Chinese cuisine, gourmet coffee and tea, wall art and even a fab manicure – it's all in Chinatown, of course!
Whether you’re new to Singapore or curious about one of the city’s oldest and thriving neighbourhoods, you have to check out Chinatown. This kitschy tourist chic precinct is home to some of the most bustling (and our favourite) streets – from Ann Siang Hill and Club Street to Amoy Street, Duxton Hill and Keong Saik Road. Buckle up for our complete guide to Chinatown!
Guide to Chinatown: Eat
Chinatown Food Street
Where can you tuck into signature homegrown dishes in one spot? At Chinatown Food Street, that’s where. Tasty delights worth trying include chicken rice, char kway teow (stir-fried rice noodles), and roti prata (South Indian flatbread).
Chinatown Food Street, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335
Wanna grab a meal at a hawker centre? You’ve come to the right place. In Chinatown, you can hawker centre-hop your way to delicious grub. There’s Chinatown Complex Food Centre where you’ll find several Michelin Bib Gourmand award-winning stalls and People’s Park Complex Food Centre across the street to get your mala hot pot fix.
At Hong Lim Food Centre nearby, expect more Michelin Bib award-winning food and some young hawkerpreneurs. Plus, y’all know we love Amoy street Food Centre and Maxwell that are also in this cultural precinct. Pro tip: Want hawker centre-like delicious food and prices but with the comforts of aircon? People’s Park Centre, an old-school mall opposite Chinatown Point mall, has a small but fab food court.
Chong Qing Grilled Fish
Chongqing’s most recognisable export to Singapore might be its grilled fish dishes, if the regular queues at Chong Qing Grilled Fish are any indication. Try the signature flavours like pickled cabbage, mushroom herbs, hot and sour and more. Expect a cross between marinated grilled fish and the intense flavours of Sichuan hotpot, a taste that’ll keep your chopsticks going.
Chong Qing Grilled Fish, #01-01, 18 Mosque Street, Singapore 059498
Guo Fu Steamboat
If you’re craving steamboat and xiao long bao at the same time, get the best of both worlds at Guo Fu Steamboat. Here, your hotpot meal can be complemented with free-flow xiao long bao to munch on while your soup is cooking. This steamboat spot is also known for its fresh beef slices, so order up a few portions for the table!
Guo Fu Steamboat, #01-31, China Square Central, 20 Cross Street, Singapore 048422
Red Star Restaurant
We just have to start with our favourite type of Chinese food: dim sum. We like ours traditional at Red Star Restaurant, dated décor and pushcarts included. Dim sum aside, the menu’s authentic Cantonese fare includes fried yam pots filled with scallops, prawn and cashew nuts and crispy thin suckling pig skin served with seasoned jelly thin strips.
Red Star Restaurant, #07-23, Block 54, Chin Swee Road, Singapore 160054
We can’t say no to a warm bowl of steamboat soup, and Taikoo Lane delivers. Take a sip of the collagen soup that’s said to have skincare benefits, or get an addictive kick from the mala soup base. For maximum enjoyment, drop by with a group and get four soup flavours to share! And if you’re after less conventional dishes, try the unique picks like dragon fruit prawn paste and the exploding volcano mashed potatoes.
Taikoo Lane, #B1-16, Chinatown Point, 133 New Bridge Road, Singapore 059413
Tiong Shian Porridge
Porridge aficionados (and supper club members), Tiong Shian Porridge does excellent Cantonese-style congee and Chinese-styled fish carpaccio.
Tiong Shian Porridge, 265 New Bridge Road, Singapore 088745
Koo Kee Yong Tow Foo Mee
People’s Park Food Centre is chock full of local food, but Koo Kee Yong Tow Foo Mee is our favourite (noodles with tofu stuffed with fish paste).
Koo Kee Yong Tow Foo Mee, #01-1114, Blk 32 New Market Road, Singapore 050032
Original Chew Kee Eating House (Chew Kee Soy Sauce Chicken)
You may have visited this spot during our exclusive pop-up party with Auchentoshan but ever tried the noodles? Well, once you’ve had a plate of the humble yet wholesome dish, you’ll be completely won over. Think springy egg noodles (you can also select rice or kway teow) and flavourful braised soy sauce chicken along with soy sauce that brings the dish together. And it only costs $4.50!
Original Chew Kee Eating House (Chew Kee Soy Sauce Chicken), 8 Upper Cross Street, Singapore 058327
Old Chengdu Sichuan Cuisine Restaurant
Think you can handle the bold, fiery flavours of Sichuan cuisine? Look no further than Old Chengdu Sichuan Cuisine Restaurant. We hear that the dishes are as close as the real deal. Don’t leave without trying standouts such as Yuxiang shredded pork, double-boiled fish and special roast chicken. Oh, and remember to bring some tissue packets as it will get hot and sweaty!
