Introduction to Chinatown Singapore
Originally designated as an ethnic enclave for the early Chinese settlers back in the 19th century, Chinatown has come a long way from its humble and ragged origins to become a modernised cultural hangout amidst its historical façades. From luxurious hotels to upscale restaurants and bars, to local street eats and age-old temples, you will find an amalgamation of past and present here, with something interesting for every type of visitor.
Where to Stay
PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering is an eco-friendly garden concept experience nestled within Chinatown, promising to offer guests a luxurious green retreat from the concrete jungle of Singapore. Take a refreshing swim at the outdoor infinity pool overlooking the city or hop over to the Urban Farm, home to over 50 varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers that are used in various capacities at the hotel.
Mondrian Singapore Duxton is a new hotel establishment making a big splash with its stylish and luxurious approach. Equipped with a rooftop terrace and pool overlooking the eclectic skyline of shophouses and skyscrapers, the hotel even boasts several restaurants and bars that seek to enhance your vibrant dining and drinking experience.
Looking for something with a more localised flavour and charm? Hotel 1900 is a boutique hotel comprising of a few adjoining, four-storey traditional shophouses that effuse a historical atmosphere. Located just 100m from the Chinatown Street Market, the hotel works as a fantastic base for your adventures in the precinct.
Alternatively, check out the Heritage Collection on Pagoda, a “Digital Hotel” concept with mobile self check-in conveniences and close proximity to everything in Chinatown. Enjoy amazing loft apartments with high ceilings and spacious design for a unique stay.
What to See
Embark on the complete Chinatown experience and hit up the popular spots in the area. Follow the self-guided official Chinatown Walking Trail that takes you to 11 amazing stops in the vicinity, bringing you the best the location has to offer, from temples to cafes and its amazing streets. Don’t forget to shop for souvenirs, enjoy the tasty grub and more at Chinatown Street Market!
Alternatively, head up to the Trails of Tan Ah Huat for a different perspective while you take in the sights and history of Chinatown on a guided bicycle tour, reliving the 1920s through the lens of the character Ah Huat.
Visit the majestic Tang-style Chinese Buddha Tooth Relic Temple that houses the tooth relic of the historical Buddha. Take some time to explore the temple and museum with free weekly-guided tours, learning more about the vast collection of artifacts it holds as well as its intricate architecture.
Continue your cultural exploration with a visit to the Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore‘s oldest Hindu temple built in 1827. Take in the vibrant and intricate sculptures around the gopuram and temple walls. If you are lucky, you might even get to witness a ceremony and procession taking place during your visit!
The streets of Chinatown are lined with various Chinatown Mural Art pieces along its walls, showcasing bits of history and heritage closely intertwined with the area. The colourful and vibrant murals bring alive the culture and legacy of the neighbourhood, perfect for your next Instagram-worthy moment. Some highlights are the Letter Writer and Lantern Festival murals by artist Yip Yew Chong, depicting traditional scenes one would witness back in the days in Chinatown.
What to Do
For a traditional tea experience, make your way to the Yixing Xuan Teahouse renowned for its premium selection of Chinese teas. Book yourself onboard their tea appreciation workshop and learn more about traditional Chinese tea in knowledge and preparation. If you gained a newfound passion after the session, gift yourself some high-quality tea wares and tea for your enjoyment at home.
Take part in a kokedama class at this specialty plant shop, Little Big Garden, where you can have an amazing experience learning how to create your own ‘moss ball’. Bring your creations home at the end of the workshop or buy a few more from their fantastic selection to complement your home.
Enjoy a traditional Chinese Opera performance imbuing multiple art forms like music, song and dance while you sip on some tea at the Chinese Theatre Circle. Catch the opera performers in their elaborate costumes and see if you can differentiate between a male or female character in the story.
What to Eat
Stroll over to the bustling Chinatown Complex, where you’ll find a plethora of hawker stalls serving some of the best local delicacies for reasonable prices. Feast yourself with hot favourites like laksa, chicken rice and xiao long baos to snacks and desserts like popiah and chendols. With such a wide variety of tasty food options here, you will definitely be making a return trip here. Check out our favourites: Hawker Chan soya sauce chicken rice and Ann Chin Handmade Popiah!
For a true taste of Singaporean coffee culture and traditional taste, stop by Nanyang Old Coffee to enjoy a classic cup of kopi or kopi-o, a localised coffee beverage with a distinct roasted taste. Savour a traditional breakfast experience by completing your meal with kaya butter toast and soft-boiled eggs.
This cafe spot, Nakey, serves up some delectable artisanal sourdough creations like chewy bagels and fluffy doughnuts. Whether you’re looking for a full meal or a small bite, grab a seat and you will find yourself munching away at their fresh bakes, perhaps even with a pistachio latte to pair with.
Awaken your inner wizardry powers as you recharge at The Wizard’s Brew. This whimsical café serves a delightful, themed menu, including magical potions and spellbinding treats like a flaming cauldron!
Enjoy an intimate and memorable dining experience at the 2-Michelin Star Cloudstreet, a fine dining establishment that offers a contemporary and innovative culinary journey that beautifully combines flavours and artistry.
What to Drink
Under the constant barrage of heat from the Singapore weather, you might want to grab yourself a refreshing cup of beverage for some relief. Head over to Cold Pressed Juice, one of the most popular stalls at Chinatown Street Market and treat yourself to a delicious serving of fresh fruit juice with no added preservatives or additives for your daily healthy fix.
Located within the Chinatown Complex, Smith Street Taps is an unassuming watering hole lining up next to food stalls that features over 20 premium local and international craft beers on tap for your enjoyment. Whether you need some liquid to go down with the amazing dishes you are chomping on or just a place to chill with your friends, Smith Street Taps is bound to have something that suits your taste.
Ranked number 32 in the 2023 edition of the World’s 50 Best Bars ranking, Sago House has opened doors to its new home at Duxton Hill in early November. The award-winning bar is expected to continue its weekly rotating menu of six cocktails and offer a service bar at the exterior where patrons can get the monthly menu on draft or in bottles. Come down and see what incredible drinks you get to experience as they tailor their creations to new ingredients each week.
With this 24-hour guide, visitors will experience the wide variety and highlights of what Chinatown in Singapore has to offer. Fall in love as you immerse fully in its rich heritage and charm during your day of exploration!