Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tourist spots at Chinatown - Singapore

Singapore's Chinatown is the traditional Chinese quarters of town, and while the entire city is largely Chinese these days the area does retain some of its own charm. The area is also known as Niu Che Shui (牛车水) in Chinese and Kreta Ayer in Malay, both names meaning "bullock cart water", a reference to the carts that used to haul in drinking water.

tourists shop singapore souvenires

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 pricy) Western fare.

3 for $10
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!

Baba House157 Neil RoadLocated at the fringes of Chinatown among a row of shophouses, the Baba House is a showcase of Peranakan culture in Singapore and features traditional furnishings typical of Straits Chinese households. The house has a distinctive blue exterior and can be visited by appointment only.

some cold beer after shopping
Singapore Coin and Notes Museum2 Trengganu Street, Level 3 Tiny little museum tucked away across the Chinatown Heritage Centre; the entrance is well-hidden, but generally marked out by nondescript display cases. Managed by the Singapore Mint, it features local currency, commerative coins, a history of coinage, and the coin-making process. Not exactly a must-see, but a nice little distraction if you're in the area.

Chinatown Heritage Centre48 Pagoda St,  An excellent museum chronicling how Chinatown came to be and the privation suffered by early migrants.

where to go?
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, 288 South Bridge RdTowering above southern Chinatown, this four-story temple was completed only in 2007. The imposing main hall hosts a 27-foot statue of Maitreya Buddha, and the sacred relic itself, reputedly one of Buddha Shakyamuni's teeth, can be found on the fourth floor  On the roof is the 10,000 Buddhas Pagoda, hosting a large Tibetan-style prayer wheel.

Pinnacle@Duxton Skybridge, 1G Cantonment Rd. Singapore's tallest public housing project has a 50th story viewing deck that offers some of the best city views around at a fraction of the cost of the Singapore Flyer. $5, but payment must be made by ez-link card; enter via Block 1G, Level 1 (next to bus stop).

Red Dot Design Museum, 28 Maxwell Road, Formerly the traffic police HQ, now a design center painted firehouse red with a museum devoted to contemporary design.

Sri Mariamman Temple, 244 South Bridge Rd. Singapore's oldest and most important Hindu temple and worth a visit for the intricately carved gopuram (statuary above the entrance), which gave adjacent "Pagoda Street" its name. This is an active temple, so take off your shoes and don't disturb the worshippers. The Thimithi fire-walking festival is held here one week before Deepavali, usually in October or November. Free, but photo/video permit

Thian Hock Keng Temple, 158 Telok Ayer St, The oldest Hokkien temple in Singapore, dating back to 1821, although the structure was thoroughly refurbished in 2000. The brightly colored, elaborate facade was constructed with ironwork from Scotland, tiles from England and the Netherlands, and dragon-ornamented granite pillars from China.

Singapore City Gallery (URA Gallery), 45 Maxwell Road (opposite Maxwell Food Centre along South Bridge Road), 3-storey visitor gallery with large scaled models of the entire country as well as the city centre (incredibly life-like), which provide good orientation of the country for first-timers. The gallery tells the history of Singapore's urban planning, various planning, design, and conservation strategies adopted to create a good living environment, sustainable development, and many others.

Jamae Mosque218 South Bridge RdOne of Singapore's oldest mosques, built in the 1830s by Tamil Muslims in an Indian style. Note the stepped minarets outside.

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