Chinatown will satisfy any shopaholic with trinkets, curios, countless varieties and colours of ‘I love Singapore’ t-shirts, fridge magnets and fashion. The district comes alive at night: the ground floor, open-air Chinese restaurants (the cheaper kind where you sit on plastic chairs, beneath a beach umbrella and dine on a plastic checkered table cloth) serve local beer with traditional cuisine. Swaying lanterns oversee your choice. While, you might expect Chinatown to be homogenous in its food variety, you can feast on Italian, French, Parakan, Thai and Indian food as well. A window seat in a two-storey restaurant, is the perfect perch for people watching. The refurbished and brightly painted heritage buildings and shophouses provide an opportunity for great photographs.
Singapore is a meeting place of different religions and cultures: in Chinatown you can explore the country’s oldest Hindu temple. Sri Mariamman, now a national monument, but was built in 1827. The goprum – towering entrance gate – is covered in plasterwork sculptures of Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer). It stops all visitors in their tracks. If fortune favours you, or you hang around long enough, you might see the intricacies of a ritual or the fire walking ceremony, which happens in October. Sri Mariamman Temple is well lit in the evenings.
Nearby you can also visit, yet another, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and museum (I’ve also written abut the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple HERE in Kandy, Sri Lanka).