Chinatown Heritage Centre

Chinatown Heritage Centre (15)

In the Chinatown Heritage Centre, also known by its intials, CHC, you can journey through time to discover the day to day life of early Chinatown. The centre was opened in 2002 thanks to a joint initiative of the Singapore Tourism Board and the National Heritage Centre.

The centre occupies 3 old, beautifully restored shop houses. It houses a large collection of photographs as well as many objects that date from the founding of Singapore in 1819 to the present day.  Through these photographs and objects you will learn in detail the idiosyncrasies of those early Chinese immigrants who after a long and perilous journey, arrived in a new city in search of a better life.

If every wrinkle on a face tells of an experience, imagine all that can be told in the portraits you see here. Here there are thousands of stories yet to be shared. Discover the centre’s different floors and you will find everything from the recreation of an old shop house to relics from the '50s golden age.  You will see everything from the life of a working family to the secrets of the mafia and prostitution.

In the beginning, a shop house had one or several shops on the ground floor that were turned into dormitories at night.  Later, the many rooms on the upper floors were divided into small cubicles, which were rented cheaply to all comers. Some of the rooms slept several people, others stockpiled opium, while others were used for prostitution or illegal gambling. As you can imagine, the first two levels of the centre are quite an experience.

On the third floor, however, you will be surprised to find a reflection on the 50s, Chinatown’s golden age. Certainly a more colourful and cheerful section than the ones on the lower floors.

Of course, after the visit you must go to the top level for a coffee or a cappuccino, as well as a souvenir. Up here you will find a very curious Kopitiam, combining marble tables and carved wooden chairs with a very modern and delicious menu.

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