Singapore Chinatown

like a little China in Singapore?

Singapore Chinatown, unlike we see today, used to be a simple district where the Chinese in Singapore gathered in the olden days. Throughout the years, though Singapore Chinatown has been urbanized, it still does retain most of its rich historical and cultural significance.

If you wonder how the early Chinese settled in Singapore, then you must definitely embark on a?Chinatown cultural tour?to find out!If you haven’t, then let us show you what you can find there!We went on a trip to Chinatown for a?“Chinatown Heritage Tour”.

We visited numerous attractions and would like to share our whole trip with you here!

Wanna find out more? Just follow us!



Chinatown Heritage Centre

We begin our tour by visiting the Chinatown Heritage Centre, which is just a few metres walk once you came out of?Exit A?of Chinatown MRT station.

From afar, the heritage centre look just like another shophouse along the streets of Singapore Chinatown.



However, as you take a closer look, the Chinatown heritage centre houses a wealth of memories and untold stories from the past. The museum in the heritage center brings you back to the?early 1950s?to find out about the vibrant activities and trades of the then-Singapore Chinatown.

You can also experience the small and bleak living quarters the?early settlers?stayed in, the small businesses they did along the olden Singapore Chinatown streets, and understand the hardships they been through to make ends meet.


Singapore Coins and Notes Museum



A few metres away from the Singapore Chinatown Heritage Centre, you will find the?Singapore Coins and Notes Museum.

If you are a enthusiastic coin collector, then this museum is definitely for you! But there is one coin which you can’t possibly collect, and that is theworld’s largest coin!


This huge coin is placed at the entrance of the museum. This is what it says about the coin ?

“Yap stone Money was used on the Pacific islands of Yap until World War II – with the largest as much as 12 feet (4m) in diameter. The largest stones were used as symbols of wealth to be displayed outside houses. The hole in the centre was for a pole so that two people could carry it! “

Of course that’s not the only coin you will see in the museum!

The museum has 2 stories – one which showcases the history of currencies used in Singapore, the coins and medallions of today, while the other highlights the cultural usage of coins.

When you enter the museum, it seems like you have entered a goldsmith or jewelry shop!


On display are unique and exquisitely designed commemorative coins and medallions, which will make you literally go?‘Wow!’.

singapore-coins-and-notes-museum-big-dragon-coinJust look at the coin above -?2012 China Dragon Silver Coin?which was launched in January 2012, to welcome the year of the Dragon. It’s huge and the design is gorgeous. It was tagged with a 5-figure price tag.

These coins seem to be very expensive, but they are reasonably priced, if you know how much work is put in the minting of the coins. The museum also offer a minting service where you can get your?own souvenir coin?for only $2.


Sri Mariamman Temple

As we moved on, we came to this centuries-old temple, which is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore.

Sri Mariamman Temple was constructed in?1827, and was the only Hindu temple then whose priests were vested with authority to solemnize Hindu marriages.


The temple was also a?shelter?for many Indian immigrants in the early years. It was built by businessman Narayana Pillai, who arrived in Singapore with Raffles in 1819, thus also making him the first Tamil to set foot here.



Today, the temple is best known for its?fire-walking ceremony?that is held every October or November, when devotees will walk on hot coals, bare-footed, to test their faith and devotion.

On other days, the temple is also opened for visitors, who will have to leave their shoes by the side before entering.


Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

As we exited Sri Mariamman Temple, we came to the?Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, which is situated just adjacent to it. You could spot it from afar, from its majestic and monumental design of the building.



As the name of the Temple suggests, it is known for the Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic, which is exhibited at the 4th Storey of the temple.

It is opened to visitors daily for viewing, from morning to the evening. The Temple also organized special programs on specific months too.



If you want to learn more about the?Chinese Buddhist culture, education and research, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple would be a great place for you.

There’s a guided tour arranged to bring you around. On visiting the Temple, there are strict etiquette to follow. Find out more in its visitors’ info.


Al-Abrar Mosque

This?historical mosque?is situated at Telok Ayer Street, which is a few streets away from the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum. We arrived by using the map which we obtained in Chinatown.

Along the street also lies two other national monuments, Thian Hock Keng Temple and the Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Center.



The Al-Abrar Mosque was first a thatched hut in 1827, then into a brick and plaster structure in 1855, and then restored and renovated in 1986 to be what it stands today.

Its architecture is of Indian-Islamic, which reflects its original owners. Most of the worshippers at Al-Abrar Mosque were from the Coromandal Coast of South India, and they are known as Chulias.

This Indian Muslim Mosque opens for prayers daily, and you could find the mosque packed with muslim devotees on Fridays, the day when they gathered to offer their prayers.


Thian Hock Keng Temple

A few metros down the street, another national monument is in sight! The Thain Hock Keng Temple is a historical temple which is more than 180 years old to date. It is the?oldest Hokkien Chinese temple?in Singapore Chinatown.



Thian Hock Keng temple was first a joss house in 1821. It was built in honor of?Ma Zu Po, the Protector of Sojourners.

Chinese immigrants, who were mostly fishermen then, would offer thanks at the joss house for?safe passages. In 1842, the joss house was rebuilt as the Thian Hock Keng temple by philanthropist Tan Tock Seng.

