Where to find Street Art in Singapore: Chinatown

Singapore Street Art Chinatown Amoy Food Centre Ceno2 Samsui Woman

Chinatown, Singapore’s designated ethnic Chinese enclave, is a popular destination for international visitors to Singapore, especially during Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival where the streets are alive with activity, lights and lots of food. Chinatown has a great mix of multicultural heritage landmarks in one place alongside revived hipster haunts, right next to the glittering towers of Singapore’s Central Business District. These days it’s becoming popular for street art and you can find a surprising number of works from both Singaporean and international artists. Here’s my detailed guide on where to find street art in Chinatown. [UPDATED JUL 2019]

I’ve broken up my guide by area – use the menu to help you navigate quickly, and as always there’s a handy Google map as always to guide you (Click on the Chinatown tab for that specific district). I’ve also include some suggestions of nearby attractions so you can do some sightseeing while looking at street art.

Pin it: Where to find Street Art in Singapore Chinatown

For more street art in Singapore checking out Little India or Kampong Glam as well, or head on over to Bugis-Bras Basah near the museums instead. Check out my full list of street art guides from around the world for more, or head on over to @singaporestreetart on Instagram for more.


Street Art Projects

Singapore has a strange relationship with street art, so most of the works you see have been commissioned as you need permission to paint the walls. Here’s a rundown of some of the major street art projects that contributed to the artworks in this area. Most of them took place in 2015, aka Singapore’s 50th year of Independence SG50 where there was a lot of fanfare and programmes throughout the year. 

50 Bridges

50 Bridges was a part of SG50OZ, a joint collaboration between Singapore and the Australian High Commission in celebration of 50 years of inter-nation collaboration as well as Singapore’s 50th jubilee. 50 Walls was one part of 50 Bridges, and saw 50 street artworks created by artists from both countries in various neighbourhoods around the country. 

NEA Our Hawker Centres – An art and heritage project

This was also another SG50 celebration, this time helmed by the National Environment Agency where they had 50 murals painted in hawker centres around the island. Many of these were social murals that involved students and the community coming together to paint, others were artist-led. See more about NEA Our Hawker Centres and flip the e-book.

Colouring Banda Street

This was also an SG50 project, driven by auditing company PriceWaterhouseCoopers in collaboration with the Kreta Ayer Residents Committee that depicted scenes of Singapore from past and present and was meant to spruce up this older housing estate. Head here for more about Colouring Banda Street.

Yip Yew Chong

Yip Yew Chong is a Singaporean artist who used to live in Chinatown and has become very popular for his distinct nostalgic murals that showcase life in Singapore in the 70s-80s when he was a child. You will find many of his works all around this neighbourhood. See all of Yip YC’s Murals.

You can follow a guided tour via LocoMole created in partnership with YipYC, which will show you all his murals and even integrates some interesting Augmented Reality (AR) functions that lets you take some fun photos with his murals! It costs $9.98 but you can get 50% off if you use my code golocaljaclynn at check out (till 31 July 2019).

Singapore Street Art Temple Street YipYC Canto Opera AR
I took this tour with the LocoMole app and what they’ve done with AR is pretty cool – the costumes drawn in this mural can become a sticker that you can use to take some fun photos with. I was invited to check this out as media but I’m not getting paid to promote this, but it does look pretty interesting.

Chinatown Complex

Chinatown in Singapore actually refers to quite a large area, but this section near Chinatown Complex is what I call ‘downtown Chinatown’ and where you can find the touristy pedestrianised streets and all the action takes place during Chinese New Year.

  • Mosque Street
  • Pagoda Street [updated]
  • Temple Street [updated]
  • Chinatown Complex [updated]
  • Smith Street [updated]
  • Banda Road
  • What’s Nearby

Mosque Street

Location: 48 Mosque Street

This artwork belongs to the Porcelain Hotel situated on the side of the shophouse row, an extension of the hotel’s decor which revolves around porcelain designs. It’s such a beautiful intricate piece, pity I couldn’t find any info on whether any artist was involved in putting up this piece.

