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25 Things to Do in Chinatown, Singapore

25 Things to Do in Chinatown, Singapore

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Regardless whether you’re a first-time visitor or a long-time resident in Singapore, you will be surprised at how many hidden gems that Chinatown has.

In the past, Chinatown used to be a neighbourhood for Singapore’s Chinese immigrants. Today, you can find a mixture of old and new architecture dotting the streets at Chinatown.

From historic temples, traditional shophouses, Michelin-worthy dishes to rooftop decks, Chinatown is one of the must-visit places in Singapore.

As someone who has visited Chinatown quite a lot of times and explored as many corners of Chinatown as possible, here is my guide to the best things to do in Chinatown.

1. Chinatown Street Market

CNY 2022 Chinese New Year Light Up at Chinatown Singapore - Pagoda Street

Chinatown Street Market is the place to go if you’re looking to get affordable souvenirs. There are plenty of souvenirs shops, snacks shops, as well as coffee shops and restaurants. From MRT, take Exit A and you will find yourself at the Pagoda Street.

During Chinese New Year, the streets are filled with vendors selling CNY goodies, such as zodiac-themed plush toys, CNY snacks and sweets, pomelos, and mandarin oranges.

The main concentration of Chinatown Street Market is located on Pagoda Street, Trengganu Street and Sago Street. Vehicles are not allowed to enter these streets, so you can feel safe exploring the street market.

Chinatown Street Market
Opening Hours:
 The street is accessible 24/7 daily, but the shops have their own opening hours
Admission: Free
Admission: Free
Address: Pagoda Street


2. Chinatown Complex Food Centre

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Chinatown Complex

Chinatown Complex Food Centre is the largest hawker centre in Singapore with over 260 food stalls. It is located at Level 2 of Chinatown Complex (the first storey is Chinatown Complex Market which sells dry and wet goods).

Chinatown Complex Food Centre is so huge, I often get lost getting back to my table after collecting my food. One trick that works for me is remembering the unit number of the stall closest to my table.

Food worth trying in this hawker centre are: Liao Fan Hawker Chan (#02-126), Lian He Ben Ji Claypot (#02-198/199), Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao (#02-135), Herbal Soup (#02-017), and Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck (#02-156).

Chinatown Complex Food Centre
Opening Hours:
 The food centre is accessible 24/7 daily, but the stalls have their own opening hours
Admission: Free
Address: 46 Smith Street, Singapore 058956


3. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (BTRT) is home to the Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic, ancient artefacts, museums and various Halls and Chambers where visitors can learn about history of Buddhism. The temple is open to both devotees and non-devotees.

Do allow at least 1 to 2 hours in this grand building of 4 storeys with roof and a basement. I highly recommend that you dine at the Vegetarian Dining Hall at basement. The food is really delicious and pretty affordable (about $5 per meal).

The dress code requires you to wear appropriate clothing, eg: no shorts, no mini skirts, no bare shoulder/back. There are sarongs you can borrow at the entrance of the temple.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm daily (Museum and stupa Chamber); 7am to 5pm daily (other areas)
Admission: Free
Address: 288 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058840
Website: buddhatoothrelictemple.org.sg


4. Sri Mariamman Temple

Awesome Places in Singapore You Can Visit for Free - Sri Mariamman Temple at Chinatown
Sri Mariamman Temple at Chinatown (Photo Credit: Jorge Cancela)

Built in 1827, Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. It is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, known for her power to cure illnesses and diseases. The temple was gazette as National Museum in 1973.

The entrance of Sri Mariamman Temple consists of a six-tier grand tower decorated with sculptures of deities, mythological beasts and other beings. Inside, there are various god and goddess statues that Hindu devotees pay respect to.

The dress code is: covered shoulders, covered knees trousers, and no footwear. Temples do provide shawls, cover-ups and wraps, and there’s a designated place to keep your footwear.

Sri Mariamman Temple
Opening Hours: 5.30am to noon; 6pm to 9pm daily
Admission: Free
Address: 244 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058793
Website: smt.org.sg
NOTE: Sri Mariamman Temple is currently undergoing renovation, which is targeted to finish by 12 Feb 2023.


