The Hungry Ghost Festival is observed during the seventh month of the lunar calendar. During this month, Buddhists and Taoists believe that the souls of the deceased roam among the living, so they prepare offerings of food and entertainment to keep the ghosts from being mischievous. Want to know more about these hungry ghosts? Check out our History of the Hungry Ghost Festival in One Minute.
Bridge, Building, Museum
Chinatown will be where the main action is – and not just for the Hungry Ghost Festival – through the entire Hungry Ghost Month. Many restaurants will offer special promotions and meal sets to mark the festival. Visit Smith Street for the covered Chinatown Food Street where you will find all different types of street food, and find shelter from the rain! Stroll down Sago Street towards the Chinatown Complex and see men playing chess. There is a fairly constant schedule of performances of all kind being held in front of the building. Continue down Sago Street in the direction of South Bridge Road, and you’ll come across the stately Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. Don a sarong if you’re in shorts, and head inside – the buddha can be seen from the fourth floor.
The Chinatown Business Association runs a series of guided walking tours. Sign up for the Passage of Life: Birth, Marriage & Death tour to learn about the lives of early Chinese immigrants and the origin of several Chinese traditions. This walk starts from the Chinatown Visitor Centre on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9am-12pm. Make a booking or get more information about other tours from the Chinatown Business Association.
Another walking tour will have you hunting for ghosts. Join the Asia Paranormal Investigators, a paranormal research society, and the Bukit Brown Chinese Cemetery on a walking tour. Learn about the history of Chinese immigrants to Singapore as you walk amongst their tombstones.
A getai performance is the concert held on the evening of the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, the night of the Hungry Ghost Festival. A getai performance can vary from traditional Chinese operas to modern, choreographed, Chinese pop groups. These concerts are meant as entertainment for ghosts and humans alike – however, the first few rows of chairs are reserved for the ghosts, so don’t go and sit there thinking they are empty! Getai performances will be held all over the Red Dot, just look for the stages being set up in the week before the festival. Popular places to visit outside of Chinatown include Joo Chiat (near Paya Lebar MRT on the East West line) and Ang Mo Kio (near Ang Mo Kio MRT on the North South line).
Get away from the crowds of Chinatown and head out to this Taoist temple near Singapore’s East Coast. During the Hungry Ghost Festival, there is a lively auction for unlucky items as well as captivating performances. The temple also serves vegetarian bee hoon and other vegetarian fare to devotees on a donation basis.
Just tired of the heat altogether? Stay at home and make your own floating lotus flower paper lanterns to help the ghosts find their way home at the end of the festival. This would also be a fun activity to do with children, and at the same time teach them about the importance of caring for elder family members and the history of the Hungry Ghost Festival. These lanterns are usually lotus shaped, as the flower symbolizes purity and rebirth.