Chinatown is a treasure trove of heritage gems, but there’s more to this ethnic enclave than just temples and age-old memoirs.
Here and along the rows of turn-of-the-century shophouses at its fringes, you’ll find some of the coolest eateries, secret bars, museums and more.
The highlight of this free attraction is a giant architectural model of Singapore city, one of the largest models in the world. The interactive model lights up, so you can spot different landmarks and icons.
The URA Centre, 45 Maxwell Rd, Singapore 069118
NEXT: Maxwell Food Centre →
Its central location makes this a popular dining spot. It’s even home to dueling stalls – while the original Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice continues to draw a long queue, a former employee has opened a competing business three stalls away, called Ah-Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice. Try them both to decide which one you prefer. Tip: Visit during off-peak hours to avoid the lunch and dinner crowds.
1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore 069184
NEXT: The Coconut Club →
The nondescript entrance of The Coconut Club hides a gem – even Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took a foreign dignitary to dine at this eatery. It’s the hippest place in town for nasi lemak ($12.80) – fragrant coconut rice served with a succulent chicken leg, fried egg, sambal and more.
6 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore 069787
NEXT: China Square Central Flea Market →
If you’re a fan of vintage keepsakes like Chinese ceramics, collectible toys, records, typewriters, curious and used goods, check out this air-conditioned Sunday flea market located in Fook Hai Building.
150 South Bridge Rd, Fook Hai Building, Singapore 048423
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays
NEXT: Ann Siang Hill Park →
This inconspicuous park sandwiched between rows of shophouses is a nice respite from the city. Look for an actual water well, a relic from when traders docked at the nearby harbour.
Ann Siang Hill & Club St, Singapore
NEXT: Operation Dagger →
Blink and you’ll miss it! The location of this bar housed in an abandoned-looking building is only indicated by a crown logo above a door. Choose from a range of cocktails ($25) that change seasonally. We like the off-menu Hot and Cold (pictured), made of hot white chocolate and coconut foam, and lavender tequila.
#B1-01, 7 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore 069791
NEXT: Oxwell & Co. →
Modelled after an English pub, Oxwell & Co. integrates several spaces, including a bar on the first floor and a dining room on the next. Reserve a spot for the rooftop bar, which overlooks Chinatown. It also has a small kids menu to ensure that little ones aren’t left out.
5 Ann Siang Rd, Singapore 069688
NEXT: Burger Joint →
Fun fact: With strict drug laws today, you’d never guess that Amoy Street was once known for its opium-smoking dens, which coolies patronised as an escape from their harsh lives. You can still lead a secret life (well, kind of), though – the Singapore outpost of the New York institution pays homage to the original that’s hidden behind a curtain at the Le Parker Meridien hotel, with a back alley entrance. Follow the neon-lit burgers to find it and savour its simply-named Bacon Burger ($19.10) and Fries ($5.50).
#01-03, 115 Amoy St, Singapore 069935
NEXT: Kinderland →
Work in the city? Have your child taken care of at Kinderland’s Ministry of National Development centre. The centre has the biggest outdoor space out of all the preschools in the CBD, including a rooftop playground. The centre offers a wide range of services for infants and preschoolers between two months and six years old, including a specialised infant care programme that helps your mini-me learn and grow in a safe and nurturing environment. Choose from half or full day sessions, with a whole host of enrichment courses such as Chinese and English Speech & Drama, Art, and Abacus classes.
#06-02 MND Complex Annexe B, 7 Maxwell Rd, Singapore 069111
NEXT: The laughing buddha →
Traditional belief has it that you’ll be blessed with an abundance of food if you rub the tummy of this golden Buddha statue. Which explains why even much of the gold coating has rubbed off on his belly! Then, browse the shops along the street for old school snacks and memorabilia.
36 Sago St, Singapore 059027
NEXT: Singapore City Gallery →
By Andre Theng and Pinky Chng, The Finder (Issue 285), August 2017 / Updated by Melodi Ghui, June 2019
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