5. Masjid Jamae (Chulia)

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Masjid Jamae Chulia

Masjid Jamae (Chulia) was the first of three mosques in Chinatown erected by the Chulias, who were Tamil Muslims from the Southern India. Built in the early 1800s, Jamae Mosque was gazette as National Museum in 1974.

The entrance of Masjid Jamae consists of a pair of 7-level octagonal minarets painted in light green. Inside, the carpeted main hall has Tuscan columns and windows with semi-circular fanlights. There is also a display of information about the Mosque’s history.

Non-Muslim visitors can only walk on tiled area and can’t enter the prayer hall. Male visitors are not allowed to wear short and singlet, meanwhile, female visitors are not allowed to revealing clothings (mini skirts, shorts, low neckline, sleeveless tops). There is a cupboard with robes that you can borrow before entering. Footwear isn’t allowed, so you need to leave your footwear at designated location.

Masjid Jamae (Chulia)
Opening Hours: 2pm-6pm (Sat-Thu), 2.30pm-6pm (Fri)
Admission: Free
Address: 218 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058767
Website: www.masjidjamaechulia.sg
NOTE: Masjid Jamae (Chulia) will be undergoing renovation from end of 2022 until end of 2023.


6. Cantonese Opera – Wall Mural at Temple Street

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Cantonese Opera Mural

Cantonese Opera Mural is a street art painted by Yip Yew Chong, a local artists who have painted a lot of walls in Singapore.

Yip said that the mural was inspired by the abundant number of Cantonese operas that he watched growing up in the 1970s and 1980s.

If you are not familiar with Chinese opera is a musical play with elaborate costume and stage details. The actors perform singing and movement, that is in sync with the orchestra sound, to convey a story.

Cantonese Opera – Wall Mural
Opening Hours: 24/7 daily
Admission: Free
Location: Temple Street


7. Liao Fan Hawker Chan

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Hawker Chan Smith Street

Liao Fan Hawker Chan’s original stall at Chinatown Complex Food Centre is one of the first two hawker stalls awarded with One Michelin Star. Started by Chan Hon Meng, the stall sells soya sauce chicken (highly recommended), char siew, roasted pork and roasted rib.

Due to its popularity, the queue at the hawker stall is generally quite long. To avoid spending time queueing, I recommend that you visit the standalone shophouse (pictured above) at 78 Smith Street instead.

Liao Fan Hawker Chan
Opening Hours: 10.30am – 8pm daily
Location: 78 Smith Street, Singapore 058972


8. Letter Writer Mural at Smith Street

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Letter Writing Mural

Located just opposite Liao Fan Hawker Chan is the Letter Writer Mural, also painted by Yip Yew Chong. It features a letter writer hard at work writing a letter with traditional ink.

In the past, letter writer was an essential role who helped the illiterate migrant forefathers write letters to their loved ones back in China. The letter writers were also skilled in writing calligraphies for Chinese New Year couplets and ancestral altars.

Letter Writer Mural
Opening Hours: 24/7 daily
Admission: Free
Location: Smith Street – opposite Liao Fan Hawker Chan


9. My Chinatown Home Mural at Trengganu Street

Hidden in the narrow alley of Trengganu Street is My Chinatown Home Mural painted by Yip Yew Chong. Yip said it was the most intimate mural he’d ever painted, because it depicts his very first home in Sago Lane, Chinatown. Every objects and the room layouts were painted based on his fond memories of the home.

On the far right is his grandmother sewing a blanket. Next to it is the long bed where his family and their co-tenants slept on. On the left is the kitchen where his mother is frying sticky rice cake.

My Chinatown Home Mural
Opening Hours: 24/7 daily
Admission: Free
Location: Trengganu Street


10. Watch Chess Games at Sago Street

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Chess Game at Sago Street

At Sago Street, right between Chinatown Complex and Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, there is this hangout corner where many elderly gather everyday to play various kind of chess games with their friends.