Singapore Street Art Mosque Street Porcelain
Very eye-catching white and blue design

Pagoda Street

Location: 83 Pagoda Street (Back alley behind Lucky Chinatown)

Yip Yew Chong has painted plenty of murals all around Chinatown – this one celebrates Mid-autumn Festival which typically sees families lighting lots of colourful lanterns and feasting on mooncakes and pomelo fruits. Here’s a fun mistake YipYC made in his painting – the bowls of tang yuan or soup dumplings on the table are actually eaten during Yuanxiao (15th day or the end of Lunar New Year) or Dongzhi (Winter solstice), but he mixed it up in his head!

Singapore Street Art Pagoda Street YipYC MidAutumn
Mid-Autumn Festival by Yip Yew Chong. I love the cute lanterns, and the Superman one kinda looks like the artist.

Temple Street

Location: 28 Temple Street, side wall next to alleyway

This bullock cart was painted by students, though I’m not sure which ones exactly. It’s a callback to Chinatown’s Chinese name 牛车水 which literally translates to ‘Cow Car Water’. The water supply in this area used to come from carts pulled by bullocks, hence the name.

Singapore Street Art Temple Street Bullock Cart
Singapore Street Art Temple Street Bullock Cart

Location: Junction of Temple Street and South Bridge Road

One of YipYC’s largest murals, Cantonese Opera shows a very classic stage with actors in full opera regalia and makeup. You hardly see this scene around Singapore nowadays, though they were quite popular back in the day, roving around the various housing estates on temporary stages. YipYC spent 10 days painting this mural for Charity – check out the full story.

Singapore Street Art Temple Street YipYC Canto Opera
Singapore Street Art Temple Street YipYC Canto Opera

Chinatown Complex

Location: 335 Smith Street

Chinatown Complex has a pretty great hawker centre on its second floor – there is a huge variety of local street food to choose from, and it even has a craft beer and draught beer taps right in this hawker centre, quite a rarity in Singapore. You will find several murals on the ground level which also consists of a market.

The Path is a work by Australian artist Tom Civil, one of several works that he created in Singapore as a part of 50 Bridges The colours are a callback to Chinatown’s colour scheme. Can you spot the one special man with the dots around him to the right of the pillar?

Singapore Street Art Chinatown Complex Thomas Civil
The Path by Tom Civil. Located at the entrance facing Smith Street

Next to the Tom Civil work is this mural by YipYC from early 2018. Called Letter Writer, it depicts an old calligrapher who specialised in writing Chinese couplets and calligraphy which you often seen hung up in Chinese households around the Lunar New Year period for good luck. Read more about Letter Writers here.

Singapore Street Art Chinatown YipYC Letter Writer
Letter Writer by Yip Yew Chong. You can find these couplets in Chinatown today, but they may not handwritten or as pretty as these.

Prosper in Wealth, Huat ah! is a mural by Temasek Polytechnic School of Design students for the SG50 government initiative by NEA’s Our Hawker Centres. As with Chinese artworks, this has a lot of red in it and you can see lots of symbols which are references to Chinese culture and Singaporean heritage. Also, the eponymous Bruce Lee with a durian in hand, of course.

Singapore Street Art Chinatown Complex BruceLee
Bruce Lee Rocks Chinatown by TP. Located at the entrance facing the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple near the junction of Trengganu Street and Smith Street

There are several murals from NEA Hawker Centres around the first floor of Chinatown Complex, though none quite as big as these 2 featured here – see how many you can find. Here’s one more to get you started

Singapore Street Art Chinatown Complex LionDance
Chi He Wan Le by Singapore Polytechnic students for NEA Our Hawker Centres

Smith Street

Location: 30 Smith Street, Sidewall facing alley

This is YipYC’s rendition of the house he lived in on nearby Sago Street when he was a child. I love how it incorporates the actual doors and windows of the wall into the artwork – apparently he wasn’t allowed to paint over those as this is a conservation shophouse. I also love how he sizes it so that you can interact and be a part of the work if you chose to. More about this work here.

