Feb 252017
 

Beyond Top 10 Things to do in Chinatown Singapore

Girl in Red Fedora hat Chinatown Singapore

Chinatown Visitor Center

Smug that I am prepared to explore & experience Chinatown Singapore, after reading a few blog posts suggesting “Top 10 Things to do & See in Chinatown Singapore”, I trotted to the colorful Chinatown in Singapore with Mr. Know IT All Swag.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong.

“Arrogance is the Achilles’ heel of a Traveler”, I  mumble to myself and decide to go with the flow.

Monks Chinatown Singapore Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Monks chanting mantras at Chinatown Singapore Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

The energy, the sounds, the smells the vibes & smiles overtake my senses and I am like a well a ” Tourist in Chinatown ” With no space even to move my arms, I struggled to click pictures trying to keep my hands steady while trying to dodge people all around me. It is not easy to walk in Singapore Chinatown, not only because it can be super crowded but because you cannot take a step without getting distracted by or attracted to the many charms it has to offer.  I try and focus on clicking a picture of a shop selling Singapore Souvenirs, but my mind is struggling to find the source of the lemony whiff of air that arrived riding on a cloud of chicken broth. Aromas of China I tell myself and automatically move in direction of the smell as it grows stronger.  It will be a long and eventful day discovering the top attractions of Chinatown Singapore the desi Traveler way I tell myself.

Chinatown Visitor Center Singapore

Chinatown Visitor Center

All this when this was not even my first visit to Chinatown in Singapore, and I am sure this will not be my last visit also. (Next one is coming soon hopefully 🙂 ) The shops are decorated for some festival or maybe they are like this all year round for when I visited 6 months ago the energy levels with equally high. I impulsively bow my head the moment I see the number the number one attraction of Chinatown Singapore – The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.  Taking a central place in the Chinatown Market, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is a Kaleidoscope of Colors with a duopoly of Red and Golden. A religious ceremony is in place and Buddhist monks are chanting hymns as devotees come and light incense sticks then silently folding hands while praying. The Golden Buddha Statue gazes at us, noticing everything, saying nothing and blessing everyone.

Devotees Praying at Chinatown Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

I too offered prayers at Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown

As I leave the pious precincts of the temple I realize how the Buddha Temple is not just a temple of Buddha Tooth Relic it is also a vanguard of the Old Singapore when it embarked on a journey from a being just another marshy outpost of the Raj to being  one of the most modern cities in the world.  We are surrounded by sky scrapers that dwarf everything around them. But the Chinatown though aware of the change around it and rejects and even mocks the vertical growth of the city, rejoicing,  restoring, with respect and nurturing the Shop Homes in their vibrant colors, from the colonial era lanes of Chinatown. The tall sky scrapers around Chinatown may have grown vertically but it will be many decades before they catch any of the character and aurae that the intricately designed heritage buildings of Chinatown radiate. Each of the building in Chinatown has some history hidden behind its wooden windows, and the old timers though far and few are ready to engage in a conversation when they are not playing their board games that their forefathers brought from mainland China.


But the Chinatown though aware of the change around it and rejects and even mocks the vertical growth of the city, rejoicing,  & restoring, with respect and nurturing the Shop Homes in their vibrant colors, from the colonial era lanes of Chinatown.


The tall skyscrapers around Chinatown may have grown vertically but it will be many decades before they catch any of the character and aurae that the intricately designed heritage buildings of Chinatown radiate. Each of the building in Chinatown has some history hidden behind its wooden windows, and the old timers though far and few are ready to engage in a conversation when they are not playing their board games that their forefathers brought from mainland China.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Chinatown Singapore

The Old Guard at the Buddha Relic Temple watches the growing Skyscrapers around Chinatown

But the Chinatown though aware of the change around it and rejects and even mocks the vertical growth of the city, rejoicing,  restoring, with respect and nurturing the Shop Homes in their vibrant colors, from the colonial era lanes of Chinatown. The tall skyscrapers around Chinatown may have grown vertically but it will be many decades before they catch any of the character and aurae that the intricately designed heritage buildings of Chinatown radiate.

Chinatown Singapore Heritage building

Ok, so they got big, so what I still have more character than all of them put together

Each of the building in Chinatown has some history hidden behind its wooden windows, and the old timers though far and few are ready to engage in a conversation when they are not playing their board games that their forefathers brought from mainland China.

Shop homes Chinatown Singapore

These Shop homes in Chinatown retain their colonial colors and character

A man reading Chinese newspaper in Singapore Chinatown

Some of us still like to read newspaper

The central square in Chinatown is the epicenter of activities from where all the chaos around Chinatown gets it meaning.  It is here you will find elders exchanging stories, and youngsters decorating their bikes with lights for a showoff. Tired shoppers settle for catching a breath and planning the next jaunt to the Stalls next to the Buddha  Tooth Relic Temple.

Elders playing board game Chinatown Singapore

Elders play a board game of Chinese origin in Chinatown

Elders playing board game Chinatown Singapore

Phew !! What do I do now ??

As the Sun sets, and Neons take over a fresh wave of shoppers start emerging from the Chinatown MRT station While during the day most of the shoppers around were visitors and tourists it is now after Sunset the true spirits of Chinatown take over. A granny carefully checks the catch of the day with her wrinkled hands and smiles when she finds the one she was looking for. I am sure her brood will enjoy the fish in dinner.