It is quite heartwarming to see how the old folks maintain relationship with their peers and not heavily addicted to technology.

Sago Street
Opening Hours: 24/7 daily
Admission: Free
Location: Sago Street


11. Detective Conan in Chinatown Mural at Smith Street

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Conan Mural

Painted by Yip Yew Chong, Detective Conan in Chinatown Mural is a simple light-hearted mural that depicts Conan trying out durians in Chinatown.

Conan’s Wall Art
Opening Hours: 24/7 daily
Admission: Free
Location: Smith Street


12. First Eu Yan Sang’s Medicine Shop

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - First Eu Yan Sang Medicine Shop

This colonial-styled building at the opposite of Sri Mariamman Temple was Eu Yan Sang’s first medicine shop in Singapore. Eu Yan Sang is one of the most well-known medicine houses in Singapore.

Started in 1879 in Perak, Malaysia, Eu Yan Sang expanded to other countries in the early 1900s. This particular shop was opened in 1910 by Eu Yang Sang’s eldest son, Eu Tong Sen. Sounds familiar? It’s the name of one of the main streets in Chinatown Singapore!

Today, this building is a private property, hence, there’s no admission for public.

First Eu Yan Sang’s Medicine Shop
South Bridge Road is accessible by public 24/7 daily. However, the building is private property, so it’s not possible to enter.
Location: South Bridge Road, Opposite Sri Mariamman Temple


13. Maxwell Food Centre

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Maxwell Food Centre Tian Tian Chicken Rice

Maxwell Food Centre is a hawker centre located opposite Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. It’s a busy hawker centre often visited by tourists as well as locals working near Tanjong Pagar area.

Food worth trying include: Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (#01-10/11), Maxwell Fu Zhou Oyster Cake (#01-06), Jin Hua Fish Soup (#01-77), Rojak, Popiah & Cockle (#01-56).

Maxwell Food Centre
Opening Hours:
 The food centre is accessible 24/7 daily, but the stalls have their own opening hours
Admission: Free
Address: 1 Kadayanallur St, Singapore 069184


14. Singapore City Gallery

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Singapore City Gallery at URA

If you love miniature city, you will love Singapore City Gallery. There is a miniature model of the entire country, and there is a detailed model of the Marina Bay area.

As someone who has lived in Singapore for over 10 years, I always love visiting the Gallery and pointing to some of the miniature building and exclaim, “I know this place!” Sometimes, the model also makes me realize how little I know about this city, so it’s a motivation for me to go out and explore more.

Singapore City Gallery
Opening Hours:
 9am-5pm (Mon-Sat). Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.
Admission: Free
Address: 45 Maxwell Road The URA Centre, 069118


15. Ann Siang Hill and Club Street

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Ann Siang Hill

At first glance, Ann Siang Hill may looks like a sleepy road with very little human traffic. But, if you venture deeper into Ann Siang Hill and walk towards Club Street in the evening, you will be amazed by how buzzing the area is.

Both Ann Siang Hill and Club Street are home to bars, cafes, restaurants, hotels and high-end boutiques. Foodies and nightlife lovers love hanging out here after a hectic day at work or after a busy day sightseeing at Chinatown.

Ann Siang Hill and Club Street
Opening Hours: The street is accessible 24/7 daily, but the shops have their own opening hours.
Location: Ann Siang Hill, Club Street


16. People’s Park Food Centre

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Peoples Park Complex Food Centre
Photo Credit: Choo Yut Shing

People’s Park Food Centre is located next to the eye-catching green-and-yellow building. It is right at Exit C of Chinatown MRT Station.

Here, you will find a lot of Chinese mainland cuisines among local cuisine. There are also fruit stalls and a bak kwa stall. There are halal stalls but not many. The hawker centre is extremely crowded during weekends evening.

It’s a hawker centre that I visit frequently. And my recommended stalls are: Yong Xiang Xing Dou Fu (#01-1084), Wen Dao Ji (#01-1014), Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao (#01-1064), Fatt Soon Kueh (#01-1012), Chuan Wei Yuan (#01-1076), Ri Ri Hong Mala Xiang Guo (#01-152).

