Chinatown in Singapore is a sharp contrast to the rest of the city, with low rise buildings and culture bursting out onto the streets, from the fragrant smells of traditional cuisine to the bold red and gold tones that run through the neighbourhood. This is an area that’s proud of its heritage, and has it very much on display. There are ornate Chinese, Buddhist and Hindu temples, museums galore and plenty of opportunities to soak up the bustling streets lined with old shophouses. Here’s our list of the best things to see in Chinatown Singapore.
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The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is a remarkable four-story temple. When entering the gate, you’ll immediately notice the stunning main hall with its high ceiling. The bell tower and drum tower are on the same floor. However, the main focus for most visitors is the solid gold two-metre stupa on the fourth floor which is the place where the sacred relic is kept. Continuing up to the roof, there is a pagoda that has a large prayer wheel. The temple is built in a style based on the Buddhist mandala and integrated with the Buddhism of the Tang dynasty. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 09:00 - 18:30
- Address: 288 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058840
- Tel: +65 6220 0220
The oldest shrine in Singapore – Sri Mariamman Temple is one of the most prominent places of worship for Tamil Hindus in the country. It was built to honour Goddess Mariamman – the deity of disease and protection. Originally erected by Naraina Pillai – an Indian trader from Penang – in 1827, the temple was modified to its present structure in 1862, although it has undergone several renovations since. Apart from being a place of worship, the temple has also acted as an asylum for new immigrants that belong to South Indian Tamil Hindu community. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 - 12:00 and 18:00 - 21:00
- Location: On the corner of Chinatown’s South Bridge Road at the Pagoda Street
- Address: 244 S Bridge Road, Singapore 058793
- Tel: +65 6223 4064
There are plenty of sky-high views in the city, but this one is a little different. Located on top of the world’s tallest residential building, it costs only 5 SGD to admire the vista and is usually very quiet, especially as there is a cap on the number of people who can visit daily (200, so as to not disturb those who live there). This is the tallest building around, so you can see far and wide, across Chinatown and towards Sentosa Island. To climb to the viewing platform you need an EZ-Link card, which is used for public transport around the city. The skybridge is usually quite quiet, except when there are fireworks on. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 9:00 – 22:00
- MRT: Outram Park
- Address: 1G Cantonnment Road, Singapore
Red Dot Design Museum will make you look at everyday objects in a different light. Taking the mystery out of innovations that make our life easier and exploring some of the more unusual gizmos and gadgets, it is easy to spend an hour or so here. Although it’s a fairly small gallery, the spectrum of design is large and varied; everything from advertising posters, packaging, computers to household appliances. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Mon, Tue & Fri 11:00–18:00, Sat - Sun 11:00-20:00 (Closed every Wed & Thu)
- Address: 28 Maxwell road red dot traffic Singapore 069120
- Tel: +65 6327 8027
These busy streets encapsulate all the sights and sounds visitors expect of Chinatown, with hundreds of stalls selling everything from silk robes to lucky cats. There are plenty of ‘Made in China’ goods on display and lanterns swaying in the breeze above your head. There’s also a fantastic range of street food carts amongst the shopping, with fresh dim sum and crispy duck. Remember to haggle with a smile if you want the best price. The market is open during the day, but it looks its most picturesque at dusk, with the lights shining brightly and the sound of hawkers tempting you to check out their wares. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 10:00 until 22:00
- Address: Pagoda Street and surrounding roads
Thian Hock Keng Temple
Thian Hock Keng, or the Temple of Heavenly Happiness, is the oldest and probably most interesting Chinese temple in Singapore. Built circa 1820, this Taoist-Buddhist temple was dedicated to to Ma Zu Po, the Mother of Heavenly Sages and the protector of sailors. You can find this colourful temple along Telok Ayer Street, in the middle of Chinatown. Formerly at the waterfront before Singapore embarked on its land reclamation, was where many sailors and early settlers came to offer thanks for a safe journey by sea. The temple boasts elaborately painted doors, as well as highly-decorated beams and gold-leafed panels.
- Opening Hours: Daily 07:30 - 17:30
- Address: 158 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068613
- Tel: +65 6423 4616
This small park in the centre of Chinatown is famous for being the only place in Singapore where you can openly speak your mind. Well, as you long you stick to all the rules, which include: being Singaporean, not mentioning religion and making sure you have told the police you plan to speak. Protests often take place here too. There’s usually not much going on during the week, although it is a nice spot to relax outside in the shade. Come at the weekends to see the cheery debates. Read More...
- Location: Between New Bridge, South Canal, South Bridge and Upper Pickering Streets
Singapore City Gallery
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Singapore. If you want to know a little more about how the government manage to squeeze all these people onto one tiny island without ending on top of each other, this is the place to go. Opened in 1999, it aims to teach visitors how modern Singapore came to be, and how the city planners continue to plan sustainably. The most impressive part of the gallery is the Central Area Model. With a scale of 1:400 it is a miniature version of the centre of Singapore in 3D.
- Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 9:00 until 17:00
- Address: 45 Maxwell Road, URA Centre, levels 1-3, Singapore 069118
- Tel: +65 6321 8321
You won’t have any problem finding Baba House. Even in an area filled with shophouses that have ornate facades, the blue house stands out on Neil Road, thanks to an ornate entrance door covered in golden leaf. In the 19th century this house was owned by a Chinese shipping tycoon, and has now become a museum dedicated to Peranakan culture. Most of the furniture inside belongs to the house, and it’s really interesting to get the opportunity to see the house as it would have been a hundred years ago. Call the number below to arrange a visit, as guided tours are by appointment only.
- Address: 157 Neil Rd, Singapore 088883
- Tel: +65 6227 5731
Singapore Coin and Notes Museum
The Singapore Mint isn’t going to be on the top of most people’s to do list in Chinatown, but the museum has definitely done its best to open up a niche interest to the general public. Not only can you marvel at some of the beautiful coins that make up Singapore’s past and present currency, but you can also get your hands on the materials used to make them. Kids will love the colourful rubbings table and Harry Potter coin and adults will be impressed with the vintage machinery that you can manually press your own dollar with.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 10:00 until 20:00
- Address: 40 Pagoda Street, Level 1, Singapore
- Tel: +65 6222-2486