlets open 11am to 9pm daily except Tampines Mall, open 10:30am to 10pm daily.
  • Etude House — Bugis Junction, #01-107 to 108, open 10am to 10pm Sunday to Thursday, 10am to 10:30pm Friday and Saturday.
  • Sulwhasoo — Westgate, #01-28, open 11am to 9pm daily.
To get that distinctly Korean aesthetic, head to Coo.Seoul+. Image via Coo.Seoul+ Facebook
Achieve the iconic K-beauty look with beauty and makeup products at Innisfree. Image via Innisfree's Facebook

Seoul Delicious

After all of that shopping, stop by dal.komm COFFEE for a midday cuppa and an ice cold bingsu, a Korean shaved ice dessert. The menu includes many uniquely Korean offerings such as sweet potato latte and cherry tomato bingsu, which we hear are surprisingly addictive because of the addition of sour plum powder in the bingsu.

If you’re craving something more substantial, drop by DOOKKI, a Korean topokki (or Korean rice cake) buffet restaurant, known for it’s wide variety of sides (think fishcakes and instant noodles) and rice cakes (like cheese-filled or heart-shaped ones). The best part is that when you’re done with your rice cakes, staff will add a generous portion of rice, corn, and kimchi into the remaining sauce, and stir fry a delicious helping of kimchi fried rice for you—the perfect post-shopping fuel if you ask us.

Fuel your shopping with dal.komm COFFEE (left) and Korean topokki at DOOKKI (right). Images from dal.komm COFEE and DOOKKI's Facebook

If you’re a meat lover, check out Seorae instead. This Korean barbecue chain is the first to offer premium Korean galmaegisal (pork skirt meat) in Singapore, so it’s definitely a must-try. Galmaegisal is typically found between the ribs and belly of an adult pig, and forms only 250 grams of the pig’s total weight, which is why this exclusive cut used to be reserved for Korean royalty. Daebak.

For a less indulgent yet equally authentic dining experience, visit Wonderful Bapsang, a casual Korean restaurant with a wide variety of popular street foods like kimbap and deep fried dumplings, as well as comforting mains like bibimbap and soft tofu stew. There are also a number of heartier dishes like their Korean army stew, which is perfect for sharing.

Another great option for fans of Korean cuisine is Hoodadak Korean Restaurant, an authentic eatery with a menu so extensive it will leave you spoilt for choice. For solo diners, their set menu is a perfect option for a well-rounded meal, but if you prefer sharing, they serve very generous portions of their soups, stews, and noodles. Mashisoyo!


Satisfy your craving for Korean BBQ at Seorae. Image via Seorae's Facebook.
  • dal.komm COFFEE — Funan, #03-17, open 10am to 10pm daily.
  • DOOKKI — JCube, #B1-11, open 11:30am to 10pm daily.
  • Seorae — Plaza Singapura, #02-01; Tampines Mall, #B1-02. Both outlets open 11:30am to 10pm daily.
  • Wonderful Bapsang — IMM, #02-25, open 11:30am to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm daily.
  • Hoodadak Korean Restaurant — Galaxis, #01-10, open 11:30am to 2:30pm and 5pm to 10pm daily.



Sugoi Shopping

Irrashaimase! No matter what strange contraptions your mind can think of, chances are, you can find it in Japan. From peach-scented toilet paper to clear bottled lattes, nothing is too wacky for the Japanese. If these oddities are what you miss, visit Don Don Donki. Though most of the departmental store’s appeal lies in its food, don’t overlook their beauty and lifestyle sections, where you might discover things you never knew you needed, like menthol cooling lotion.

For less gimmicky products, drop by MELO. This “everyday Japan expo”-type store aims to introduce new Japanese products ranging from apparel to health supplements and toys. They also hold regular workshops and pop-up events to bring even more of that Japanese slice of life to locals.

For a taste of more upscale Japanese products in the form of stationery, head to NBC Stationery & Gifts. Even if you haven’t put pen to paper in months, one trip to NBC will have you wanting to pick up a whole set of 24 coloured pens and an armful of notebooks. Who knew stationery could be so enticing?

Kawaii stationery from NBC Stationery & Gifts will make studying and working a little more pleasant. Images from NBC Stationery & Gifts Facebook

Another place to get great gifts would be Pokémon Center Singapore, the first permanent Pokémon Center in Asia outside of Japan. The store not only stocks original Japanese Pokémon merchandise, but also features exclusive Singapore-inspired items like Pilot Pikachu plushies and more.

Of course, a trip to Japan isn’t complete without taking in some cultural experiences. Drop by Akihabara before rounding off your shopping trip to browse a collection of Japanese apparel and novelty products, like traditional wooden clogs, kimonos, Japanese screen curtains, lucky cats and more. Sugoi!

  • Don Don Doki — JCube, #B1-12 and #B1-18 to 19, open 10am to 11pm daily.
  • MELO — Funan, #02-21, open 11am to 9pm daily.
  • NBC Stationery & Gifts — Bugis Junction, #03-05A; Raffles City Shopping Centre, #03-10 to 12. Both outlets open 11am to 9pm daily.
  • Pokémon Center Singapore — Jewel Changi Airport. #04-201 and 202, open 10am to 10pm daily.
  • Akihabara — Bugis Junction, #03-20, open 11:30am to 10pm daily.


Grilled unagi, a Japanese staple, can be pretty pricey. For an oishi, value-for-money option, head to Una Una. They offer quality charcoal grilled unagi in two flavours—spicy and non-spicy—atop a bed of fluffy Japanese rice. Their signature unagi hitsumabushi is served with condiments like wasabi and spring onions, as well as a pot of piping hot dashi broth so you can transform your regular unagi don into an ochazuke, a Japanese dish made by pouring green tea, dashi broth, or hot water over steamed rice.

