• Mark Stevens

Singapore's Chinatown

Updated: Oct 27

Kreta Ayer - Telok Ayer - Tanjong Pagar - Bukit Pasoh

Capture the heart of Singapore’s Culture & Color with Pictures.



Being a first time visitor to Singapore your knowledge of the Lion city may only be what you've read or seen in the media. Most of us have seen photos of the beautiful Marina Bay Skyline, Clark & Boat Quay and Orchard Road shopping malls. To be sure, these are beautiful and exciting places, and you don't want to miss out on all these incredible experiences. They are the foundation of your Singapore Story.

However, It's really Singapore’s neighborhoods like Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam and others that are the cultural heart of the city. It's here you will discover and learn about the daily lives of the Singapore people, by visiting the neighborhood Markets & Shops, and dining on local cuisine at the Hawkers.

If you want to experience more of Singapore and tell a better story with your pictures, you'll have to dive into the busy streets and get off the beaten trek.

While it's true these neighborhoods have their tourist sections, I encourage you to explore them further. Take the path less traveled, as each one has more for you to discover.

Hopefully the following sections of this blog will start you on your journey discovering the many diverse cultures that make Singapore unique in Asia, and help you tell your Singapore Story with Pictures.


Our little Red Dot

I know this will sound funny, but for a small place Singapore sure is really big. Gone are the days when the Lion City was just a 1-2 day stopover before continuing your journey into Asia. Today's Singapore has come of age and grown into a crown Jewel of the Asian world.

Today you may want to consider 6-8 days to discover and experience this beautiful country. In fact you could spend a month or more, and explore exciting new places every day!

I personally have over 2500 locations marked on my Google maps, so if at all possible spend as many days as you can in Singapore. You won’t regret it…

Consider splitting your Hotel itinerary into three parts, The Marina Bay Area Hotel’s, Chinatown Hotel’s, and Little India Hotel’s . This will put you right in the middle of the action and make it super easy to explore these incredible neighborhoods. Trust me there are rooms to accommodate every budget.

There are even super clean & cozy Hostel’s for Backpacker’s and traveling students. See Chinatown Hostel’s, Little India Hostel’s.


TIPS: For your daily excursions.

  • Arrange for an MRT-Bus card here as soon as you arrive.

  • A wide angle Lens (20mm) comes in handy and works well for Singapores many narrow streets.

  • A Polarizer and Natural Density filter for really bright sunny days.

  • Wear a Hat & Sunglasses (Polarized), it can be bright & sunny in Singapore.

  • Bring along a backpack with a change of cloths, shirt & shorts.

  • Carry a small sweat towel as its hot here, and an umbrella (for sun and rain).

  • Carry a couple of packs of tissues... Hawkers never have them at the tables.

  • Carry at least $100-150 in small bills. Taxi's and Hawkers rarely have change for large bills.

  • Drink lots of water (All Day). Whenever the heat gets to you just pop in to a cafe or bistro to cool off. Don't give up and go back to your hotel just because you're a little hot... That said, if you feel unwell seek attention and take care of yourself.

 

Want some help exploring Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam


Book a Singapore Street Shots Photo walk and let us help you create stunning photos for your Singapore story.


 


Chinatown

Kreta Ayer - Telok Ayer - Tanjong Pagar - Bukit Pasoh


The Cultural Center of Chinatown



Kreta Ayer


Singapore’s Chinatown is big! Essentially Singapores Chinatown consists of four main areas, Telok Ayer, Kreta Ayer, Bukit Pasoh & Tanjong Pagar. So it will likely take you two full days to explore all these areas…

Let's start with Kreta Ayer, it is today’s modern tourist section located in the heart of Chinatown. This lovely area consists of 5-6 main streets, Temple St, Smith St, Terengganu St, Sago lane & Sago St, Pagoda St, and Mosque Street. You’ll want to walk them all so you don't miss a thing.


TRAVELERS TIP- Without a good plan detailing how to discover Chinatowns main tourist section you will likely miss seeing a lot of the Sites, That said, do your research and put together a plan, be flexible and make changes when you feel it needs to be done.


From the first moment you exit the MRT and the escalator pushes you up onto Pagoda Street, you feel like you've been transported into a new world. It can be overwhelming at first so take your time and look around, Be sure to take lots of photos, and enjoy the experience.

At first glance beautiful brightly colored historic Shophouses with colorful shutters and ornate tiles, are every where you look.

The streets are busy and lined with souvenir shops selling everything from traditional tea sets, to Chop sticks & fans and more. Chinese Medicine shops, Hawkers & Markets, and small family own businesses seem to be on every corner.


 

Kreta Ayer Points of Interest

I have provided a few notable locations that are both interesting to visit and make stunning photos.

Chinatown-Kreta Ayer Points of Interest
.pdf
Download PDF • 4.04MB

 

TIPS: For Photography

  • A great way to Start your story is by getting some great photos of all the colorful Shophouses, then zoom in and capture individual sets of windows & shutters, and don't forget some close ups of the ornamental tile work!