Chinese grocery shop Chinatown Singapore

Any idea what this is? Many Chinese women were seen buying it

Birdhouse Gourd Chinatown Singapore

Birdhouse Gourd was the most popular vegetable. Do you know any Chinese recipe that uses it?

Many local Chinese families visit Chinatown for their household needs Besides being one of the top tourist attractions, Chinatown in Singapore is also a major hub for authentic Chinese groceries, Chinese Herbal Tea and all kind of Chinese Medicines and raw materials used in the Chinese medicines ranging from flying lizards to dried squids.

Man holding boy with a portable fan on shoulder

A dad and son wait for the mom to return from grocery shopping in Chinatown Singapore

 A dad waits with his son firmly tied to his back as he waits for the mom to return after her triumphant visit to get the Chinese Groceries as the crowds swell in the evening with both tourists and locals making a beeline for Chinatown.  No wonder the place is so high on energy.

WHAT To Buy IN CHINATOWN SINGAPORE?

Chinatown is one of the best places for Shopping in Singapore

There are all kind of Chinese Souvenirs on sale in Chinatown from replicas of Merlion to authentic factory made birthstones you will find many curious to take back home. May I suggest buying Chinese Tea, Jade Tortoises, Fengshui items like coins, frogs and whatever else fancies your eyes. Unlike most bazaars type places in Asia Singapore, Chinatown does not encourage bargaining and most shops have a fixed price policy to save time and prices are neatly displayed on all items.  There are even a few shops that sell funeral items that Chinese people buy for the funeral of their family members. I notice watches, cars dresses, besides prayer items like incense sticks etc. on these Chinese Funeral items shops. I quickly click a picture and move forwards trying to spend minimum time in front of the Funeral shops.

Chinatown Singapore

Evenings bring out the best in Chinatown Singapore

Chinese pen on sale Chinatown singapore

Chinese are big on astrology, you could buy pen with your sign

A stuffed monkey for sale Chinatown Singapore

Hey, Mister take me home, I am a good monkey almost as good as you 😛

Chinese Fans for sale Singapore

Chinese hand fans for sale  Chinatown Singapore

Colored glass beads sold as lucky stones in Chinatown India

You could buy your factory made lucky stone

Chinese Funeral Shop Chinatown Singapore

Some shopping even for the departed

Drone capturing images Chinatown Singapore

Somebody was flying a drone capturing action in Chinatown

Peanut Shop Chinatown Singapore

A lot of Peanuts were on sale in Chinatown Singapore

As you have reached here let me quickly list the top attractions of Chinatown Singapore  ( haw!! desi succumbs to listicles )

  1. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
  2. Chinatown Heritage Center
  3. Chinatown Food Street. Try some delicious Chinese Street Food and if you are one of those desi nonexperimental types look for the “ Serangoon Raju Indian Cusine”
  4. Photograph Shop homes that still maintain their character of the colonial era and people still live on the upper floors in many of these houses.
  5. Pray at the Sri Mariamman Temple one of the most prominent places of worship for Tamil Hindus in Singapore It was built to honor Goddess Mariamman, who protects from disease and
Chinatown Street Food

Your visit to Chinatown Singapore is not complete without trying Street Food

Chinatownn Food Street Singapore

Don’t miss the Chinatown Food Street ( there is even a desi Food Stall there )

Chinatown MRT Station

Singapore MRT or Metro is the best way to reach Chinatown

How to reach Chinatown Singapore

Chinatown Singapore is conveniently located in Singapore and you can easily reach there by Singapore Metro or MRT as it is called. The Chinatown station is a major interchange between lines North-East Line ( NE4 )  and Downtown line ( DT19). The North East Line is the purple line & the Downtown line in Singapore is the Blue line. You can also take a taxi or bus to reach Chinatown.

Best Time to Visit Chinatown Singapore:

I would suggest you go in second half of the day after lunch and stay till late evening, this way you will be able to capture life in Chinatown Singapore both during the day as well as the night in Chinatown and can try the delicacies on offer at the Chinatown Street food market also.

Chinatown Singapore

Go explore and experience Chinatown Singapore

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  13 Responses to “desi Traveler Explores Chinatown Singapore”

Comments (13)
  1. The colours of the place narrates its own story. Your colourful story beautifully narrates the mingling of the colonial era with the modern age and the gradually diminishing line of their ancestry. The pictures are as always captivating. I found the fan and the newspaper reader pictures to be most interesting 🙂

  2. The sights and sounds even smells of markets like this, makes visiting them such a joy. Those pictures sure made it a great virtual trip for me. 🙂 It was so much fun seeing the wares.

    Is that a mini fan on that ‘father’s’ shoulders. If it is — so cool. That kids really needs it for the heat there. 🙂

  3. Your post made me nostalgic. We visited all the places you have mentioned , in fact Arab street and Indian street was vibrant and colorful 🙂

  4. Such a kaleidoscope of colors! I love the vibe of the place, the collonial homes standing alongside the skyscrapers lend a unique charm to the place. I would like to bring back one of those signature pens back home. Thank you for this excellent tour!

  5. Loved the vibrancy and colours.

  6. My only trip to Singapore was in 1999! The chinatown looks amazing through your lens but then what doesn’t!

  7. Next trip coming soon? (Let’s hope your blessings make me also accompany you on that ) .. hahahaha

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