Singapore’s Chinatown is the go-to destination for travelers looking for a dose of cultural stimulation. Dating, as it does, at least as far back as the 13th century, the district is one of the world’s oldest and largest Chinatowns. Despite a history that is steeped in bloody conflict (multicultural, modern Singapore emerged out of a series of clashes between Malays and Chinese immigrants), the district has long been one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the city.
Located within the larger district of Outram, today’s Chinatown consists of Kreta Ayer, Tanjong Pagar, Bukit Pasoh, Ann Siang Hill and Telok Ayer. The latter is home to one of the highest concentrations of temples, mosques and other religious and cultural sites in Singapore.
The area is teeming with quality eateries but foodies in pursuit of the best hawker centers in the city should make it a point to visit the Chinatown Smith Street Food Centre.
The celebrations surrounding the Chinese New Year are extraordinary citywide, but the epicenter of the chaos, fireworks and traditional dances and practices is in Chinatown. Every year at the end of January, the streets come alive with red lanterns and resplendent revelers.
The main hub of transportation around the district is the Chinatown Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), which travels along the middle of Pagoda Street. The line works in concert with several public bus routes.
Traditional accommodations (hotels) are few and far between in this part of Singapore, but there are other options, namely the renovated shophouses and hostels that abound in the area.