Chinatown was recently crowned one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world for 2023. The culture-rich precinct is home to dozens of temples, a buzzing nightlife, cheap restaurants, street art, exotic hotels, quirky shopping, and other hidden gems. So, we decided to make a list of the best things to do while exploring Chinatown in Singapore.
1. Visit Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is one the most popular sights in the Chinatown district. The Buddhist temple and museum is housed in a huge, richly designed red stupa weighing 3,500 kilograms and made from 320 kilograms of gold. First opened in 2007, it features Buddhist art and history to tell stories of culture from centuries ago. Although only monks are allowed into the relic chamber, visitors can explore public zones including the exotic rooftop garden – which is the perfect hideaway. Plus, there are other temples in the district to admire when you get bored.
📍288 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058840
2. Stroll around People’s Park
People’s Park Complex is one of the oldest developments in the Chinatown District first opened in 1973. Located just a few minutes walk from Chinatown MRT station, the old mall has withstood the testament of time with quirky shops, a food centre with delicious global foods, and much more. In recent years, the exterior of the 31-storey brutalist building has become a popular place for young people to capture instagrammable pictures.
📍1 Park Road, Singapore 059108
3. Browse Chinatown Street Market
Chinatown Street Market is another cultural and historical landmark in Singapore. The colourful Chinese shophouses spread across a number of streets, from Pagoda Street to Sago Lane, and offer hundreds of stalls selling street food and souvenirs. Walk along a shaded canopy and bright lanterns to discover several indulgent street food dishes, shop for traditional Chinese clothing and homeware items, and plenty more for a low cost.
📍29 Smith St, Singapore 058943
4. Retrace the journey of Chinatown’s first settlers
Chinatown Heritage Centre is a top-notch attraction near Chinatown Street Market in Singapore. The 3-storey shophouse features six galleries, living spaces, furnishings, and artifacts of early Chinatown settlers. Visitors can learn personal stories of old settlers and step back in time to experience the history of Chinatown through exhibitions and immersive experiences. Additionally, there are interactive workshops and storytelling sessions to take part in. Chinatown Heritage Centre is temporarily closed.
📍48 Pagoda St, Singapore 059207
5. Indulge on the best hawker food
No visit to Chinatown is complete without tucking into delicious food at a hawker centre. Particularly, Chinatown Complex is the largest hawker centre in Singapore, boasting more than 260 food stalls, serving everything from chili crab to local desserts, noodles, chicken wings, and more. Otherwise, you can indulge on authentic cheap eats from $1 at Maxwell Food Centre which is home to the famous Tian Tian’s chicken fried rice. Learn more about hawker centres in Singapore.
📍 Various Locations
6. Discover Chinatown’s colourful street art
The Lion City boasts an iconic collection of street art and wall murals to admire. Particularly, art comes alive in Chinatown through dozens of charming murals, depicting past and present day, hidden amongst shophouses and cultural landmarks. You could easily spend a few hours exploring ig-worthy street art like creations by Yip Yew Chong. For example, admire his colourful Lantern Festival mural near Temple Street, nostalgic scenes at 30 Smith Street of My Chinatown Home, Letter Writer, and quirky scenes of Old Trades, to name a few.
Alternatively, there are a number of striking artworks by group artists such as Ripple Root, Anglo Chinese Schools, and the School of Design. Definitely, one of the best things to do in Chinatown Singapore. Cool down with an ice cream after all the exploring!
📍 Various Locations
7. Tick off Michelin-starred Hawker Chan
In 2016, Hawker Chan, concepted by Malaysian-born chef Chan Hong Meng in 2009, became an overnight sensation when it was awarded a Michelin star making it the world’s first street food stall to receive one. Since then thousands of foodies have queued for the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal. Although, the hawker stall has since lost the Michelin-star, it still has a Bib Gourmand and is one of the most popular places to try chicken rice in Singapore. Plus, there are now four outlets in Singapore.
📍79 Smith Street, 18 Tai Seng, Kopitiam Plaza Singapore, Jurassic Nest Gardens By The Bay
7. Go café or bar hopping along Keong Saik Road
The former famous red-light district Keong Saik Road is filled with a number of quirky bars, delicious cafes, and restaurants. Whether you’re escaping the rain or heat, it’s a superb place to hangout for a few hours in Chinatown. From ig-worthy bars like Papa Doble to picturesque cafes such as Kafe Utu, hearty coffee spots, authentic cuisines like Italian, Japanese, and French, and much more…you’ll be spoilt for choice.
8. Explore the world’s first Coach Café
Coach Play Singapore Shophouse is a new attraction opened in Chinatown this year. The ig-worthy eatery is the world’s first Coach Café set inside a 3-storey shophouse. Guests can enjoy hearty American grub inside a vintage, pastel pink and yellow setting, decked out in unique milk cartons, cereal boxes, and much more. The experience is complete with delicious desserts, and a pink concept store to shop and play.
📍05 Keong Saik Rd, Singapore 089113
9. Have a drink at Potato Head’s rooftop
Get cosy at Potato Head’s alfresco terrace in the heart of Chinatown. The small, chic rooftop exhibits a tropical drinking burrow and burger joint – superb day or night – to hangout with friends. The rooftop bar opens from 5pm to 12am daily and it’s the perfect place to unwind with exotic cocktails and watch a sunset.
📍36 Keong Saik Rd, Singapore 089143