Singapore Chinatown, which is about a 45 minute walk from Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands, is an ethnic enclave within the chic and modern city. It is in the Outram district of the Central Area. In the area known as Chinatown Singapore, you will get a first-hand view of Chinese culture – decorations, food, the way people dress, and even the building architecture.
Although Singapore is very modern and contemporary, Chinatown retains its authenticity a great deal. The Old meets New here.
If you are planning a visit to this incredibly posh city and want to know the best things to do in Chinatown Singapore, this travel guide details the best Chinatown attractions, plus where to eat, stay, and shop in Chinatown.
Singapore Chinatown – Quick Facts and FAQs
If you plan to visit Chinatown Singapore, here are a few quick facts and frequently asked questions that will be helpful to know before your visit.
What is Chinatown Singapore?
Chinatown is the Chinese quarter of Singapore, very close to the Marina area, Gardens by the Bay, and many of the tourist attractions that make Singapore one of the best places to visit in Asia. This culturally vibrant area is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Singapore.
Dating back to the early 19th century, Chinese immigrants settled in the area. Many of the original buildings and shophouses have been meticulously preserved.
In Chinatown Singapore, the Chinese heritage of the original immigrants is famously celebrated here. You’ll find this long standing influence everywhere you look – from the colorful murals to the intricate facades, and ornate decorations.
Where is Chinatown in Singapore?
Chinatown is located in Central Singapore, making it a convenient place to visit even if you only have 2 days in Singapore. There are four distinct areas or sub-areas of Chinatown – Kreta Ayer, Telok Ayer, Tanjong Pagar, Bukit Pasoh.
There is also a second Chinatown in Singapore, which is called ‘People’s Chinatown’. In Geylang, halfway to the airport from the official Chinatown, many Chinese migrants moved here as the numbers increased.
Many consider this to be more traditional. It is cheaper, too. The official Singapore Chinatown is close to many top attractions in the city like Clarke Quay, Bugis, Sentosa Island, Merlion Park, Marina Bay Sands, Gardens By The Bay, Singapore Flyer, and the Orchard Road, so prices are notably higher.
What streets make up Chinatown Singapore?
Chinatown is just east of Smith Street, which was known as Hei Yuan Kai or Theatre Street in Cantonese because of the famous Cantonese opera Lai Chun Yuen. Go in, and you will find a maze of narrow streets.
There are 6 streets that make up Chinatown in Singapore – Mosques Street, Pagoda Street, Sago Lane, Smith Street, Temple Street, and Trengganu Street. There is also a maze of small lanes and alleyways crisscrossing the area.
Why should you visit Chinatown Singapore?
If you are wondering if Chinatown Singapore is worth visiting, the short answer is yes.
You should spend some time in Chinatown to experience the unique culture, try authentic traditional food, visit the street markets, see cultural relics, and tour the museums, galleries, and visit the parks.
What is Chinatown Singapore known for?
Chinatown is also called the ‘Place of Nightless Days’ or Bu Ye Tian. It was once a red-light area in the early 20th century. Smith Street and Keong Saik Road were infamous.
Nowadays, the district is best known for its authentic culture, beautiful temples, and delicious food.
Where to stay in Chinatown Singapore
Chinatown is one of the best areas to stay in Singapore thanks to its central location and proximity to other attractions.
Chinatown also is easily accessible by public transportation, so even if you plan to visit Universal Studios on the island of Sentosa, you can get there conveniently using the metro system.
Hotel 1888 is a great, budget friendly hotel located in the heart of Chinatown Singapore.
Search all hotels in Chinatown Singapore HERE
Top 6 Attractions in Chinatown Singapore
Chinatown is home to several significant Chinese temples and religious sites, many of which are among the best things to see in Chinatown Singapore.
There are cultural institutions too that will help you gain a better understanding of Chinatown and this district’s original settlers.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
This 4-storied temple boasts a beautiful and grand prayer hall with high ceilings, a bell tower and a drum tower.
Visit the temple and see the solid gold stupa (pagoda), which hosts the sacred god, made according to the guidelines of the Tang Dynasty. The temple serves as a sacred repository for what is believed to be a tooth relic of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism – hence the name Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
There is also a giant prayer wheel on the roof-top. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple also houses a museum that exhibits more than 300 artifacts.
Sri Mariamman Temple
An impressive architectural gem, Sri Mariamman is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. Built to honor Goddess Mariamman, who is believed to have the power to cure disease, the temple is adorned with ornate carvings and colorful sculptures of deities.
The temple is built with a South Indian Dravidian-style architecture. It is busiest during the Thimithi festival in October or November.
While this temple is a sacred place of worship for Hindus, it is open to all visitors – both spiritual visitors and culturally curious guests.
Thian Hock Keng Temple
Thian Hock Keng Temple, also known as the Tianfu Temple, is another historic Chinese temple located in Singapore’s Chinatown that is worth visiting. Built in 1839, it is the oldest Chinese temple in Singapore.
Thian Hock Keng Temple is dedicated to Mazu Po, the goddess of the sea, and is a place of worship for the Hokkien Chinese community. Its peaceful ambiance and ornate design continue to captivate visitors.
Hong Lim Park
Hong Lim Park, also known as Speaker’s Corner, is a public park nestled in the heart of Central Singapore on the edge of Chinatown. It serves as the country’s designated space for public speeches, demonstrations, and gatherings, making it a symbol of free speech and democratic expression.
