5 Must-Visit Chinese Bookstores in Singapore PLUS Book Vocabulary

The Very Best Book Shops in Singapore & Book Genres in Chinese 📖

Whether you are beginner-level or you have been a long-time student, reading books in Chinese can be an enjoyable way to build your language skills and immerse yourself in Chinese culture.

Sadly, the larger bookstores in Singapore have gradually made the move solely to online stores.

Luckily there are still some true gems scattered across Singapore that offer pleasant ways to expand your Chinese vocabulary. 

In this article we’ll share 5 of the best bookstores in Singapore, key vocabulary and famous Chinese classics everybody has to read at least once!

So, let’s see what Singapore has to offer…

OUR TOP 5

Chinese Bookstores in Singapore草根書室 Grassroots Book Room

Chinese Bookstores in Singapore卓爾书店 The Zall Bookstore

Chinese Bookstores in Singapore友谊书斋 Maha Yu Yi

Chinese Bookstores in Singapore城市书房City Book Room

Chinese Bookstores in SingaporeKinokuniya Singapore

BONUS CONTENT

Chinese Bookstores in SingaporeFamous Chinese Classics

Chinese Bookstores in Singapore Book Genres in Chinese

Chinese Bookstores in SingaporeFAQs

Chinese Bookstores in Singapore || 草根書室 Grassroots Book Room

25 Bukit Pasoh Rd, Singapore 089839

Grassroots Book Room is a haven for true bookstore lovers.

Grassroots Book Room

This bookstore offers a very aesthetically-pleasing browse of Chinese language books, stationary and novelty mugs.

There is a lovely cafe in the back of the store with framed illustrations along the walls where you can order a refreshing iced milk tea.

Known for hosting local events like book-sharing sessions, film discussions, and exhibitions, this small store has a pleasant ambiance and book topics for a variety of audiences.

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Chinese Bookstores in Singapore || 卓爾书店 The Zall Bookstore

SG 501 Orchard Road, 2nd Floor, Wheelock Place, #02-18, Singapore 238880

Among the pretty shops in Wheelock Place lies Zall Bookstore, with its minimalist layout and large glass windows that fit right in with the designer stores on Orchard Road.

Dubbed “the first Chinese-themed bookstore in Singapore” this bookstore isn’t all looks – there is an array of literary options, including classical Chinese literature, trendy non-fiction, and an art gallery.

Zall’s café Nico Café is ideal for sitting with your new purchase while enjoying a cold brew and pastry. 

The Zall Bookstore really has it all!

Chinese Bookstores in Singapore || 友谊书斋 Maha Yu Yi

231 Bain St, 3rd Floor, #03-07/#03-11/#02-15, Singapore 180231

We can’t mention bookstores in Singapore without mentioning the Bras Basah Complex, five stories of stores centering Chinese books and art, most of which are second-hand.

There is a Popular Bookstore on #02-47 to 67, but as we are prioritizing Chinese language books, head to Maha Yu Yi. 

This traditional Chinese bookstore offers a huge selection of books from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, in addition to Singaporean titles.

Though overwhelming at first glance, students of Chinese culture can find language learning workbooks, HSK texts, classical Chinese novels and old-school Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) textbooks.

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Chinese Bookstores in Singapore || 城市书房City Book Room

387 Joo Chiat Rd, #03-02 The Modules, Singapore 427623
City Book Room

Hunt for the iconic wood paneling sign of City Book Room, hidden away on Joo Chiat Road.

It’s a bit of a journey from central Singapore, but those in the know frequent the frog congee, claypot, and bak kut te restaurants in the area.

Here, you’ll find books on Chinese and Singaporean culture, such as Chinese opera and Singaporean art.

The small space is not ideal for browsing leisurely, but tell the staff your Chinese proficiency level, and they will provide helpful recommendations.

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Chinese Bookstores in Singapore || Kinokuniya Singapore

Main Store: 391 Orchard Road 04 – 20 / 20A / 20B / 20C / 21 Takashimaya S.C., Ngee Ann City, Singapore 238872
Bugis Junction: 200 Victoria Street 03-09 Bugis Junction, Singapore 188021

Indulging in some Chinese manga, or 漫画 (màn huà), also counts as language learning!

