Chinatown – What to See and Things to Do in Singapore’s Chinese Enclave

Chinatown Guide Cover

Chinatown or niu che shui in Chinese, was once home to the early Chinese immigrants of Singapore. Its Chinese name comes from the bullock carts that used to supply fresh water to the immigrants that lived in the area.

Fast forward to the present day, this ethnic enclave has transformed into an eclectic amalgamation of old and new. Think boutiques housed in restored heritage shophouses and some of Singapore’s oldest temples nestled among high skyscrapers.

From places of worship and heritage murals to Singapore’s largest hawker centre, here is our Guide to Singapore’s Chinatown. With so much to see and so many things to do, you’ll definitely be captivated by the charms of this old neighbourhood.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple


Located in the heart of Chinatown is Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, one of Singapore’s most popular tourist attractions. This Tang-styled Chinese Buddhist temple features intricate architecture and it is here where visitors are able to view sacred religious artefacts. It boasts a rooftop garden that exudes tranquillity as well as a large prayer wheel and pagoda.

288 South Bridge Road
Singapore 058840
Tel: +65 6220 0220
Daily: 7am – 7pm
Nearest Station: Chinatown

Chinatown Complex Food Centre


At Singapore’s largest hawker centre with almost 300 food stalls, you are guaranteed to get an authentic experience at Chinatown Complex Food Centre. With a myriad of local cuisine to choose from and prices ranging from S$2.50 to S$3, you’ll not only be spoilt for choice but you’ll be more than glad to sweat it out too.

355 Smith Street
Chinatown Complex
Singapore 050335
Nearest Station: Chinatown

Chinatown Elderly Corner


Just right in front of Chinatown Complex Food Centre, you’ll find a sheltered area where many senior citizens and residents gather for a lil’ R&R. Most of the time, they can be seen playing Checkers or Chinese Chess, reading newspapers or simply chatting with each other.

Chinatown Mural


Hidden in the nooks and crannies of the concrete jungle, Singapore actually has a flourishing street art scene. And Chinatown is a good starting point to embark on a street wall crawl around the island.

The more popular ones here such as the Cantonese Opera, Detective Conan in Chinatown and Paper Mask and Puppet Seller are by prominent local street artist Yip Yew Chong who is known for his murals of Old Singapore that encompasses our heritage.

Chinatown Pagoda Street


Upon exiting Chinatown MRT station, you’ll find yourself on Pagoda Street the main shopping street of Chinatown. A famous area for opium trade back in the day, it has been transformed into a pedestrian street lined with restored shophouses and street stalls selling souvenirs.

Also located here is the Chinese Heritage Centre where you can experience how life was for the early migrants that settled in Chinatown.

Sri Mariamman Temple


Situated in vibrant Chinatown is Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple. Built by Indian immigrants in the 1800s, the exterior of the temple features 6 tiers of sculptures of deities and mythological figures. The fact that you can find a Hindu temple in the middle of an ethnically Chinese enclave is a clear testament of multiculturalism in Singapore.

244 South Bridge Road
Singapore 058793
Daily: 7am – 12pm, 6pm – 9pm
Nearest Station: Chinatown

Chinatown Ice Cream Man copy


Cool off from the sweltering heat by getting yourself a Singaporean ice cream sandwich – a dessert that is unique to our island. Nestled between a piece of rainbow-coloured bread or wafers is a huge block of ice cream with a flavour of your choice. It’s easy to spot the ice cream uncle, just look out for a big red umbrella!