Exploring Chinatown, Singapore (17th Oct. 2018)

 MG 2422

Despite having visited Singapore many times, this was the first time we could put aside an afternoon purely to explore Chinatown. So, here I will show highlights from the route taken, with directions for the walking route, and then there will be extra pages for the more photogenic/historically important locations.

The route starts at the Chinatown MRT Station on New Bridge Road.

Turn into Pagoda Street, the China Heritage Centre will be on your left and it would be good to start your visit here. But at the moment, the building is hidden behind construction work and we could not find the entrance.

Continue down Pagoda Street and you will see the Sri Mariamman Temple on your right. Walk to the end of the road and turn right into South Bridge Road to find the main entrance for the temple. Take a look across the road to see the Overseas Chinese Banking building to be reminded you are in Chinatown!

 MG 2266 MG 2269

Exit the Sri Mariamman Temple on South Bridge Road and turn right. Continue walking until you see the impressive Buddha Tooth Relic Temple at the end of the road (photo left). Take a few moments to look at the fine architecture of the shop houses nearby (photo right).

 MG 2340 MG 2276

If you are hungry, you can visit the nearby Maxwell Food Centre for a truely Singaporean hawker-style dining experience. There are many food and drink stalls to select from, and all at good prices.

Cross over South Bridge Road and walk down Erskine Road. Take the first left down a small lane (photo left) which will bring you to Ann Siang Hill where you will see Catchfly and the Nutmeg & Clove cafe (photo right). So, plenty more food and drink options around here too, and plenty of interesting architecture and history.

 MG 2345 MG 2342

Continue along Ann Siang Hill and along the small walkways to arrive in Amoy Street, just by the Xian Zu Gong Temple (photo left) and opposite a colourful building on Amoy Street (photo right).

 MG 2358 MG 2357

Here is the view to your left along Amoy Street.

 MG 2362

Walk passed the right hand side of ship building and turn left into Telok Ayer Street. 

 MG 2364

Next stop is the Masjid Al-Abrar, which is a functioning mosque and not really open to the general public. This is one of the oldest mosques in Singapore on the site of the original straw hut temple built by the Tamil immigrants in 1827. They were known as the Chulia immigrants as they came from the Coromandel Coast on the eastern side of South India. This was then one end of a well-established maritime trading route from India to the East Indies in the early 19th century.

Bear in mind that Telok Ayer Street was once the coastal road along Telok Ayer Bay and this is where many immigrants to Singapore first landed. And this is why there are so many temples for all denominations in this one area of Singapore.

Continue along Telok Ayer Street until you come to the Thian Hock Keng Temple on your left. This is a complex of interlinking pavillions and it is quite delightful to walk around here.

 MG 2372

Just after the Thian Hock Keng Temple is a small frontage area of a Taoist mission (photo left) and there are plenty more Chinese buildings to enjoy along here (photo right).

 MG 2395 MG 2397

Just behind the frontage of the Taoist mission, and on the left side of the entrance to the Telok Ayer Park, who get a much better view of this beautiful building.

 MG 2412

 MG 2419 MG 2420

In Telok Ayer Park are sculptures depicting the Chinese history of this area, as Telok Ayer was/is the heart of Chinatown in Singapore.

We stopped at a fruit stall across the road for a cooling fruit juice before continuing our exploration.

 MG 2403 MG 2401

Right opposite the fruit stall is the Nagore Dargah Shrine (left) which gives the history of the Chulia Muslim community in Singapore. At the junction of Telok Ayer Street and Cross Street, as you turn left you will see more interresting wall art (photo right).

 MG 2427 MG 2407

Walk along Cross Street for about 4 minutes, then turn left into South Bridge Street where you will see the Masjid Jamae, otherwise known as the Masjid Chulia. This is a striking pale green building and a working mosque. This mosque was also built by Tamil Muslims (Chulias) in 1826, so is one of the oldest mosques in Singapore alongside the Masjid Al-Abrar.

 MG 2430

If you turn left into Mosque Street (at the righthand corner of the photo above), you will end up walking through the more touristy part of Chinatown heading back towards the main road and the Chinatown MRT station.

Here are links to more photos and information on the places I visited.

Click here to return to Travels in Malaysia 2018

Click here to return to Helen Gray’s homepage.

© Helen Gray 2020