Starting at the corner of Cross and Club Streets, walk up (1) Club. Once the home of Chinese social clubs, shophouses, and brothels, the street has been turned into one of the city-state’s trendy neighborhoods lined with boutiques, bars, and clubs. It was named after the Chinese Weekly Entertainment Club, established by a Peranakan millionaire in 1892. It’s still home to many Chinese clubs, although most have yielded to the likes of the Puma sneaker shop and Italian restaurants.
Once you have walked to the end of Club, turn left on Ann Siang Road. Just on the right, you’ll see a formerly dilapidated hotel that has been converted into a nightclub, the (2) Screening Room. It’s a great stop in the evenings for dinner or to catch a city view and grab a cold beer on the rooftop bar.
Walk up Ann Siang, turning right at the top of the hill and right again on Erskine Road. At the corner is the (3) Scarlet boutique hotel. Walk down the street, staying to the right side of the street, strolling the covered walkway. The two-story shophouses have been preserved and converted into boutiques.
Turn left on South Bridge Road. Cross the street and walk left to Neil Road. At the corner of Neil and Tanjong Pagar is a (4) two-story brick building that was once the city’s center for rickshaws. “Tanjong Pagar was an area humming with activity, with craftsmen, opium smokers, rickshaw pullers, port workers, and ladies of the night,” says G. Byrne Bracken, author, A Singapore Walking Tour.
Cross the street again and head down Maxwell Street. On the left is the (5) Maxwell Road Food Center. It’s a famous hawker center and is generally packed on any evening. Its neoclassical facade was renovated in 2001. Walk all the way down Maxwell until it turns left around Telok Ayer Park. Keep walking to the left and walk up Telok Ayer Street. On the right side you’ll see the (6) Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church. Built in 1924, it’s one of the most unusual churches in Singapore with a traditional Chinese roof and large Byzantine windows.
Continuing up Telok Ayer, you’ll cross McCallum Street. On the left corner sits the (7) Al-Abrar Mosque. This little mosque was built sometime around 1850 and has both Indian and Islamic touches. The Imam says that the mosque may have begun as a small thatched hut. Continuing up the street, on the left side is the (8) Thian Hock Keng Temple. It is one of the oldest temples in Singapore and the most important for the Hokkien Chinese (predominant ethnic immigrant group from southern China) Buddhists. Imported from China in 1840, the (9) statue of Ma Zu Po, goddess of seafarers, is in the main hall. Continuing up the street, on the corner of Boon Tat Street sits the (10) Nagore Durgha Shrine, built around 1828.
Turn right and walk all the way to the end of Boon Tat Street, through part of downtown, and you’ll see (11) Lau Pa Sat in front of you. The ornate octagonal, cast-iron facade was originally done in 1894 by a Scottish architectural firm. In the early 20th century, fishmongers traded here; the market has since been converted into a hawker center.