Chinatown is one of Singapore’s most popular tourist destinations. It overflows with souvenir markets and affordable restaurants and karaoke bars that stay open late. It doubles as a genuine community of Chinese residents, many of whom live in colonial-era shophouses. Some of the most interesting hotels in Chinatown are housed in these same heritage buildings.
To gain a better understanding of how the Chinese community helped to build Singapore, guests can visit the Chinatown Heritage Centre between South Bridge and New Bridge roads. It occupies three shophouses, with each floor dedicated to a period in Chinatown history. Another interesting attraction is Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. It’s housed in a modern, pagoda-like building and features dozens of exhibits on Buddhism and Chinese culture.
Away from the museums, the real cultural attractions in Chinatown are right on the street. Merchant stalls on Temple Street and Pagoda Street are brimming with trinkets and souvenirs, while the antique markets on South Bridge Road have more to offer serious collectors. Head over to Smith Street for an enticing selection of food stalls serving Chinese noodles and other fast meals.
The only business-oriented hotels in Chinatown are next to the Ministry of Manpower office building northeast of Pearl’s Hill City Park. Otherwise, Chinatown caters mostly to budget travelers who favor cultural activities and affordable nightlife over posh amenities.