Bored at home after retirement? Try being a tourist in your own country and get reacquainted with Singapore in a way you haven’t before. From the charming heartland areas to the bustling city areas, the tiny red dot of Singapore has lots of undiscovered places to visit.
Below are some places of interest in Chinatown that would make for a good 3-4 hour self-guided walking tour to rediscover Singapore’s history and landmarks.
Masjid Jamae (Chulia)
Sri Mariammam Temple
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Maxwell Food Centre
Singapore City Gallery
Thian Hock Keng Temple
Right at the exit of Chinatown MRT is Pagoda Street, Chinatown’s bustling tourist street filled with colourful decorations during the festive season. As you walk down Pagoda Street, take note of all the Chinese restaurants, local delights, and standing souvenir stands. You can also stop by the Chinatown Heritage Gallery if you would like to learn about the origins of Chinatown and its history in Singapore.
Just a short walk down from Pagoda Street, you will reach Southbridge Road where you will see the mint green mosque, Masjid Jamae. The Masjid Jamae is one of the earliest mosques in Singapore, built in 1826, and demonstrates the cultural and religious diversity in Chinatown.
It is open Saturday to Thursday: 10am-6pm and Friday: 10am-12pm, 2:30pm-6pm. Please note that skirts & short pants are not allowed.
Right opposite the Masjid Jamae, you will see the Sri Mariammam Temple with its colourful 6 tiered Gopuram towering over you. Sri Mariammam Temple is Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple, founded in 1827. The temple is dedicated to the Mother Goddess, Sri Mariammam, who is known for her powers of healing.
It is open daily from 7 am-12 pm, and 6 pm-9 pm. Please note that you will need to remove your shoes and hates, as well as cover bare shoulders and legs.
Walking further down South Bridge Road, you will come across the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, a landmark of Chinatown in Singapore. Its name is derived from the relic of the Buddha that was found in a collapsed stupa found in Myanmar in 1980. The relic can be viewed on the 4th level of the temple. The temple, built in 2002, was inspired by Northern Chinese style with arts from the Tang Dynasty and Japanese inspired architecture.
It is open daily from 7 am-7 pm.
Are you hungry from all the walking and exploring? Luckily for you, there is a fantastic hawker centre just opposite of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple! Maxwell Food Centre offers a large variety of local foods, here are some recommendations by MissTamchiak. Once you’ve fuelled up on some delicious food, you will have the energy to continue on your Chinatown exploration walkabout!
The Singapore City Gallery is located right opposite Maxwell Food Centre. Head over to visit the 3-storey gallery of Singapore’s architectural landscape transformation from the past, to present, to the future. You can also learn about urban city planning and Singapore’s history. The gallery features an amazingly detailed and intricate 11 metre by 11 metre architectural model of central Singapore.
It is open from Mondays to Saturdays from 9 am-5 pm.
The last landmark stop for this walking tour is the oldest and most important Hokkien temple in Singapore, the Thian Hock Keng Temple located on Telok Ayer Street and built in 1839. The temple’s name, meaning "Palace of Heavenly Happiness" in English, was built to worship Mazu, a Chinese Sea Goddess. Mazu is known to guard immigrant Chinese voyagers with safe travels. Admire the richly coloured tiles of red, black and gold lacquered wood as well as the many figures of dragons and phoenix which are symbolic of Chinese culture to conclude your tour of Chinatown.
It is open daily from 7:30am-5:30pm.