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A tour of Singapore isn’t complete without a trip to Chinatown! There are many things to do in Chinatown – from visiting temples to perusing the shops to sampling the delectable Chinatown Singapore food. It is one of the best places to explore in Singapore by walking – and we created a fantastic Self-guided Singapore Chinatown Tour.
Visitors can just let their senses lead the way – as there is something to see and smell along every street. However, if you want to know what to see in Chinatown Singapore – and not miss a thing – then use our outlined Singapore Tour Itinerary to help find the best Chinatown Singapore attractions.
For us, Chinatown is one of the most interesting places to visit in Singapore – and by using our Singapore Chinatown Self-Guided Walking Tour – you will see why!
About Our Singapore Chinatown Walking Tour
The Chinatown Singapore attractions are located in a compact area. Our Chinatown tour is a little over half a mile (1km) and can be completed in less than half an hour (without entering any sights). We suggest taking your time and allowing for at least 2 hours. In addition to the list of places to go in Chinatown, we provide tips on the best food in Chinatown, Singapore, too!
Chinatown Walking Tour Singapore: What You Will Need
Before you set off on your self-guided China town tour, make sure you are prepared for your walk!
As with any sightseeing Singapore walking tour, comfortable shoes are an essential item for exploring Chinatown. I like to wear lightweight shoes – likes these from Columbia – and Kris prefers to wear his Merrell trail shoes for urban strolling. Read more about our reviews and choices for the Best Shoes for Travel!
Because of the stifling heat and humidity of Singapore, it is also necessary to have a bottle of water for your Chinatown walking trip. We like these refillable, collapsible water bottles that are perfect for travelers (yes, the tap water is safe to drink in Singapore).
In our guide of what to do in Chinatown Singapore, we feature the best sights and most amazing architecture. Rather than relying on your phone camera to capture the beauty of the district, we recommend using a real camera. In our travels, we use a Canon Rebel with a 18-135mm lens that is perfect for Chinatown Singapore sightseeing!
Weather Appropriate Items
When you go to Chinatown in Singapore, make sure you are prepared for the weather. If it is sunny (as it often is), slather on the sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed travel hat for your walk. If the forecast calls for rain, carry a packable raincoat in your day pack. For both sunny and rainy weather, a travel umbrella is recommended for protection from either.
WiFi and Chinatown Map Singapore
At the end of the article we have included a Chinatown Singapore Map of Sights, which will help you find your way to each attraction. However, in order to use the SG Chinatown Map during your walk you will need a WiFi connection. We use a GlocalMe hotspot, which we think is the best way for travelers to stay connected abroad.
That said, a paper map is always a good back up! We recommend buying a Singapore Map (Chinatown included) like this one.
Singapore Travel Insurance
Travel insurance may protect against trip cancellations and lost luggage, but it could also come in handy if you get ill or injured abroad. Find more details – including coverage and cost – on World Nomads.
Pro Tip: Be sure to get (and stay) organized for your vacation to Singapore by using our Trip Planning Printables!
Guided Singapore Chinatown Tours
Our Chinatown Tour for Singapore is designed as a self-guided walk to the highlights of the district. However, visitors who would rather join Guided Chinatown Tours have many choices. If you are looking for a guided Chinatown tour in Singapore, check out the highly-rated tours on Viator. This 4-hour Combo Tour gets rave reviews!
Singapore Chinatown Self-Guided Walking Tour
Our Self-Guided Walking Tour of Chinatown Singapore begins near the Chinatown MRT Station and makes nine stops. Chinatown Singapore tourist attractions are listed in order of our walking tour, however, don’t hesitate to detour if a sight, scent or sound catches your attention!
#1 Thye Shan Medical Hall
Established in 1955, Thye Shan Medical Hall practices Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). At their location, they have a range of Chinese medicine and health products, as well as qualified Chinese physicians who can recommend herbs, teas and tonics for ailments.
Some of the most popular products at the Chinatown herbal shop are pre-packaged multi-herb soups (like the 12 Herb Brain Tonic Soup), cleansing herbal teas and crocodile oil for dry skin.
#2 Chinatown Heritage Center
If you are wondering where to go in Chinatown Singapore to learn more about the district, head inside the Chinatown Heritage Center. Located in restored shophouses, the Chinatown Heritage Center offers insight into the history of Chinatown and the Chinese people who inhabited the district.
#3 Sri Mariamman Temple and Masjid Jamae Mosque
Walk down Pagoda Street and make your way to the Sri Mariamman Temple. As the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, it is one of the top places to visit in Chinatown. Unlike the traditional Chinese temples that are ornately decorated in red and gold, the Sri Mariamman Temple incorporates all colors of the rainbow and rooftops are covered in sculptures of deities, including several animals.
Across the street from Sri Mariamman Temple is another unique place of worship, the Masjid Jamae (Chulia) Mosque. The ‘Big Mosque’ was founded in 1826 and adds a unique architectural element to the district.
