China Town is one of Singapore’s brightest and most original city districts. It appeared, as did the city’s other ethnic quarters, thanks to Stamford Raffles. The Englishman considered it necessary to allocate a separate area for settlement to each community of the new, multinational Singapore. Using this method, he solved two problems at once: the threat of ethnic conflicts was lowered and the immigrants adapted to their new country faster.
However, while two centuries ago about three thousand Chinese people lived in Singapore, this number had significantly increased by the end of the 20th century. Nowaday, the descendants and new-wave immigrants from this nation make up two-thirds of the country’s total population and do not see the need to huddle together in the single quarter anymore. Therefore, the modern Singapore China Town, which was almost completely destroyed in the middle of the 20th century, before being carefully restored on the grounds of its historical value, turned from Chinese quarter in the original sense, into a true Singaporean tourist center.
The modern China Town features miniature Chinese houses that contrast quaintly with gigantic skyscrapers, vivid tea and antique shops neighboring ultramodern offices and, of course, the huge cluster of markets and shops. Souvenirs to fit any taste are sold here: from simple jewelry to ostentatious antiques. Some of China Town's streets still have special mirrors designed to scare away evil spirits, rooms of soothsayers, astrologers and feng shui experts. Meanwhile, intriguing street artists often perform along the Club Street.
China Town is notable for its temple architecture. Perhaps the most interesting fact is that not all of the religious buildings located in its territory are Buddhist. The oldest in Singapore Hindu Sri Mariamman Temple neighbors the city's first Jamae Chulia Mosque, while the Taoist temple Thian Hock Keng neighbors the Muslim sanctuary Nagore Durgha.
In addition, China Town has its own museum – The China Town Heritage Center – where guests can learn about district’s history and life of the first Chinese migrants. The museum is situated within three reconstructed, adjoining shop-houses. The ground floor of the structure is typical of China buildings and was occupied by trade shops and workshops, while first and second floors were living quarters. The museum’s premises recreate the domestic dwellings of Chinese Quarter’s inhabitants, who lived here in the 19th century.
Singapore's China Town is a perfect place for tasting authentic Chinese food. Local cafes and restaurants offer a huge choice of traditional Chinese dishes. Most of these are situated along Smith Street, fittingly nicknamed the Street of Food.
Getting here. Subway stations Outram Park (EW16) or Chinatown (NE4).