Navigate Singapore’s Chinatown and become culturally enlightened as you experience enticing sights, sounds and smells along the narrow bustling streets. This neighbourhood is rich in history and even though modernised today, it is possible to see Chinatown through different eyes as you explore and unravel the memories of its past.
Meander the alleys and streets and take in the sights of Chinatown with this ultimate one day guide covering all the best sights. Enjoy exploring!
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NAVIGATE SINGAPORE’S CHINATOWN IN A DAY
Take the East/West Line (Green) and alight at Outram Park MRT and take Exit H.
BREAD AND HEARTH
Begin your day early, with a hearty breakfast in this artisan café and bakery. Baking is their forte and the love for this is portrayed in the wide range of yummy croissants, breads, pies and tarts that are produced daily.
Using age-old techniques and traditional European methods, all ingredients are natural and sourced from global farms.
Address : 18 Keong Saik Road. Tel 6534 7800 Open : 8 am-7 pm daily Website : www.breadandhearth.com
Leave the pleasing aromas of fresh bread and gourmet coffee behind and return to Outram Park MRT. Take the North/East Line (Purple) towards Punggol Coast and alight after 1 stop at Chinatown MRT. Take the exit for Pagoda Street and your next stop will be on the left hand side.
CHINATOWN HERITAGE CENTRE
To gain a true understanding of life in Chinatown your first port of call is the Chinatown Heritage Centre, the gateway to discovering Singapore’s early pioneer’s footsteps and how these people made Chinatown their home.
Wander around the three beautifully restored shophouses which have been recreated to show the original interiors of its tenants in the 1950’s.
There is no better place to gain a glimpse into the lives of the early residents of Chinatown and fully appreciate how hard life was for them and their families.
Let the multimedia guide show you around the eight feet by eight feet cubicles that housed families and be enlightened by their work and family lives.
Address : 48 Pagoda Street. Tel 6224 3928 Open : 9 am-8 pm daily Website : www.chinatownheritagecentre.com.sg
** Closed every 1st Monday of the month **
Cost : Multimedia Guided Tour – Adults S$15.00, Child S$11.00 (Age 7-12 years)
Leave the Heritage Centre and walk back towards Chinatown MRT Station. Turn right before taking the second right hand turn and proceed down Upper Cross Street.
CHOP WAH ON
Established in 1916 by the founder and late Mr Tong Chee Leong, this shop has served generations of customers with its proprietary medicated oils and balms. Based on secret formulas, all products are manufactured in its own factory including its signature preparation of 100% crocodile oil, known to heal wounds and damaged skin.
Take a look at the extensive range which includes skin oils/creams, natural remedies and aromatic oils to treat a scope of ailments ranging from aches to motion sickness.
Address : 34 Upper Cross Street. Tel 6223 4349 Open : 9 am-6pm daily Website : www.chopwahon.com/
Continue down Upper Cross Street and turn right into South Bridge Road.
The mosque was built in 1826 and hence one of the earliest mosques in Chinatown. With its striking green exterior, distinctive front gate and minarets, the mosque has an eclectic architectural style which has never been rebuilt. Hence this is a good opportunity to see early Singapore architechture in its original form.
If you would like to enter the prayer hall, be respectful and adhere to the required attire. There is no cost for admission.
Address : 218 South Bridge Road. Tel 6221 4165 Open : Daily Website : www.masjidjamaechulia.sg/
Continue along South Bridge Road.
SRI MARIAMMAN TEMPLE
Dating back to 1827, this is Singapore’s oldest and largest Hindu Temple and extremely decorative or gaudy depending on your taste. Built by immigrants from South India, this ornate landmark is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman who is known for her power to cure disease and illnesses. See if you can spot the sculptures of deities, mythological beasts and other beings which cover its six tiers.
Admission is free although donations are always welcome.
Address : 244 South Bridge Road. Tel 6223 4064 Website : www.smt.org.sg/
Open : 5.30 am-12 pm and 6 pm-9 pm
Take a right hand turn and proceed up Temple Street as it is time for some pampering!
Stop at Nail Alcove and treat your nails to a scented foot scrub and some fanciful art and stand out from the crowd. Sit back in a comfy armchair and be pampered in cheery and quirky surroundings while you enjoy an express pedicure (or manicure).
Address : 59B Temple Street. Tel 9828 9499 Open : 11 am-9 pm daily Website : www.nailalcove.com
Feeling relaxed, continue up Temple Street and take a left hand turn into Smith Street. It is time for a lunch stop.
CHINATOWN FOOD STREET
With its high-ceiling glass canopy shelter and internal cooling system you can sit and indulge in hawker food regardless of the weather and all within the Chinatown Street Market.