#4 Herbal Medicine Shops and Singapore Chinatown Shopping
Walk south on South Bridge Road toward the Chinatown Street Market for some of the best Singapore shopping.
Along the route, there are a fascinating number of herbal medicine shops selling remedies to cure just about any ailment – and visiting these shops is one of the top things to do in Chinatown Singapore. From loose herbs to pre-packaged combinations of whole, dried herbs ready for boiling into tea, the options were almost endless. The dried squid and lizards caught my attention, but I was weary of what – if anything – they might cure!
Vendors under the canopies of Chinatown Street Markets – one of the most famous Singapore walking streets – sell an array of goods. Visitors will find everything from inexpensive souvenirs to local food to bargain apparel.
#5 Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Next to the Chinatown Street Markets is the grandest of all Chinatown temples: The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. The temple was completed in 2007 after receiving the Sacred Buddah Tooth Relic as a gift and the multi-level complex has all the bells and whistles a Buddah Tooth deserves. The temple is the highlight of Chinatown Singapore tourist attractions.
The Singapore China town temple is truly a feast for the senses. Seven floors of glimmering gold, intense chanting and more than 10,000 Buddha statues had us wandering the halls in awe. In search of the elusive Buddha tooth we unsuccessfully canvassed every floor, including the rooftop orchid garden and spinning prayer wheel!
#6 Sago Street and Sago Lane
The Buddha Tooth Relic Chinatown Singapore Temple is bounded to the north by Sago Street and to the south by Sago Lane. Along these two streets, visitors will find a few more things to see in Chinatown Singapore.
Named for the Sago factories (flour from Rumbia Palm for cakes) that lined the streets in the mid-1800s, Sago Lane was formerly known as ‘Street of the Dead,’ as it was home to funeral parlors and hospice houses. In the early 1900s, Sago Street was a well-known street for prostitution, with 14 brothels on the street. Today, the streets are a tourist attraction.
Walk down these shop lined streets of Chinatown – and take note of the goods for sale. At 36 Sago Street, find the Laughing Buddha and rub his belly so that you will never go hungry again.
#7 Al-Abrar Mosque
The next stop on our Chinatown Singapore Free Walking Tour is the Al-Abrar Mosque. Designated a National Monument of Singapore in 1974, Al-Abrar Mosque (Masjid Al-Abrar) was established in 1827 and ranks as one of the first mosques in Singapore.
Hidden in plain sight between shops, the original mosque was a wooden thatched hut used by Tamil immigrants. Although the mosque that stands today is rather modest and not necessarily a tourist attraction, it attests to the long-standing diversity of Singapore.
#8 Thian Hock Keng Temple
Ranking as our favorite Chinatown temple, the Thian Hock Keng Temple, is dedicated to Mazu, the Chinese sea goddess. Thick with incense and a peaceful escape from the chaotic street scene, it is one of the best temples in Chinatown Singapore to visit. The colorful temple is one of the oldest in Singapore, completed in 1842 and made of stone, tile, wood and not a single nail. Detailed carvings, many of dragons, decorate the traditional rooftops.
#9 Telok Ayer Street and Telok Ayer Park
Finish your Chinatown SG tour by continuing your walk down Telok Ayer Street to the park.
Telok Ayer Street represents the very beginnings of Singapore Chinatown. As Chinese immigrants arrived in Singapore in the 1820s, Telok Ayer Street is where they lived (as well as many other minority immigrants). Many temples and houses of worship were built along the street, which, before land reclamation in the late 1800s, was fronted by the bay.
Some of the historic buildings found on this street include Thian Hock Keng Temple (1820s), Fuk Tak Chi Temple, now a museum (1824), Ying Fo Fui Kun Temple (1823), Nagor Durgha Shrine (1828-1830), Al-Abrar Mosque (1827) and Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church (1924). The small Telok Ayer Park features statues of the areas first immigrant residents. Use this link for a Telok Ayer Map of sights.
This wraps up our Chinatown Singapore free tour! Below you will find a map of Chinatown Singapore attractions and more information – like where to eat and other nearby sights.
Where to Eat in Chinatown Singapore
One of the best things to do in Singapore Chinatown is eat. So, when you visit Chinatown Singapore, arrive hungry! You can even turn your Chinatown Tour in Singapore into a grazing feast.
In Singapore, food center hawker stalls are the place to eat. There are three food centers packed with hawker stalls in Chinatown: Chinatown Complex Food Centre, Maxwell Food Centre and Chinatown Food Street.
With tightly packed stalls offering the best food in Chinatown Singapore, it’s difficult to choose which center to go to…and possibly even more difficult to know what food to order from which vendor. Don’t worry! We have a few tips to help guide you to the best Chinatown Hawker Stalls.
Pro Tip: We include these hawker stall locations on our map of Chinatown Singapore below!
