Here’s How to Make the Best of Tiong Bahru

The cool neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru has been experiencing many changes in the past years, attracting both expat residents and travellers alike.

Judging from the number of hip cafes, quirky boutiques and sleek restaurants, the eclectic neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru is ever-flourishing. In the past years, this beloved corner of Singapore has experienced a major cultural and urban coming-of-age – from an enclave solely known for its rich heritage, narrow alleyways and low-rise Art Deco buildings evoking the 1930s ambience, to one of the city-state’s most burgeoning and creative hubs.
moving to Singapore
Photo by Nicolas Lannuzel / CC BY-SA 2.0 on flickr

Urban smart

Today, the neighbourhood embodies an urban yin and yang: the estate’s old, pre-war buildings are an aesthete’s paradise, and Tiong Bahru’s modern condos beautifully add to the layout of the neighbourhood, while new venues have also sought to diligently preserve the area’s heritage. This is also the place where creative entrepreneurs have managed to stake out prime real estates to make their mark in arts and fine cuisine. For cafe-hopping, the Tiong Bahru cafes are also a great way to immerse into the neighbourhood.

Foodie paradise

For a taste of what the area has to offer, head to the dynamic Yong Siak Street, which knows how to constantly shake off its formerly staid image; no longer a sleepy, hidden place, the street has revamped itself into a hotspot of hip haunts such as Plain Vanilla Bakery (1D Yong Siak St, 168641; +65 8363 7614), a quaint 20-seater cafe, which whips up treats such as earl grey lavender cupcakes and refreshing lemon meringue.

At 40 hands (78 Yong Siak Street, #01-12, 163078; +65 6225 8545), a small cafe with a big love for java, you won’t only be impressed by the quality and flavour of the brew, but the locale also pledges to make a positive impact on the lives of coffee growers in developing countries. Over at Tong Poh Road, Drips (#01-05, 82 Tiong Poh Road, 160082, +65 6222 0400) is yet another visually appealing cafe, which is said to dish out the most palatable fruit tarts in town.

And if you wonder where you can find the most acclaimed fare in the hood, have your Uber drop you at the ubiquitous Tiong Bahru Market to check out Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice and Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee stalls, which have been recently given the prestigious Bib Gourmand award in the inaugural Singapore Michelin Guide. Also, Tiong Bahru Plaza has recently been refurbished and offers an exquisite urban, foodie and shopping experience.

Tiong Bahru Singapore
Photo by Books Actually

Shopping in Singapore

If you’re on the lookout for some unique buys, a collection of quirky shops are located right on your doorstep. Head to the famous Books Actually indie bookshop (9 Yong Siak St, 168645; +65 6222 9195) to browse through myriads classic and contemporary literature books as well as vintage knick-knacks and stationery. If you’re wandering around the hood with your little ones, next door to Books Actually is Woods in the Books (3 Yong Siak Street, 168642; +65 6222 9980), an intimate, whimsical space that focuses on books, comics and graphic novels for children.

For vinyl lovers, Curated Records (55 Tiong Bahru Rd, 160055; 6438 3644) is the perfect joint to satisfy your craving for genres including Indie, Alternative, Electronica, R&B and Pop. There are also a few locales where you can get your art fix; drop by the intriguing Degios Art (01-82 Eng Hoon Road Singapore, Block 57, 16005; 9698 6038), a by-appointment-only art space run by Italian Giuseppe De Giosa, where you can find a mix of paintings, vintage furniture and other objet d’art from around the world. For contemporary exhibitions, For and Against Nature (6B Kim Tian Road, 169246; +65 6655 6492) boasts compelling works of natural landscapes.

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Tiong Bahru Singapore

Take five

If you need a contrast to the hustle and bustle of the cafe and shopping scene, get your zen back at boutique yoga studio Yoga Movement (11 Yong Siak St, 168646; 8223 3540), known for its snazzy design and friendly instructors. Another option is Yoga Inc (21 Yong Siak St, 168651; 9092 3922), a rather spartan cum minimalist-looking space, which offers basic yoga as well as restorative and Hatha classes.

Tiong Bahru Singapore

Out and about

Though not overcrowded, the general vibe of Tiong Bahru is that of a tight community, with expats constantly searching for hidden gems, and locals occasionally organising heritage tours to rediscover the architectural charms of the old buildings. For a different perspective of the area, don’t miss Yip Yew Chong’s large-scale murals, depicting nostalgic images of old Singapore – this is a real visual treat!

Tiong Bahru Singapore
Photo by Greyloft

Live smart

If you’re considering moving to Singapore, know that amidst this bohemian estate, plenty of modern housing options abound; think apartments and high-rise condominiums readily available for rent, from where you can not only admire the awe-inspiring vista of the city’s skyline, but also have easy access to amenities, shops, restaurants and green spaces. Particularly attracting are the modern medium-rise condominiums located in the Tanglin region, which is known as a quiet yet sophisticated quarter brimming with grand houses, foreign embassies and lush greenery.

Getting around in Tiong Bahru

Tiong Bahru is conveniently located only a 15-minute train ride away from the city centre. The nearest train stations are Tiong Bahru MRT and Outram Park MRT. By car or taxi, take Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) or Via Central Expressway (CTE).

If you are moving to Singapore or relocating within Singapore and want to rent an apartment or condo in Tiong Bahru, speak with Greyloft’s property agents for the best advice on the neighbourhood’s housing options.

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Also published on Medium.