Once the traditional Chinese neighborhood of Singapore, Chinatown has lost much of its original flavor due to redevelopment and tourism. Luckily, not everything has been destroyed. There are still crowded, colorful alleyways where hawkers call you to try their delicious grilled pork and where traditional merchandise can be found, so long as you are willing to search.
Found close to the Central business District, Chinatown is still the place for discovering traditional crafts such as clog making and calligraphy services which are perfect souvenirs to buy from Singapore. Certainly not to be missed is the traditional art of tea-brewing and tasting, pharmaceutical treatments, where snake skin is mixed with a mysterious collection of plants and other ingredients to treat every type of health ailment, disorder and disease, and, the ever popular fortune telling session, as can be found at Tanjong Pagar area. Traditional craftsmen create kites, painted masks, lacquerware and waxed paper umbrellas can also be found there.
Traditional foods are still in abundance, the sights, sounds and smells having changed very little over the millennia: sea cucumbers hang from drying racks, Rambutan, Durian, Mangosteen and other fruits tumble from baskets,
It seems that the narrower the alley, the lower the price, so dig in and take a walk on Trengganu Street, Pagoda Street, Smith Street and Temple Street to see the textiles, souvenirs & gifts, arts, jewellery, antiques, crafts, carpets, electronics and herbs & spices that await your discovery. There are many bargains to be found: t-shirts, pottery, kimonos, gold jewellery, pottery and many traditional crafts. Thus, Chinatown is also an ideal place to look for budget souvenirs in Singapore.
There are is a modern side to Chinatown, as well, where shoppers can find electronics, textiles, luggage and affordable clothing and cosmetics. Chinatown has many shopping complexes to provide a rewarding shopping and dining experience. Included in Chinatown are Apollo Centre, China Square Central, Chinatown Point, Furama Shopping Centre, Pearl’s Center, People’s Park Centre and People’s Park Complex.
At Chinatown Point, shoppers must make time to explore the extensive selection at Singapore Handicraft Centre. People’s Park Centre’s twin towers provide residential and office space and they offer a large selection of Chinese handicrafts and Chinese tourism and travel agencies, a food court, financial services available from OCBC and Maybank, and an extensive array of handicrafts at the Golden Dragon Store.
People’s Park Complex, found at the base of Pearl’s Hill, has a history of “firsts” in Singapore. It was the first shopping centre of its kind in SE Asia and contains the first atrium, or “city room”. The building holds office spaces and residential quarters, along with the shopping centre.
Singapore’s Chinatown is full of old and new, ancient and modern. Every type of food, craft or service imaginable can be found by the diligent and adventurous shopper.