Kreta Ayer

Kreta AyerKreta Ayer literally means 'bullock cart water' in Malay. These were references to the bullock carts which carried water from wells in Ann Siang Hill to the people in Chinatown.

Kreta Ayer lies at the heart of Chinatown in terms of trades and activities.

It is bounded by busy South Bridge Road and New Bridge Road, and traversed by streets like Mosque, Smith, Pagoda, Temple, Sago, Banda and Trengganu. It was in the streets of Kreta Ayer that the gambling and opium dens, brothels, restaurants and theatres serving the people of Chinatown were found. The concentration of entertainment areas which never seemed to close earned Kreta Ayer the name 'Bu Yeh Tien' - literally 'the sky that is never dark'.

This area also differentiates Singapore's Chinatown from other Chinatowns around the world in that there were also a fair number of Indian and Malay settlers in Chinatown, as evidenced by the Jamae Mosque and the Sri Mariamman Temple.

Located at Smith Street, the Chinatown Food Street offers the best local hawker favourites to one and all. Try local dishes like Char Kway Teow (a noodle dish fried with fresh cockles, bean sprouts and black sweet sauce), Carrot Cake (a steamed white radish cake fried with eggs and preserved vegetables) or Rojak (a refreshing local salad tossed with sweet sauce and peanuts), served from outdoor stalls like days of the old. Open from 11:00am to 11:00pm daily, expect to pay an average of SGD 5 per person for a hearty meal.