Nightlife in Chinatown Singapore tends to offer something a little more alternative compared to the city's more well-known party destinations. Most of the bars and clubs in this area fall into the 'quirky', 'compact' and 'independent' categories, attracting mixed crowds who are looking for somewhere to unwind and have fun at the end of the day.

Chinatown Singapore is a neighbourhood filled with shophouses and narrow lanes, with Ann Siang Hill and Club Street a popular party spot thanks to the many bars, clubs and restaurants you can find here. If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, then head to Pagoda Street and the roads that surround it after dark. Here, lanterns glow red, sellers display a range of ‘Made in China’ goods and you can enjoy some of the best street food in the city.

    • Families
    • Shoppers

    Pagoda Street, Trengganu Street, Sago Lane, Smith Street and Temple Street are the main streets that encapsulate all the sights and sounds that you can expect of Chinatown. It has hundreds of stalls selling everything from silk robes to lucky cats.

    There’s also a fantastic range of street food carts amongst the shopping, with fresh dim sum and crispy duck. Remember to haggle with a smile if you want the best price. The market is open during the day, but it looks its most picturesque at dusk, with the lights shining brightly and the sound of hawkers tempting you to check out their wares.

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    Location: 335 Smith Street, Chinatown, Singapore

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 11 pm


    photo by Marcin Konsek (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

  • 2

    1927 Rooftop Bar at Sofitel SO Singapore

    1927 Rooftop Bar at Sofitel SO Singapore
    • Nightlife

    On top of the Sofitel So Singapore, 1927 is high among the surrounding CBD skyscrapers that actually tower over the bar and adjacent pool, creating an intimate and almost cosy kind of feeling.

    With a team of mixologists behind the bar, the emphasis here is on the cocktails rather than the beers. Special events include tastings for rum aficionados with rum cocktails of the day, bar bites, and up to 20% off drinks.

    Location: Sofitel SO Singapore, 35 Robinson Rd, Singapore 068876, Singapore

    Open: Monday–Friday from 5 pm to 2 am, Saturday–Sunday from 2 pm to 2 am

    Phone: +65 6701 6800

    • Nightlife

    Classic ‘dinner and a movie’ nights out take on a whole new meaning at Screening Room in Singapore, because here the house chef often pairs the menu with the film. The open-air Rooftop at Screening Room is a great spot for after-screening drinks or simply to take in the great views and sunsets over the Temple of the Tooth and Club Street.

    Screening Room is easy to find, around a 10-minute walk from the MRT at Chinatown. The main boutique theatre space on the 3rd floor hosts monthly thematic movie screenings, and also features kids’ movies every Saturday from 5pm. On the top floor, Rooftop at Screening Room serves an extensive range of beverages and contemporary Asian bar bites to complement the glorious Singapore sunsets.

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    Location: 12 Ann Siang Rd, #03-00, Singapore 069692, Singapore

    Open: Rooftop Monday–Thursday from 5.30 pm until late, Friday–Saturday from 5 pm until late (closed on Sundays), Movie screenings Monday–Thursday at 7 pm and 9.30 pm, Friday–Saturday at 8.30 pm

    Phone: +65 6532 3357

  • 4

    Tippling Club

    • Nightlife

    This experimental cocktail bar on Duxton Hill transports you to another world thanks to the amazing display of glass bottles that hang from the ceiling, which have a slightly Alice in Wonderland feel to them. There’s plenty of comfortable bistro style seating here, and the friendly face behind the bar is one of the city’s top mixologists who creates out of this world cocktails.

    The Jolly Green Giant is a blend of gin and peas and the sweet, sour and bitter blend of vermouth and Champagne make Friend of the Night one of our favourite tipples here. If you want something original feel free to challenge the barman; he really knows his stuff.

    Location: 38 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088461, Singapore

    Open: Monday–Friday from midday to midnight, Saturday from 6 pm to midnight (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +65 6475 2217

  • 5

    Tantric Bar

    • Nightlife

    Part of the lively trio of bars on Neil Road, Tantric Bar offers hip dance music and potent cocktails keeping the diverse crowd happy until throwing out time.

    The nightlife hotspot has also earned a reputation for being the only Singaporean spot serving double shots every day from about S$12. Try their signature cocktail, the Blue Spin, while you're there.

    Location: 78 Neil Road, Chinatown, Singapore

    Open: Daily from 8 pm to 3 am

    Phone: +65 6423 9232

  • 6

    Gem Bar

    • Nightlife

    Ann Siang Hill is one of the best places to enjoy Chinatown’s buzzing nightlife, and if we had to pick one bar on this narrow street to visit it would have to be Gem Bar. This relaxed bar is on the corner of the road, it takes over all 3 floors of the shophouse.

    There are happy hours every evening and snacks to soak up the cheap booze, with cocktails inspired by Asia fruit including the sour plum mojito and star fruit martini. On the ground floor, you can sit outside on the terrace or lounge on the red velour armchairs close to the bar. Head upstairs for live music on the second floor (from Wednesday to Saturday), or chill out in the pool hall on the third floor.

