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Chinatown Singapore coolest neighbourhood 2023
Photograph: Singapore Tourism Board

Singapore’s Chinatown ranks 14th in world’s coolest neighbourhoods list for 2023

It's also the third coolest neighbourhood in Asia

Rachel Yohannan
Written by
Rachel Yohannan

Singapore is home to some of the world’s best bars, hotels, and what’s consistently been one of the top airlines in the world. We’re a pretty cool little city, even if we say so ourselves – but hey, don’t just take it from us. Time Out’s official list of coolest neighbourhoods in the world for 2023 has just been announced, and Singapore’s Chinatown has made the ranks, coming in at 14th place.

A rigorous selection process was carried out to determine this list. First, Time Out polled over 12,000 people regarding the coolest neighbourhoods in their city, with options further whittled down with the expertise of Time Out’s network of editors who know the ins and outs of their respective cities at the back of their hands. The final list of 40 was then made based on various factors including but not limited to thriving street life, foodie scene, and diversity – all of which our Chinatown has gotten down pat.

Aside from making it in the top 15 spots, Chinatown also happens to be the third coolest neighbourhood in Asia this year, coming in a few notches below Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan (#5) and Japan’s Tomigaya (#10) in Tokyo. Claiming the top four spots globally are: Laureles in Medellín, Colombia; Smithfield in Dublin, Ireland; Carabanchel in Madrid, Spain; and Havnen in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The other neighbourhoods in Asia that made this list are: Hannam-dong (#25) in Seoul, South Korea; Zhongshan (#34) in Taipei, Taiwan; Bonifacio Global City (#35) in Manila, Philippines; Dotonbori (#37) in Osaka, Japan; and Song Wat (#39) in Bangkok, Thailand. 

Though the various Chinatowns across the world are known to be tourist spots, Singapore’s version is well-loved by vacationers and seasoned locals alike for its eclectic mishmash of tradition and modernity. Though remnants of its past remain in the form of heritage shophouses, temples, and teahouses, these exist seamlessly alongside some of the hippest nightlife spots in town, as well as independent art spaces, thrift stores, and trendy cafés. We’d like to think of it as a beautiful mess.

In 2022, Little India took the title of Singapore’s Coolest Neighbourhood, and was placed 19th globally. Prior to that, the shophouse-laden Katong was our winner in 2021, with a global ranking of number 33. Heartening to see that Singapore is crawling up the overall list year on year!

View the full list of coolest neighbourhoods in 2023 here and check out our ultimate guide to Chinatown for the best things to see, do, and eat in the area.

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