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“Chinese origins and culture and early Singapore: Beyond the touristy trinkets”

Chinatown Heritage Centre
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$19.98*
and up
Singapore Self-Guided Audio Tour
Ranked #23 of 829 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.
Reviewed December 11, 2013

This is an interesting museum if you have no understanding of the origins of the Chinese in Singapore. The museum is in the heart of Chinatown - look for the rickshaw at the front, and a few metres from the Chinatown MRT stop. The $10 entry fee is just OK. Some of the displays are looking a little tired and good do with a clean and some glue - but overall this provides a good sense of life, its challenges and some customs that still dominate Singapore today. There is a lift for those who will have trouble going up and down the stairs. There are some very steep stairs at the end of the tour - suggest if you are a bit unsteady on your feet to back down using the lift. Photography allowed. Fairly interactive - the children visiting when I was there seemed engaged.

Thank LilleePillee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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361 - 365 of 605 reviews

Reviewed December 10, 2013

This display and presentation over 3 floors is extremely interesting. It starts with the Chinese coolies coming from Hong Kong and rural China to find work and their fortune and the trials and tribulations that they were subject to. The poor living conditions, the brothels, the gangs, the subsistence pay and on to the shop houses of WW2 and even up to the 1960's. The display was well done and it had many videos of older Chinese relating their experiences and life. There was one old lady (about 90 when the video was made) who described how she worked as a builder's labourer in her early days, and described the Japanese occupation, etc. When the Government gave her a new flat in later life she couldn't bear to leave the hovel where she had spent most of her life.
It is well worth the small admission fee.

1  Thank AntarcticBound
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 27, 2013

If you have the knowledge about Chinatown Singapore, you will still see something of value, especially the homes of Chinatown shophouses, very unflattering living conditions in the older days (during WWII and some years after), very dirty and crowded living spaces, you hear a lot of Cantonese conversations. You see the sins and the harsh life of many Chinese immigrants, many are hooked on opium and gambling, and paying a visit to the brothels among many younger Chinese coolies. You see many Singaporean Chinese love the Chinese opera, movie going, reading Kong Kong based magazines and listening to Rediffusion. Not too expensive for S$10 admission fee, considering it is indoors and fully air-conditioned, the management certainly made a great effort in putting up the exhibits, such as the videos, the models and the lighting effects. This place has a lift to allow wheelchair bound visitors, otherwise visitors are only allowed to use the stairs. Just follow the red arrow stickers pasted on the floor to see how to go around the place. It is a 4 level building, only the bottom 3 levels are open to the visitors.
There is a gift shop at level 1.

Thank karhonleong
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 25, 2013 via mobile

The museum covers some interesting and not so flattering aspects of the history of Chinatown and Singapore. The exhibits are fairly well-done but in my opinion it was not worth the $10 as I already knew a good proportion of the information. But if this interest you or you get free entry through something or another then go for it.

Thank Matt G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 23, 2013

Filled with information and there is a section with interviews. Loved the display/replica at the end of the house of actual homes. It is air-conditioned so great in the middle of the day and surrounded by restaurants for lunch. At S$10 felt it was amazing value. Bathroom is not stunning.

1  Thank tiger5687
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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