Chinatown is one of the must-see cultural enclaves for visitors heading to Singapore.
The heart of Chinatown is a bustling, colourful mix of old and new, from family-run goldsmiths and medicine halls, to textile stores and dim sum restaurants. Popular bakeries like Tong Heng Oriental Pastry on South Bridge Road, tea houses like Kwong Chen on Sago Street, hawker stalls, as well as stylish bars along Club Street, are also housed in this precinct, making Chinatown a well-balanced heartland.
If you’re looking for a unique place to stay in a fascinating and cultural location, the boutique hotels of Chinatown might just be it. The Scarlet is a bold and uninhibited hotel located along Erskine Road, and features plush and opulent décor. Adjacent to it is The Club, occupying a newly white-washed building that dates back to the 1900s. The Club plays on an east-meets-west theme and gives a new perspective on Singapore’s rich history and heritage. For a mix of old world architecture and designer interiors, visit Hotel 1929 and New Majestic Hotel, both housed in conservation shop-houses. Hotel 1929 features a selection of unusual and classic chairs from the owner’s private collection, as well as 20th century photos of olden Singapore. For a taste of the “New Asia” genre, drop by New Majestic Hotel. From the open concept lobby with vintage Compton fans and furniture, to its dramatic pool that floats above the restaurant, New Majestic Hotel is a stunning and eclectic blend of heritage chic.
Stop at the impressive Chinatown Heritage Centre to get a cultural introduction of this neighbourhood. Housed in three beautifully restored shophouses along Pagoda Street, you’ll get to learn about Chinatown’s social history and development via photographs, recorded oral interviews and exhibits, allowing you to retrace the journeys made by Singapore’s earliest Chinese migrants.
There are also several prominent religious landmarks in the area and you might be surprised to see that there are also Hindu temples and mosques amongst them. Both the Sri Mariamman Temple and Jamae Mosque on South Bridge Road are among the oldest places of worship in Singapore, while a little further on down the road, you can also find the visually stunning Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, which reputedly contains a tooth of the Buddha.
In addition to the nearby Chinatown Complex and Maxwell Food Centre, the culinary enthusiasts among you will be glad to know that Smith Street, one of the main roads within Chinatown, closes to vehicular traffic after dark. Here at the Chinatown Food Street, you can enjoy alfresco dining at this hawker centre that serves up all the best local dishes.
For a fascinating peek into Singapore’s Chinese culture and history, Chinatown is a good place to start. Here, you’ll enjoy a mix of heritage, shopping as well as a good variety of food options, which are sure to leave a traveller happy and satisfied at the end of the day.
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