People’s Park Food Centre
Opening Hours:
 The food centre is accessible 24/7 daily, but the stalls have their own opening hours
Admission: Free
Address: 32 New Market Rd, Singapore 050032


17. Rooftop of People’s Park Complex Carpark

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Rooftop at Peoples Park Complex
Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Rooftop at Peoples Park Complex

Located along Eu Tong Sen Street, People’s Park Complex is an eye-catching building painted in orange and green. It has about 5-storey of commercial level, with residential apartments on the upper levels.

Next to this eccentric building is a carpark. The carpark isn’t exactly a tourist attraction, but it has recently gained attention with the rise of Instagram. Many young people flock to the rooftop of the carpark to take Instagram-worthy photographs.

Getting here is a bit tricky. You need to go up to level 5 by escalator, then go up to climb up by staircase to level 6. Be careful, the rooftop isn’t exactly well-maintained, I noticed some broken glasses on the floor, so watch where you’re stepping on.

Rooftop of People’s Park Complex Carpark
Opening Hours:
 11am-9.30pm
Admission: Free
Address: 1 Park Rd, Singapore 059108


18. Pearl’s Hill City Park

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Pearl Hill City Park
Photo Credit: NParks

Pearl’s Hill City Park is a hidden oasis at Chinatown. The park is located on a hill, to get there, you need to climb a lot of staircases. If you dare to climb, you will be rewarded with a quiet park, a calm pond and a view of the surrounding building.

Pearl’s Hill City Park is also home to Pearl’s Hill Service Reservoir, which supplies clean drinking water to its surrounding. A note of caution though, there’s very little few shelter at the park.

Pearl’s Hill City Park
Opening Hours: The park is accessible 24/7 daily. Lighting will be turned on from 7pm-7am daily.
Admission: Free
Location: Along Chin Swee Road and Pearl’s Hill Road


19. Hong Lim Market & Food Centre

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Hong Lim Market Food Centre

Hong Lim Market & Food Centre is a 2-storey hawker centre located near Exit F of Chinatown MRT Station. It is quite confusing navigating to the hawker centre from Exit F. Personally, I prefer to take Exit E to Chinatown Point, then go to Level 2 and walk through the bridge that links Chinatown Point with Hong Lim Market & Food Centre.

Hong Lim Market & Food Centre is home to several Michelin Bib Gourmand stalls, such as Tai Wah Pork Noodles (#02-16), Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee (#02-17), Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa (#02-66). There’s also a Michelin Plate awardee which I really enjoy eating: Ah Heng Curry Chicken Bee Hoon Mee (#02-58).

Hong Lim Market & Food Centre
Opening Hours:
 The food centre is accessible 24/7 daily, but the stalls have their own opening hours.
Admission: Free
Address: 531A Upper Cross St, Singapore 051531


20. Murals at Mohamed Ali Lane

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Puppet Seller Mural
Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Paper Mask Mural

There are 4 murals on Mohamed Ali Lane, namely: Paper Mask & Puppet Seller, Mamak Store, Lion Dance Head Maker and The Window. All of these 4 murals are painted by Yip Yew Chong.

The Paper Mask & Puppet Seller mural depicts a man selling paper masks and puppets on bicycle. The Mamak Store mural is inspired by the actual Abdul Kadir’s store in Sago Lane. 

Lion Dance Head Maker mural is based on the actual shop at No. 3 Ann Siang Hill in the 1980s. And The Window tells the story of Abdul Kadir’s family (the mamak store owner) and Lee’s family (the dragon dance head maker) live together in the same shophouse.

Murals at Mohamed Ali Lane
Opening Hours: 24/7 daily
Admission: Free
Location: Mohamed Ali Lane


21. Rooftop of People’s Park Centre

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Rooftop of People's Park Centre
Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Rooftop of People's Park Centre

Do not confuse People’s Park Centre with People’s Park Complex. People’s Park Complex is the building with orange and green paint, while People’s Park Centre is the building painted in light brown color.

