Once an enclave for Singapore’s Chinese immigrant population, Chinatown has now become a bustling neighbourhood full of sleek new bars, fancy restaurants and colourful lifestyle shops. As you wander around Kreta Ayer, Telok Ayer, Tanjong Pagar and Bukit Pasoh (which make up the four main areas of Chinatown), don’t forget to pop by the 10 best bars below and partake in Chinatown’s boisterous nightlife scene.
Chinatown is home to some of the best drinking establishments in Singapore. Whether it’s cool rooftop bars (that are also boutique cinemas) or rowdy pubs that take the edge off a hard day’s work, here are 10 of the best bars in Chinatown, Singapore.
Cocktail Bar, American, $$$
Old meets new in this exquisite bar located in the upscale district of Ann Siang Hill. Expect inventive cocktails with names inspired by Singaporean history, decor that recalls the days when rickshaws ran the streets of Chinatown, and an international food menu that is just as delicious as the drinks.
Bar, American, $$$
Potato Head is a cocktail bar, restaurant and rooftop garden all rolled into one. The Three Buns restaurant on the first floor serves burgers, while on the rooftop a Bohemian-looking, open-air bar overlooks the comings and goings of Keong Saik street. You can also opt for a more exclusive experience at Potato Head’s reservations-only bar, Studio 1939, one level down; it’s a whole new world of exquisite cocktails and intimate lounging.
Follow Dorothy over the rainbow and you will come upon this Wizard of Oz-inspired watering hole. This LGBTQ bar serves up affordable drinks in a vivacious ambience, complete with friendly bartenders and a lovely view of Chinatown from its second floor balcony. Watch your intake of their popular Absinthe shots though – it might send you right back to Kansas if you aren’t careful.
Bar, Restaurant, Contemporary, Fusion, $$$
The Screening Room is really a cute boutique cinema that doubles up as a lively rooftop bar. The bar offers a view of colourful heritage shophouses lining Ann Siang Road beneath massive skyscrapers, creating the perfect old-meets-new backdrop while you sip. This is the place to hang out if you like to have (quite literally) everything in one place. Their finger food are a must-try.
Bar, Contemporary, Fusion
Always look on the bright side of life at The Brightside, which will chase away your blues – exactly as the Monty Python song advises. This fun little bar promises to steer you away from dark days with a happy hour filled with beers, cocktails and cheerful chatter.
If you are looking for something more luxurious in Chinatown, the Olde Cuban will satisfy your needs. Over 200 types of cigars (including some limited edition numbers dating back to 2000) and a huge collection of whiskeys await you here, as well as plush leather couches and old world charm. This is the best place to clinch that business deal or unwind in a posh and intimate setting.
Don’t let the nondescript Smith Street Taps fool you with its simplicity. It may just be a stall in a Chinatown hawker centre with no air-conditioning, yet it offers the best way to immerse yourself in a truly Singaporean experience. Order an ice cold beer (or three) and let the cool golden liquid beat the tropical heat. For a tiny stall like this, Smith Street Taps has a huge variety of hop-heavy beers, super malty stouts and everything in between to quench your thirst.
Bar, Contemporary, $$$
Club Street, as its name reveals, is a street lined with bars and clubs of all kinds in Chinatown. Happy revellers often make this area a place to see and be seen, and Gem Bar is one of the best bars for doing that. Just come earlier so you can chope (reserve in Singlish) yourself an outside table to watch the beautiful party crowd sashay by you. The array of drinks available here means you can people-watch the whole night while indulging in a bit of cocktail-tasting. Yum.
Tippling Club is one of the more high-end bars in Chinatown, but it also translates into great service and innovative award-winning cocktails. Whether it’s sweet, bitter, fruity or dry drinks that you are after, this club has it all. Start your night with the Serafin – a mixture of blanco tequila, pear, citrus, gomme and ginger soda – and you’ll be set up for a very fun evening.
Another LGBTQ bar in Chinatown, Backstage Bar isn’t only a big favourite of the LGBTQ community in Singapore, but its well-priced drinks keep customers coming back as well. Plus, no one can fault friendly staff, an atmospheric outdoor courtyard with walls covered in movie posters and a sociable crowd for a fun night of mingling.