Singapore’s Chinatown is better known as a Chinese ethnic enclave in Singapore, especially festive during the Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival period. But amidst its cultural landmarks and preserved shophouses, you can find a surprising number of street art works, a perfect mix for those who want to see one of Singapore’s most popular districts while hunting down some street art.
If you enjoy your street art with a mix of local ethnic heritage, how about 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.
Use the menu to help you navigate quickly, and as always there’s a handy Google map as always to guide you, and I’ve added in some suggestions of nearby attractions so you can make sure you get some sightseeing in as well.
Spots for Street Art in Chinatown, Singapore
Handy Google Map for you for all the Singapore Street Art – look for the Chinatown tab
Street Art Projects
Some of the major street art projects that contributed to the art works in this area – I never realised that most of these works took place in 2015 in time for SG50, Singapore’s 50th year of independence.
50 Bridges was a part of SG50OZ, a joint collaboration between Singapore and the Australian High Commission in celebration of 50 years of collaboration as well as Singapore’s 50th jubilee. One part of the celebration as 50 Walls, that saw 50 street art works created by artists from both countries in various neighbourhoods around the country. See more about 50 Walls.
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.
NEAR CHINATOWN COMPLEX
Chinatown refers to quite a large area, but this section is what I call ‘downtown Chinatown’ and where you can find the pedestrian streets and all the action takes place during Chinese New Year.
- Chinatown Complex
- Banda Road
- Ann Siang Hill
- Amoy Street
- Attractions around the area
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
Ann Siang Hill
Location: 4 Ann Siang Hill
Ann Siang Hill and Club Street are the hip and happening areas – 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.
This is a work 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. He called this piece Ayam Goreng which translates as Chicken Rice, and that’s not quite the same thing as Nasi Lemak, though the latter often comes with Chicken Wings.
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‘.
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.
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.
- 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, Amoy Street Food Centre or check out Chinatown Complex Hawker Centre on level 2 for your local food cravings.
- Popular food souvenirs to bring back: Bak Kwa or BBQ-ed meat from Bee Cheng Hiang, egg tarts from Tong Heng,
- Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is a beautiful building to photograph and has Buddhist relics you can check out, or the Hindu Sri Mariamman Temple. 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 Shi Temple, which opens up into the Amoy Hotel – more on that in my article on quirky museums to check out in Singapore.
NEAR 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
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.
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
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 side walls, which is also a very instagram-friendly spot that I first noticed because it kept popping up on my feed.
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.
- 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
NEAR 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
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.
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.
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.
- Everton Park is also quite a hip enclave for the brunch and cafe crowd – Nylon 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.
Other Street Art Spots in Singapore
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. There are also more detailed area guides on the blog for:
- Street Art in Kampong Glam, Singapore
- Street Art in Little India, Singapore
- Street Art in Bugis-Bras Basah, Singapore
Head on over to the street art page for a full list of all my street art guides from around the world.