The rooftop is a small open space where you can get a pretty nice view of the busy junction at Upper Cross Street/Eu Tong Sen Street/New Bridge Road. To get to the rooftop, you need to take lift to the uppermost level.

Rooftop of People’s Park Centre
Opening Hours:
 11am-10pm
Admission: Free
Address: 101 Upper Cross St, Singapore 058357


22. Pinnacle@Duxton

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Pinnacle Duxton

Pinnacle@Duxton is not exactly located at the heart of Chinatown. Rather, it’s located nearer to Outram Park, which can probably be considered as outer Chinatown.

Pinnacle@Duxton is the tallest public housing (aka HDB flats) in Singapore that has won many awards for its design. It has 2 skybridges (Level 26 and 50) that connect all of the blocks.

Admission is SGD6 per person, and ticket must be purchased at the Management Office located at Block 1G, Level 1. There’s a quota of 150 visitors a day, so it’s better to visit in the morning or early afternoon.

At Level 50, you can get scenic views of Chinatown, Tanjong Pagar, Harbourfront and even as far as Sentosa Island. Check out my guide before visiting!

Pinnacle@Duxton
Opening Hours: 9am-9pm daily, limited to 150 visitors a day
Admission: SGD6 per person
Address: 1 Cantonment Road, Singapore 080001
Website: www.pinnacleduxton.com.sg
Read my guide: Singapore’s Skyline View From The Pinnacle @ Duxton


23. Thian Hock Keng Temple

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Thian Hock Keng Temple
Photo Credit: Depositphotos

Thian Hock Keng Temple is Singapore’s oldest Chinese temple. It was built in 1839 by the Hokkien community, with the support of Tan Tock Seng and Si Hoo Keh. The temple was gazetted as a national monument in 1973.

Thian Hock Keng Temple is dedicated to Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea. In the past, the early Chinese immigrants came here to pray for their safe passage across the South China Sea.

The temple is about 10-min walk away from Pagoda Street (Chinatown MRT Exit A). The nearest MRT to get to Thian Hock Keng Temple is Telok Ayer (3-min walk, 250m distance).

Thian Hock Keng Temple
Opening Hours: 7.30am-5pm daily
Admission: Free
Address: 158 Telok Ayer St, Singapore 068613
Website: www.thianhockkeng.com.sg


24. Singapore Musical Box Museum

Located next to Thian Hock Keng temple, Singapore Musical Box Museum features over 40 antique musical boxes. The museum aims to share the historical background from the rise to the fall of the musical boxes to how it made its way to Singapore in the 19th century to the public.

The museum compound, Chong Wen Ge, together with Thian Hock Keng temple was awarded UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage 2001 Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation.

There is no walk-in entry to the museum, all visitors have to book a guided tour (40-min long) in advance. There is a café at the museum which serves Peranakan food and dessert.

Singapore Musical Box Museum
Opening Hours: 11am to 5pm (Last admission at 3pm, advance booking is required)
Admission: SGD12 (adult), SGD6 (student/senior above 60 years old), free for child aged 6 and below. For a more memorable experience, book the packaged guided tours that include Peranakan food. Book your tickets here.
Address: 168 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068619
Website: www.singaporemusicalboxmuseum.org


25. Thian Hock Keng Wall Mural

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Thian Hock Keng Mural
Photo Credit: Yip Yew Chong

Thian Hock Keng mural was painted by Yip Yew Chong along the back wall of the Thian Hock Keng temple. This 40-metre-long mural tells about the lives of our nation’s early Hokkien (a dialect group from south-eastern Fujian in China) immigrants, whose sacrifices greatly shaped modern Singapore.

I accidentally stumbled upon this place back in 2017 when Yip was painting the mural. Here’s a photo of the artist at work.

Things to do in Chinatown Singapore - Thian Hock Keng Mural in progress

Thian Hock Keng Wall Mural
Opening Hours: 24/7 daily
Admission: Free
Address: 158 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068613

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