Although Singapore is a small island, there is no lack of activities and things to do during the weekend. Although many may think of Chinatown as a very touristy place, there is more to it than that. There is always a hidden gem in those crooks and nocks.
Chinatown is one of the historic areas in Singapore where many of our forefathers settled in when they first arrived in Singapore. It is also commonly known as 牛车水 (pronounced as Niu Che Shui) which literally means Bullock-Cart-Water. The bullock-drawn carts were used to transport fresh water supply to the people in Chinatown back in the olden days. Uniquely Singapore, being a multi-racial country, it is not hard to spot Chinese Temples and Monasteries alongside Indian Temples, Mosques, and Churches in Chinatown!
Today’s Chinatown comprises five districts – Telok Ayer, Ann Siang Hill, Kreta Ayer, Bukit Pasoh and Tanjong Pagar. Instead of taking a trishaw (三轮车) ride to explore Chinatown (which is a complete rip off imo), walk with me to explore Chinatown the local style instead.
Telok Ayer | Chinatown
Telok Ayer | Source
Telok Ayer, a place which is accessible with the Downtown line (alight at Telok Ayer MRT Station), is where one of the oldest hokkien temple, Thian Hock Keng Temple and one of the earliest mosque, Al-Abrar Mosque are located.
Besides visiting the different monuments of varying religions, you can always grab a cuppa at Sarnies Coffee or Free the Robot. Don’t miss Nagore Durgha, the Indian Muslim Heritage Centre which was gazetted as a National monument in 1974, as you walk along.
Local delights have always been affordable and welcoming. Check out Amoy Street Food Centre where you can find some really fantastic fish soup, lor mee and char kway teow during the day and zi char as the night falls, before you walk up the flight of stairs to Ann.
Siang Hill | Chinatown
Siang Hill |Source
For those who are looking for instagram worthy place to take your OOTD (outfit of the day) while enjoying your meal, try your luck to look for The Flying Squirrel which is tucked in the back alley of Amoy Street.
If you think that unicorn tears and drinkable jelly are just something fictional, drop by Dapper Coffee to see how a whole universe can be seen in a glass of beverage.
Ann Siang Hill | Chinatown
Take a step and relax in the midst of the concrete jungle as you walk up the Ann Siang Hill Park walkway that links Ann Siang Hill and Amoy Street. This quiet park in the city has been seen with many loving couples taking their weddings shots.
Former home to clan associations, exclusive social clubs and remittance houses, Ann Siang hill is now a colourful street with quirky shops, restaurants and drinking holes.
There is no lack of coffee places in Chinatown but this café can easily be the smallest café in Singapore, The Stamping Ground Coffee is located right at the entrance of Emerald Garden condo along Club Street. This hole-in-in-the-wall café can be easily missed if you are not looking carefully. It took me 2 trips walking up and down of Club Street before I spotted it.
Kreta Ayer | Chinatown
When in Chinatown, remember to drink some Chinese herbal tea. These tea promise to reduce some heatiness from your body together with some health benefits such as treating your flu, cough or even ulcers with some herbal powder added to the tea.
Don’t forget to drop by Sia Huat at Temple Street if you are looking for any kitchen supplies. This is practically a place where many F&B outlets get their supplies of kitchen equipment.
People’s Park Complex is not just a place where you can get good exchange rate from the money changers or buy cheap toiletries. Venture your way up to Lepark at level 5 where there is a huge open space for you to take OOTD, enjoy some craft beers and Mod Sin tapas.
For those who like the idea of pairing craft beer with local delights, you will be delighted to find Smith Street Taps selling affordable craft beer from taps in the middle of Smith Street Market.
Besides the vegetarian restaurant which is located next to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, there is also a vegetarian café, Well Dressed Salad Bar that serves interesting dishes such as Tofu Burger, which is both healthy and delicious.
Bukit Pasoh | Chinatown
Raved by many, Mad About Sucre is the place to go if you want to have some delectable desserts that are instagrammable as well.
If you like café hopping, why not check out The Populus where items spotted on the menu are not your regular café food. At least something more interesting. For people who have a deeper pocket and a taste for finer Australian barbeque, check out Burnt Ends. The open concept kitchen allows you to see how the food is being prepared with the menu written afresh daily.
If you fancy working out of office or home in a cosy setting, The Daily Roundup offers you coffee, crepes and free wifi!
Tanjong Pagar | Chinatown
Lovers of Japanese bakes would rejoice as we step into Tanjong Pagar as it houses 3 different glace patisseries (Pâtisserie Glacé, FLOR Pâtisserie and Chef Yamashita) in the area.
With the revamp and facelift that was done around Chinatown, a new life is injected into the area. Not only do we still see part of the olden Chinatown, tourists, expats or locals can continue to experience varying experiences that the area has installed for them.