Historically the area of settlement for many Chinese immigrants who arrived in the then-British colony, Chinatown is rife with both Chinese and other Asian cultures. With good food, tourist hotspots, art, and one of the best skyline views of Singapore, you can’t pass up a visit to Chinatown.
1. Chinatown Heritage Centre
Get to know about the history of Chinatown and understand the influence of Chinese culture in modern-day Singapore at the Chinatown Heritage Centre. Take a step back in history, and relive the scenes of 1950s Chinatown. The museum tells the story of the development of Chinatown and how Chinese immigrants went from being sin-keh (guests) to the largest ethnic group in the country, with major influences on the language and culture of Singapore.
Opening hours: 9am – 8pm, last entry at 7pm
Address: 48 Pagoda St, Singapore, +65 6534 8942
2. Baba House
This house is preserved in the style of the traditional Peranakan terrace-house, was once the ancestral home of the Peranakan, or Straits Chinese, descendants of 19th century Chinese immigrant and shipping businessman Wee Bin. The furniture and artifacts inside are all relics from when the house was inhabited by the family, making it a genuine representation of Peranakan life and culture in Singapore in the 19th and 20th centuries. Advance booking is necessary, but the tour is for free and very informative.
Opening hours: 2pm – 3pm (Mon), 6:30pm – 7:30pm (Tues), 10am – 11am (Thurs), 11am – 12pm (Sat)
Address: 157 Neil Rd, Singapore, +65 6227 5731
3. Maxwell Hawker Centre
Food is one of the very important ways to understand the Chinese culture. Maxwell Hawker Centre is one of the oldest and largest hawker centres in Singapore, with over a hundred stalls. You can dig into a delicious hot bowl of authentic Laksa noodles or the famous Hainanese Cricken Rice, or savour local snacks like Kaya Toast and Dim Sum to experience Singapore’s street food culture.
Opening hours: 8am – 10pm
Address: 11 South Bridge, Singapore
4. Thiam Hock Keng Temple
The oldest and largest Hokkien temple in Singapore, Thian Hock Keng temple was built by immigrants from Hokkien, China in the 19th century to worship the Taoist goddess Mazu. Originally a small shrine, it is built in the style of traditional southern Chinese temples, characterised by a curved, tiled roof and elaborate carvings. Over the years, it has become to be a popular sacred place of worship for the Hokkien community, gaining recognition in Imperial China. Chinese cultural performances and celebrations are also held in this temple.
Opening hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm
Address: 158 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore, +65 6423 4616
5. Sri Mariamman Temple
Chinatown is home to the Sri Mariamman Temple, the first Hindu temple in Singapore. The temple was built for the goddess Mariamman, in the early 19th century by southern Indian immigrants. It is in the architectural style of Dravidian temples, with a towering gopuram (entrance tower) decorated by six tiers filled with ornate sculptures of figures from Hindu mythology and culture. Historically, the temple was a centre of Hindu culture and offered help to immigrants; today, it retains many of its social, cultural and religious significance among the Hindu community.
Opening hours: 7am – 12pm, 6pm – 9pm
Address: 44 South Bridge Rd, Singapore, +65 6223 4064
6. Tea Chapter
Tea is an important aspect of Chinese culture, symbolising unity and harmony, as well as offering health benefits and giving a sense of tranquility. Visit Tea Chapter and try different kinds of Chinese tea and exquisite traditional snacks. While Tea Chapter offers workshops, including a Tea Appreciation Package. A workshop is an hour-long and it allows you to explore the history and cultural significance of tea in traditional Chinese culture.
Opening hours: 11am – 10:30pm (Sun – Thurs), 11am – 11pm (Fri – Sat, Public Holidays)
Address: 9 & 11 Neil Road, Singapore, +65 6226 1175
7. Chinatown Street Market
The street markets are one of the biggest draws in Singapore's Chinatown. While it has become increasingly more touristy and commercialized, it is still a wonderful place to go for souvenir shopping to take home for friends and family at affordable prices. If you visit during the Lunar New Year or Mid-Autumn festivals, the town lights up with beautiful decorations, food bazaar and street parades.
Opening hours: 10am – 10pm
Address: Pagoda Street, Terengganu Street, Sago Street, Smith Street, Singapore