Singapore Street Art Smith Street YipYC My Home Bed
My Chinatown Home by Yip Yew Chong. This is the right half showing a bedroom scene.
Singapore Street Art Smith Street YipYC My Home Cooking
This side shows the dining and kitchen area

Location: Junction of Smith Street and 266 South Bridge Road, Thye Shan Medical Hall

This is YipYC’s latest mural that he painted in May 2019 on the side of Thye Shan Medical Hall’s South Bridge Road outlet. It pictures a typical fruit and durian seller, but also incorporates a Japanese anime character known as Detective Conan. If that seems like a weird mashup to you, that’s because there is a movie coming out which features this character visiting Singapore and uncovering a murder at Marina Bay Sands.

Singapore Street Art Smith Street YipYC Detective Conan Durian
Yip Yew Chong: Detective Conan in Singapore. Glad he got to try some durian at least!

Banda Street

Around the area near Chinatown Complex is Banda Street, which has a pretty colourful history as both a hotspot for late night hawkers as well as the haunt for Japanese brothels back in the pre-war era. These days, it’s home to many older folk who live in the HDB rental blocks here. The murals here are largely due to the Colouring Banda Street project and feature scenes of Singapore back in its early days.

There are 13 murals in total, have some fun seeking them out.

Singapore Street Art Banda Road Samsui Stairs
The Samsui women were immigrants from China and worked as manual labourers, usually dressed in a typical blue outfit with a large red cloth hats
Singapore Street Art Banda Road Samsui Women
More Samsui women – this is closer to the Buddha Tooth Relic temple
Singapore Street Art Banda Road MBS
Right next to it is a mosaic of the Marina Bay Sands and its iconic 3 towers
Singapore Street Art Banda Road Bridge
On the other side of the stairway is this water under the bridge mural

Nearby Attractions

Here are some of my recs on highlights to check out nearby, so you can swing by and see some street art while you go see the sights of Singapore’s Chinatown.

  • Downtown Chinatown is especially nice at night when the streets are lit up. They have pretty red and yellow lanterns, but during Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival, this area is extra festive.
  • Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is a beautiful building to photograph and has Buddhist relics you can check out, or the Hindu Sri Mariamman Temple.
  • Popular food souvenirs to bring back: Bak Kwa or BBQ-ed meat from Bee Cheng Hiang, egg tarts from Tong Heng.
  • Check out Chinatown Complex Hawker Centre on level 2 for your local food cravings – I like Smith Street Taps, a rather unusual craft beer joint located in the hawker centre itself, quite different from the typical Tiger beer that you can get from drinks stalls here.

Ann Siang hill

Ann Siang Hill and Club Street are the hip and happening parts of Chinatown consisting of narrow shophouse rows filled with trendy bars and restaurants. This place is bursting at the seams especially on Friday and Saturday nights, where the roads are blocked off to traffic and the crowds spill out onto the street.

  • Ann Siang Hill
  • Mohamed Ali Lane
  • Gemmill Lane
  • Amoy Street
  • What’s Nearby

Ann Siang Hill

Location: 4 Ann Siang Hill, Coconut Club

The works here are by Colombian-born artist Didier Jaba Mathieu aka Jabaone (whose works you can also see in Kampong Glam and Little India) for the Coconut Club Singapore, a hipster joint dedicated to local coconut-based foods Nasi Lemak and Cendol.

Singapore Street Art Ann Siang Hill Jaba Chicken
Ayam Goreng by Didier Jaba Mathieu. This is at the alleyway right above Lorna Jane and connects the parallel Erskine Road

Jaba first started with a piece called Ayam Goreng which translates as Chicken Rice in 2017 (the year of the chicken), before creating a dog in 2018. It seems he’s looking to produce the entire Chinese Zodiac series as 2019 revealed a Peranakan-inspired pig. I missed the dog he did in 2018 though…

Singapore Street Art Ann Siang Hill Jaba Pig
Updated in 2019 in the year of the pig 猪. If you look closely at the motifs, there is a very strong Peranakan design inspiration in the choice of colour and patterns
Singapore Street Art Ann Siang Hill Jaba Zodiac
This new legend shows the 12 Zodiac animals and archives the past works that Jaba did here. You can see the chicken above, I missed the dog, and if we’re lucky we’ll eventually see the whole thing fill up in 9 years time.

