For lack of time, most tourists only know Food Street, a few souvenir shops and one or two of the temples in Chinatown – between Pagoda Street and Smith Street. But this part of town has much more to offer. You can spend more than a day here and you probably haven’t seen everything yet.
Chinatown is downtown and borders the CBD and the Singapore River. The streets are lavishly decorated for the Chinese festivals. In many areas you can access free WLAN here.
Once it was an area for Chinese immigrants who hoped for a better life in Singapore. Today the area has more to offer than traditional shops. In between there are lifestyle shops and trendy bars. The Chinese make up about ¾ of the Singapore’s population. I recommend exploring on foot. Here, everything is close together and you can enjoy the wonderful street art.
In the City Gallery on Maxwell Road you will find a lot of information and exhibits about Singapore on three floors. If you want to see the city center from a bird’s eye view, you’ve come to the right place. The 270-degree panorama show of life in Singapore is also impressive. Get here not only an insight into the city planning but also into the nature conservation efforts of the city.
The Keong Saik Road was the red light district of the city in the 1960s. Today you can enjoy the colorful three-storey shop houses, which are home to hotels, bars, cafes and art galleries.
At the Heritage Center on Pagoda Street, you can walk through three floors of contemporary history. I was very impressed and it will certainly not be my last visit here.
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is probably one of the best known. The temple was opened in 2007. Over several floors elaborately designed figures, paintings and decorations stretch out. On the upper floors there are exhibition, cafés and a small, beautiful roof garden. In the Five-Insights-Hall there is vegetarian food. The amount is thrown into a suitable container. There is no change.
The Thian Hock Keng Temple was built in 1839 without a single nail. It’s the oldest Chinese temple in the city. Here you can admire the traditional South Chinese carvings and sculptures.
Right next to the Thian Hock Keng Temple you’ll find Yu Huang Gong. It is a Taoist temple and was renovated in 2015. Behind the temple is the imposing Pagoda Tower.
Sri Mariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. It was built in 1827. You can reach it by walking along the South Bridge Road. This one looks colourful and cheerful. The most spectacular is probably a visit in October, when the Festival Thimithi is celebrated. Then you can see processions with people wrapped in yellow and men walking over glowing coals.
Nagore Durgha Shrine
Not far from Thian Hock Keng Temple you will find one of the most important sanctuaries of the Muslims. Built around 1830 by South Indian Chulia in the form of a miniature palace.
The Masjid Jamae comes from Chulia in southern India. It is almost 200 years old and was built in 1826. The Tamil-Muslim community also calls the mosque Chulia or Periya Palli.
The Masjid Al-Abrar has been a national monument since 1974. It was built in 1855. Previously it was a straw hut used for church services for about 25 years. Also this mosque has its origin with the Chulia.
Food / Hawker Centre
- I recommend the Food Center on the 2nd floor of the Coliwa Department Store Chinatown Complex. But be there by 11.00 a.m. at the latest. It’s very well known and otherwise you’ll have to wait in line for a long time. In the basement you should have a look at the Wet Market. There are lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and meat.
- The Maxwell Food Centre on Kadayanallur Street is not far from MRT Chinatown.
- Or you can walk through Food Street with its numerous restaurants. The MRT station Chinatown is also located in the middle of Food Street.
Here you can learn how to drink traditional tea. You can visit the Tea House or book a workshop. But you can also just take a look around the small shop.
There are also some festivals (also in little India) during the year. When it fits to your travel time, you should go and see them.
Update 22.02.2020: It’s safe in Singapore/Chinatown #covid19 #coronavirus