If you’re planning a trip to Singapore make sure to spend some time in Chinatown! This exciting part of the city is filled with delicious food, colorful street art, and a deep history just waiting to be explored. It’s actually one of our favorite areas to stay in because of its great location and amazing food! Here are some of the best things to do in Chinatown Singapore, fun tips, and everything to expect on your visit.
7 Things to Know About Singapore Chinatown
1. How to Get to Chinatown in Singapore
Chinatown is easily accessible by public transport and there are numerous MRT stations in Central Singapore. The official MRT stop is Chinatown Station which will pop you out right next to the popular Chinatown Point shopping center.
Still, the great thing about Singapore is that it’s easily walkable! It’s especially fun to combine a day in Chinatown with Gardens by the Bay and the beautiful Merlion Park. We’ve spent an entire day strolling through the different and unique neighborhoods of the city.
2. History of Chinatown Singapore
Like many other cities in Southeast Asia, Singapore had a Chinese population from very early on. In fact, Sir Stamford Raffles set up a Chinese settlement when mapping out his vision for the city in 1822.
They were originally separated by dialects and ethnic groups, making up a diverse Chinese community that’s intertwined with Singapore’s history. However, it should be noted that it wasn’t just Chinese immigrants living in this section of Singapore!
Both Indians and Muslims lived alongside them which can be seen in the mosques and Hindu temples that still stand in Chinatown. As the years went on, Singapore’s Chinatown expanded and developed with the rest of the city. It’s now split into the 5 unique districts you see today.
3. Best Hawker Centres in Singapore
Years ago, you would have seen hawker stalls serving up street food throughout the streets of Chinatown. Yet, that all changed in the early 1980’s with the implementation of Hawker Centers.
These large food courts put all the hawkers stalls in one central location which made them easier to regulate. Today, they are some of the best places to eat in the city! You will find several great Hawker Centres in Chinatown Singapore, but there are two we always go to on every visit.
Singapore’s largest Hawker Centre is the Chinatown Complex Food Centre. Here you’ll find over 260+ food stalls, shopping, and a local wet market.
You can even eat at the original Liao Fan Hawker Chan which was the first hawker stand to be awarded the Michelin Star! Also, if you’re overwhelmed then jump on a Chinatown Hawker 8 dish tasting tour!
Our 2nd favorite would be Maxwell Food Centre. It’s a bit smaller, but still filled with amazing food from around Southeast Asia. There is another famous stall here to try called Tian Tian Hainanese chicken rice.
If you’re not feeling the food court vibe you can always go to one of the many delicious dim sum restaurants. Also, make sure to stop into Chinatown Point for more shopping, and Chinatown food street for a fun outdoor eating experience.
4. Singapore Chinatown Street Art
On any visit to Chinatown in Singapore it would be impossible not to notice the colorful murals that adorn the walls. These were painted by Yip Yew Chong and other fantastic Singapore artists. They depict scenes of local life, culture, and the history of Singapore’s Chinatown.
You will see them easily by strolling around Chinatown on your way to other attractions. If you’re looking for something more structured check out this self-guided trail. It will start at Chinatown Point and MRT Station and take you all around the neighborhood.
If you love the street art in Chinatown be sure to stop into the Arab Quarter as well! Here there are amazing murals painted up and down the famous Haji Lane in between the cafes and restaurants.
5. Great Area of Singapore to Stay
You can already tell the Chinatown area is great to visit, but did you know it’s also a great place to stay in the city? This can be an awesome spot to base yourself from to see these historic districts, while also being close to more of the city’s best attractions.
It’s an especially convenient area if you only have a 2 day itinerary for Singapore. We loved still being within walking distance of Marina Bay, the Central Business District, and Tanjong Pagar. Here are some of our favorite hotels to stay in the heart of Chinatown Singapore.
Chinatown Singapore Hotels
Fun Vacation– Parkroyal on Pickering– It doesn’t get much more green and lush then Parkroyal on Pickering! This fun holiday spot is literally one of the greenest hotels in the world. Plant life covers the entire property to make for a unique stay in Singapore Chinatown.
Boutique – KēSa House – Located in the heart of Chinatown, this fantastic hotel was built in 1920’s. Enjoy the incredible setting in a traditional building on Keong Saik Road.
Hostel – Atelier – Singapore has a great range of hostels for those traveling on a budget. Atelier offers a variety of dorm rooms and beds and is close to the Chinatown Heritage Center.
6. Spectacular Temples & Architecture
Singapore has become famous for its innovative and futuristic looking architecture. This can be seen in impressive buildings like the Marina Bay Sands hotel and Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay. Even so, Chinatown in Singapore has a whole different atmosphere to it!
The old Chinese shophouses perfectly blend together with new age infrastructure, pagodas, and beautiful temples. One of the most breathtaking buildings is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
Unlike the more historic Thian Hock Keng Temple (Built in 1839), the Buddha Tooth Relic was constructed more recently in 2007 on South Bridge Road.
Remember when we mentioned that Chinatown in Singapore has always been super diverse? Well, the Sri Mariamman Temple is the oldest hindu temple in Singapore at almost 200 years old!
You can also visit the Jamae Mosque which is one of the earliest of its kind Singapore. Wherever you go in Chinatown, you’re sure to be in awe at these incredible places of worship.
7. Chinatown Singapore Walking Trail
Before your visit you should know there are dozens of ways to see Chinatown in Singapore! You can take a guided walking tour of Chinatown and Little India, or simply find your own way around this magnificent part of the city.
Visit Singapore put together this awesome Chinatown Walking trail for everyone to enjoy, too! It takes you through many of the most interesting things to do in Chinatown Singapore.
Is Chinatown in Singapore Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! It may not be as hectic as the wild streets of Bangkok’s Chinatown. Yet, the culture and history of this section of Singapore is unbelievable to see in person. Whether you are looking for temples and street art or hungry for a Hawker Centre meal, every traveler is sure to love Chinatown in Singapore!
Have any questions about this article or want to share more of your favorite things to do in Chinatown Singapore? Leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
More Singapore Hotels
Luxury – Marina Bay Sands – We stayed at the Marina Bay Sands for Jake’s 30th birthday and it blew away our expectations. Aside from the luxury amenities, swimming in the rooftop infinity pool will be the highlight of your visit!
Iconic – Raffles Hotel – As one of the most historic hotels Southeast Asia, staying at the Raffles Hotel will be an experience like no other. Enjoy a Singapore Sling and take in the amazing architecture of this landmark built in 1887.
Hostel – Hipstercity hostel – Fun hostel in downtown Singapore with both private and dorm rooms. Great place to meet other travelers to explore the city with.
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Singapore Travel Planning
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for activities all over Singapore. You can book everything from a Singapore Highlights Bike Tour to a Gardens by the Bay E-Ticket, and even a private food tour with 10 tastings!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.