About China townChinatown is a cultural stronghold for the entire Chinese community staying in Singapore for decades. This place is a hub of activities for not only the Chinese population but also for local non Chinese and tourists coming from other parts of the world. A highly popular place in Singapore for it has also been given the status of a World Heritage site to conserve the many cultures and traditions of several Chinese clans.
It is a food connoisseur’s delight with several street food joints, fine dining restaurants, high heeled pubs, quaint cafes and eateries. One will be amazed to visit the Buddhists and Hindu Temples, Museums and shopping zones for Garments, electronics, clothing and household items. This place is high on energy and is self-sustained with several diversified lines of interests. Chinese immigrants staying in Singapore for decades hold it in high esteem and call it their second home as it reminisces them of their homeland.
Chinatown is forever vibrant with grand gates, most of the places done up in red and gold, lush park, narrow lanes adorned with shops selling interesting merchandise and the very famous Food complexes which are full till the brim during lunch hours. A few Michelin-star restaurants too find pride in having their outlets in Chinatown for this place has the tradition and heritage of China intact.
A must visit place for every tourist visiting Singapore as this is the place which gives the country its distinctive and diversified flavour. Chinatown contributes majorly to the cosmopolitan culture of Singapore. Singapore constitutes of majorly migrant Chinese and South Indians along with citizens of different origins which have made the country even more vibrant, lively and dynamic. Visit Chinatown to have a feel of the real Singapore and relive the past amidst an array of experiences.
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Location: Trengganu St, Singapore 050005.
Timings: Monday to Sunday: 9.30am – 8.00pm
How to reach Chinatown Singapore from Airport?
One can reach Chinatown from Changi Airport using the MRT. One has to board the Green East-West line train and get off at Tanah Merah station and then take another train on the East-West Green line and get off after 12 stations at Outram Park station. The Chinatown MRT station can be accessed on the North East MRT if coming from Little India, Marina South Pier, Dhoby Ghat and Clarke Quay.
Things to do in Chinatown Singapore:
There is a host of activities to be done at Chinatown the diaspora of the city’s Chinese community.
Food: Indulge in a lip-smacking and delectable food at Chinatown’s Maxwell Food centre to experience local Chinese cuisine. Try out the Hainanese Chicken Rice at Tian Tian which is a popular food joint in the hawker’s centre. There are numerous stalls serving authentic Asian cuisine at a pocket-friendly price. The Chinatown complex has more than 260 plus eateries serving local Singaporean and South East Asian cuisine out of which a few are Michelin starred stalls. While you walk down the streets you will be enamoured by the aroma of Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory.
Culture Trip: A walk down the streets of Chinatown will bring you to a palatial blue building popularly known as the NUS BABA House. The house belonged to Wee Bin, who lived in this house for long and is now a museum exhibiting artefacts and relics which were used by the family showcasing the Peranakan culture and traditions. Everton Park on Chinatown is a motley of some of the oldest shops and some interesting murals and street art done on the walls.
Temples: Chinatown has one of the oldest Buddhist temples, Thian Hock Keng temple built by the Hokkiens. The Sri Mariamman Temple in Chinatown is a popular religious site for Hindus residing in Singapore. The Dravidian architecture with looming Gopurams and multi coloured deities greets you to the sanctum sanctorum where Goddess Marriamman takes a seat. The Buddha tooth relic museum is yet another popular religious site for Buddhists residing in Singapore.
Shopping: Even a person who is not keen on shopping will be lured to shop in Singapore at Chinatown seeing the huge and colourful array of garments, household wares, necessities, souvenirs, crafts and antiques.
Photography: Visitors who are keen to carry back memories of Chinatown can capture scintillating and colourful candid images from the daily lives of the locals. Do not forget to take a selfie at the Chinatown gate near the stone lions.
Nightlife: Chinatown has an interesting and colourful nightlife in Singapore with a popular hole in the wall eateries, bars and pubs where one can wind up after a long day of work or travel.
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Best Time to Visit Chinatown Singapore.
Chinatown is open 7 days a week and 365 days a year thus can be visited at any time of the year. However, a visit to Chinatown during the Chinese Lunar Year which falls in the month of February is one of the best times to visit when the entire area is decked up and has a festive environment with several activities and loads of goodies on offer.
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Tips for Visiting Chinatown Singapore.
A visit to Chinatown is a must when in Singapore as it reflects the authentic culture, heritage and tradition of the Chinese community residing in the country for long. Though Singapore is known to be one of the safest cities it is advisable to keep valuables under supervision when in the beach or parties. The land has strict laws on drug offenders, shoplifters and other crimes and disciplinary issues so one needs to be careful on those aspects. Though very rare, but there are times when the city has bad air quality and is surrounded by smog and haze, thus it is recommended to carry and wear masks during that time.
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Places to visit near Chinatown Singapore.