Mohamed Ali Lane

Location: Junction of Mohamed Ali Lane and South Bridge Road

Just off South Bridge Road is the little lane that is home to some Yip Yew Chong murals done in October 2018. These are actually 4 different works that represent scenes or trades that were once commonly found in Singapore’s Chinatown area.

Singapore Street Art Mohamed Ali YipYC Pano
Mohamed Ali Lane – it’s across the road from the Sri Mariamman temple a little distance away and down the road from Ann Siang Hill
Singapore Street Mohamed Ali YipYC Window Mamak
On top you have ‘The Window’ with a Chinese and Malay families hanging clothes and sundry out the traditional way – love the cat and pigeon! Below is ‘Lion Dance Head Maker’, featuring a man who makes the giant puppet heads used in Lion Dance – the 2 boys are banging on little versions of the drums used in Lion Dance. On the right is ‘Mamak Shop’, usually run by an Indian man or mamak and selling all sorts of random sundry
Singapore Street Mohamed Ali YipYC Mask Samsui
Yip YC’s ‘Paper Mask and Puppet Seller’ shows a man selling these items on a tricycle – You definitely don’t see these in Singapore anymore. He is being watched by 2 Samsui women, or women labourers in their classic hats 

Gemmill Lane

Location: Gemmill Lane near junction with Amoy Street

This huge mural called Amoy Alley was created by Singaporean artist Chris Chai for The Artling and 8M Real Estate. Check out the video and write up in the link above – the dragon is taken from the nearby Thian Hock Keng temple and I love the intricate patterns that reflect the classic Peranakan tile patterns you find on the floors of the temples and shophouses around the area.

Singapore Street Gemmill Amoy Alley Pano
It’s a really long dragon!
Singapore Street Gemmill Amoy Alley Head
Here’s a closer look at the head of the dragon. Look at the detail!
Singapore Street Gemmill Amoy Alley Trees
This work is located in a very narrow backlane and quite impossible to take good shots of without proper equipment or a wide angle lens 

Amoy Street

Location: 7 Maxwell Road, Amoy Street Food Center Level 1

This series of 5 panels line the inner walls of Amoy Street Food Centre – there is a slightly raised area near the back of the hawker centre. They are a collaboration for NEA Hawker Centres by local street artist Ceno2 (whose works you can also find in Kampong Glam) and the students for Anglo Chinese School (ACS) in celebration of SG50 called ‘Then and Now‘.

Singapore Street Art Chinatown Amoy Food Centre Ceno2 Samsui Woman
My favourite one is quite classic Ceno – the portrait of a laughing samsui woman who’s throwing up a handisng which shows off that classic extra long pinky nail. The background pattern also reminds me of old school plastic bags.
Singapore Street Art Chinatown Amoy Food Centre Dragon
I really like this dragon too. The chinese characters on the lantern say Ping An or peace
Singapore Street Art Chinatown Amoy Food Centre Food Cart
Also cute is the Makan tricycle – back in the days before hawker centres, we had street food carts like these
Singapore Street Art Chinatown Amoy Food Centre Door
And of course this one is a throwback to the ACS school beginnings at 70 Amoy Street

Location: Opposite 96 Amoy Street, back side of Thian Hock Keng Temple

This Thian Hock Keng mural was painted by heritage muralist Yip Yew Chong and can be found on the back walls of the Thian Hock Keng temple – the front entrance is located along Telok Ayer Street, but the back walls are along Amoy Street. The oldest Chinese temple in Singapore dedicated to the sea goddess Mazu/Matsu used to face the sea, though that land has now all been reclaimed and all you see are office blocks. This 44m long mural has scenes of what the area used to look like, as well as the lives of early Hokkien immigrants from Southern China. Check out his website for closer views of the artwork, it’s hard to take good photos with the cars and the sheer length.

Singapore Street Art Chinatown Amoy Street YipYC River
Can you imagine that the land all those buildings in the background were once actually part of the sea?
Singapore Street Art Chinatown Amoy Street YipYC Pano
Here’s a really long pano, I know it’s hard to see the detail!

