Singapore Chinatown, close to Gardens by the Bay, and Marina Bay Sands, is an ethnic enclave within the city. It is in the Outram district of the Central Area. In Chinatown, you will get a first-hand view of Chinese culture – decorations, food, the way people dress, and even the building architecture. Singapore has modernized, but Chinatown retains its authenticity to a great deal. The Old meets New here. There are 4 sub-areas – Kreta Ayer, Telok Ayer, Tanjong Pagar and Bukit Pasoh.
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. Visit Food Street where you will find many street vendors offering the traditional satay, Hainanese chicken rice, and noodles. You will also find many boutiques, wine bars, and souvenir streets.
There are cultural institutions too like the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, and the Sri Mariamman Temple.
Singapore Chinatown – Quick Facts
|Chinatown||Chinese quarter of Singapore, very close to the Marina area, Gardens by the Bay, and many tourist attractions.|
|Areas||Kreta Ayer, Telok Ayer, Tanjong Pagar, Bukit Pasoh|
|Streets||6 – Mosques Street, Pagoda Street, Sago Lane, Smith Street, Temple Street, Trengganu Street.|
There is a maze of small lanes crisscrossing the area.
|Why Visit||See unique culture, try authentic traditional food.|
Visit the street markets, cultural relics, museums, galleries, parks.
There is a second Chinatown, 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. 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.
Chinatown is also called the ‘Place of Nightless Days’ or Bu Ye Tian. It was a red-light area in the early 20th century. Smith Street and Keong Saik Road were infamous.
Top 6 Attractions In Chinatown
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple – 4-storied temple with a beautiful hall having high ceilings. Belltower and drum tower. See the solid gold stupa (pagoda), which hosts the sacred god, made according to the guidelines of the Tang Dynasty. There is also a giant prayer wheel on the roof-top. The temple also houses a museum that exhibits more than 300 artifacts.
Sri Mariamman Temple – A Hindu temple, this is the oldest shrine in Singapore. Built to honor Goddess Mariamman. Dravidian-style architecture. Richly decorated with unique architecture. It is the busiest during the Thimithi festival in October or November.
Thian Hock Keng Temple – Taoist-Buddhist Chinese temple dedicated to Ma Zu Po. Built around 1820.
Hong Lim Park – The ‘Speaker’s Corner’ in central Singapore. At North Canal Road, social gatherings are held at the park, like the National Day celebrations and music concerts.
Chinatown Heritage Centre – One of the best museums in Singapore. It is located at 48, Pagoda Street. Open between 8 AM and 9 PM.
The Pinnacle@Duxton – 50th-floor sky bridge offering panoramic views of the Singapore skyline. It is the tallest housing in Singapore. Stroll around the gardens and get a good tan.
Singapore Chinatown Food Street
Most people visit Chinatown, Singapore to try authentic traditional food. You will find restaurants, bars, and even food courts, but try the food from street vendors. Most of them are located in and around Food Street.
The street is lined with hawkers and roadside shops. You will find flavors from all over Southeast Asia here. Try stingray, satay on skewers, kway teow, roasted duck, and Hainanese chicken rice. There are other good places too, like –
- Maxwell Hawker Centre – dim sum, rice porridge, fish balls and noodles.
- Amoy Street Food Centre – Plenty of stalls, but the tables full up quickly.
Chinatown is throbbing after dark. The most famous nightspots 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.
Shopping at Chinatown
- Ann siang Road
- China Square Central Flea Market
- Chinatown complex
- Tanjong Pagar Plaza