Once an enclave for Singapore’s Chinese immigrant population, the Chinatown of today is much-beloved for its blend of old and new, with historic temples and traditional medicinal halls sitting alongside hip new bars and lifestyle shops.
Whether you’re visiting century-old temples at Telok Ayer and Kreta Ayer or making new friends at a bar in Duxton or Keong Saik, there’s always a new experience in Chinatown.
Home To Heritage
Gain insights into Singapore’s rich, multi-ethnic culture by visiting some of the country’s oldest places of worship, located in the heart of Chinatown.
Culture lovers looking to immerse themselves in Buddhism’s rich art and history should pay a visit to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. The temple’s interior is architecturally designed in the form of a mandala, a central concept in Buddhist and Hindu spirituality that represents universal connection.
From the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, take a short jaunt down South Bridge Road, and keep an eye out for Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. Constructed by immigrants in 1827, this place of worship is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, known for her power in curing epidemics, illnesses and disease.
Located just a stone’s throw away on Mosque Street is Jamae Mosque, built as a place of worship for Chinatown’s Tamil Muslim population. Colloquially referred to as Periya Palli (‘Big Mosque’ in Tamil), the mosque’s iconic architectural style makes it a must-see for urban explorers.
A Taste Of Old And New
Whether you’re a food lover exploring the traditional flavours of a country or a gourmand who loves fusion and experimentation, Chinatown’s diverse food offerings are certain to sate your appetite.
A perfect example of Chinatown’s old-meets-new food offerings, Chinatown Food Street provides visiting foodies a culinary smorgasbord of well-loved Singaporean hawker food, ranging from char kway teow (stir-fried noodles) and satay (grilled skewered meat) to roast duck and South Indian curries.
Foodies looking for behind-the-scenes insight into the preparation of Japanese dishes should visit Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant, a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant at Keong Saik Road. Prime seats in the house overlook the kitchen, which features the chef’s live performance of gutting and cleaning the unagi (eel) before grilling it over a charcoal fire pit.
Alternatively, lovers of culinary innovation should visit A Noodle Story, an innovative hawker stall at Amoy Street Food Centre. The establishment draws on local flavours to bring a twist to its ramen dishes, and retained its Michelin Bib Gourmand award in 2018.
Besides being home to culture and tradition, Chinatown is also a neighbourhood filled with dynamic activities and opportunities to make new friends.
Visit Virtual Room Singapore and work up a real sweat with your friends in virtual reality (VR): This science fiction-themed virtual reality experience allows visitors to go on 45-minute long, collaborative adventures into the distant future, with dedicated rooms equipped with the latest VR gear.
If you’re a silver screen lover as well as an extrovert, be sure to grab a drink at The Screening Room in the evening. A bar that doubles up as a mini cinema, this drinking establishment along Ann Siang Road gives socialisers a chance to make new friends over a tipple, enjoy the view from the rooftop bar, or head down to the mini-cinema to enjoy a cult classic film.