Heritage trip- With close proximity to Chinatown there are a few places like the Chinatown Heritage Centre which showcases the rich tradition, culture and heritage of the Chinese community which has several ethnic groups and clans with distinctive features. A must visit for culture vultures keen to know more about the evolution of orientals in this part of the world.
Drama Box- This performance art theatre which also happens to be a non-profit organisation in Singapore involved in creating theatre that inspires dialogue.
Spa and Foot reflexology – After a day-long walk down the streets and park of Chinatown one may want to have a relaxing time at the spa indulging in either a foot spa, fish spa or full body spa to experience the art of reflexology that the Chinese are proficient in.
Tea house- There are several Tea rooms close by Chinatown which are favourite hangout places to catch up on friends and families over a refreshing brew of exclusive Chinese beverage.
Souvenir trip- Art aficionados and culture lovers can find hordes of little retail shops and galleries selling artistic wares and knick-knacks which can be carried back home as souvenirs of a wonderful trip.
Nightlife- Nightlife in and around Chinatown is very vibrant and happening with colourfully done up retro bars to quaint little restobars offering the best cocktails and a bevvy of a beverage of choice.
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Best Places to Eat Street Food at Chinatown Singapore:
There are several renowned places to savour local street food in Chinatown
Tiong Bahru Meng Kee Roast Duck: This is a highly recommended stall for it's soft and juicy sweet Char Siew and Sion Bak with crackling skin.
Maxwell Food Centre: This place is known for its local style Chinese food and has an elaborate menu full of delectable dishes at a pocket-friendly price.
Burnt’s End: This Michelin starred Australian style barbecue restaurant in Singapore is not only a treat to the eyes but also features in the World’s 50 Best restaurants. It is famous for its crunchy coleslaw, slow-cooked pulled pork, super fluffy brioche buns and the all-time famous pork burger.
The Chinatown Complex: close to 226 food stalls under one roof is an extraordinary experience to undergo especially during lunch and dinner time. This also happens to be the place of the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant, Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodles. Sampling a few dishes at Lia He Ben Ji Claypot Rice would be a memorable experience.
Haikee Brothers: This 3rd generation Chinese restaurant which dishes out delectable Chinese dishes also carries on the legacy of Soya Sauce chicken which happens to be a popular item in their menu.
Mein Heong Yuen Dessert: This is a shop selling desserts exclusively and is an institution by itself for innovating creative desserts. Beat the heat with a refreshing bowl of snow ice available in 18 flavours. They also specialize in bird’s nest soup, water chestnut with corn and almond paste and several other lip-smacking delicacies.
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Best Places to Shop at Chinatown Singapore
From cheap stores to boutiques and thrifts shops to designer stores it is all there in Chinatown for one to explore to one’s heart’s content.
Chinatown street market: These are extremely colourful and vibrant stalls selling artefacts and souvenirs under canopies. The best part of the market is that one can haggle for the best price.
Woofer and Purrlensky: This exclusive pet store is a haven to buy things for your furry friends. Pet collars, leashes, hammocks and several other products to keep your pet happy and comfortable
People’s Park Centre: This is a repository of everything Chinese. Ranging from Chinese herbs and Idols and Cheap electronics to clothing there is a store for every possible thing under one roof.
Egg3: This high-end store has a mix of eclectic style with a Nordic touch in it. Clothes, home décor, furniture and other lifestyle products. This store has brands like Max Tan, You You and Ginlee.
Mythology: This multi-branded store located prominently on Chinatown is a comparatively new place which has gained popularity due to its exclusive collection of Asian labels. This ritzy store has luxury apparels, jewellery and an exotic range of resort wear.
Aston Blake: This posh and bespoke men’s tailor catering to the class has a bespoke collection of Men’s wear along with tailoring services.
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Best Hotels to Stay in Chinatown Singapore:
Singapore being a cosmopolitan country and a hub for tourism and commercial purpose is home to a host to hotels and stays in different range.
Furama City Centre: Situated in the heart of Chinatown, this 445room hotel in Singapore is committed to creating an unforgettable memory for the guests who travel for either leisure or business.
Amara Hotel: This 384-roomed business hotel has earned a name for itself by providing state of the art hospitality. The hotel is clutter free and has a minimalist design while their primary focus lies on quality service.
M-Hotel: The strategically placed hotel at a Prime location in Central Business District calls for several foreign tourists who call it their home for a couple of days either for leisure or work.
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Facts about Chinatown
- A large portion of Chinatown has been declared as a World Heritage site.
- When venturing into the different food complexes and street food joints one may stumble upon a few Michelin-star restaurants which also feature in the world’s 50 Best restaurants.
- Chinatown is one of the famous tourist place in Singapore which has the oldest Chinese temple, Thian Hock Keng in Singapore dating back to 1821 and is considered to be a gazetted national monument.
