One of three ethnic enclaves in Singapore (the other two being Kampong Glam and Little India), Chinatown still remains culturally and historically significant, a fact recognised by the URA who have designated many parts of the area as national heritage sites. Though it celebrates the past, it is an area very much looking to the future, and is a fantastically thriving, pulsating district right in the heart of Singapore.
Chinatown is actually made up of four areas, distinctive from each other by the time they underwent development: Telok Ayer being the first, initially developed in the 1820s. Kreta Ayer and Bukit Pasoh followed with Tanjong Pagar being the last to come into being, a century later. Architecturally, the district features some of the finest – and certainly most well maintained – examples of the classic shophouse, with a design unique to the area, showing a distinct Portuguese as well as a Chinese influence.
As well as wanting to sample its unique atmosphere, the majority of the millions of visitors to one of Singapore’s busiest districts come for one, two or all three of the following reasons:
As you’d expect, food is cheap, tasty and plentiful, with something for all palates and wallets. The newly refurbished Food Street, complete with ceiling and air conditioning features a mixture of hawker stalls, street stalls and shophouse restaurants. The Maxwell Food Centre is one of the best – and busiest – on the island, while at the other end of the price scale head down to Club Street, Neil Road, Duxton Road and Keong Saik Road where there is always a good mix of both locals and expats at the numerous trendy bars and restaurants.
Chinatown is the place to go for a cheap souvenir but it offers a lot more, giving you the opportunity to pick up something different than is available from the ubiquitous malls on the rest of the island. Temple, Pagoda and Trengganu Streets are the best to find the street stalls selling everything from Chinese silks and paintings to CD’s and touristy trinkets. The handicraft centre housed in Chinatown Point is the best place for traditional Chinese pieces of pottery, art and wood carvings. Those looking for herbs and Chinese medicine will find all they need on South Bridge Road.
The Chinatown Heritage Centre housed over three floors in a converted shophouse is a trip back in time to the squalid and cramped conditions that local residents faced before redevelopment of the area. One unique feature of the district is that along the same street you can find wonderful examples of Chinese, Hindu and Muslim places of worship, with the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple definitely worth a visit.
New launch condos nearby
Condo Launches in 2015