For more contemporary Japanese flavours, head to Cafe & Meal MUJI. Here, fresh ingredients are prepared and served with Japanese-Western style fusion flavours. Much like your regular MUJI store,  which sells homeware and lifestyle products well-known and loved by the Japanese for its distinct “MUJI aesthetic”, the food here is balanced and simple, with a large variety of sides, cakes, and drinks to choose from. Opt for their deli sets if you’d like to try a little bit of everything, or go for their umai butter chicken curry with rice, featuring their house brand butter chicken curry sauce that’s quite the flavour punch.

Find some respite at Café & Meal MUJI. Image via

If you’re a big eater, visit En Dining for their delicious a-la-carte buffet. Here, dishes are plated immaculately instead of being haphazardly tossed onto each plate, which might almost make you feel as if you’re paying full price for each dish—yabai! They also offer Okinawan dishes, which are less commonly-found here in Singapore. To top it all off, their menu is extensive and includes Japanese staples like fresh sashimi and quality meats. Consider us sold.

  • Una Una — Bugis+, #05-02 to 03, open 11am to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm Monday to Friday, 11am to 10pm Saturday and Sunday.
  • Cafe & Meal MUJI — Plaza Singapura, #01-10 to 17, open 11am to 9pm daily; Raffles City Shopping Centre, #02-20 and #02-22, open 11am to 8pm daily.
  • En Dining — Capital Tower, #01-10, open 11am to 10pm Monday to Saturday.
Whip up a feast at ABC Cooking Studio. The menu for November includes Handmade Udon, and Matcha Terrine & Houjicha Pudding. Image via ABC Cooking Studio Facebook
Unwind with a Japanese-style massage at Syoujin.

Japan Living

If you’d like to be able to whip up a Japanese meal at home instead, visit ABC Cooking Studio, Japan’s number one baking and cooking studio. Classes here are available in packages, and split up according to the types of food you’d like to make, like bread, cakes, or mains. There are also kids courses available for little ones who enjoy cooking (or eating). If you’re hesitant about committing, sign up for one of their trial lessons beforehand so you can get a taste of what courses will be like. Meccha tanoshi!

But if cooking isn’t quite your thing, then take some time to pamper yourself at Syoujin. This Japanese-style massage spa incorporates elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) into their services, which range from facials to body massages to herbal spa treatments. If you’d like something a bit more targeted to help with headaches, brain fatigue, and sleep quality, head to Moomin and get their signature deep sleep dry head massage. The process involves very light and gentle touches to shift pressure directions in your head to increase blood circulation, leading to a calmer mind and a deeper sleep for you at night.

  • ABC Cooking Studio — Funan, #02-29; Westgate, #03-01. Both outlets open 10am to 10pm daily.
  • Syoujin — Funan, #B1-13; Plaza Singapura, #03-27; Westgate, #B1-13. All outlets open 10am to 9pm daily.
  • Moomin — Funan, #B1-19, open 11am to 9pm daily.



Nothing transports us back to Thailand quite like a helping of spicy, tangy Thai flavours. If you’re missing the heat of Thailand, drop by Siam Kitchen and Saap Saap Thai (both Halal-certified!). The tom yum goong and green curry at Siam Kitchen are bound to have you sweating buckets by the end of the meal, while the signature beef boat noodles at Saap Saap Thai will take you on a journey of flavours, and is a great option for younger kids or older folks.

Eat to your heart's fill at Siam Kitchen. Image via Siam Kitchen's Facebook.
Image via Saap Saap Thai's Facebook.

For a taste of the more contemporary side of Thailand, head to Bangkok Jam, where classic Thai flavours are elevated with a modern twist. Some of their more unique offerings include duck breast in red curry, caramelised Iberico pork belly in vinegar, and green papaya salad with soft shell crab.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to Thailand without some Thai milk tea. Tuk Tuk Cha serves up many variations of the Thai staple—from Thai milk tea floats to affogatos with Thai milk tea ice cream. There are also a ton of other sweet treats like their signature golden toast, thick cubes of golden brown toast served with pandan kaya, taro kaya, and Thai milk tea kaya. A variety of mains and sandwiches are also available on the menu if you fancy having a second lunch or dinner along with dessert.

  • Siam Kitchen — Lot One Shoppers’ Mall, #02-25, open 11:30am to 10pm daily.
  • Saap Saap Thai — Bedok Mall, #B1-39, open 10:30am to 9pm Sunday to Thursday, 10:30am to 9:30pm Friday and Saturday; Funan, #B1-33, open 10am to 9:30pm daily; IMM, #01-48, open 11am to 9pm Sunday to Thursday, 11am to 9:30pm Friday and Saturday.
  • Bangkok Jam — Plaza Singapura, #03-85, open 11:30am to 9:30pm daily.
  • Tuk Tuk Cha — Bugis Junction, #M01-K1; Junction 8, #02-20A to 21. Both outlets open 11am to 10pm daily.

Relaxation Thai-m

After all of that eating, it’s time to get comfy with a relaxing traditional Thai massage at Balinese Thai Premier. Opt for the usual foot massage, or go all out with a full body massage. If you’d like to experience both, they offer 5-in-1 therapy sessions that include feet, head, neck, shoulders, and back massages in one package. You can even add on aromatherapy or treatment oils into your massage package, so you can truly sit (or lie) back, relax, and breathe in the scent of lemongrass for the full Thai experience. Kop khun krap!

  • Balinese Thai Premier — Bedok Mall, #B1-05, open 10am to 10pm daily.

So how many of these places will you be adding to your list, and which ones are you most excited to visit? Whether it’s one, two, or all of these, we hope you’ll be able to satisfy some of your wanderlust with us.

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