In Chinatown, visit the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum just down the street from the Sri Mariamman Temple (Hindu), which isn’t far from the Jamae Mosque (Muslim). That’s Singapore in a nutshell – a harmony of cultures.
At the Buddha Temple go upstairs to the free Buddhist museum on the 3rd floor. They have tons of Buddhist relics from around the world and have done a good job telling the story of Buddha in a designed path through the museum. Take your time. Read a bit. Learn a bit.
Then hit up the stairwell and sneak up to the roof. You’ll find a lush rooftop tropical garden surrounding a large Buddhist prayer wheel. Grab the wheel, walk in a circle and make a prayer. It’s okay. You’re allowed to be there.
For lunch, go behind the museum to the Chinatown Complex (food hawker center). There are 1,000 food stalls. Take a deep breath and find a stall that sells ‘chicken rice’. When I was there it was #172. It should cost S$3. Wait for it. Make sure to take the little tray of red sauce. The dish will look bland – you will be surprised.
Take the food, turn around and walk back and to the right and find stall #196k. The sign will say “Lime Juice”. Ask for the ‘sugar cane juice WITH lime’. Should cost S$1.5. If it’s a hefty Chinese man, his name is “Song” – tell him the American from Korea says “hello”. We wrote down a sign in Korean for him to attract Koreans – apparently he was listed in a Korean travel guide and gets a lot of Koreans looking for his stall.
Drank Song’s sugar cane juice with lime 3 times in 3 days in Singapore. Searched for it’s equal throughout Malaysia and even in Cambodia and Vietnam. Nope. Song takes pride in using 100% juice and the exact number of limes (21 I think). He doesn’t water it down. Real deal.
Afterward, head around the corner to the intersection of South Bridge and Smith Street. Look for ‘Nanyang Old Coffee.’ Get yourself a cup. Sit down. Enjoy it. You’re in Singapore.
That’s how you do Chinatown in Singapore!
Below is the video I made when we stumbled into the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Museum trying to get out of the rain.