Places like Little India and Chinatown in Singapore hold great cultural significance in the country. These places are the mirror of Singapore’s multicultural identity and reflect the harmony, peace and brotherhood that the residents thrive upon. Both of these places are perfect representation of the minorities who migrated to or are descendants of immigrants in the country. One simply cannot miss these places if one wants to get a real taste of Singapore.
We may be a little biased towards Little India due to its familiarity and homely feel, but if you want to go full “paisa vasool” on your Singapore tour package, Chinatown is the place to be.
Read on to find out why!
1. Shop at Street Market
If you are in Singapore and you don’t get influenced by the street vendors to buy knick-knacks to take back home then you haven’t been to Chinatown. Whether you’ve decided to buy something out of your own free will, or you came across some novelty or something pretty catches your eye, or maybe the seller is too convincing and you simply can’t say “No”, no matter what your reason, you are bound to come back with bags full of goodies. Shopping in Chinatown is a must. It’s truly inevitable!
2. Visit the Thian Hock Keng Temple
Built in 1840; this is the oldest Chinese temple in Singapore. Dedicated to the Goddess of Heavenly Sages and the protector of Sailors – Ma Zu Po, this temple was constructed without using a single nail. Earlier it used to be closer to the shore where sailors and seafarers would often come to pay their respects, but with developmental efforts and reclamation of the land, it is no longer near the present shoreline. With intricate carvings, traditional Chinese-style architecture and peace all around, you will surely appreciate visiting the Thian Hock Keng Temple in Chinatown.
3. Visit the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
With beautiful, contrasting red and gold exteriors; this is the most important Buddhist site of Chinatown in Singapore. The top of the temple is a solid gold Stupa that houses the sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha, which is said to be collected from his funeral pyre. Although the visitors are not allowed to enter the chambers where the Tooth Relic is kept, they can see it when it is taken out for display or religious rituals.
4. Head to Maxwell Food Centre for good food
We’ve already discussed about how Singapore is our top pick of Asian food cities due to the array of dishes it offers to savour. There’s no doubt – Singapore has the best street food! If the easy online Singapore visa process is not attractive enough, the local food scene is sure to pull you in. Mouth-watering dishes like Laksa, Satay, Chilli Crab, Kaya Toast, Nasi Goreng, etc. from a variety of cuisines such as Indian, Malay and Chinese, will definitely tickle your taste buds. If you need one solid reason to visit Chinatown in Singapore, this is it!
5. Visit the Sri Mariamman Temple
A symbol of the South-Indian Tamil community that is based in Singapore, the stunning Sri Mariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in the region. You can even say it is the first-ever Hindu temple built in Singapore. The Dravidian style architecture of the temple showcases the tales of Hindu mythology on the gopuram (entrance tower) with bright and colourful figures. If you are feeling homesick and want some semblance of familiarity, then head towards the temple during the evening aarti and you’ll be transported back home.
6. Re-visit history at NUS Baba House
The National University of Singapore (NUS) turned this ancestral residence of the Wee family, who are the members of Peranakan community, into a museum. The Peranakans are the early Chinese immigrants who settled in the Malay Peninsula. The Peranakans call their males Baba and females Nonya – hence the name “Baba House”. The NUS Baba House which is built in the traditional Peranakan style showcases the Peranakan history in the form of architecture, furniture, and other artefacts that have been a part of the house since the 19th century.
7. Visit the Singapore City Gallery
If you are a history enthusiast and looking for something interesting to do in Chinatown in Singapore, then the Singapore City Gallery is clearly your cup of tea. The gallery offers a stunning portrayal of how the city-state of Singapore developed from a trading port of the past to the modern city that we know and love today. The 3 storey high building encases many detailed 3-D replicas which offer us a birds-eye view of the city along with interactive exhibitions that are held in different areas of the building.
8. Explore Keong Saik Road
Craving something French or need some Italian delicacies? Want to go bar hopping or simply wish to experience the nightlife in Chinatown? Looking for some traditional food? Or is the fusion food more to your taste? No matter what you want Keong Saik Road is the answer. Some of the coolest cafes, bustling bars and refreshing restaurants are waiting to be discovered along this road.
9. Visit the Jamae Masjid
Constructed in 1820s by the Chulia Muslims from South-India, this is the oldest mosque in the country. An iconic landmark of Chinatown, this pale green structure is a gathering point for many Tamil residents of the locality as it is the only mosque which delivers its sermons and lectures in Tamil. You can clearly spot the Indo-Chinese influence on the structure from the exterior to the interiors which makes it quite fascinating to the visitors.
10. Visit Pinnacle@Duxton
End your day on a high-note, literally! Head to the Pinnacle@Duxton a 50 storey high residential complex which is known for having the longest sky gardens in the world. It houses 2 sky bridges – at the 26th and 50th floors, which provide a beautiful view of the district below. Since, these bridges are open to general populace, visitors head towards the 50th floor for a stunning view of the setting sun to mark the end of a well spent day at Chinatown in Singapore.
From places of religious importance to a maze of colourful street markets, and many places that offer local delicacies to indulge in, there are a lot of unmissable things to do in Chinatown which are sure to keep you occupied.
So when are you planning to visit?