Some may think that going to Chinatown to experience ‘Chinese-ness’ is ridiculous as you can get Chinese goodies everywhere in Singapore. So why Chinatown?

If you’re not already in the know, Chinatown holds pretty significant historical and cultural significance. So significant that it has been declared as a national heritage site for conservation by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Still not convinced? Listed below are six things you can do in this neighbourhood. You never know, this cultural neighbourhood may just surprise you.

1. Shopping At Pagoda Street

Stroll along Pagoda Street and you’ll find pavements lined with stalls on either side, peddling anything from knick-knacks to memorabilia. Heck, there’s even a Tin Tin collectibles boutique, themed after the famous comic book character.

Have a soft spot for kitchenwares? Let yourself loose at Lau Choy Seng or Sia Huat, two of Singapore’s very reliable kitchen supplies shop. The best part is, they are just a few doors away from each other.

Lau Choy Seng
Address: 23 Temple St, 058568
Operating Hours: Mon-Sat  8:30am-6:00pm (Closed on Sundays & PH)

Sia Huat
Address: 11 Temple St, 058559
Operating hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am-6:30pm, Sat 8:30am-5:30pm (Closed on Sundays)

2. Appreciate Religious And Racial Diversity

Hindu Temples are all about details and you definitely won’t want to miss the magnificent roof sculptures atop Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore.  You’ll be surprised to find that the temple, despite its significance, is successfully complemented by its surroundings. In fact, it blends so well into Chinatown that it adds vibrance to this precinct, which happens to also house the Al-Abrar Mosque and Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Talk about Singapore being the melting pot of religion and culture.

It is considered disrespectful to wear shoes into the temples, so do remove your shoes and place it neatly at the racks provided before entering. Do also note your attire and clothing (ideally no shorts or revealing clothes) and your etiquette (no yelling or fooling around) as a token of respect.

Sri Mariamman Temple
 244 South Bridge Rd,058793
Operating Hours: Daily 7am-12pm, 6pm-9pm

Al-Abrar Mosque
Address: 192, Telok Ayer Street, 068635
Tel: 6220 6306

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
288 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058840
Operating Hours: Daily 7am-7pm

3. Vintage Shopping At Mohamed Ali Lane

For those who enjoy flea markets and vintage shopping, here’s an insider tip for you. Turn into Mohamed Ali Lane just across the road from the temple and you’ll find a market of sorts, selling awesome second-hand trinkets. If you’re lucky, you may even come across a hidden gem. Did we also mention that this lane is super Instagram-worthy? Play around with angles and treat your fellow followers to architectural eye candy.

Also read: Join In One Of SG’s Biggest & Best Bazaars – The Market Hop

4. Feast At Chinatown Food Street

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If you’re not starving after all that walking, Chinatown’s Food Street will do much to whet your appetite. With street hawker stalls and shophouse restaurants that are completed with al-fresco dining style along the street, Chinatown Food Street sure feels like a food blast from the past.

Too many choices and can’t decide what to eat? We highly recommend Geylang Lor 9 Fresh Frog PorridgeNewton Circus Ahmad Ibrahim SatayBoon Tat Street BBQ Seafood and Odeon Beef Noodles. If you prefer a lighter meal (save that stomach for dessert!), do try local delicacies such as the kaya toast, fresh popiah, fried oysters, and traditional Chinese pastries at Tong Heng Confectionary.

5. Play Chess / People Watch At Chinatown Complex

It is not unusual to see residents and senior citizens battling rounds of Chinese Chess as a recreational activity just outside Chinatown Complex. Despite the ‘heated competition’, these uncles are always throwing good-natured banter, filling the place with laughter. We can’t recommend this place more if people watching is your thing. Also, you’re more than welcome to spectate a cerebral game of Chinese Chess and pick up a tactic or two.

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In the heat of battle

6. Architecture Appreciation

Chinatown is a cache of heritage beset against a backdrop of modern cityscape. Just check out these colourful buildings!

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Check out Upper Cross Street for some of the most vibrant and coloured heritage buildings.


While you're at it, do drop by Keong Saik Road for a drink or two
While you’re at it, do drop by Keong Saik Road for a drink or two. This place was once known for seedy activities but has since transformed into a road with top restaurants and pubs in Singapore.


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To local residents, Singapore’s Chinatown is known as 牛车水 (Niu che shui), which literally translates to “cow car water”


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A beautiful contrast between heritage buildings and contemporary architecture

From the heritage buildings to meticulously detailed Sri Mariammam Temple, not forgetting the hidden alleys as well as appetising local delights and friendly banters from the locals, every inch and corner of Chinatown tells a story. What is your Chinatown story, drop us a comment and let us know!


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Chinatown is accessible via MRT on the Northeast Line (purple line) and Downtown Line (blue line). The moment you step out of the station, you’ll truly understand what ‘technicolour’ is. Say goodbye to  Lo-Fi and Sierra filter – take that Instagram.

(Header image by Make My Trip)

Also read: Hipster Hawkers: 5 Stalls That Are Redefining Hawker Culture

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