Chinatown Heritage Centre

Weather :

Ideal time : 1-2 hours

Timings : 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM

Chinatown Heritage Centre, Singapore Overview

Serving as a gateway into the rich history of the bustling neighbourhood of Singapore's Chinatown, Chinatown Heritage Centre is located in three beautifully-restored shophouses along Pagoda Street. Housing an extensive collection of photographs, as well as objects dating as far back as 1819 to the present day, Chinatown Heritage Centre has a story for each one of them. These photographs and artefacts teach one about the daily lives of those early Chinese immigrants who risked their lives to arrive in a new city, in search of a better life, after a long and perilous journey. Tales of their endurance and fortitude are embedded in the rooms and narrow passages of the building. If every wrinkle on a face tells of experience, imagine all that can be said in the portraits you see here.

On purchasing a ticket, you will be provided with a multimedia guide which gives you an audio tour of the entire centre. The stories about the life back then are sure to give one goosebump. A visit to the Chinatown Heritage Centre is like taking a time-machine into the past, tracing footpaths of the pioneers of Chinatown. The colourful history of Chinatown comes alive within the walls of these three beautifully-restored shophouses.

Photos of Chinatown Heritage Centre

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Structure of Chinatown Heritage Centre

The different floors of Chinatown Heritage Centre tell different stories, from the life of a working family to the secrets of the mafia and prostitution. You will find everything from the recreation of an old shophouse to relics from the '50s golden age. The first floor housed one or several shops. This level reflects their business quarters, the interior of their shops, and the living quarters with their family. These shops were often also turned into dormitories at night. A tailor's workspace is demonstrated in the shophouse.

On the second floor, the many rooms were divided into “eight by eight” sized small cubicles, which were rented cheaply to tradespeople such as a clog maker, hawker and samsui woman. The kitchen/pantry was often shared with the toilets with a narrow corridor. Usually, this corridor was also used to lay a bed and sleep. Their living quarters were simply furnished, and one could tell that living conditions were harsh. While some of the rooms housed a family of 6, others stockpiled opium, while others were used for prostitution or illegal gambling. 

On the third floor, visitors are provided with an overview of the situation including smells, sights, and environmental condition of the immigrants when they first step foot onto Singapore. There are printed excerpts about the different racial clashes, the red light district, the secret societies and also information on the various Chinese clans designed to help the new immigrants.

 Of course, after the visit, you must go to the top level for a coffee. You can also buy yourself a souvenir. Combining marble tables and carved wooden chairs with a very modern and delicious menu, this place is quite a refreshment. The refurbished centre also brings the Chinatown story up to date, with new exhibitions on the area from the 1960s onwards. It also features the fascinating tale of the Kongs, a family who used to live in the same building before it was transformed into the heritage centre you can enjoy now.

Guided Tours at Chinatown Heritage Centre

English Tours
Monday to Friday: 11:30 AM, 1:30 PM & 4:30 PM
Saturday: 1:30 PM
Sunday: 11:30 AM, 1:30 PM & 4:30 PM

Mandarin Tours
Saturday: 11:30 AM

Character Guided Tour
Join the iconic Chinatown characters and learn about this colourful district through their personal stories. Tour is limited to 16 people per group.
Saturday: 4:30 PM

Chinatown Heritage Centre Ticket Price

For admission with multimedia guide:
Adult: SGD 15
Child (aged 7-12): SGD 11
Senior: Free entry. SGD 3 for Multimedia Guide

For admission with guided tours as well as multimedia guides:
Adult: SGD 20
Child (aged 7-12): SGD 16

For admission with a character guided tour:
Adult: SGD 20
Child (aged 7-12): SGD 16

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