Authentic and tantalising dishes are served up for locals and tourists alike from Satay to Kway Teow and this is your lunch time stop, so enjoy the spread of local delights on offer.
Address : 335 Smith Street Open : 11 am-11 pm Website : www.chinatownfoodstreet.sg/
Feeling refreshed after lunch, continue walking down Smith Street and turn right into South Bridge Street. Take the first left into Ann Siang Hill and then a left into Club Street. It’s time for some shopping!
Browse Independent Asian labels for a striking new dress and signature jewellery in this unique boutique and be ready for your next “special occasion”. Featuring new designs every couple of months you can be sure of finding fresh pieces to get you inspired for a new look.
Address : 88 Club Street. Tel 6223 5570 Open : 11 am-7 pm daily Website : www.my-thology.com
Return to South Bridge Road and treat yourself to a post lunch pastry.
TONG HENG PASTRIES
For a truly authentic experience make a stop at Tong Heng, a long standing pastry shop, where its employees still roll and mould the famous pastries by hand. Open since the 1920’s, the shop is now run by a fourth generation family member since being founded by Fong Chee Heng.
Pastries such as egg tart and mooncakes are still made by hand as the taste was altered when made by machine and authenticity is paramount over costs.
Address : 285 South Bridge Street. Tel 6223 3649 Open : 9am-10pm daily Website : www.tongheng.com.sg
Cross the road and proceed up Sago Street
Calling all tea drinkers and those interested in learning something new. Whilst you can stock up on teas and accessories here, the real treat is being educated in the types and tastes of different tea by the owner. The passion he shows will entertain and guide you, adding a whole new dimension to tea drinking.
Address : 18 Sago Street. Tel 6221 7479 Open : 11am-8pm daily Website : www.facebook.com/Enjoy-Tea-574947085879622/
Turn left along Banda Street, the location of Chinatown Visitor Centre, then take the left hand turn into Sago Lane.
STREET OF THE DEAD
Sago Lane used to be lined on both sides with death houses and funeral parlours in the late 19th century. As you will have discovered from your visit to Chinatown Heritage Centre, poor Chinese immigrants came here to die, due to overcrowded quarters and superstition. With minimal medical care the dying where basically provided a room or dormitory to rest in until their death and then given a proper burial by the attached funeral parlour.
The dead were laid out in their coffin surrounded by paper effigies of worldly goods and personal items which when burnt, symbolised assurance that comfort and wealth awaited them in the spirit world.
Although there are no death houses to see today, walking along this route will help to complete the picture of early Chinese immigrants that lived in Chinatown.
Continue to the bottom of Sago Lane until you reach South Bridge Road.
BUDDHA TOOTH RELIC TEMPLE AND MUSEUM
The Buddhist Temple & Museum is a grand imposing building right in the heart of Chinatown, and a great place to immerse yourself in Buddhist history and art. Take a free tour and witness the ornate and colourful interior as well as learning about the historic Buddha tooth relic, said to be housed here.
Address : 288 South Bridge Street. Tel 6220 0220 Open : 7am-7pm daily Website : www.btrts.org.sg/
** Wear appropriate attire during your visit to show respect. No bare backs, bare shoulders, shorts or mini-skirts. **
It is time to kick back, chill out and start the evening off with a drink! Walk south-west on South Bridge, keep slightly to the right to stay on South Bridge Rd before continuing onto Neil Rd. Turn right onto Teck Lim Rd and your destination will be on the left.
Find a seat and sip on your favourite cocktail as you relax overlooking the sights and sounds of bustling Chinatown. This is a great way to kick the evening off after a busy day discovering this amazing neighbourhood.
Address : 36 Keong Saik Road. Tel 6327 1939 Open : Tues-Sun 11 am-12 pm Website : www.ptthead.com/restaurants-bars-in-singapore/
TIP : If you are here on a Monday, a great alternative is Muchachos, a mexican restaurant at 22 Keong saik Road (Open 6 pm-10 pm)
After dinner, walk north on Keong Saik Rd towards Teck Lim Rd. Turn right onto New Bridge Rd and then right onto Smith Street.
Going strong since 2004, this market which spreads across several streets, seeks to provide visitors with an authentic street hawker experience of yesteryears.
Various stalls sell a wide mixture of affordable merchandise and especially comes to life in the evening.
By the end of 2018, the market which is being slowly refurbished, will have 140 stalls selling goods that highlight the true character and uniqueness of Chinatown. Wander along the streets and maybe pick up a souvenir or two, but soak up the atmosphere as Chinatown really comes to life. Haggle for bargains and engage with vendors who are always up for a fun time.
Address : Spreads across Pagoda, Trengganu, Sago and Smith Streets.
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