Stepping into Chinatown Singapore is like stepping back in time. A stark contrast to the rest of the city, the buildings are low-rise and the tonal theme gold and red. Ornate Chinese, Buddhist and Hindu temples dot this vibrant area, with museums and shophouses aplenty to keep you busy. This historic district is made up of four areas: Telok Ayer, Kreta Ayer, Bukit Pasoh and Tanjong Pagar. The sights, sounds and smells of Chinatown Singapore give an altogether otherworldly feel.
What to see in Chinatown Singapore
A day or three can easily be spent wandering the streets of Chinatown Singapore. From sightseeing historical temples, to sampling market street food, it’s an area of Singapore to add to your itinerary.
Start at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. This four-storey place of worship houses a solid gold two-metre stupa where the sacred relic is kept. Then head over to the Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest shrine in Singapore, built to honour Goddess Mariamman (the deity of disease and protection). This iconic temple also serves as an important place for community activities and gatherings, as well as holding the Registry of marriages for Hindus during the colonial periods. Then experience the hustle and bustle of the Chinatown street markets. Hundreds of stalls selling everything from silk threads to waving lucky cats. Lanterns line the streets and food carts offer mouth-watering dim sum. The place to practice your haggling technique, Chinatown Singapore is open long into the night.
Other interesting facts about Chinatown Singapore
- Historically, each of the four sub-districts of Chinatown Singapore was occupied by a different clan
- Chinatown Singapore has a dark history that tells a story of slavery, opium dens and red light districts
- Pearl’s Hill Terrace once housed a secret police bunker where all major crisis events were managed