  • Take your time and look around for interesting foreground to put into your photos.

  • Always explore or look down the alleyway’s, often times a restaurants chefs will be outside taking a break, and most don’t mind if you take a few street portraits… (these are really cool shots).

  • Don’t forget to photograph the seemingly little things you discover along your way, as they really add to the telling of your story (see posted photos above).

  • We want to depict Singapore and Asia with our Chinatown photos. So be sure and include cultural things, Buddhas, Statues in front of temples, and the like.

  • Include Signs in your photos when possible, especially with Mandarin (always include the whole sign, half a sign looks bad in photos).

  • When photographing Temples or historical architecture be sure and get a photo of its sign and any Commemorative Plaques. This helps later when adding notation to your photos.

  • If you're using your phone camera, think about how many lenses it has and utilize them. (with wide-angle lens be sure and get in close).



Four must have shots

https://youtu.be/42UrQ8_AiEo


Four main shots you’ll need to tell your story. These shots will establish your storyline and it’s direction.

  1. WIDE: Take some wide angle shots of your sene, this gives the viewer a sense of what they’re about to experience.

  2. MEDIAM: Butcher chopping the meat or fish. Shophouse window or archways and doorways.

  3. TIGHT: Close ups, portraits, selfies

  4. DETAILED: Meat clever chopping the meat or fish, trinkets at a souvenir stand or the tile work on a Shophouse…


 


Singapore Local Cuisine


Masala Dosa - Chinese dish - Malay and or Arab dish


Flavor the Moment


Now is your chance to experience a whole new world of flavors, and Singapore is one of the best city's in the world to do it. Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam are well known for their verity of delicious cuisine.

In this blog I'll direct you to some famous Hawkers and Restaurants, along with some hidden Gems for some of Singapores best known dishes. However there are far too many fantastic eateries and dishes for me to list in this blog. My best advise is to follow your nose and let your stomach be your guide...lol






Restaurants & Hawkers

Follow your nose and let your stomach be your guide


Kreta Ayer has dozens of fantastic restaurants... Far too many to list all in this blog. However here are a few that will give you a really nice Singapore and Asian experience.

After a great Dinner of Dim sum at the Yum Cha restaurant, walk a few meters down the street and treat yourself to some Traditional Chinese desserts. (These restaurants are only about 30 meters apart).


Yum Cha Chinatown- Famed for its large variety of dim sum....

Traditional Desserts- Awesome place for Snow Ice and traditional Chinese desserts... A nice place to cool off and satisfy your sweet-tooth. 65B Temple St, Singapore 058604

Maxwell Food Centre- Chinatown hawker center with stands selling street food.



TIPS- If you're with a group of friends its best to order multiple dishes and share. That way everyone will gets a chance to sample more dishes.


 

Want some help exploring Kreta Ayer


Book a Singapore Street Shots Photo walk and let us help you create stunning photos for your Singapore story.


 

Telok Ayer

A Perfect Mix of Modern & Old World Charm



Telok Ayer


From the Scarlet Hotel its only a short walk up Ann Siang road to Ann Siang Hill, then cross over and you find yourself in Telok Ayer.

At the turn of the 19th century Telok Ayer was the entry point for Chinese immigrants arriving in Singapore, thus Telok Ayer Street became the center point for the daily lives of the Chinese in Singapore.

Whoever said you cannot mix Business with pleasure has never been to Singapore. The city elders wisely and skillfully managed to retain the rich historic architecture while modernizing and reconstructing this area. Todays modern Telok Ayer is a mix of Singapores beautiful historic shophouses against the background of modern Skyscrapers known as the Central Business District (The CBD).

The result is today from every corner of Chinatown you can view the stark contrast of modern multi-storied buildings towering in the background above colorful Historic Shophouses. Singapore's perfect mix of Modern & Old World Charm... (It's Stunning in Photos)


TIPS:

You can make good use of a wide-angle lens 20mm or less in this area as it will help in capturing the many beautiful Skyscrapers.



 


Checkout our list of Chinatown Hawkers-Restaurants & Tourist attractions below

Chinatown Hawkers-Restaurants
.pdf
Download PDF • 1.03MB

 

We can help you discover Telok Ayer


Book a Singapore Street Shots Photo walk and let us help you create stunning photos for your Singapore story.


 

Tanjong Pagar & Bukit Pasoh

Where Singapores Past meets the Present



If there is one district in Chinatown you won't want to miss its Tanjong Pagar, it's absolutely gorgeous. After spending the day exploring Tanjong Pagar its hard to imagine this place was once a tiny fishing village. Today the entire area is a maze of streets lined with beautifully restored historical Shophouse, trendy restaurants & cafes and open air Bistros & Pubs.

Also don't miss out on the night-life in this lovely area, its a great place to have dinner and then cruse around hitting all the Pubs & bistros along with the Rooftop bars for drinks. Ive listed below some popular restaurants and hawkers, along with a few streets with some beautiful Shophouses. You can easily create stunning photos at these locations and post online to impress your family & friends.



