Singapore's Chinatown is an ethnic neighbourhood featuring distinctly Chinese cultural elements.
3 February 2014| Last updated on 28 June 2017
Singapore's Chinatown is an ethnic neighbourhood featuring distinctly Chinese cultural elements and a historically concentrated ethnic Chinese population. Chinatown is located within the larger district of Outram.
As the largest ethnic group in Singapore is Chinese, Chinatown is considerably less of an enclave than it once was. (Note: The name Chinatown is given by the British and today usually used by non-Chinese Singaporeans, whereas Chinese Singaporeans usually use the term Niu Che Shui as the term Chinatown usually refers to enclaves of Chinese people in regions where Chinese people are the minority ethnic group.) However, the district does retain significant historical and cultural significance. Large sections of it have been declared national heritage sites officially designated for conservation by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
The area between Pagoda Street and Smith Street has been tarted up considerably for tourists, but workaday Chinatown continues south and east, merging seamlessly into the Central Business District. Tanjong Pagar is the unofficial home of Singapore's gay community, with many watering holes in restored shophouses, while Club Street caters more to the expat and yuppie crowd with small, intimate eateries offering excellent (if pricey) western fare.
Chinatown's primary attraction is the town itself, composed as it is of restored shophouses full of strange little shops selling everything from plastic Buddhas to dried seahorses. Wander at random and see what you can find!
Probably the most strenuous activity in Chinatown is avoiding touting tailors - which, incidentally, is illegal and can be reported to the police.
Today's Chinatown comprises five districts:
Ann Siang Hill
Designated as conservation areas by the Urban Redevelopment Board in 1989, these districts have over the years cultivated their own unique identity.