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It may come as somewhat of a surprise that there should be a Chinatown in a predominantly Chinese speaking nation. When Sir Stamford Raffles laid out the town plan for Singapore in 1822, he divided the island nation into distinct cultural quarters. Nevertheless, you will find Buddhist temples side by side with mosques and an ornate Hindu temple here, reflecting exactly the multicultural melting pot that Singapore is.
I only had a morning in Chinatown before I had to head to the airport, and it definitely wasn’t enough time! Just long enough to do a spot of shopping, visit a couple of temples, and snap a few quick photos of the colourfully renovated shopfronts that now make this such a charming destination for tourists.
I started my day at the aptly named Chinatown MRT stop. They’ve really made things easy for tourists here. You exit the station and straight into the pedestrianised mall.
I wandered up and down Temple St and Smith St, enthralled by the brilliantly hued buildings before me and wishing I had enough time to browse the many knick knacks on offer at the market stalls.
If you walk into the Chinatown Complex building, you can access the overpass from where you can photograph New Bridge Road with its overhanging floral decorations.
After this, I walked back down Smith St and turned left at the main road on the opposite end, South Bridge Rd. Before long, you will reach the elaborately decorated Sri Mariamman Temple, built in 1843 to honour the Hindu’s “Mother Goddess”. Admission is free, but there is a small fee if you’d like to take photos. And leave your shoes on the benches provided outside before entering.
I then headed the opposite way down South Bridge Rd until I got to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
Don’t forget to visit the museums on the higher levels and the peaceful garden at the top floor. I found them to be an especially welcome refuge from the cloying smells of incense that were particularly heavy the day that I was there owing to the fact that some sort of ceremony was being carried out at the time. Again, admission is free.
If you have time, you should now keep going the way you were going down South Bridge Rd, turning left at Maxwell Rd. Here, you will find local favourite Maxwell Food Court. Apparently Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice is worth trying. Unfortunately, by then, it was time for me to head back and pick up my luggage. No time for lunch, but there’s always time for a few last minute snaps as I made my way back to the MRT station. Who could resist the rainbow colours?
Have you visited the revamped Singapore Chinatown? What were your favourite sights? What bargains and tasty treats did you find there?
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