 


We can help you explore Tanjong Pagar


Book a Singapore Street Shots Photo walk and let us help you create stunning photos for your Singapore story.


 


Streets with Beautiful Shophouses:



  • Tras Street

  • 1 Keong Saik Road. - Look for the The Working Capitol building.

  • Cantonment Road Blair Rd. (Little Part 1 Cafe) & Everton Rd.- Beautiful Shophouses

  • Bukit Pasoh Rd.

  • Neil Rd.

  • Keong Saik Rd. (The Potato head restaurant) (Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple)

  • Kreta Ayer Rd.

  • Duxton Hill & Dixon Hill Rd.

  • Craig Rd.


If you would like to read more about Singapores beautiful Shophouses see our Blog SINGAPORE SHOPHOUSES-Telling your Singapore story with photos

For a list of stunning Singapore Shophouse locations see our Blog Great Singapore Shophouse locations




Tanjong Pagar Restaurants-International Dinning


Tanjong Pagar is a fantastic neighborhood in Chinatown to experience international dinning. Here you will discover small eateries featuring food from all over the globe. French, Italian, Korean & Chinese restaurants are on every street.

Kko Kko Na Ra: Google Maps- 68 Tg Pagar Rd, Singapore 088489

Tanjong Pagar Plaza Market & Food Centre: Hawker Style food... Google Map-

6 Tanjong Pagar Plaza, Singapore 081006

Shake Shack 89 Neil Road: Western Food/Burgers Google Map-

89 Neil Rd, #01-01, Singapore 088849

Potato Head Singapore: Western Style food with a Rooftop Bar- Google Maps-

36 Keong Saik Rd., Singapore 089143

Little Part 1 Cafe: A great place for a break & cool drink- Google Maps

54 Blair Rd, #01-01, Singapore 089954

Roji Monster Ice Cream Singapore 路地氷の怪物: 52 Tg Pagar Rd, Singapore 088473 Google Maps


 


Checkout our list of fantastic Temples-Churches & Mosques below

Tanjong Pagar Temples, Churches, & Mosques
.pdf
Download PDF • 3.92MB


For more Information on photographing Temples-Churches-Mosques throughout Singapore, see our blog Temples-Mosques-Churches Singapores Places of Worship.



 

Book a Singapore Street Shots Photo walk and let us help you create stunning photos for your Singapore story.


 





ADD PHOTO HERE

Photo of Ilonka & I


Closing Remarks


Don't forget to LIKE & FOLLOW our Facebook page and post some of your stunning Singapore photos along with a short story about your experience on our Singapore Street Shots Facebook Page


Cheers,


Mark Stevens & Ilonka Guenther

Business Owners, Photographers & Travelers

Singapore Street Shots Pte. Ltd.

 

SEE ALL OUR BLOGS

At Singapore Street Shots our Blogs are meant to give you tips & advice for exploring Singapore and creating stunning photos. You will discover and photograph more if you do some research and create a good plan.





Singapore in Pictures - Telling your Singapore story with photos.

(A Seven blog series)​

SINGAPORE SHOPHOUSES - Telling your Singapore story with photos.

Singapore Skyline Panorama's - Photograph Singapore's world class Skyline

Singapore's Chinatown - Kreta Ayer - Telok Ayer - Tanjong Pagar - Bukit Pasoh

Singapore's Little India - Culture & Colour

Kampong Glam - Singapore's Arab Quarter

Hawkers & Markets - Flavor the Moment

Singapore - Off the Beaten Path - Discover the Singapore most tourist never see



 


DRESSING FOR SECCESS -Look good and Feel good on your day-trip

Tips for Travelers: Capture your Memories with Pictures

Singapore's MRT & BUS System-Saving you Time and Money using : Utilizing Goggle Maps with the MRT

A Rainy Day Holiday in Singapore - Things to do in Singapore when it's rainy weather

MASTER YOUR CAMERA - Use your camera like a pro

EASY EDITING - Make all your photos pop

Great Singapore Shophouse locations - The best locations for photographing Singapore Shophouses

Temples-Mosques-Churches - Singapores Places of Worship



 

FUTURE BLOGS

(Coming soon)



A Five Blog series

"Discovering Singapores Parks"

Parks:

1st Series: East and West coast parks:

2nd Series: Singapore Botanical Gardens:

3rd Series: Kent Ridge & Hort parks:

4th Series: Fort Canning park:

5th Series: Lakeside Gardens


A Three Blog series

"Photographing Singapores Natural Beauty"

Nature Reserves:

1st Series: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

2nd Series: MacRitchie Nature Reserve

3rd Series: Singapore Zoo and Singapore Bird Park


 

A Six Blog series

"Photographing Singapores Islands"



Singapore’s islands:

1st Series: Pulau Ubin

2nd Series: Coney Island

3rd Series: Sentosa Island

4th Series: St. John Island

5th Series: Kusu Island

6th Series: Lazarus Island.


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