With Chinese New Year coming up, it couldn’t be a better time to check out Chinatown in Singapore! From kid-friendly activities to foodie spots, there’s so much to see and do!
Ready to discover Chinatown in Singapore? Head there for the colourful lanterns, trinket shops, temples and food! Take our handy guide with you and go down the list of kid-friendly activities (find out how kopi was made in Singapore back in the day!), try out the delicious foodie spots (there’s not one but three hawker centres and plenty of restos – some even halal) and take a peek into the Chinatown shopping scene.
↓ Scroll down to check out what to do, see and eat in Chinatown with kids!
1. Hike up Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
First stop in Chinatown, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum which was built in 2007. The Temple is dedicated to the Maitreya Buddha, which means ‘The Compassionate One’, and also called ‘The Future Buddha’. It’s said to house one of Buddha’s actual canine teeth (hence the name!) and the temple’s exterior is a stunning spot for photo ops. Entry to the temple is free (but donations are encouraged), where you can enjoy a tour, check out the museum and climb to the top of the temple.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, 288 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058840, Open daily from 9am–5pm
2. Head to Nanyang Old Coffee & Learn About Singapore’s Kopi History
Just on the end of Chinatown Food Street and South Bridge Road is Nanyang Old Coffee. You can sit outside for some people watching over a nice cup of local coffee or go upstairs and check out all the fun coffee antiques! We love this video explaining all the different terms for special coffee orders in Singapore.
Nanyang Old Coffee, 268 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058817, Open daily from 7am–6:30pm
3. Go on a Walking Tour of Chinatown’s Best Murals
There’s tons of street art to check out in Singapore, and a lot of them are located in Chinatown! We recommend starting off your Chinatown street art tour on Keong Saik Road, where you’ll find a playful backdrop that will catch your eye. Then make a quick stop at Duxton Road and take a photo by the colourful dots painted on the side of the building. Gradually make your way towards Thian Hock Keng Temple (one of the oldest temples in Singapore!) where along the 44-meter rear wall of the temple is an impressive work of art illustrating the hopes and struggles of the early Chinese immigrants as they left their homes in search of a better life in Singapore. Along Gemmill Lane (a short walk from Telok Ayer MRT station) is a wall displaying mesmerizing patterns and designs in black and white. Perfect for those #OOTD shots!
Read more: A Kid-Friendly Walking Tour of Singapore’s Street Art Scene
4. Spot a Mosque and Hindu Temple in Chinatown
As if we need further proof that Singapore is a true melting pot of different cultures, races and religions, Chinatown still surprises us with the presence of a mosque and Hindu temple in its vicinity!
Masjid Jamae (Chulia)
Check out the beautiful pastel green exterior of Masjid Jamae (Chulia), built by the Chulia community who came from the Coromandal Coast of Southern India. It was built in 1827! Masjid Jamae (Chulia) is a wakaf mosque, which means that it was built on donated land that was placed in trust for the Muslim community in perpetuity.
Masjid Jamae (Chulia), 218 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058767, Open daily from 1pm – 9pm
Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple
The Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple also dates back to 1827, when it was known as Mariamman Kovil or Kling Chapel. When you visit, make sure to pay close attention to the ornate and elaborate detailing on the temple’s exterior. Its six tiers are covered with sculptures of deities and mythological figures.
Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple, 244 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058793, Open daily 6:30am – 11am & 6:45pm – 8:30pm
5. Head to Chinatown Heritage Centre (when it reopens in April 2021!)
Chinatown Heritage Centre is currently closed for upgrading works, but you should check it out when it reopens this April! Get a glimpse into the lives of Chinatown’s early migrant residents through the displays in the museum, where kids will love looking into the past with the carefully recreated interiors of 1950s shophouse tenants depicting their lives. Recommended!
Chinatown’s Best Food: Dim Sum, Hawker Centres and Restaurants
1. Chinatown Food Street
Chinatown Food Street has recently reopened after a turbulent 2020, so you can head there for your fix of tantalising char kway teow, mouthwatering satay and delicious steamboat and barbecue in an al-fresco dining style.
Chinatown Food Street, Smith Street, Chinatown, Singapore 058953, Open daily from 11am – 11pm (steamboat and BBQ available from 5pm)
2. Chinatown Hawker Centres
With three popular hawker centres in close proximity to each other, you’ll be spoilt for choice with all the affordable food options in Chinatown! Must-tries include the original Hawker Chan chicken rice and Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao for dim sum at Chinatown Complex Food Centre; A Noodle Story for local-style ramen and J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff (both Michelin Bib Gourmand stalls!) at Amoy Street Food Centre; and Old Nonya for Peranakan food and Zhen Zhen Porridge at Maxwell Food Centre.
