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Chinatown Singapore, By: William Cho

Singapore’s Chinatown: Highlights Off & On the Beaten Track

By: Cher Tan

Chinatown Singapore, By: William Cho

Chinatown Singapore, By: William Cho

Singapore’s Chinatown is definitely worth a visit. Every major city in the world has a Chinatown. However, there are little variations present from one Chinatown to the next, fitting in with the general culture of the country it exists in. In Singapore, it is no exception – the city is famously marketed as “Uniquely Singapore” after all.

Chinatown’s primary attraction is the suburb itself, comprised of restored shophouses (read: new-old shophouses, any sign of dilapidation is carefully brushed away) full of little shops selling anything from plastic Buddhas to dried seahorses. At first glance, the general ambience of the area may seem touristy bordering on tacky to some, but wander the little nooks and crannies and be surprised at what you will find.

How to get to Chinatown in Singapore:

The easiest way to enter the heart of Chinatown is to take a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train to Chinatown MRT Station, on the North-East Line.

Highlights Off & On the Beaten Track in Singapore’s Chinatown

  • Annalakshmi: If you start your Chinatown adventure on an empty stomach, this vegetarian Indian restaurant will not disappoint. Leave Chinatown MRT Station from Exit E and head down to Chinatown Point’s (unmissable for the Swensen’s and Coffee Bean at its entrance) basement. The joint operates on a generous pay-as-you-wish model, run by a Hindu charity. They are only open strictly for lunch (11 am-3 pm) and dinner (6 pm-9.30 pm), and prior reservations are advised. 133 New Bridge Road, Chinatown Point, #B1-02.

  • CHOOSE: Touted as Singapore’s first eco-store, this hole-in-the-wall is increasing accessibility to eco-friendly products in Singapore. There are green alternatives for a wide range of daily needs – from household cleaners, laundry alternatives and organic clothes, to electronics and office supplies. Currently paving the way towards a green consciousness in Singapore. 26A Sago Street.
Chinatown Heritage Centre

Chinatown Heritage Centre, By:

  • Chinatown Heritage Centre: An excellent museum chronicling how Chinatown came to be and the privation suffered by early migrants. A must-see for all museum lovers. 48 Pagoda Street, 9 am-8 pm daily, $10/$6.30 adult/child.

  • King of the Kings Durian: A trip to Singapore isn’t complete without a taste of durian, Beware though, it is either love-it or hate-it with this thorny king of the fruits, with hardly any middle ground. A good tip: get past the smell (which may be revolting to some) and tuck in to taste the fruit, with a custard-like texture and a sweet/bitter flavour. 335 Smith Street, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, opens from 10 pm till late.
The Little Drom Store

The Little Drom Store, Full of Knick-knacks, By:

  • The Little Dröm Store: An independent publisher and gallery shop found in the Ann Siang Road district on the edge of Chinatown, this quirky boutique is filled with kitschy knick-knacks. Especially worth checking out if you are of the artistic inclination. 7 Ann Siang Hill, opens 12 pm-9 pm.

  • Pearl’s Centre: Labyrinthine old shopping mall (a rare sight in Singapore nowadays) with a bizarre assortment of stores, ranging from Buddhist paraphernalia to sexy underwear for men, with everything in between. It also houses the Yangtze cineplex, infamous for showing only arthouse soft-porn movies. 100 Eu Tong Sen Street.

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