Where to Shop and What to Buy in Chinatown
With the Chinese forming over 75% of the population, one can expect Chinatown to be a prominent landmark that evolved from the time of the first immigrants in the 19th century. Today, it is a vivid and energetic gazetted conservation precinct bounded by these major roads - Eu Tong Sen St, New Bridge Road and South Bridge Road. Interspersed with modern tall buildings, the appeal of the old era is still preserved in the charming pre-war shophouses, temples, markets, Chinese medicine halls and tea houses.
The best time to visit Chinatown is during the Lunar New Year, usually in January or February. One month before the New Year, Chinatown goes into a decorative frenzy of stunning lights and ornaments – a photographer’s delight. Streets are filled with stalls touting their wares – foodstuffs, clothes, pottery, plants and other household items. Another brilliant burst of colours and lights occurs during the Mid-Autumn Festival held traditionally in September. This is when the streets become festooned with a myriad of lanterns of all shapes and sizes; and locals go on a buying spree of the seasonal mooncakes.Read More
- Chinatown at Night with Dinner & Cruise
- Dining Experience at Peony Jade
- Secrets of the Red Lantern Walking Tour
- A Taste of Chinatown: Food & Heritage Tour
- Chinese Customs Walking Tour: Birth, Marriage & Death
- Dinner at Quayside Seafood
- Chinatown Afternoon Food Tour
- Soothing Spa Experience
- Small-Group Chinatown Food Adventure
- Chinatown, Temple & Ann Siang Hill Walking Tour
All Shopping Places in Chinatown
Ann Siang Road
This lovely street filled with old shop houses is also an excellent place to shop, with plenty of stand-alone boutiques that sell something a little more out of the ordinary compared to the mega malls Singapore is known for. Ann Siang Hill’s shops include plenty of clothing stores such as Willow & Huxley, an umbrella shop for funky womenswear brands from around the globe, Mythology on Club Street for colourful party dress and independent labels from the Asian region and Aston Blake, for men who like smart tailored shirts and suits. For homeware we love Rose Citron French Design: the patchwork cushions are stunning.
- Opening Hours: Varies, but usually around 10:00 until 17:00
- Location: Ann Siang Road and Club Street
Easily one of the best independent book stores in the city, BooksActually not only have a wide variety of alternative titles, they also publish their own books, focussing on up and coming Singaporean writers. There’s the whole gamut here, from fiction to history via poetry, kids books and mathematic tomes. You could easily spend hours here, not only browsing the shelves but also checking out the collection of knick knacks and stationary which are sold alongside it. The owner hand selects every book and product on sale and it’s not hard to see why it’s such a success.
- Address: 9 Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate, Singapore
- Tel: +65 6222 9195
China Square Central Flea Market
During the week China Square doesn’t really stand out, but come Sundays, this is the place to be. Stalls and sellers set up early in the morning, and although it’s air-conditioned and inside a mall, the objects for sale match the variety that you’d find in any outdoor market. China Square is home to a lot of toy and comic book stores, and on Sundays they have tables and stands outside their shops as well. There are also plenty of antiques, including some great vintage china items, retro clocks and phones, and second hand books. The market takes up two floors and they really pack the stalls in. It’s a fun and different shopping experience in Chinatown.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 until 18:00 on Sundays
- Address: 18 Cross Street, China Square Central, (Marsh and McLennan Centre)
Recently renovated, Chinatown Complex is an enormous complex housing a market, food centre and small shops.The wet market is known for its fresh food products and the food centre has gained a reputation for its mindboggling array of street food.
- Address: 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335
- Tel: +65 6372 0478
Chinatown Point & Singapore Handicraft Center
With over 200 shops spread out on six levels, Chinatown Point which also houses the Handicraft Centre is a modern building of souvenirs, lacquer ware, shoes, cosmetics, clothes and travel bags at bargain prices as well as restaurants and cafes.
- Address: 133 New Bridge Road, Singapore 059413
- Tel: +65 6535 2846
Chinatown Street Stalls
One of the fastest ways to acquaint oneself with Chinatown is to go on a walking tour of the shops and stalls on these streets – Pagoda Street, Trengganu Street, Sago Lane, Smith Street and Temple Street. Here you will come across trinkets, knick-knacks, paintings, t-shirts, Chinese silk, tailors, home decorations, herbal shops and CDs. Some stalls will let you bargain but generally prices are competitive.
- Opening Hours: Daily 11:00 - 23:00
Ming Fang Antique House
The owner at Ming Fang Antique House doesn’t speak the best English, but that doesn’t really matter. He’s friendly, knows the essentials about the products on sale here and is always game for a little bartering. The shop is carefully arranged, with all the products on shelves by size, age and value. Antiques are taken seriously here, and some pieces are worth hundreds of dollars, so it’s worth having an idea of how much you want to spend before visiting. There’s a whole range of Chinese trinkets and statues here, including masks, coins, Buddha statues and plenty of jade.
- Address: 274 South Bridge Rd, 058823 Singapore
- Tel: +65 6224 3788
OG Department Store & People's Park Centre
Rising just above the Chinatown MRT, OG is a household brand in Singapore known for its fashion, jewellery, cosmetics, watches and toys. Adjacent to it is the refurbished People’s Park Complex frequented for its textiles, haberdasheries, electrical /electronic good, street wear, toiletries and luggage, all priced competitively.
- Address: 100 Upper Cross Street, Singapore 058360
- Tel: +65 6535 8888
Tanjong Pagar Plaza
This cream coloured building doesn’t look like much from the outside, but if you are looking for bargains then Tanjong Pagar Plaza is the place to come. The entrance is mainly taken over by beauty salons, manicurists and hairdressers, but with 130 shops here it’s a good place to bag deals on electronics, stationary and even textiles. If you fancy a bite to eat head up to the impressive second floor food court with fish soup being one of the specialities (there are five stalls dedicated to it). Tanjong Plaza is set up for locals and the prices reflect this, so if you’re on a budget but love to shop it’s a great experience.
- MRT: Tanjong Pagar
- Address: Tanjong Pagar Plaza, Singapore 081006
View Point is the kind of shop you should check out even if you have no intention of purchasing anything, it’s a treasure trove with hundreds of vintage items full of history that are piled on top of each other in a haphazard way. The store are dealers in antiques, and their specialist products looks to be a best of pop culture, from old film posters from the 60s and 70s, metal and ceramic advertisements for beer, tea and other household goods. Alongside this you’ll find plenty of old magazines, photos and records. Be sure to speak to the staff – they are passionate about their wares.
- Address: #02-09, 18 Cross Street, China Square Central, 048423 Singapore
Yue Hwa Emporium
With its impressive Chinese façade built at the turn of the century, the legendary city landmark, with its sister branches in Hong Kong, proffers a plethora of reasonably- priced, authentic Chinese products - from tea, herbs and medicines to silks, cheongsams, handicrafts and antiques. Quality here is certainly higher than what you get in the street markets. You can also find seasonal promotions such as the Lunar New Year delicacies to the Autumn hairy crab.
- Opening Hours: Sun - Fri 11:00 - 21:00, Sat 11:00 - 23:00
- Address: 70 Eu Tong Sen Street, Singapore 059805
- Tel: +65 6538 4222 (Department Store)