- Chinatown has the Buddha tooth relic temple which has a tooth of Lord Buddha saved carefully in its premises.
- Sago street, unfortunately, used to be a place for several death houses or mortuaries.
- People used to travel in bullock carts to fetch fresh water for the settlement here, which is now traversed by Ubers.
Q1. What is Chinatown Singapore history?
Chinatown, Singapore’s largest Historic district was formed by a few Chinese immigrants who had traversed through South China and settled in the shores of Singapore as they majorly worked as porters. With every passing year, the community increased by leaps and bounds and then came a time when they were legally allotted lands and houses by Sir Stamford Raffles, a master town planner and named it Chinese Campong. The colourful and vibrant piece of land attracted more Chinese migrants and slowly developed into an economically and culturally self-contained zone. Chinatown currently has four different districts with several sub-districts which was previously dedicated to the different clans.
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Q2. How do I get to Chinatown Singapore?
The easiest and fastest way to get to Chinatown is through the MRT. Chinatown itself has a station which can be accessed with the Northeast MRT if coming from Dhoby Ghaut, Little India, Clarke’s Quay, Raffles Place or Marina South Pier. One may have to get off at Outram Station after changing two MRT if coming from Changi Airport.
Q3. Why is it called Chinatown?
It is called Chinatown because the place was conceptualized, created, renovated and operated by migrant Chinese who have now settled in Singapore for good.
Q4. What is unique about Chinatown Singapore?
Chinatown is unique because of its interesting layout of Food joints, restaurants, temples, museums, shopping zones, bars, parks and several other interesting things related to China and the Chinese community. The migrant Chinese community settled in Singapore call it their second home because of its resemblance to their motherland. Visitors coming from other parts of the world find it intriguing because they get an amazing display of culture, heritage, history and traditions of the Orientals here in this part of the world. One would be surprised to know that most of the portion of Chinatown has been declared as a World Heritage Site for the conservation of certain cultural and historical aspects of the community.
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Q5. How long does it take to visit and view the entire Chinatown Singapore?
It can take anywhere between half a day to an entire day to explore Chinatown to the hilt. Walking down the lanes, enriching ourselves with the culture of Chinese immigrants, taking tours of the many Temples, dining, shopping and sipping your favourite beverage will help traverse Chinatown to one’s heart’s content.
Q6. What can you buy in Chinatown Singapore?
Chinatown in Singapore is known as the hub for everything Chinese. Ranging from great food, edible goods, souvenirs, household items, garments, cosmetics, bags, shoes, electronics and everything exclusive that is found in China is sold in Chinatown.
Q7. Why is Chinatown called Niu Shui?
In Chinese, Niu Shui means bullock cart water. During the 19th century when a huge group of Chinese from South China had migrated to Singapore, they occupied the river mouth in Singapore and worked majorly as porters. As the population increased demand for fresh water also increased. A smart entrepreneur took the opportunity of this situation and used buffalo-pulled carts to deliver water to the community.
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Q8. What is Chinatown known for?
Chinatown is famous for its rich culture of the Chinese community that had migrated years back. It took quite some years for the migrant Chinese to replicate a little zone of their own which is popular for its restaurants, street-food, retail shops selling typical Chinese wares along with clothes and other merchandise specific to their homeland. Chinatown is dotted with red and gold with a few famous Chinese Temple and museums. A walk down the lanes of Chinatown has always been nostalgic to the migrant Chinese reminiscing their homeland.
Q9. Is there any temple in Chinatown Singapore?
There are a couple of Temples in Chinatown relevant to the followers of Buddhism and Hinduism. A lot many visitors offer their prayers at the Temples dedicated to Lord Buddha, Goddess Mariamman and Lord Ganesha.
- The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple: This Buddhist temple houses the tooth of Lord Buddha which has been carefully saved and kept on the 4th floor and can be viewed by the public. This famous Buddha relic temple is visited by Buddhists and non-Buddhists from all over the world all round the year. Special prayers and celebrations are done to mark Vesak which is a special day in the Buddhist calendar.
- Mariamman Temple: Dedicated to goddess Mariamman, this Dravidian style temple is popular amongst the Hindus, especially the migrant Tamils. Known to have the power to cure illnesses and diseases the goddess is worshipped with much fervour since the colonial era. The looming gopuram and the six-tier colourful façade with mythological figures have a certain amount of tranquil peace.
- Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple: The temple built by the Chettiars in 1925 worships Lord Ganesha, the elephant headed god. The most festive time of the temple is an annual Silver Chariot procession when Lord Murugan is taken out on a procession with much fervour in all his fineries by his ardent followers.
- Thian Hock Keng temple: The oldest Chinese temple built by the Hokkien community is steeped in heritage. The temple with its traditional Southern Chinese architecture has ornate designs and filigree work. The courtyard has an aroma incense sticks lit by ardent devotees.
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