I was discussing things to do over weekend in Singapore with a few friends and the general consensus was that there are very limited options. True that Singapore may not provide you the choice of taking a road trip every weekend to explore new geographic areas, but it will never cease to surprise you with the plethora of the multi-cultural sites and places to visit spread all across the island. One such place is the vibrant and ever-bustling Chinatown located at the heart of the city. If you are a tourist or someone who lives here, here are my picks for the top 4 things to do in Chinatown.
- Keep Calm and Go Temple-Hopping.
Chinatown is home to the oldest Indian Hindu temple in Singapore, Sri Mariamman Temple, built in 1827. Situated right at the corner of Pagoda St., it is easily accessible from the Chinatown MRT station. Walk further down from the Sri Mariamman Temple to visit the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. It is a 4 storey, Tang Dynasty architectural style temple complex that was opened in 2007. The relic from a Myanmar Stupa can be viewed at level 4. It offers one of the best places in Singapore to meditate or just sit in silence and make peace with yourself. Do respect the sanctity of the temples and wear the appropriate attire. Check out the respective temple websites if you wish to attend some ceremonies.
- Get your insta-worthy shots.
The areas around Pagoda St. and Temple St. are so colorful and they make some of the best insta-worthy spots. With streets decorated with lanterns and small pretty shop houses on both sides, Chinatown is a small bustling old town sitting right in the middle of skyscrapers and concrete jungle and will give you the perfect photography moments. There are professional photo-walks organised in this area as well. Chinatown gets really festive with all the decor during Chinese New Year or Moon Festival.
- Treat yourself to some Chinese Cuisine.
Indulge in Durian tasting ( I do believe it’s an acquired taste and I am not much of a durian lover myself but some of my friends love it!) or drop by a Michelin Star Hawker Center style stall at Chinatown. The streets at evening time are full of small food outlets with live music, fruit stalls or ice-cream pop-up stores. If you are a coffee lover, I would personally recommend to check out Nanyang Old Coffee shop for one of the best cups of coffee in Singapore.
- Go crazy while street shopping.
Chinatown is the best place to buy $1-2 souvenirs or $10-15 trendy trousers, kimonos or dresses or Chinese medicine or ointments. It is a go-to-place if you want to take back something cheap from Singapore (otherwise an expensive city!) to remember your trip by or gift someone a nice gift that speaks loud of this city. There are shops where you can get your name written in ‘Chinese language’ on traditional cloth/ paper or buy Chinese Feng Shui.
Apart from these, Chinatown aslo has the cheapest hostels in Singapore if you are looking for a cheap stay and meeting other interesting tourists. It is easily accessible by public transport and is hustling and bustling all times of the day 🙂 .