Chinatown Singapore

Image (C) Amin Rad

Flavours of Chinatown, Singapore! As the descendants of Singapore’s early immigrants, today’s Chinese still retain many of the traditions and practices of their ancestors. Respect for their elders, the observance of religious practices and feasting on traditional foods are still followed closely as is the joyous celebration of their numerous festivals.

But rather than live in the past, today’s Chinese have successfully married the spiritual with commercial, traditional with modern. And experiencing their heritage and complex identity calls for a visit to Chinatown.

With its modern heart and traditional soul, this early settlement now embodies the unlikely contrasts that are this island nation,

Against a backdrop of towering skyscrapers you’ll see rows of carefully preserved historic shophouses from days of old, housing anything from decades-old family-run businesses and clan associations, to CD stores, spas and high-tech companies.

Listen carefully and you might hear the click-clack of a mahjong game in progress, or a Canto-pop beat trying to outdo the wail of a traditional opera above the blare of traffic.

And just try to resist the waft of succulent bak kwa, piping hot dim sum and the tempting specialty cuisine of other dialects’ Washed down with delectable desserts!

But what makes Chinatown so unique is that some of it isn’t even Chinese! Hindu temples and Islamic mosques have also had a long history in this enclave, lending their own special influence to the area.

Some interesting highlights of Chinatown

Souvenirs Of Chinatown

  • Lacquerware, woodcrafts and masks
  • Chinese silks, calligraphy and seal carvings Trinkets, mini mahjong set, hong bao (lucky red money envelopes)
  • Antiques and furniture

Sights Of Chinatown

  • Chinatown Hentage Centre
  • Sri Mariamman Temple and Masjid jamae
  • Chinatown Food Street
  • Chinatown Complex, Market and Food Centre
  • Eu Van Sang Medical Hall
  • Street markets at Pagoda, Trenqganu and Sago Streets

Flavours Of Chinatown

  • Kopi tiams or coffee-shops for local favourites like Hainanese chicken rice, Hakka yong tou Foe, Teochew porridge, fish ball noodles, Cantonese dim sum, Hokkien fried noodles and kway teow Bok kwo at Bee Cheng Hiang and Lim Chee Guan along New Bridge Road
  • Tong Heng egg tarts at South Bridge Road
  • Traditional snacks and pastries like pau
  • Tea appreciation at Tea Chapter
  • Chinese herbal remedy teas at medical halls

Festival Of Chinatown

  • Chinese New Year
  • Mid-Autum Festival (popular known as the Mooncake Festival)
  • Theemidhi (Fire Walking)

A unique blend of old and new awaits you at one of Singapore’s oldest ethnic settlements. You should try and spend a day here (if you are into shopping) or half a day (just to walk around) in Chinatown and explore this town. We have provided this useful Walking Tour guide around Chinatown to help you discover this enchanting cultural village.

Click if you need more information about the different districts in Chinatown.

Written by:
Singapore Tourism Board