Old Chengdu Sichuan Cuisine Restaurant, 80 Pagoda Street, Singapore 059239
Liao Fan Hawker Chan Chinatown
Liao Fan Hawker Chan Chinatown has a lot to brag about. It is, after all, the world’s first hawker stall to receive the prestigious Michelin star. The row of roast chickens and slabs of roast pork hanging over the stall is enough reason to brave the queue. Say yes to juicy chicken and pork, roasted to perfection.
Liao Fan Hawker Chan Chinatown, 78 Smith Street, Singapore 058972; #02-126, Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335
Dong Bei Ren Jia
Get your fill, a la zi char style, at Dong Bei Ren Jia. This Chinese restaurant serves up generous portions of your favourite dishes. Highlights include scallion pancakes, mung noodles and mapo tofu, just to name a few. Great for big groups too!
Dong Bei Ren Jia, 22 Upper Cross Street, Singapore 058334
Guide to Chinatown: Drink
Potato Head Singapore
There’s no doubt that PTT Family’s venture in Singapore has taken Keong Saik by storm. Offering an awesome three-in-one dining concept, choose to dig into gourmet burgers at Three Buns (level one and two), lounge at reservation-only bar Studio 1939, or hit the rooftop garden and soak up the sights and sounds of Chinatown over a cocktail. Head down early or risk being put on a lengthy waiting list.
Potato Head Folk, 36 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089143
Drinks & Co.
Need to pick up a nice bottle of red to wine and dine that special someone? Or maybe you want to kick back with a glass of bubbly and nibble on bar bites and cheese platters? This bottle shop and cafe concept offers a fantastic variety of wine, Champagne, and spirits for the most discerning of drinkers. The Club Street outlet boasts a larger menu and outdoor seating area for patrons who wanna soak in the sights and sounds of the buzzy Ann Siang district.
Drinks & Co., 81 Club Street, Singapore 069449
Smith Street Taps
In the mood for a craft brew but don’t want to skip out on fantastic hawker food? This hawker stall craft beer bar at Chinatown Complex offers an impressive number of draft beers – up to 12 at any one time. Here’s your chance to sample unique and uncommon brews, paired with char kway teow, Hokkien mee, chicken rice, and more.
Smith Street Taps, #02-062, Chinatown Complex, 335 Smith Street Singapore 050335
Spend your nights at Lime House – a Caribbean restaurant and bar that is totally sublime with its classic cocktails paired with delicious Caribbean meals.
Lime House, 2 Jiak Chuan Road, Singapore 089260
Guide to Chinatown: Cafes
For old-school Chinese culture, it doesn’t get more authentic than Tong Heng. This bakery is best known for having the most exceptional traditional Chinese pastries and desserts in town, especially its signature egg tarts and mooncakes.
Tong Heng, 285 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058833
Nanyang Old Coffee
Coffee lovers who’d rather more traditional coffee can grab a fortifying cup of kopi at Nanyang Old Coffee at South Bridge Road. Accompany your cup of kopi with some traditional sweets too.
Nanyang Old Coffee, 268 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058817
Mei Heong Yuen
If you’re looking for another way to sweeten your day, Mei Heong Yuen has good traditional Chinese desserts and a range of shaved ice sweet treats to cool down.
Mei Heong Yuen, No. 63-67 Temple Street, Singapore 058611
Moon Bookstore and Cafe
They had us at ‘whimsical bookstore’ but add the carefully curated collection of female writers and beautifully designed covers and we’re sold. Located right in the heart of Chinatown, The Moon Bookstore and Cafe is the refuge us bookish types have been waiting for whenever things get a little crazy in the office. Don’t forget to check out the reading room on the second floor. Fair warning: you might lose yourselves in this light-filled, cushion-strewn nook.
The Moon, 37 Mosque Street, Singapore 059515
Pek Sin Choon
Rather a spot of tea? Get your Chinese tea leaves such as Jasmine, Puer, Oolong, Tie Guanyin and more from Pek Sin Choon, one of the most established tea merchants in Singapore.
Pek Sin Choon, 36 Mosque Street, Singapore 059514
Guide to Chinatown: Shopping & beauty
If the lack of outdoor space is keeping you from having a green thumb, indoor plants are the way to go. You can get started at Easi Grow, a cool plant shop that carries a range of indoor plants including succulents and air plants (which are less hard to kill). Have a chat with the friendly staff and get to know all about hydroponic, aeroponic and aquaponic systems. You’re sure to leave the place with a new pot of tiny succulents. Super cute!
Easi Grow, 33 Erskine Road, #01-10, Singapore 069333
The Tintin Shop
Fans of this iconic series of books will squeal with joy at the number of collectables and memorabilia found at this official merchandise store. You’ll find everything from figurines to stamps; tote bags to comic books. They also telecast episodes from the original series here.
The Tintin Shop, 28 Pagoda Street, Singapore 059188
We can’t think of an occasion in life where nails don’t matter, so get your digits done at the cosy Nail Alcove. We love the Organic Wild Thyme Foot Scrub and the whimsical nail art they came up with (on the spot) that was perfect with the rest of the ensemble!
