Shopping in Chinatown

Just behind the soaring skyscrapers of Singapore's financial district lies Chinatown. Bound by Upper Pickering Street, Cantonment Road, New Bridge Road and South Bridge Road, this crowded and colourful network of streets and alleyways has changed little over the decades. Here, Chinese merchants engage in business from the ground floor of quaint pre-war shophouses much as they have for generations.

Experience the sights and sounds of Chinatown: medical halls mix snake skin, herbs and spices and other exotic ingredients into potions for all ailments; traditional delicacies like sea cucumbers lie drying in the street; fruit sellers squat near mounds of rambutan, strong-smelling durian, mangosteen and other seasonal fruits; fortune-tellers sit at make-shift tables waiting for eager customers to know their future; hawkers grill thin slices of pork for passers-by over home-made barbecues.

Here, bargains abound from beautifully-embroidered kimonos, gold jewellery and T-shirts to pottery and traditional crafts at delightfully hard-to-believe prices.

Try the Tanjong Pagar area for traditional teashops, clog and kite makers, painted masks, waxed paper umbrellas, lacquerware from China, handicrafts and artefacts from all over Asia. Then wander over to Smith Street, Trengganu Street, Temple Street and Pagoda Street where the streets are at their narrowest and you'll find some of the best bargains.

The modern face of Chinatown shopping can be found in the area around the junction of Cross Street with New Bridge Road and Eu Tong Seng Street. The large shopping complexes here, such as Chinatown Point, Yue Hwa, People's Park Complex and Chinatown Complex are not only good sources for Chinese products but also offer bargains galore in their extensive ranges of more conventional products. Look here for everything from electrical and electronic goods, luggage and textiles to bargain-priced clothes and cosmetics. A wide selection of local crafts are available at the Singapore Handicraft Centre in Chinatown Point.

Nearest MRT station: Outram Park (EW16) or Chinatown (NE4).