Nearby Attractions

Here are some of my recs on highlights to check out nearby, so you can swing by and see some street art while you go see the sights of Singapore’s Chinatown.

  • Nights are nice at Ann Siang Hill and Club Street which is quite the hipster hangout with bars, cafes and eateries galore. Be warned that it is absolutely packed on Friday and Saturday nights with office workers who just wanna hang loose after a long week of work
  • Eat at the famous Maxwell Hawker Centre or Amoy Street Food Centre
  • Telok Ayer Street where Thian Hock Keng temple is on is also home to the Musical Box Museum as well as the tiny Fuk Tak Chi Temple, which opens up into the Amoy Hotel – more on that in my article on quirky museums to check out in Singapore.

Keong Saik Road

Keong Saik Road was a notorious former red-light district and a rather dodgy gang turf to boot. Gentrification has turned it into one of the hip happening areas to be in Singapore, so much so that Lonely Planet named this area a top 10 of its 2017 Best in Asia destinations.

  • Keong Saik Road
  • Teo Hong Road
  • Neil Road
  • Duxton Road
  • What’s Nearby

Keong Saik Road

Location:  1 Keong Saik Road

This mural is by local artist duo Ripple Root for collaborative workspace The Working Capitol in 2016. A little alleyway connects Keong Saik Road to the back of the shophouses – both walls on either side are lined with exuberant abstract shapes and colours.

Singapore Street Art Keong Siak RippleRoot 1
One long stretch of wall
Singapore Street Art Keong Siak RippleRoot 2
It’s also where motorbike parking is located, so hard to get an unblocked shot
Singapore Street Art Keong Siak RippleRoot 3
This wall is on the side of Loloku and where the Working Capitol space is

Teo Hong Road

Location: 1 Teo Hong Road

It’s a short walk from Keong Saik Road to nearby Teo Hong Road, where you can find the Swis Ling Bak Kut Teh Seafood Restaurant. I’ve never eaten there, but I like the cartoony lion dancers you can find on either side of its side entrance

Singapore Street Art Teo Hong Road Swis Ling
No idea who the artwork belongs to

Neil Road

Location: 74 Neil Road

Along Neil Road is a little hipster heaven of a cafe called Botanist – I have yet to visit it properly, but I love the swirly art on its sidewalls, which is also a very instagram-friendly spot that I first noticed because it kept popping up on my feed.

Singapore Street Art Neil Road Spirals
No info on who the artist is, let me know if you know!
Singapore Street Art Neil Road Spirals Plants
Cute little plant detail

Duxton Road

Location: At the junction of Duxton Road and Craig Road

This area I jokingly call the Korean Wedding district for the sheer number of Korean restaurants and wedding shops along this stretch. Again, more unattributed works which are somewhat strange by eye-catching.

Singapore Street Art Duxton Road Olden Tech Close
These ancient Chinese ladies are all carrying modern devices like ipads and phones or branded bags. It’s kinda cute but I’m wondering who actually did this.
Singapore Street Art Duxton Road Olden Tech
It’s a very long stretch
Singapore Street Art Duxton Road Coloured Dots
On the empty wall next to Crucycle (68 Duxton Road) are these random coloured dots. Why and who, again I have no idea. This reminds me of a Twister board

Nearby Attractions

  • Keong Saik Road is a place to eat. Check out this guide by The Finder SG for recommendations.
  • The Art Deco Shophouse facade of Dong Ya Building is pretty iconic. Stalwart Tong Ah Eating House nearby makes for a good place to fuel up on local snacks, but those who want something more modern, Potatohead is the place to be.
  • Duxton Road is home to Singapore’s highest HDB flats – The [email protected], which the public can visit its sky bridges on 26th and 50th floors for a small fee

Everton Road

The Everton Road area is perhaps a little more Outram than actual Chinatown, but it’s close enough that you can just cross Cantonment Road and walk over to this area that is much quieter and less touristy than downtown Chinatown. Lots of lovely shophouses around here to check out.