This giant Japanese chain bookstore is said to be the biggest bookstore in Southeast Asia.

Kinokuniya has two locations in Singapore, both of which offer Chinese language learning workbooks in addition to comic books, magazines, and the latest bestselling novels.

Both stores are large enough to take your time finding your perfect reading material, and provide reliable café fare. 

Take a sneak peak!

Chinese Bookstores in Singapore || Chinese Bookstore Vocabulary:

To help you navigate the bookstore shelves and find your favourite genres, we have some important vocabulary to know:

englishchinesepinyin
Types of Books书籍类型shūjí lèi xíng
Non-Fiction books非小说类书籍fēi xiăo shuō lèi shū jí
Autobiographies自传zì zhuàn
Biographies传记zhuàn jì
Cookbooks烹饪书pēng rèn shū
History books历史书lì shǐ shū
Textbooks教科书 jiào kē shū
Fiction books小说类书籍xiăo shuō lèi shūjí
Classics名著míng zhù
Comic books漫画 màn huà
Literary文学wén xué
Romance言情yán qíng
Science Fiction科幻 kē huàn
Thriller惊悚jīng sǒng

Chinese Bookstores in Singapore || Famous Chinese Classics To Look Out For:

It is no secret that Chinese arts and literature have been renowned for over 4,000 years. The most famous books are called the Four Great Classical Novels (四大名著) (sì shū wǔ jīng) and consist of:

Journey to the West 西遊記 (xī yóu jì)

In the Tang Dynasty, a Buddhist monk pilgrimages to Central Asia and India (“the West”) with his three protectors: the Monkey King, Zhu Bajie, and Sha Wujing.

Manga and anime fans might recognise aspects of this epic fantasy adventure such as the Chinese mythology of the Monkey King.

Dream of the Red Chamber 紅樓夢 (hóng lóu mèng)

This book is Romeo and Juliet meets Crazy Rich Asians. Jia Baoyu is the heir to a noble family. He loves Lin Daiyu, but his family wants him to marry the perfect Xue Baochai.

The classic love triangle and noble family dynamics echo Chinese TV drama series and fans of historical romance.

Romance of Three Kingdoms 三國演義 (sān guó yǎn yì)

Romance of Three Kingdoms is the ultimate Chinese historical novel set in the the end of the Han Dynasty when three would-be emperors fight for power.

Fans of Chinese historical drama series will appreciate the scheming politics and political chess-playing that takes place.

Outlaws of the Marsh 水滸傳 (shuǐ hǔ zhuàn)

Outlaws of the Marsh is an anti-hero’s journey set in the Song Dynasty.

The adventures of Geo Qiu and his 108 outlaws served to be Chinese’s society’s warnings of the consequences of a life in crime.

⚠️ It is worth noting that the book has arguably not aged well due to its misogynistic depictions of women.


Did you enjoy this article? Check out more from LTL Singapore! ⬇️

Chinese Bookstores in Singapore || FAQ

What are the most famous Chinese-language books?

Journey to the West 西遊記 (xī yóu jì), Dream of the Red Chamber 紅樓夢 (hóng lóu mèng), Romance of Three Kingdoms 三國演義 (sān guó yǎn yì), and Outlaws of the Marsh 水滸傳 (shuǐ hǔ zhuàn).

What is the biggest bookstore in Singapore?

Kinokuniya Main Store in Takashimaya Shopping Centre has over 500,000 books in Japanese, Chinese, English, and other languages.

Where can I read Chinese books in Singapore?
Where can I practice talking about books in Chinese?

Head over to our online Flexi Classes to start practicing Chinese with native speaker teachers today!

Or, if you’re already in Singapore, check out our Mandarin Classes in Singapore here.


Want more from LTL?

Want to learn Chinese from the comfort of you own home? Then our 24/7 Online Chinese lessons might be the thing for you.

We offer a 7 day free trial to all new online students where you can study Mandarin 24/7. 

Come and check it out free of charge and see what you think!

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