An Insider’s Guide to Chinatown, Singapore

Chinatown, Singapore; Though I have travelled to Singapore twice now, on both occasions it was more of a fleeting visit than an opportunity to thoroughly explore.

Fortunately, a fellow solo  female traveler and Singapore Travel Writer has explored the city extensively and can provide some great insider tips on exploring Chinatown, Singapore. This is a guest post from the lovely Rhiannon at The Gypsy Heart Travels. 

Chinatown, Singapore
An Insider’s Guide to Chinatown, Singapore

Chinatown in Singapore was the perfect place for me to base myself as a solo traveller on a budget. This is one of the best places to stay in Singapore

Not only was the neighbourhood friendly and safe, but also colourful and vibrant! With its bustling markets, traditional temples and pastel coloured colonial buildings, it’s a particularly pleasant neighbourhood to visit and stay in. It’s centrally located, easily accessible by MRT lines and bus stops, meaning you can get to and from there for very little money, and be anywhere in the city within minutes! Chinatown also has some of the best food courts in Singapore, and some intriguing sights in it’s own right. It’s time to take a closer look at Chinatown, where you can stay, what to eat and where to go…

Get There & Getting Around

Chinatown Singapore
The MRT in Singapore is easy to use

It’s super easy to get to Chinatown by the MRT subway system. The simply and aptly named ‘Chinatown’ stop can be found on both the Northeast Line (Look for purple NE4) and the Downtown Line (blue DT19) mere stops away from some of the most popular and busiest locales suchs as Clarke Quay and Outram Park. The MRT system in Singapore is very easy to navigate, and you can purchase single use tickets or a tourist pass. There are also several bus stops dotted around Chinatown that you can use to get around, but most things are within walking distance as well.

Accommodation

Hotels in Chinatown, Singapore
Plenty of excellent accommodation can be found in between the pastel coloured colonial buildings and paper lanterns

There are plenty of wonderful budget accommodations to choose from in Chinatown, but the two that I would recommend from personal experience would be the ‘5Footway. Inn Project, Ann Siang’ (they have two positioned very close together; the ‘Chinatown 1’ site is still ok but not quite as nice as the Ann Siang hostel) and ‘The Bohemian’. Both are just a few minutes walk from the MRT stop, had lovely decor, comfy beds, friendly helpful staff and included a basic breakfast in the room/dorm price.

If you’re not on a tight budget during your stay, then take a look at the popular Opera House Hotel, Set in a restored 19th-century Chinese opera house, or the sleek and stylish Parkroyal on Pickering with it’s tiered balconies of lush green foliage and infinity pool.

Food and Dining Options in Singapore’s China town

The food in Chinatown is amazing, and can be extremely budget-friendly if you know where to look! There are plenty of lovely restaurants and fine dining venues to check out if you are not too strapped for cash, such as world cuisine of Alba 1836 or Chef’s table. For quality local food perhaps go to the National Kitchen, and there’s also the famous Michelin star food stalls ‘Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle’ and ‘Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle’, but be prepared for lengthy queues.

Avoid the lane which has a sign above it stating “Food Street”, which at first glance to untrained eyes looks like street food stalls, but are actually very overpriced compared to the real thing, and surrounded by restaurants with deceptive menus that will charge you way too much.

For budget-friendly yet still incredibly tasty food, head to a local food court like Maxwell Food Court where you can try all the local traditional dishes such as seafood fried rice, “carrot cake” (it’s not what the Western world would consider a carrot cake or anything that even resembles a cake for that matter), Wanton Mee, Hainanese Chicken, Laksa, and many other tasty things for as little as S$2.00

Chinatown Singapore
Check out the stalls at local food courts for cheap meals

If you’re particularly brave and want to try something authentic, head to one of the Chinese food courts to get some chicken’s feet and pork congee with sliced century egg! For breakfast, try a traditional Kaya Toast with soft boiled egg and a sweet tea or coffee somewhere like Ya Kun Kaya Toast.

Chinatown Singapore
A traditional Singaporean breakfast – Kaya Toast with soft boiled egg, soy sauce, and ice milo

Things To Do in Chinatown Singapore

There are several amazing temples all within walking distance of each other in Chinatown. There’s the ornate Hindu Sri Mariamman Temple, which is Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple. A little further down the same road sits the enormous several-story Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and museum, where you can learn a lot about the Buddhist faith, and maybe catch a glimpse of where they keep their treasured Buddha relic, and a few minutes walk away from there, is the traditional Chinese Thian Hock Keng temple.

Chinatown Singapore
Details outside the Sri Mariamman Temple

Other things to do in Chinatown include the Chinatown Heritage Centre, The Red Dot Design Museum, The Baba House Museum – all of which showcase the rich culture and history of the famous Singaporean district. There are also the colourful markets to explore, grab yourself a boba tea and a moon cake to snack on and wander around, taking in the sights.

Chinatown Singapore
The infamous skyline of the Marina Bay Sands

Since it’s so centrally located, it’s very easy to get to all the other main sites in Singapore such as Marina Bay, The Supertree Grove, Clarke Quay, the Gardens by the Bay and Sentosa Island.

Chinatown is perhaps the most culturally significant and historical ethnic precinct in Singapore and is definitely not to be missed when planning your trip to Singapore! If you like colourful and fun neighbourhoods to stay in, surrounded by good food and friendly faces, then I would recommend staying here while backpacking in Singapore!

Author Bio

Rhiannon is a professional storyteller and wanderer. She loves tattoos, motorbikes, red lipstick, good food, whiskey, and books. She’s passionate about adventure and likes to travel to weird and wonderful places off the beaten track the most. You can follow her intrepid travels on her blog The Gypsy Heart Travels.

You can also find her on:

Twitter: @gypsyheartblog
Insta: @gypsyhearttravels


Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, Greece. She writes for numerous high profile travel publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, Matador Network, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post.

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