Located at North Canal Road, social gatherings are often held at the park, like the National Day celebrations and music concerts.
The park features lush greenery, a picturesque pond, and a variety of recreational amenities, making it a popular spot for relaxation and leisure activities, as well.
Chinatown Heritage Centre
The Chinatown Heritage Centre is one of the best museums in Singapore. Located on Pagoda Street, the museum offers a window into the history and culture of Singapore’s Chinatown.
Housed in a restored shophouse, the museum takes visitors on a journey back in time to the early days of Chinatown, showcasing the lives and experiences of early Chinese immigrants who settled in Singapore.
Inside, meticulously recreated and preserved displays of period rooms, street scenes, and personal artifacts provide a vivid and insightful look into the challenges, dreams, and aspirations of the early Chinese community.
Admire the Detailed Murals
One of the most endearing things to do in Chinatown Singapore is to simply wander the streets and take in the beautiful murals that adorn its streets and alleyways.
These painted murals serve as a visual tapestry that tells the cultural stories of the Chinese community in Singapore.
From depictions of daily life in old shophouses to traditional Chinese folklore, the murals add to the neighborhood’s charm and heritage.
BOOK A WALKING TOUR THROUGH CHINATOWN AND LITTLE INDIA
The Pinnacle@Duxton is a 50th-floor sky bridge offering panoramic views of the Singapore skyline.
Located in the Tanjong Pagar district of Chinatown, this public housing development is renowned for its distinctive and innovative design, featuring seven towering residential blocks interconnected by sky bridges.
Completed in 2009, The Pinnacle@Duxton also boasts unique rooftop gardens, filled with greenery and recreational amenities.
Where to Eat in Chinatown Singapore
Most people visit Chinatown Singapore to try authentic traditional food. You will find restaurants, bars, and even food courts, but be sure to try the food from street vendors, as well.
Here are some of the best places to eat in Chinatown Singapore.
Singapore Chinatown Food Street
Food Street is lined with hawkers and roadside shops. You will find flavors from all over Southeast Asia here. Food Street has many street vendors offering the traditional satay, Hainanese chicken rice, and noodles.
Try stingray, satay on skewers, kway teow, roasted duck, and Hainanese chicken rice.
You will also find many boutiques, wine bars, and souvenir streets.
Chinatown Complex Food Centre
With more than 260 food stalls, the Chinatown Complex Food Centre is the largest hawker center in Singapore. With a dizzying array of culinary offerings spread across two levels, this hawker center is a food lover’s paradise.
Maxwell Food Centre
Maxwell Hawker Centre is a culinary delight where locals and tourists to Singapore flock to find some of the city’s most beloved street food dishes, like dim sum, rice porridge, fish balls and noodles.
Hawker culture is a quintessential part of Singapore’s culinary scene. Hawker centers are basically food courts where you’ll find lots of street food stalls selling quick, affordable meals.
Amoy Street Food Centre
Located on the edge of Chinatown and the central business district, tucked away amidst Singapore’s tall buildings, the Amoy Street Food Center boasts plenty of stalls, but the tables fill up quickly.
This is a popular spot to grab a meal for both locals and passersby.
BOOK A HAWKER FOOD TOUR IN CHINATOWN
Chinatown is throbbing after dark. The most famous night spots are at Ann Siang Hill and Club Street. There are cool bars, screening rooms, and Tippling clubs. There are gay bars too in the area. B28 is a star attraction along with Backstage Bar, Barrio Chino, Breeze, Cow and Coolies Pub.
For those visiting Singapore with kids, be sure to Check out the Chinatown Street Market, where you can find great souvenirs and, yes, even more food!
Shopping at Chinatown
Singapore offers some of the best shopping of any city in Asia, rivaling Hong Kong for that distinct title.
Besides street markets, Chinatown also offers shopping opportunities in its numerous boutique stores, selling everything from antiques and traditional clothing to contemporary fashion and accessories.
Ann siang Road
Ann Siang Road is just one of the popular shopping options in Singapore’s Chinatown. Visitors will find a distinctive shopping experience with a wide variety of retail establishments available there.
For those looking for a great shopping experience in Singapore, Ann Siang Road is a must-visit location with everything from fashion boutiques to specialty shops.
China Square Central Flea Market
The China Square Central Flea Market is another great shopping choice for anyone hunting for one-of-a-kind gems. It’s a fun and unique place to visit because of its lively atmosphere and varied range of merchants.
The Chinatown Complex is not only a food center, it is a premier shopping location found in Singapore’s bustling Chinatown neighborhood.
This complex provides a large selection of shop choices, including conventional Chinese items, apparel, jewelry, and mementos. Visitors can experience a range of regional and international cuisine at the complex’s active food center and take in the lively ambiance and varied offerings.
The Chinatown Complex is the ideal location for those looking for unusual presents or just wanting to fully immerse themselves in Singapore’s rich culture.
Tanjong Pagar Plaza
A wide variety of shopping opportunities are available in Tanjong Pagar Plaza, which is situated in Singapore’s thriving Chinatown.
This business district is home to a variety of retail establishments, including clothing boutiques, electronics retailers and specialty businesses. You’ll also find various restaurants and bars along the plaza.
About the author of this Chinatown Singapore Guide: Supraja Lakshmi N is a travel content writer and publishes articles about vacation ideas on her website. Follow her on Twitter.
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