Nail Alcove, 59B Temple Street, Singapore 058604
The Singing Bowl Gallery
You’ll forget the heat and charming chaos of Chinatown once you enter The Singing Bowl Gallery. Maybe it’s the collection of Tibetan singing bowls in the corner, the blast of cool aircon (trust us, it helps) or the healing crystals – you’ll immediately enter zen-mode. These singing bowls make excellent tools for yoga and meditation if you’re into that sort of thing. We also spotted some trinkets, jewellery, more crystals and tiger’s eye gemstones.
The Singing Bowl Gallery, 33 Erskine Rd, #01-05 Singapore 069333
People’s Park Complex
If you’re looking for textiles, buttons, costume jewellery and the like, check out People’s Park Complex (level 2) – this place has a variety of shops and is an absolute DIY heaven.
People’s Park Complex, 1 Park Road, Singapore 059108
Yue Hwa Chinese Products
Of course, you can’t miss Yue Hwa Chinese Products on Eu Tong Sen Road. It’s your go-to emporium for all things Chinese – handicrafts, porcelain, furniture, herbs, and loads more.
Yue Hwa Chinese Products, 70 Eu Tong Sen Street, Singapore 059805
Pagoda Street Market
Yes, it’s full of touristy tat, but when you want a lion dance puppet for the kiddos, a giant paper lantern or good luck pineapple (or have a hankering for some fresh durian), this is where it’s at. Pagoda St Market is a spectacle after the sun sets and the lanterns switch on. We still love it.
Pagoda and Temple Streets, open daily
Looking for some pampering downtime with your partner? AFond Spa is the place to go for couple treatments, full-body massages, facials and waxing services.
AFond Spa, 263 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058812
Lastly, for the kitchen buffs, Sia Huat occupies three shop spaces along Temple Street, and supplies top-grade kitchen tools to restaurants and hotels. Everything from Cole and Mason to KitchenAid can be found here.
Sia Huat, No. 7, 9 & 11 Temple Street, Singapore 058559
Guide to Chinatown: Things to do
Fu Tak Chi Museum
The oldest Chinese temple in Singapore, Fu Tak Chi Museum now displays over 200 artefacts donated by former residents of Chinatown. The building is one of the area’s finest examples of restored architecture.
Fu Tak Chi Museum, 76 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 048464
Chinatown Heritage Centre
A hop away is the Chinatown Heritage Centre, filled with recreations from the late-19th century and early-20th century. This authentic slice of Singapore history is all the more fascinating due to the presence of glinting skyscrapers just a few blocks away.
Chinatown Heritage Centre, 48 Pagoda Street, Singapore 059207
Heritage Collection on Chinatown
Looking for a place to stay in Chinatown? On the hunt for a cosy staycay spot in a cultural enclave? Heritage Collection on Chinatown offers newly refurbished rooms within walking distance of Chinatown MRT. Expect a retro-styled stay with an ensuite bathroom and photo-worthy shophouse murals that are inspired by the streets outside.
Heritage Collection on Chinatown, 227 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058776
Cool wall art
We’re so here for Yip Yew Chong’s beautiful murals that practically create portals into Singapore’s culture-filled past. His 44m-long Thian Hock Keng mural took him 10 weekends to complete between work and three overseas trips. For more wall art inspo, check out our Honeycombers Wall Crawl series.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Behold the magnificent Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Named after what’s believed to be the left canine tooth of Buddha, the temple is based on Tang dynasty architectural style. It holds many relics including the sacred Buddha tooth (which can be viewed from the viewing gallery on the fourth floor) and a giant stupa made with 320 kilograms of gold. Join the weekly guided tour to unearth more treasures, relics and secrets.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum, 288 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058840
Sri Mariamman Temple
Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple, built in 1827, is one of the most iconic Hindu temples in Singapore. It’s dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, whose power is to cure illness and disease.
Sri Mariamman Temple, 244 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058793
Masjid Jamae (or Jamae Chulia Mosque)
Only in Singapore will you find a mosque, a Buddhist temple and a Hindu temple located just a few steps away from each other. Sitting along South Bridge Road, Masjid Jamae is one of the oldest mosques in the city. The mosque stands out for its unique South Indian and neo-classical design. And that’s just one of the reasons why it was gazetted as a national monument.
Masjid Jamae, 218 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058767
Some of Singapore’s most iconic architectural structures are in and around Chinatown, from the protected heritage shophouses to Pearl Bank Apartments (now demolished to make way for a new condominium). Tip: To get a bird’s eye view of Chinatown, head to the viewing gallery ($6) on the 50th floor of The [email protected] – the site of one of the oldest HDBs in the country that was redeveloped in 2009.
Double tip: Don’t have the time/inclination to head to The Pinnacle’s gallery? Hop over to the fifth storey of the green-hued HDB complex on Upper Cross Street (above Hong Lim Food Centre) for a good enough (and free) view of the precinct.
Now you’re armed with all the info you need to explore the best of Singapore’s Chinatown!