Chinatown Complex Food Centre, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335
Amoy Street Food Centre, 7 Maxwell Road, Singapore 069111
Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore 069184
3. Top Dim Sum Spots in Chinatown, Singapore
Mouth Restaurant serves affordable dim sum like the pretty Prawn Har Gao which comes in different colours and flavours—Squid Ink, Spinach, Sweet Potato, Pumpkin, Carrot and Original.
Mouth Restaurant, 01-61 China Square Central South Bridge Court Shophouse, 22 Cross Street, Singapore 048421, Tel: (+65) 6438 5798
Yum Cha Chinatown offers casual dim sum in Singapore restaurant with the bonus of having old-fashioned dim sum pushcarts (call ahead to confirm). Yum Cha Restaurant in Chinatown serves a weekday dim sum high tea buffet that’s great for both adults and kids. There are over 60 items to choose from, including the Squid Ink Dumpling, Scallop Pea-Shoot Dumpling and more.
Yum Cha Restaurant Chinatown, 20 Trengganu Street, #02-01, Singapore 058479, Tel: (+65) 6372 1717, Dim Sum Hours: 3pm – 6pm (Mon to Fri)
4. Chic Eateries in Chinatown
There’s even a one MICHELIN star restaurant in Chinatown! Burnt Ends is a modern Australian restaurant that features a long open-concept kitchen where you can watch the chefs at work. Custom-made grills fired by coal, apple and almond wood ensure a sexy charred exterior with a juicy tender bite to their meats.
Burnt Ends, 20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore 0883911, Tel: (+65) 6224 3933, www.burntends.com.sg
Esquina is a tiny modern Spanish restaurant in a shophouse off Keong Saik. Grab a pew at the kitchen counter to watch the chefs in action. The lunch set menus are fab, with past dishes featuring beetroot pickled and roasted with stracciatella, smoked walnuts and horseradish to start, and braised beef and pork cannelloni with crepes béchamel and foie gras.
Esquina,16 Jiak Chuan Road, Singapore 089267, Tel: (+65) 62221616, esquina.com.sg
It’s not often you saunter past a cafe and are stopped in your tracks by the soft sweet African music coming from within, as the smell of Swahili curry from Kenya wafts into the street. That’s what you’ll find at Kafe UTU, the first African cafe in Singapore! It’s beautifully decorated with huge black and white African portraits on the walls and stunning wooden doors crafted in Lamu off the coast of East Africa.
Kafe Utu, 12 Jiak Chuan Road, Tel: (+65) 6996 3937, www.kafeutu.com
5. Halal Food in Chinatown
There’s no shortage of halal food in Chinatown! Head to any of the restaurants or cafes below to satiate your hunger:
Tok Tok Indonesian Soup House, 18 Ann Siang Road, #01-01, Singapore 069698, open daily from 11am – 9pm
Tongue Tip Lanzhou Beef Noodles, 133 New Bridge Road, #01-43 Chinatown Point, Singapore 059413, open daily from 11am – 9:30pm
A Poke Theory, 18 Cross Street, #B1-110 Cross Street Exchange, Singapore 048423, open Monday – Friday 11am–8pm, Saturday 10am–3pm, closed Sundays
Royz Et Vous, 137 Telok Ayer Street #01-01, Singapore 068602, open Monday – Friday 11am–4pm, 5–10pm, Saturday – Sunday 12–4pm, 5–10pm
Segar Restaurant, 133 New Bridge Road, #B2-39/40/41 Chinatown Point, Singapore 059413, open daily 11:30am–9:30pm
Tiffany Cafe & Restaurant, 60 Eu Tong Sen Street, Furama City Centre, Singapore 059804, open daily 6am–10:30am, 12pm–2:30pm, 6pm–10:30pm
Shopping in Chinatown, Singapore
Besides the TCM shophouses and hole-in-the-wall stores along the streets of Chinatown, there are also a number of shopping malls and department stores where you can get everything from Chinese New Year decorations to essentials, souvenirs and even fabric and sewing supplies!
1. Chinatown Point
Chinatown Point is made up of over 220 speciality shops and F&B outlets! Here you’ll find a supermarket, lifestyle shops and a Chinese Arts and Culture-themed public library. For food, there’s everything from traditional bakeries to family-friendly restaurants, affordable eateries and grab and go outlets if you need a quick bite.
Chinatown Point, 133 New Bridge Road, Singapore 059413
2. People’s Park Complex
At People’s Park Complex you’ll find a string of fabric stores on the second and third floors. So if you’re looking to get a cheongsam made for CNY or just want to check out what fabrics are available for your next craft project, you can head here for affordable threads!
People’s Park Complex, 1 Park Road, Singapore 059108
3. Yue Hwa
You can find authentic Chinese products at Yue Hwa, whether it’s clothing, beauty products, food, snacks or medicine!
Yue Hwa, 70 Eu Tong Sen Street, Singapore 059805