Oh you can never go wrong in Chinatown. Almost every major city in the world has a Chinatown and the one in Singapore definitely did not disappoint. We based ourselves in Chinatown for the first week of our trip. It was a really great location because everything was literally at our doorstep – unique architecture, public transportation, amazing hawker centres, cafes and restaurants, and more.
If you are thinking of heading to Chinatown on your Singapore trip (you definitely should), here were some of our favourite places to go:
1) Buddha Tooth Relic Temple: 288 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058840
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple was such an interesting place to explore. Built in 2007, this grand temple stands as an important religious and cultural location for many Buddhists in Singapore. As you can probably tell from its name, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple houses the tooth relic of Buddha (from memory, I believe the tooth was on the 2nd floor of the temple. No photos are allowed in the room though).
As a general rule when visiting a sacred place like a temple, make sure to dress conservatively and act respectfully. This is a place of worship, not a tourist destination. It does feel a little awkward posing and taking pictures in the temple when people are praying and meditating. If you forget to bring a cover up, there are long pieces of fabric that you can use to wrap around you.
2) Chinatown Street Markets: Chinatown, Pagoda Street, Trengganu Street, Sago Street, 050005, Smith St, Singapore
In terms of shopping, the Chinatown Street Markets were great for cheap knick knacks and souvenirs for the family. We spent a few hours walking around the places looking at hundreds of stalls! Be mindful that it is quite touristy and can get very crowded at times. I think it just a part of the market’s charm though so we weren’t too fussed.
3) Chinatown Food Street: Smith Street, Singapore 058938
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD! I think out of the seven days we spent in Chinatown, we had dinner at Chinatown Food Street three times. As the name suggests, the Chinatown Food Street is a long strip of food stalls and restaurants that offers a massive range of cuisines from Singaporean, Indian, Chinese, Western and more. This is the best venue to go with a large group and/or with picky eaters because there is literally everything on offer. There is also a very organised street map so you know exactly what each stall offers. Definitely try an Ice Kechang for dessert. Singapore can get really hot and humid at times so its a perfect way to cool down.
Price wise, Chinatown Food Street is fairly cheap. Each dish we bought was in the range of $4 – $9 SGD. From memory, most places only took cash so make sure you’ve got some on you. Otherwise, there is an ATM close by so its not too big of a deal.
4) Hawker Chan: 78 Smith St, Singapore 058972
Also on the same street as Chinatown Food Street is Hawker Chan, a humble hawker stall turned restaurant that serves the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal – the Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle. When we arrived, it was obvious that people came to Hawker Chan to eat the famed dish. There was a massive line of locals and tourists alike that went out the door and the restaurant was filled to the brim. We knew it must be good.
After waiting about 20-30 minutes in line, we ordered seasonal vegetables, Soya Sauce Chicken Hor Fun ($4.50), Char Siew Noodle ($4.80) and the 3 combination platter ($10.00) that featured Roasted Pork, Char Siew and of course the Soya Sauce Chicken. I’ll admit we ate a lot that day but the food was so delicious and cheap that it was worth it! It was also cool to say that we’ve eaten in a Michelin Star dish. I would highly recommend this place to any foodie or basically anyone who loves food 🙂
5) Lau Pa Sat/Satay Street: 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582
Okay, I don’t actually think that Lau Pa Sat is considered to be in Chinatown but it was super close to where we stayed that it felt like it was in Chinatown! Also, I think by this point, you can probably tell that all we did in Chinatown is eat delicious food (lol, sorry not sorry!).
Lau Pa Sat is an incredible hawker centre that boasts an amazing selection of food vendors and cuisines for very low prices. This was actually our first dinner in Singapore so it was such a great introduction to hawker centres as well as the country’s rich and culturally diverse population. Luckily we were a Lau Pa Sat for dinner because every evening, Boon Tat St. (next to Lau Pa Sat) transforms into Satay Street, an outdoor dining area with rows of outdoor food stalls selling, you guessed it – SATAY!
We had prawn, beef, and chicken satay sticks, chilli crab and chicken rice. We were super full but also incredibly satisfied. We knew since then that Singapore was going to be an amazing experience not only for our eyes, but also for our tummies.
6) Gorgeous and colourful architecture.
Walking around Chinatown is an absolute treat. There were loads of interesting shops and an eclectic mix of old and new architecture and design. Overall, it was a lovely place to be based in for our first week in Singapore.