To many Singaporean Muslims, Chinatown might seem like a touristy place or a spot which only lights up during Chinese New Year. But what if we told you that there are plenty of things to do in Chinatown, including savouring scrumptious halal food as well as heritage mosques and other hidden gems? If you're planning to explore Singapore and rediscover it with a pair of fresh eyes, we've rounded up these 10 things in Chinatown that'll change your perception of it.
Halal food gems:
1. Aisyah Restaurant
Newly opened in April 2020, Aisyah Restaurant sells delicious and authentic Xinjiang cuisine including hand-pulled minced beef noodles, beef/mutton dumplings, mutton skewers and more!? They also have dishes for sharing like Big Plate Chicken (Da Pan Ji) that's sure to satisfy your cravings for Xinjiang food ?
Halal status: Muslim-owned
Address: 176 Telok Ayer St, Singapore 068624
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P.S. If you can't get enough of hand-pulled noodles, there's a Tongue Tip Lanzhou Beef Noodles outlet at the first floor of Chinatown Point too!
2. Segar Restaurant
Affordable and halal zi char dishes? Check. Large portions? Check. If you’re in the vicinity of Chinatown and craving for zi char style cuisine, look no further! It’s definitely a good joint to go if you’re in a group! From fish head curry to sambal kangkong, salted egg prawn and various seafood options, Segar has everything that you need to satisfy your local Chinese zi char cravings.
Halal status: Halal-certified
Address: 133 New Bridge Road, Chinatown Point, #B2-39/40/41, Singapore 059413
Contact: +65 6444 1778
P.S. Planning to rediscover other parts of Singapore? Check out these 8 hidden gems in Bugis!
3. Aspirasi Chicken Rice
Nasi Ayam lovers would be happy to know that Aspirasi’s Chicken Rice (#01-63) can be found at the famous Maxwell Hawker Centre in Chinatown! Instead of roasted or steamed chicken rice, try their crunchy fried chicken rice! Spice lovers can also look out for their Sambal Nasi Ayam, with the fried chicken being drenched in red-hot sambal that will set your mouth on fire!
Halal status: Muslim-owned
Address: 1 Kadayanallur Street, Maxwell Food Centre #01-63, Singapore 069184
P.S. Find out more yummy halal food options in our Chinatown halal food guide here!
Heritage mosques in Chinatown:
Besides the extensive variety of halal food, Chinatown is also home to some of the oldest mosques in Singapore which were built in the 19th century.
4. Masjid Jamae (Chulia)
Located towards the end of South Bridge Road, Masjid Jamae (Chulia) is an unassuming, pastel-green building. With a history that dates back to 1827, it is one of Singapore's first mosques and was set up by the Chulias, a group of Tamil Muslims from Coromandel Coast in South India. The humble mosque gives an almost kampung vibe and you'd feel right at home here.
Fun fact: Along South Bridge Road, you'd be able to spot this mosque, Sri Mariamman Temple and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, a symbol of different religions coexisting harmoniously in Singapore ?
5. Masjid Al-Abrar
Here's another mosque that was set up by the Chulias - Masjid Al-Abrar. Formally set up in 1855, this South Indian-style mosque in Chinatown is another historic reflection of the religious co-existence in Singapore. The mosque is still a central community point for Indian Muslims in Singapore, but it also caters to the needs of office workers nearby throughout the day. It's one of the quieter mosques in Singapore, and definitely worth a visit in Chinatown!
Things to do and hidden gems:
6. Explore various murals around Chinatown
If you're looking for a good workout and planning to get some shots for the 'gram, go on a hunt of the various murals in Chinatown. These murals reflect life in Chinatown back in the day, and painted by local artists Yip Yew Chong, students from Anglo-Chinese Schools and more. Check out a full list of the murals here!
7. Find an interesting book at The Moon
If you're a bibliophile, you're going to want to hide out at The Moon! This cozy and gorgeous bookstore-cafe highlights works by non-mainstream authors, with a focus on female writers and people of colour. There's a comfy seating area on the second floor where you can hang out with fellow book lovers. While the cafe serves only beverages, pastries and desserts, it's not halal-certified so we recommend that you dine at your own discretion.
8. Pearl's Hill City Park
A lush green space in Chinatown? We kid you not! Pearl's Hill City Park is perfect if you need a respite from the bustling city. Here, you'll find a small reservoir at the top of the hill and a stunning view of the city skyline ?
9. People's Park Complex
A favourite spot for photo enthusiasts, the open carpark of People's Park Complex is an IG-worthy hideout. The bright yellow building and its Brutalist architecture make it stand out from other buildings around it. Take the lift to the 5th floor and head up the staircase right beside the lift landing to get to the carpark. Do remember to keep your voices down as the building is actually home to many people.
P.S. Love Instagram spots? Then you'd love these 12 places in Singapore!
10. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Last but not least, you can't visit Chinatown without paying a visit to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. The temple is one of the landmarks of Chinatown and it's an impressive sight to behold. Housing various artefacts and relics which are of importance to Buddhists, a visit here is an eye-opening experience. During this period, you can visit the temple by calling 62200220 to register a day in advance.
From awesome halal food finds to heritage mosques and plenty of things to do, who knew Chinatown was more than just a touristy spot? Time to plan a day out and discover this district from another perspective ?