Chinatown, Singapore

A popular place for tourists

Singapore has a large Chinatown which is well patronised by its tourists. It's popular for souvenir shopping, restaurants and food markets. The largest ethnic group in Singapore are the Chinese and whilst now they are dispersed and live in all areas of Singapore, Chinatown was the area marked out for them in the plan by Stamford Raffles.

This old architecture shows the Chinatown style of building with the covered walkways that were mandated by Stamford Raffles (for practical reasons? Shade from the sun and protection from the torrential rain.) and the pastel colour of the buildings with their narrow shuttered windows.

With the development of Singapore, beginning after independence in 1965, old traditional buildings were demolished to make way for new and modern. It was only much later, that it was realised that in destroying the old buildings you also destroyed history and tradition and so an effort was made to preserve traditional buildings. Chinatown in particular the streetscape has been kept to the original style.

There are shops that sell traditional food items and 'health products', it seems you can't call the items 'traditional medicine'.

Even with the enclaves that Stamford Raffles set up, there was a mixing of ethnic groups. Chinatown has a mosque, a Chinese Tao temple and a Hindu temple.The Hindu Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, it's at the south end of Pagoda Street (the souvenir market street). The original temple was built in 1827 and later modernised.

Sri Mariamman Temple as you walk in, having removed your shoes first.

The temple is the reason for the market street that runs along its side. Historically traders set up stalls outside the temple to take advantage of the amount of people (potential customers!) who prayed at the temple. The souvenir market street, Pagoda Street begins at the temple and runs through to the MRT Chinatown station.

Pagoda Street with the markets, the ornate building on the left is the community hall belonging to the Hindu temple.

As well as shopping there are also a collection of restaurants which are quite popular with tourists wanting to try out Chinese food.

A well known and interesting part of Singapore to visit.