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“Informative and a great way to learn about Chinatown in Singapore” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Chinatown Heritage Centre

Chinatown Heritage Centre
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Singapore Self-Guided Audio Tour
Ranked #31 of 796 things to do in Singapore
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The colourful past of Chinatown comes alive within the walls of these three beautifully-restored shophouses on Pagoda Street, comfortably nestled in the midst of Singapore's bustling Chinatown district. Every nook and cranny in the Chinatown Heritage Centre pulsates with the memories of yesteryear, offering an experience like no other as one is transported to Chinatown in the budding years of Singapore's establishment as a seaport. From the desperate hopefulness of the many "Sinkheh" (new migrants) - risking life and limb to embark on an arduous journey from the various Chinese provinces to the promised land of Singapore - to the raw, seedy and underground practices of gambling dens and secret societies, be prepared to experience a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality as you step into the pages of Chinatown's history. The Chinatown Heritage Centre is the only place in Singapore that has recreated the original interiors of its shophouse tenants in the 1950s, offering visitors an honest, revealing glimpse into the lives of Chinatown's early residents.
Level Contributor
98 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Informative and a great way to learn about Chinatown in Singapore”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 22, 2013

This place was an interesting look at how Chinatown changed through the ages, and the living conditions of its residents.

It is well worth popping in - takes about 1hr / 1.5hrs and admission is cheap.

Visited August 2013
1 Thank Zapscan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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471 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Czech first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Indonesian first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Korean first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Thai first
  • Turkish first
  • Vietnamese first
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English first
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
36 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Great exhibit, but not well air conditioned”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 30, 2013

A few complete view of early Chinese in Singapore, with models, videos, and a complete kitchen and tailor shop. Don't go when it's very hot; there's no A/C in most rooms.

Visited November 2012
1 Thank DaveS42
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
43 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Fascinating history lession”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 20, 2013 via mobile

The museum show a side i Singapore being replaced with steel and glass structures. It gives a great perspective on the transformation of the City State. Very much worth the trip. Getting to the museum is also an experience

1 Thank DrDavid44
This review is the subjective opinion of an individual traveler and not of TripAdvisor LLC nor of its partners.
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
42 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Hear, see and feel Chinatown's history”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 19, 2013

The Chinatown Heritage Centre is located in three restored traditional shophouses on Pagoda Street and offers an insight into the history of Singapore's early Chinese migrants by the way of personal stories, pictures, sound and video recordings as well as historical artefacts.

It offers background information on why Chinese migrants left their hometowns with little belongings to seek a better life in Singapore, how they travelled and what they typically did upon arrival. It explains how Chinatown was ‘divided’ between Chinese migrants from different provinces and how various clan associations came to play a vital role in the lives of migrants.

One floor recreates the house’s former cramped living quarters and shows how different Chinese migrants (e.g. a tailor, a food stall owner, a group of coolies) inhabited their rooms. The fact that the centre has no a/c serves as a timely reminder of just how humid and stuffy these spaces must have been.

Without romanticizing and with meticulous attention to detail the centre demonstrates that life in Chinatown was not an easy one back in those days. The living conditions were basic; kitchens were shared only and there were no toilets or running water (water was in fact still delivered from the river by bullock-drawn carts). Bone-crushing work, debt, poverty and diseases were common and many a hopeful migrant ended up seeking solace in opium smoking, gambling or prostitution; all evils which were often controlled by secret societies or triads. The sick and elderly typically spent their final hours in death houses.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. There’ s plenty of success stories about local businesses – some that still exist in third or fourth generation – and trades as well as about the establishment of an vibrant arts and cultural scene (e.g. Chinese opera, festivals).

Highly recommended! You will walk through Chinatown with a new awareness after spending an hour or two at the Chinatown Heritage Centre.

Visited June 2013
1 Thank upsalala
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leeds, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
31 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Very Sweet!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 16, 2013

This is quite small and a bit tucked away amongst the shops and stalls in China Town. The air conditioning wasn't working and there was building work going on when we visited but the man on the desk explained all of this prior to us going in. I'm glad we did go in, although small and querky it was really interesting and each area was set up really well that it gave a real feel of what life was like for the Chinese coming into Singapore as immigrants. The way everything was displayed and the whole experience was atmospheric and thought provoking. I really enjoyed it and would recommend to anyone even those who would normally avoid museums, don't avoid this one!

Visited June 2013
2 Thank JillM99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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