  • Everton Road
  • Spottiswoode Park Road

Everton Road

Location: 39-40 Everton Road, close to Asia Gardens apartment

Muralist Yip Yew Chong has around 30 murals at this point in time, but Amah and Barber have the honour of being his first street art pieces painted back in late 2015. His murals tend to show lots of nostalgic detail about Singapore related to the surrounding area, and this is no exception.

Singapore Street Art Everton Road YipYC
This is the corner where you can see both works. Amah (right) faces the HDB estate while Barber (left) faces Asia Gardens
Singapore Street Art Everton Road YipYC Amah
The Amah is the name of a Chinese housemaid – this one is doing the laundry of a Peranakan household, which you can see from the laundry hung out to dry. Love the little details of animals and food to the right
Singapore Street Art Everton Road YipYC Barber
Barber is the scene of an old school barbershop which can usually be found in the alleyways such as this one

Location: Junction of Spottiswoode Park Road and Everton Road

This 3rd mural by YipYC is called Provision Shop and painted a few months after the other 2 works. This brings back lots of nostalgia. I love the life sized scooter and the pushcart hawker with his cat and mailbox (yup that’s not real) on the right.

Singapore Street Art Everton Road YipYC Provision
Go right up and check out the detail of the artwork to learn a bit about Singapore’s history

Spottiswoode Park Road

Location: 64 Spottiswoode Park Road, junction of Blair Road and Spottiswoode Park Road

Art Porters is an art gallery and while I have yet to visit properly, I am enjoying the artwork that you can find on its back side. This beautiful piece by Alexface from Bangkok – you can spot his work at Bugis-Bras Basah as well – of his signature cute little monsters is adorable.

Singapore Street Art Spottiswoode Park Alexface
Loving the Chinese and Peranakan detail subtly weaved into the artwork. The act of growing what looks like green beans makes me think it’s a callback to Singapore’s reputation as the Garden City
Singapore Street Art Spottiswoode Park Cat
Right next to the Art Porters entrance is this beam of light – fun fact: the cat and the tiny dragonfly underneath the sign were a rather guerilla addition by Yip Yew Chong, but the beam of light and the gallery name were not painted by him
Singapore Street Art Spottiswoode Park Fish
Just a bit further down is this random red luohan looking goldfish

Nearby Attractions

  • Everton Park is also quite a hip enclave for the brunch and cafe crowdNylon Coffee Roasters or Strangers Reunion are good places to start for coffee lovers, or see some other recs
  • 66 Spottiswoode Park is supposed to have the oldest intact painted shophouse facade in Singapore. There is a lot of lovely tile work and architecture to admire around here
  • Plant lovers might enjoy checking out the rare Binjai Tree which has heritage status and is a call back to this area’s past as a nutmeg plantation
  • You are not too far from Tanjong Pagar Railway Station which would be a great place to check out for its architecture and they often hold interesting events there, but sadly it’s currently under redevelopment and will only reopen in 2025.

Spotted any other works I missed out? Drop me a comment here and let me know. Street art is always evolving so some of these works might disappear while others may pop up, I’ll update this as regularly as I can.

If you love hunting street art in Singapore, make sure to check out my side Instagram account @singaporestreetart for more updates on new works. Here are some of my other Singapore street art articles and guides:

Head on over to the street art page for a full list of all my street art guides from around the world.

7 thoughts on “Where to find Street Art in Singapore: Chinatown”

  1. Girish Vikas Naik

    Btw, how do you find out details regarding the art piece name, artist etc? Is it written somewhere on the art piece?

    Regards
    Girish

    1. It’s ok, it’ll give me a reason to go walk around :)

      Finding out about murals usually involves some intense google-fu and trawling social media platforms. Often if they leave a tag that at least gives me somewhere to start from, otherwise I ask around my followers over at @singaporestreetart on IG – lots of local artists and it’s a small scene so someone usually knows that it is!

  2. Girish Vikas Naik

    Hi. Your posts on street art are amazing and have me hooked. I just completed the Chinatown trail and would like to report two works which I think were not on your trail. These are located along Temple Road ( I think) leading from the Chinatown MRT entrance to the Marimman Temple. These are sponsored by Nippon Paint.

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