Since the announcement as a?national monument?in 1973, Thian Hock Keng temple has undergone several restoration and renovation works, with the major one which took place in July 1998 to Dec 2000. Today, it opens daily for devotees to offer their prayers.

The restored Temple has also received?four prestigious awards; UNESCO’s Honorable Mention, URA’s Architectural Heritage Award, the Singapore Institute of Architects’ Architectural Award, and the ICI’s Design and Colour Award.

It is usually quite quiet on usual days, but can be packed with crowds and devotees on special Chinese occasions.


Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Center



The last monument along Telok Ayer street is the Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Center. It was constructed by?Singapore’s earliest Indian Muslim pioneers, as a memorial to Shahul Hamid Abdul Qadir Ganjasavoy, the patron saint of Nagore, Tamil Nadu.

The heritage centre is divided into different zones and each zone showcases the?stories?of the early Indian Muslim settlers and their rich culture. Within the museum, there’s even a food stall which servesauthentic Indian Muslim food.

Do give it a try if you’re there!


Visitors’ Info

The Chinatown Heritage Tour would best be a?walking?tour, as you can see in the map below, the heritage and monuments are between walking distance around Singapore Chinatown.

You can?obtain a map?of Chinatown at the Chinatown Heritage Centre to guide you around.

The Chinatown Heritage Tour would best be a?walking?tour, as you can see in the map below, the heritage and monuments are between walking distance around Singapore Chinatown.

You can?obtain a map?of Chinatown at the Chinatown Heritage Centre to guide you around.

Chinatown Heritage Centre

Opening Hours:?9am to 8pm daily (last entry by 7pm)
Adults: $10
Children (3-12 years): $8

Singapore Coins and Notes Museum

Opening Hours:?10am to 8pm daily
Adults: $10
Children (3-12 years): $6
Senior Citizens (60 years & above): $6
Family (2 Adults + 2 children): $25

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

Opening Hours:?9am to 7pm daily
Viewing of Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic:?9am to 6pm

Note:?Wear appropriate attire to show respect. No bare backs, off-shoulders, shorts, mini-skirts?etc allowed.

Strictly no non-vegetarian food and pets inside the Temple.

Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Center

Opening Hours:?10am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
10am to 2pm (Saturday)
Closed on Sundays & Public Holidays


How To Get There?

It’s easy!

Hail a?taxi, or take the MRT to?Chinatown Station!



Look out for Pagoda Street/Temple Street exit, or?Exit A, and take the escalator up. Once you exited the station, your Singapore Chinatown tour begins!

Going Back?

Don’t worry! Chinatown station is?linked?to many other lines in the MRT system. Follow the signs and you can easily make your way back to your home or hotel!


For specific directions to and fro Chinatown,?click here!


Tips For Visitors


1. Try local food!

Other than visiting the national heritage in Singapore Chinatown and learning about different cultures , do go down to try some of the local food!

You can get to try most of our local favorites at?Maxwell Food Centre.





If you’re not sure what our local delicacies are, don’t fret!

Outside the Maxwell Food Centre, there’s board which tells you the?10 dishes you can’t afford to miss?in Singapore! Go have a look and get a bite of every food!



Alternatively, Singapore Chinatown is also famous for its?Chinese cakes, biscuits and cookies!?You will find many shop houses selling traditional Chinese cakes and cookies.

If you crave for some, just hop in (like me), and have a bite too!


2. Visit the Chinatown Visitors’ Centre

The Chinatown Visitors’ Centre, which is just situated behind the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum is a hub which contains all the?history and stories of Chinatown, such as clog making, lantern making, opera singing, as well as Chinese puppet shows.



You can also get handmade souvenir toys such as dolls, which look likesamsui?women (female laborers),?ma jies?(nannies) and?kopi?uncle (coffee uncles), the characters that prevalent in olden days Singapore Chinatown.


3. Shopping!

Streets along Chinatown all filled with stalls which will fulfill your shopping desires. What’s joyous about shopping at Chinatown is that you can get valued items at inexpensive prices.

They include Singapore souvenirs, art works, toys, local merchandise and even electronic goods.



Of course, you may not be spending money at every stall (neither do I), but you will be amazed by the?artistic work and craftsmanship?at some stalls. They definitely worth your second look!


4. Be Comfortable!

As always, Singapore’s weather can be?hot and humid. Wear comfortable shoes and dress appropriately. Do note that some religious heritage requires you to be appropriately attired.

Also, drink lots of water to cool yourself down!


Yay or Nay?


Why you might love Chinatown:

  • Good place for hunting souvenirs
  • Best place to shop inexpensively
  • Lots of food! Try all local food if you can!
  • Unique housing architecture of Chinese origin
  • Plenty to see and walk


Why you might not love Chinatown:

  • A very ‘touristy place’ (that said, some items have inflated prices to earn tourists money. Be careful!)
  • Since it’s ‘toursity’, it can be very crowded
  • Maybe Chinese restaurants are overpriced for you? Then go to Maxwell Food Centre! You’ll love it.
  • You have to walk a lot
  • Don’t expect too much customer service!


What Say You?

Did you have much fun during your own Singapore Chinatown Tour? We hope so!?Do share your stories and joy with us here!

Wait, have you visited?Singapore Chinatown during Chinese New Year?

Chinatown is one of the areas that the immigrants of Singapore settled in the early days. The other areas are?Little India?and?Kampong Glam. Enjoy your tour there to!!


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