What to do in Singapore's Chinatown
Wednesday, 19 Sep 2012
Tacky knick knacks and souvenirs are a prerequisite for any Chinatown ’round the world, but there’s more to Singapore’s diverse cultural hub than Merlion nail clippers and Singlish license plates.
Here are our 10 recommendations to get the best out of Singapore’s Chinatown.
1. Meditate at the walk-in Kumudra center
Up a narrow flight of stairs on Sago Street lies a donation-based open Vipassan? mediation center. Beginners are welcome and no pre-registration is necessary.
The Kumudra center focuses on Vipassan? Meditation, a Buddhist tradition that focuses on mindful breathing and learning to be one with yourself.
Kumudra Centre, 24A/B Sago Street, p. 6221 7009. Every Sunday from 2-4pm.
2. Take professional self-portraits
Forge tiny overexposed photo booths, SNAP is a professional self-portrait studio located on Sago Street that puts a high-res digital camera in your hands with the click of a remote.
Costumes, makeup tables, changing rooms, fabric streams are all available.
SNAP, 12a Sago Street, p. 6224 2838, closed Mon
3. Shop unorthodox souvenirs
Hidden Treasures in Chinatown is home to loads of antique Chinese chests and drawers, but since these can be a bit heavy to lug around, there’s a wide selection of handles to add a little old world charm to your worn wooden cupboards.
Hidden Treasures, 228 South Bridge Road, p. 9769 0706
4. Brave Durian
Visit the People’s Park and line up at Durian History to try the surprisingly fragrant-free Durian Pancake. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, try some fresh Durian a couple hundred meters towards the fresh fruit market in the complex.
Durian History, People’s Park Complex, 1 Park Road #01-28, People’s Park Complex, 10am to 10pm
5. Take a tea etiquette and knowledge course
Hold the cup like this, not that – otherwise it will hit your nose.
The Time of Tea is a little shop on Mosque Street that offers varying levels of courses on etiquette, practical knowledge, history, and culture of tea.
The Time of Tea, 38 Mosque Street, p. 6220 5620
6. Challenge locals to Chinese chess
If you know how to play Chinese chess and speak a bit of Canto, the men will let you cut in after a game. It’ll be entertainment for them too. But don’t try this one unless you’re a pro.
Located next to the Chinatown Visitor Center located at Kreta Ayer Square behind the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
7. Try Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
This is a bold statement considering there is a Hainanese chicken stall everywhere, but the foodie darling Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice is known to have the plumpest juiciest chicken in the district.
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, Maxwell Road Food Centre, Stall 10, 11am-8pm, closed Mon.* Note that Maxwell Road Food Centre will be closed from 29 Sep-1 Dec 2012 for cleaning and renovations.
8. Take a footbath
The trained foot reflexologists at Bath Culture combine ancient kneading techniques with herbal remedies and century-old traditions with soothing ingredients like green tea and black plum. Plus, there’s free WiFi and iPhone charging stations.
Bath Culture Foot Therapy, 59 Temple Street, p. 6226 6289
9. View Lanterns at Mid-Autumn Festival
Ok tourist or local, Mid-Autumn Festival is the must-do activity of the week. Bring your shades as a record number of 16,800 lanterns will be lit up along Eu Tong Sen Street, New Bridge Road and South bridge – over 2km of road.
The event will be entered into the Singapore book of records for the “largest display of street lanterns”.
Located along New Bridge Road, Eu Tong Sen Street, inner streets of Chinatown, Garden Bridge & open field in front of Banda Street, 16 Sep-14 Oct 2012, Sun-Thu 7pm – 12mn, Fri-Sat 7pm-2am
10. Wander the Lomography Gallery
Wander through this camera store as it doubles as a stunning gallery, flooded with colorful and inspiring Lomographs submitted by locals and chosen by store staff.
Lomography Gallery Store, 295 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058838, p. 6223 8850