Other than Chinese New Year, another good time to visit Chinatown is during the period of Mid Autumn Festival. Right now, Chinatown has been dressed up for the occasion with lanterns and decorations hanging all over town. Of course, this whole area of Chinatown would become very lovely at night, much like Hoi An in Vietnam, albeit, a much more modern version of a similar attraction with plenty of Chinese old buildings, shops and cultural activities.
Unlike Hoi An, the surrounding area of Chinatown is fenced up with skyscrapers. Old and new shopping malls and hotels are sitting around the area. The central business district is just next to Chinatown at the Raffles Place and Shenton Way area. From Upper Cross Street, one could walk all the way into the busy business district.
Besides many bus services, Chinatown can be reached easily via the MRT Station from the North-East and Downtown Line. Different exits would provide visitors access to different parts of Chinatown without having to expose much to the external elements, especially during a hot and humid day or a raining day.
Night time would be a different story. It would be much cooler and a lot more prettier with the whole area lit up, especially during this time of the year. It would be a good time to capture Chinatown with different snapshots at various locations. Expect the place to be crowded though.
Chinatown is already a top tourist attraction. With this added festivity, Chinatown would become more exciting and more interesting, in particular, for foreign visitors. This is the time where moon cakes are being promoted and put on sale together many other goodies. Kids would be bringing out their little lighted lanterns to walk the streets and neighbourhood to indulge in some great family time.
Those who wish to sample local food at a much more affordable price can head to the hawker centre at Smith Street. There are hundreds of stalls selling local food. It is not air-conditioned though so it can be a little hot and humid. By the way, this place can be crowded during peak hours where lunch crowd from the nearby business district would converge. Dinner time can be crowded too.
There are plenty of restaurants and eateries all over town along the many streets over there. Souvenirs hunters would be spoilt for choice in Chinatown. These items are not expensive and won’t burn a hole in the pocket. So you can hang out here for a piece of history but the buildings have been restored to this clean and modern conditions.
The Chinatown of old was actually rather rundown and didn’t smell very nice with hawkers, vegetable and meat vendors doing business on the streets that were often wet and unsightly. This Chinatown has moved on from the previous version that can still be visited in rural areas in other third world countries in the region.
Those who prefer to shop and dine in comfort and style, Chinatown Point at the junction of Upper Cross Street and New Bridge Road would be the ideal venue. One of the MRT entrances is located just outside the mall. Shops and restaurants, eateries and cafes are all available over there. A number of well established travel companies have offices in the mall as well. Daiso, the Japanese $2 shop has a store there. Even NTUC Fairprice Supermarket is found in the mall. This would be very convenient for those who need to stock up on supplies and essentials.
For those who need a place to rest, a new library is located on the top floor where you could do some reading or pick up the newspaper to peruse while you recharge after a lot of walking. Behind Chinatown Point is another hawker centre. If you didn’t try hawker food over at Smith Street, this smaller hawker centre might be the place for you.
Chinatown could serve as a base to visit other attractions in town as well. There are many hotels in the area for those who prefer the convenience of staying near Chinatown. By the way, there are plenty of moneychangers in Chinatown. So head to Chinatown for some cultural activities as well as shop and dine at this Chinese centric location, especially during Mid Autumn Festival and Chinese New Year.