Chinatown Complex Food Centre
Boasting more than 260 food stalls, the Chinatown Complex Food Center is the largest hawker center in the city and one of the top places to go in Chinatown Singapore. The maze of food stalls are located on the second level (so don’t be fooled by the ground floor sundry goods).
With so many food options, it’s difficult to point to just one stall recommendation, but the most popular is Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle (#126) – which was awarded a Michelin Star. Another top choice is Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao dumplings (#135).
Maxwell Food Centre
Popular with both tourists and locals, there are more than 100 hawker stalls at Maxwell Food Centre. Many people visit Maxwell Food Centre to line up for a plate of Tian Tian Chicken Rice (which has been featured by the late Anthony Bourdain, Gordon Ramsay and Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand Singapore). However, expect a really long line to get a plate of the Hainanese Chicken Rice that many claim is the best food Chinatown.
If you don’t have the patience to stand in line, we recommend seeking out other fabulous food, by eating from vendors that are busy…but not really, really long lines.
Chinatown Food Street
Modernized with a high glass ceiling and improved ventilation, the pedestrian-only Chinatown Food Street is an ideal place to get a taste of Singapore. While there are not as many hawker stalls on this street as at the food centers, the occupants represent some of the absolute best hawker stalls in Singapore…all in one place.
Guided Chinatown Singapore Street Food Tour
Guided Chinatown tours are not limited to history tours! Let a guide lead the way on a Chinatown Hawker Center Food Tour that includes both history and a taste of Singapore’s iconic district!
Where to Drink in Chinatown Singapore
Singapore Chinatown has an abundance of pubs and clubs for drinking both beer and cocktails. The two most popular streets for bars in Chinatown Singapore are Club Street (so aptly named) and Ann Siang.
For craft beer drinkers (like ourselves!), we recommend checking out a few great spots in Chinatown.
Smith Street Taps
Smith Street Taps (located at 335 Smith Street inside the Chinatown Complex Food Centre on the 2nd Floor, stall #62) is a unique and fun place to sample craft beer. The hawker stall craft beer bar offers 12 beers on tap (sometimes more!) – and you can grab bites to eat from food vendors.
Little Creatures Mohamed Ali Lane (CLOSED)
Little Creatures Brewing Singapore hails from Australia, but had found a secluded little nook in Chinatown. However, since they’ve closed up we suggest The Otherside (on Erskine Rd) and Welcome Ren Min (in the Maxwell Food Centre) for your craft beer fix in Chinatown SG!
Top Tip: For tips on cocktail bars and clubs, check out this list, which features the best places to drink and eat on Ann Siang Hill and Club Street.
Chinatown Singapore Events
Singapore Chinatown tourist attractions are even better during the district’s many festivals!
One of our visits Singapore Chinatown just happened to coincide with the Mid-Autumn Festival. The festival is celebrated with feasts, mooncakes and more lanterns. During the event, all of Chinatown is decorated with hanging lanterns of every size, shape and color, making the already colorful area even brighter and the energized crowds even more spirited!
Attractions near Singapore Chinatown
After completing our self-guided walking tour of Chinatown Singapore, consider moving on to these nearby Singapore attractions.
Historic Downtown Core
Looking for another free tour Singapore? We’ve got it covered with a fun Singapore history tour walk. Use our Self-Guided Downtown Singapore Walking Tour to lead the way!
The iconic attractions on Marina Bay can’t be missed when visiting Singapore! Check out all the top attractions by using our Self-Guided Walking Tour of Marina Bay.
The Pinnacle@Duxton Sky Garden
Completed in 2009, Pinnacle@Duxton is the tallest public housing project in Singapore, standing at nearly 512ft (156m). The 50th-floor observation deck, Sky Garden, is open to the public for a fee. The award-winning garden (along with the resident-only 26th floor garden) is the longest sky garden in the world.
Riverside refreshments can be found in the direction of Clarke Quay. The area is very popular with tourist and features themed restaurants (like Hooters) as well as the Brewerkz brewery.
Boat Quay is just as popular as Clarke Quay, but with a distinctly different vibe. The line of waterfront eateries, each with overly-enthusiastic staff attempting to lure you in, can be fun place to eat and drink in Singapore. Feel free to haggle with the hostess to agree on a price for food and/or drinks (along with the coveted waterside table, of course!).
More Singapore Tourist Attractions
Find more Singapore walks and top attractions in our 3-Day Singapore Itinerary. The trip plan is absolutely packed with the best things to do in the Singapore…even on a budget. Hopping over to Malaysia as well? Check out this KL Itinerary and our Guide To Johor Bahru!
Chinatown Singapore Map
Our map of Chinatown Singapore includes markers for all of the featured attractions – including food, drink and nearby sights. Get it here!
Singapore Chinatown Google Map Route
Want step-by-step directions to our recommended SG Chinatown must-see attractions? Use this link to Google Maps for an interactive Singapore Chinatown Map of sights and walking directions.
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