Chinatown may be a popular tourist attraction, but it holds numerous interesting and lesser-known experiences that locals can enjoy as well
By Pamela Chow
(Photo: Chinatown Heritage Centre Pte Ltd)
The Lunar New Year period has passed and the waves of shoppers and tourists in the colourful district of Chinatown
Now that the roads there have cleared considerably, take advantage of this newfound space to explore the streets of Chinatown and unearth its lesser-known treasures. It’s time for Singaporeans to rediscover Chinatown’s character.
AL FRESCO MOVIES WITH A VIEW
The Screening Room provides quality bites, tipples and timeless films for a relaxing night. (Photo: Lim Ashley / flickr.com)
Get cosy with quality snacks, drinks and a classic movie at The Screening Room, a boutique theatre-cum-rooftop-bar. This month, expect hit British films such as Notting Hill (Mar 4), Bend It Like Beckham (Mar 4), Bridget Jones’ Diary (Mar 7 to 12) and Snatch (Mar 21 to 26), among others.
After your movie, lounge at the rooftop bar, La Terraza, which also offers a great night view of the Singapore city skyline.
Also read: Me@OUE: New menu, same great view
It can get a little crowded at The Screening Room, so turn up early to secure your viewing spot. Do note that you’d have to book ahead for seats on the Facebook page.
The Screening Room, 12 Ann Siang Road
NEW HERITAGE CENTRE TO EXPLORE
The Chinatown Heritage Centre (CHC) has just undergone a massive revamp, complete with interesting hi-tech exhi-bitions and intriguing collections. Travel back in time to the 1960s and get to know Chinatown on a deeper level, from its old nightlife to the personal stories of the community.
Check out the Centre’s new features such as sound-scapes, interactive stories and olfactory experiences. These are complemented by immersive tours and events, like the “My Father Tongue” exhibit running until Mar 8. Hurry, catch it before it’s over!
Note that the Centre is closed every first Monday of the month.
Chinatown Heritage Centre, 48 Pagoda Street
SING YOUR HEART OUT FOR $10
Say what you may but it’s a known fact that Chinatown is home to several seedy shops and back-alleys. One wouldn’t expect to find a family-friendly karaoke joint in this part of town but enter 10 Dollar Club and you’ll change your mind.
This karaoke lounge is popular with groups of families and buddies looking to belt it out and let off some steam, thanks to its incredibly value-for-money rate of —you guessed it — $10 per person for up to five hours, even during peak periods.
Guests even get a free flow of non-alcoholic beverages to fuel your mini-concert. 10 Dollar Club often carries special promotions for holidays like Christmas and Chinese New Year.
For more information, visit www.tendollarclub.sg.
TOUR CHINATOWN WITH ICONS OF SINGAPORE
Discover the rich heritage and the stories behind our immigrant ancestors. (Photo: Chinatown Heritage Centre Pte Ltd)
It won’t do to learn about Chinatown without actually seeing and experiencing the place in the flesh! Join a unique walking tour led by iconic characters of Chinatown, such as the Samsui Woman and the Trishaw Rider.
These guides (or actors) will share authentic and nostalgic stories that reflect the olden days and life in Chinatown. The tour runs from 1.30pm to 4.30pm daily in the Chinatown Heritage Centre. Each adult ticket costs $20, and $16 for children aged seven to 12.
For more information, visit chinatownheritagecentre.com.sg.
TRADITIONAL TEA TASTING
Participate in tea demonstrations and tastings at Enjoy Tea, and even pick up some traditional tea from its range.
Not only can you purchase traditional tea leaves and old-timey tea accessories at Enjoy Tea, you can also observe tea demonstrations and take part in tasting sessions in this tea room.
Enjoy Tea specialises not only in Chinese teas but also in agarwood tea from Vietnam, among a variety of choices. Pick up a unique flavour if you visit and you might discover a whole new taste for the classic teh peng (milk tea with ice).
Enjoy Tea, 18 Sago Street
ROOM-SIZED MODEL OF SINGAPORE
In the lobby of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) headquarters lies an impressive model of Singapore sprawled across the floor of a large hall. Here, the Singapore City Gallery shows how our nation’s landscape has transformed over the past 50-odd years.
Pop by here after a day out around Chinatown and take your time exploring the immersive exhibitions in the gallery. There’s even a Sim City-like game — creatively named SingCity — where you can try your hand at building your own version of Singapore with seven other players.
The URA Centre, 45 Maxwell Road
EMERGING RUNWAY DESIGNS
Fashionistas will be pleased by this hidden gem in Chinatown. Mythology is a multi-label boutique that carries collections from emerging Asian designers, some of whom have been featured in fashion runways around the world.
The shop is popular with many a style icon and designer in Singapore for its reasonable prices, and the meticulous detail and quality of workmanship in its clothes. Labels carried at Mythology include the Mumbai-based Veda Raheja, known for bold dresses, and Shanghai’s statement accessory brand Josie Chen.
Mythology, 88 Club Street
A GENTLEMAN’S HAIRCUT & GROOMING SERVICES
Truefitt & Hill, one of Britain’s finest grooming establishments, has opened a salon on Ann Siang Road to pamper the local lads. (Photo: superadrianme / flickr.com)
Charles Dickens, Frank Sinatra and Sir Winston Churchill are just some of the famous names who have graced the salon of Truefitt & Hill in London, United Kingdom.
Now, in the slopes of Chinatown, the 200-year-old British establishment has opened to the lads of Singapore. Dripping with all the plushness and exclusivity of a gentleman’s club, Truefitt & Hill offers haircuts, manicures and pedicures, massages and waxing treatments.
Truefitt & Hill, 9 Ann Siang Road