As the name clearly suggests, Chinatown is that part of Singapore which has a distinct Chinese flavor to it. In their native tongue, it is referred to as “Niu che shui” which means bull cart water because that’s how the residents of the area would carry water. It came to be known as “Chinatown” because of the concentration of Chinese immigrants in the region. It has long since been a symbol of hope. Even though it houses non-Chinese residents today, it has retained certain aspects which are unique to China alone. One only has to go to the heart of this famous enclave to be engulfed in a beautiful and colorful cultural experience.
There is a multitude of options available to diners- from cheap street food at the stalls of Smith Street to a fine dining experience at hotels. However, dining alfresco at the Chinese Food Street is something that most tourists opt for because of the charm of the place. It is equivalent to heaven for all the foodies out there. The lit-up streets and lanterns create the right kind of ambiance for family and friends to get together and enjoy their meal. Chinatown Complex and Maxwell Food Center are other viable options too. All sorts of local dishes are available here.
Chinatown Heritage Center:
There are three shop-houses situated along the Pagoda Street of this ethnic district that make up the Chinatown Heritage Center People come here to relive the experiences of the Chinese migrants who moved to Singapore post 1819 in the hope of a better life. It reflects their past and transports you back in time. It is a beautiful cultural journey indeed and anyone who decides to take it will be able to sympathize with the migrants’ lives. Hence, it is much more than just a museum.
One would be surprised to find out that Chinatown is actually home to a number of religious landmarks such as the Sri Mariamman Temple and the Jammae Mosque. They both lie in the South Bridge Road. It is interesting to note that the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple- renowned for containing Buddha’s tooth- too lies in this enclave.
Everyone is compelled to awaken the shopaholic in them at Chinatown! An array of items from fine silk to jewellery to handicraft items can be bought at the Chinese emporium called Yue Hwa. The Chinatown Complex, Chinatown Point and People’s Park Complex are the most popular and noteworthy malls that there are. But, all the ”trend-setters” are advised to visit the chic boutiques in Ann Siang Road and Club Street. It will not fail to impress even the most fashionable people!
Things to do:
There are some things that you one simply cannot afford to miss when in Chinatown. Yes, of course we are talking about the excellent services offered by the spas and massage parlors in the region. The Bath Culture Foot Therapy incorporates a culmination of foot massage using traditional techniques and oriental music to relax the mind and body. Living Wellness, Qimantara and Rustic Nirvana are other forms of treatment meant to rejuvenate oneself. The Toy Factory Theater Ensemble is a theater group which preached free expression in the nation and whose performance is a must see if you want to complete your Chinatown experience!
The most ideal time to visit these Chinese quarters would be during the Chinese New Year, when the entire market-place is bustling with activity. It is at its most colorful at bright self at around that time.