The cramped five-foot-ways, dingy alleys and raucous street hawkers are relics of Chinatown’s past.
Yet pockets of history remain in Chinatown, along with more modern sights. You could easily spend a few days wandering through these still-narrow streets.
Family-run goldsmiths, medicinal halls and teahouses ply their trades next to sleeker neighbours such as hipster bars and lifestyle shops.
Eat, drink and be very merry
If you’re a foodie, try 'char kway teow' (stir-fried noodles) and 'satay' (barbecued meat skewers) at Chinatown Food Street, a row of hawker stalls, shophouse restaurants and kiosks along Smith Street.
For trendier tastes, chic restaurants and bars are in Neil Road, Duxton Road and Keong Saik Road. The vibe is electric in Club Street and Ann Siang Road on Friday and Saturday nights, when locals and expats head down for dinner and drinks.
So much to do
Want to shop? Buy souvenirs in Pagoda Street, 'bak kwa' (barbecued meat) in New Bridge Road or traditional Chinese medicine in South Bridge Road.
Chinatown is where Hindu temples and mosques sit right next to Chinese temples. Sri Mariamman Temple and Jamae Mosque are on South Bridge Road, as is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
To rest that weary head, stay at a boutique hotel in Duxton Road, Keong Saik Road and Ann Siang Road. For budget stays, try Trengganu Street, Mosque Street and Temple Street.
Best of all, there’s free Wi-Fi throughout the Chinatown area so you can continue to be plugged in while you sightsee, shop and eat.
There is a range of guided tours that leave from Chinatown Visitors’ Centre. Please click here for more information.