Nostalgia at Singapore Chinatown

Singapore Chinatown has its beginnings in the 1820s when the first Chinese men from Fujian, China arrived in a junk and set up homes around the south of the Singapore River, which the Malays called Telok Ayer or “water bay”. Then fresh water was not available from taps. Each household had to fetch fresh water from the bullock-drawn carts, hence the local name of Chinatown, Niu Che Shui or “Bullock Cart Water”.

Today, the nostalgic streets of Singapore Chinatown are filled with drones of curious tourists seeking to learn more about the local Chinese culture. Foreigners love to capture in memory the colourful two-storey restored shophouses, be immersed in the sight and smell of the local Chinese food, shop for souvenirs and hand-made local craft, jade carvings, handicrafts, paintings, scrolls, antiques, tea leaves, Chinese medicines, silk clothing, and enjoy many other interesting Chinese elements. Trot into the not-to-be-missed Chinatown Heritage Centre and get yourself some pretty trinkets as gifts and souvenirs that tell about the rich history and heritage of the country.

The local Chinese love to visit the Hokkein bakeries known for their festive traditional goodies like the Chinese New Year Sticky Cakes, mooncakes and neon-coloured sugar-coated cookies. On weekends, catch families, old folks from the neighbourhood hawker food centre sipping Bak-Kut-Teh, a piping hot herbal Pork Rib soup served with steamed white rice and soup in tea pots. Against the hurried lifestyle setting of the general masses, capture some contrasting pictures of old retirees at the void-decks or outside the rows of small provision stores, sitting, chatting and sauntering hours away. The clock seems to come to a slow crawl and the humming of life appears to be dissipates.

When sun sets and night falls, see Chinatown through a different lens and discover its sprawling myriad of neon-lit shops and eateries bustling with exciting activities. Take time to explore the narrow lanes of the Night Market and pit your bargaining skills against street vendors offering about anything from knick-knacks to fashion. During the Chinese New Year festival, this market attracts throngs of unceasing shoppers, many of whom have found it to be a one-of-a-kind experience to mingle and be part of the incredibly monstrous human jam!

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Be ready to brave through the dense human jam and engulf all your senses if you don’t want to miss the overpowering festive mood that sweeps the streets of Chinatown during Chinese New Year.

Chinatown Heritage Centre houses a wealth of untold stories about the everyday struggles that the early settlers faced to make ends meet. Opening Hours: 9am to 8pm daily.

Chinatown Heritage Centre houses a wealth of untold stories about the everyday struggles that the early settlers faced to make ends meet. Opening Hours: 9am to 8pm daily.

These chopsticks with different surnames printed on them make nice sourvenirs, gifts and keepsakes.

These chopsticks with different surnames printed on them make nice sourvenirs, gifts and keepsakes.



End of “Nostalgia at Singapore Chinatown” Back to “MySingapore Blog”.

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