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Chinatown is one of the must see places in Singapore. This ethnic neighborhood highlights the unique cultural Chinese elements. This town was conceived by Stamford Raffles based on his Master Town Plan. Sir Raffles felt the need to create a sense of community among people of the same race and culture in order to help them settle down quickly. He envisioned the Chinese people to form the bulk of the future town residents and gave out the whole area west of the Singapore River for a Chinese settlement known as “Chinese Campong” or Chinese Village.
Chinatown is situated at the South Bridge Road. Chinatown is the largest Historic District in Singapore with seven sub-districts in which four of its were given conservation status in the late 1980s – Bukit Pasoh, Kreta Ayer, Telok Ayer and Tanjong Pagar.
Chinatown is full of diverse, colorful, and exciting culture, buzzing with activities that attract not only Chinese but other locals and tourist. Despite the changes occurs some remnants of its vibrant past still stand and old traditions still endure.
Situated in China Town are some of the oldest and the most important temples in the country. The oldest and the most important Hokkien temple in Singapore is theThian Hock Kieng. The temple is known as the temple of the Ma Zu, the goddess of the sea and protector of all seamen. There is also the Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore’s oldest and largest Hindu temple located at 244 South Bridge Road. This temple was established in 1843. Inspired by the Dravidian style architecture, the entrance is crowned by one of the most sophisticated gopurams (tower of gateway temple) covered floral designs and Hindu deities. Located at Phillip Street of the central area of Chinatown is Wak Hai Cheng Bio Temple. This is the oldest Taoist temple in Singapore, built in the 1850s by Teochew community as a devotion to the goddess of the sea. The temple has a stunningly and ornately carved with various serpent and human figures. The Masid Al Abrar an ancient Tamil Muslim Mosque which is located along Telok Ayer Street, the cental business district of Chinatown. The mosque is also known as Kuchu Palli and Masjid Chulia. Built by the Muslims from Southern India in 1830s, Nagore Durghar Shrine architecture is a unique blend of classical and Indian-Muslim motifs.
Other interesting places to see are the Jinrikisha Station and the Thong Chai Medical Institution in Chinatown. Jinrikisha Station it is one of the most significant historical buildings in the country. Situated between the junction of Neil Road and Tanjong Pagar, this building was built in 1904 to serve as a connector between docks and the town, today it was refurbished as into a shopping and recreational centre. The Thong Chai Medical Institution is the first Chinese organization that offers free medical treatment to everyone. Built in 1892 with its traditional style of southern Chinese architecture, the institute serves as a social center, meeting place and headquarters of Chinese guilds, now the institute was restored and preserved as a national monument.
Chinatown Heritage Centre is another stop; this newly restored museum occupies three shophouses to house memories and untold stories of the early Singaporeans.