    Location: 10 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore 069789, Singapore

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 4 pm to 1 am, Friday from 4 pm to 2 am, Saturday from 5 pm to 1 am

    Phone: +65 9834 0755

  • 7

    Oxwell and Co

    • Nightlife

    One of the most recognisable bars around Club Street with its almost billboard-like exterior fronting a grey-on-white colonial building, Oxwell and Co. serves up a fine range of cocktails and mains all in some rather flamboyant settings.

    Sitting near the corner of Ann Siang Hill and Club Street, this self-proclaimed gastro bar has numerous area all offering something a little a different, including a rooftop dining area for a more formal setting, downstairs bar and some alfresco seating outside. House drinks are all poured from some pretty quirky plumbing-style taps, including their own Oxhorn Larger, as well as Pimms, sangria and Prosecco. There’s also a study range of pub grub as well as free bar bites when you spend enough.

    Location: 5 Ann Siang Rd, Singapore 069688, Singapore

    Open: Monday–Sunday from midday to midnight

    Phone: +65 6438 3984

  • 8

    SaVanh Bistro & Lounge

    • Nightlife

    Step inside this converted shop house and you’ll instantly feel like you’ve escaped the city, with its bright warm colours, tropical garden greenery, jungle props and giant Buddhist statues dotted around the spacious bar. Downstairs you’ll find more of a relaxed vibe, with a mix of city workers and young locals lounging around with a pint or cocktail in hand, whilst the upstairs IndoChine Restaurant presents a slightly more formal dining experience.

    In fitting with the decor, the menu encompasses most parts of Southeast Asia, full of Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian and Cambodian delights that we can’t pronounce. Fortunately, there is a translation provided and so we can recommend their green curry with duck, crispy soft shell crab, and of course, sticky rice with mango for dessert.

    Location: 47 Club St, Singapore 069424, Singapore

    Open: Monday–Saturday from midday to midnight

    Phone: +65 6325 8529

  • 9

    Smith Street Taps

    • Nightlife

    Ditch the stereotype that drinking in Singapore is reserved only for the wealthy and well-dressed at the scruffy Smith Street Taps, part of the Good Beer Company group, in Chinatown Complex hawker centre.

    You’re more likely to see uncles drinking with their buddies alongside broke backpackers, rather than the city crowd who like to frequent the nearby CBD bars down the road. Smith Street Taps specialises in a whole host of imported beers and ciders, which usually means there is a hefty price tag. However, beers here start from just S$6 (up to around $14), making this one of the cheapest bars in Singapore. You can also grab yourself some hawker food from one of the nearby stalls to have an even more frugal evening out.

    Location: 335 Smith Street, Chinatown Complex #02-58, Singapore

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 6 pm to 10 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +65 9430 2750

  • 10

    Backstage Bar

    • Nightlife

    Tantric Bar / May Wong’s Cafe / Backstage Bar –  This 3-in-1 venue is a quite an institution in Singapore’s gay nightlife scene. Located on Neil Road – which is pretty much the LGBT epicentre of the country – the lively trio of bars is easy walking distance from Outram Park in Chinatown, not too far from the looming skyscrapers of the CBD.

    This place started off as just the ‘Backstage Bar’, but its newer Tantric Bar seems to be the most popular choice nowadays, with hip dance music and potent cocktails keeping the diverse crowd happy until throwing out time (when most of the guys stumble across the street to carry on the party at Taboo Club).

    Location: 78 Neil Road, Chinatown, Singapore 088842, Singapore

    Open: Sunday–Friday from 8 pm to 3 am, Saturdays from 8 pm to 4 am

    Phone: +65 6423 9232

  • 11

    Taboo Club

    • Nightlife

    While other gay clubs come and go in Singapore, Taboo is one of a handful that has stood the test of time and still thrives today. This is partly thanks to its location on Singapore’s pinkest street – Neil Road – surrounded by half-a-dozen or so other gay-friendly (but much more chill) bars and bistros.

    Things only really get going here after midnight, when the boys roll up tipsy after a night of bar hopping. Expect T-shirts to come off, a bit of groping here and there, guys that look like girls, girls that look like guys, and everything in between – all to the sound of a thumping big house soundtrack and camp 80s décor.

    Location: 65-67 Neil Rd, 088897, Singapore

    Open: Wednesday–Thursday from 8 pm to 2 am, Friday–Saturday from 10 pm to 3 am, (closed Sunday–Tuesday)

    Phone: +65 6225 6256

  • 12

    Club Street

    • Nightlife

    This street best represents nightlife in Singapore Chinatown. This small road only runs for about 200 metres but it is right at the heart of Singapore’s indie bar revival.

    At the weekend this road and those nearby are closed to cars, making it one of our top picks for partying. The customers spill out onto the pavements and sometimes into the street itself, and you can hop from restaurant to bar to club, checking out some of the best mixologists, bar snacks and DJs in Singapore. It starts to get busy from 9pm and is still buzzing at last orders at about 2am.

    Location: Ann Siang Road, Chinatown, Singapore 069692, Singapore

Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveller