Overview of Chinatown
Once the focal point of Chinese life and culture, Chinatown has since then evolved following some commercialization, but has remained a beloved enclave of culture and tradition in Singapore. It was granted official conservation status in 1989, paying homage to its historical roots, where shophouses once held coolie houses, gambling dens, brothels and opium dens instead of the offices, shops and restaurants seen today. Chinatown has a wide range of shophouses, local restaurants and hawker stalls and is the ideal place to shop for traditional Chinese merchandise and authentic Chinese food. You can also enjoy the festive atmosphere during Chinese festivals like Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival where special festive snacks like dumplings, glutinous rice balls and tidbits are sold. Decorations like lanterns and festive lights also appear along the whole stretch of Chinatown, lighting up the night sky of the area.
Chinatown is accessible by the Chinatown MRT Station on the North East Line and upcoming Downtown Line as well as several public bus routes. Some areas are within walking distance from Tanjong Pagar station on the East West Line, Clarke Quay station and the New Bridge Road Bus Terminal.
There are a few streets and hidden gems in Chinatown which are a favourite among locals for chillout. Explore these streets for a taste of old Singapore or quaint shops ranging from pastry shops, wine bars, vintage clothing boutiques, retro toy stores and alfresco restaurants within walking distance.
- Ann Siang Hill:Known for quirky shops, cafes and drinking holes in colorful shophouses in classic nostalgic architecture.
- Bukit Pasoh: Many boutique hotels and international restaurants are located along this stretch.
- Club Street: A charming street with Italian, French, Spanish restaurants, bars and art galleries.
- Kreta Ayer: Housing attractions like the Chinatown Night Market and Kreta Ayer Square..
- Mohamed Ali Lane: Chinatown’s underground flea market, with hawkers selling old magazines & photos, vintage coke bottles and religious amulets.
- Sago Street: Stalls which sell snacks and food, traditional calligraphy, clog-making, and sometimes provide fortune telling services.
- Smith Street: Chinatown Food Street is located here with famous traditional food like frog leg porridge and claypot rice. The shops here also sell Chinese decorative products for Chinese New Year and festive occasions.
- Telok Ayer Street: Historic waterfront area with many Chinese temples and Muslim mosques, and shops selling traditional handmade food. Some shops also sell interesting second hand items like Odds ‘n’ Collectables
Food & Dining
There are plenty of cheap and quality dim sum restaurants and hawker fare located in the Chinatown area. Examples include frog porridge at Smith Street, Frog Porridge Smith Street to Red Star Dim Sum and Yumcha. A notable place to visit is the Maxwell Food Centre, a huge centre selling cheap and delicious local fare.
- Thian Hock Keng Temple: Known to be the oldest temple in Singapore.
- Buddha Tooth Relic Temple: Well-known Buddhist temple and museum complex which houses the Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic in a stupa made of 320kg of gold donated by devotees.
- Sri Mariamman Temple: Located on Temple Street, Singapore's oldest Hindu temple. It is an agamic temple, built in the Dravidian style. The temple serves mainly South Indian Tamil Hindu Singaporeans and has been acknowledged as a National Monument and is a major tourist attraction.
- Peranakan Museum: Learn more about Peranakan culture, cuisine and history at the Peranakan Museum
- Pagoda Street: The Chinatown Heritage Centre located here portrays the history and heritage of Chinatown while the TinTin Shop houses an extensive collection of everything TinTin.
- Eu Yan Sang Chinese Medical Hall: Eu Yan Sang is an established local name for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Get traditional herbal products here, where you can even get your pulse checked for any irregularities in your health.