One exit from Chinatown MRT brings you up into the thick of the action on Pagoda Street’s tacky souvenir stalls, where the Chinatown Heritage Centre brings to life the history, culture, labours and pastimes of Singapore’s Chinese settlers, with evocative displays and the liberal use of oral history clips.
Early on, the scene is set by a model junk, like those on which the singkeh (literally “new guests”), the early migrants, arrived; accounts tell of the privations they endured sailing across the South China Sea. Once ashore at Bullock-Cart Water (the translation
of the Chinese name, used to this day, for what would become Chinatown), settlers not only looked for work but also formed or joined clan associations, or the less savoury secret societies or triads. These connections, and every other facet of Chinatown life,
are made flesh in displays like the mock-up of the prostitute’s shabby boudoir and the pictures and footage of haunted addicts seeking escape through opium.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Singapore features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Where to stay in Singapore: an area by area guide

Where to stay in Singapore: an area by area guide

An easy entry-point for first-time visitors to Southeast Asia, the absorbing city-state of Singapore has evolved from a colonial port into a slick shrine to wea…

22 Oct 2015 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
Video: 17 things not to miss in Singapore

Video: 17 things not to miss in Singapore

Singapore has many sides. You can take in Little India, Arab Street and Chinatown before heading for a cosmopolitan night out hosted by some of the world's top …

04 Feb 2015 • Site Editor videocam Video
20 unforgettable things to do at night on your travels

20 unforgettable things to do at night on your travels

Twilight ballooning in Albuquerque, New Mexico Few sights are more magical than hundreds of tethered, glowing hot-air balloons illuminating a dusky night sky. …

12 May 2014 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month