Tiong Bahru: Market, Cafes, Hawker Food, History & More

One of Singapore’s first neighborhoods, Tiong Bahru, has a rich history. It is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods dating back to the 1930s. The Hokkien word for “burial” (Tiong) and the Malay word for “new” (Bahru) combine to form the city’s name.

Construction of the Tiong Bahru housing complex began in the 1930s when a proliferation of high-end condominiums was taking place in the area.

There are a handful of fun things to do in Tiong Bahru, Singapore, but not many visitors are aware of them. Put this list away for when you return for another exciting and unforgettable experience.

Whenever you ask a local where to find the trendiest and most popular spots in town, they will almost certainly suggest Tiong Bahru.

Besides being a residential area, the neighborhood is rich in art deco architecture and has some of the city’s trendiest restaurants and nightlife spots.

In order to get the most out of your trip to Singapore, it is recommended that you allocate at least half a day to this area.

Tiong Bahru street, road, building-6781340.jpg

Staycation in Tiong Bahru

In general, the vibe in Tiong Bahru is laid back and perfect for a vacation at home. There are many hotels in this area, and those in Tiong Bahru that we suggest provide a blend of modern and traditional decor.

Hotel 81 Osaka

The Hotel 81 Osaka is conveniently located in the shops of Tiong Bahru. Nearby attractions include Tiong Bahru Plaza and Tiong Bahru Food Centre, both of which are within walking distance from the hotel. The reasonable rates at this three-star hotel have made it a favorite among vacationers.

A 2-star hotel

Address: 1 Eng Hoon Street, Singapore 169753

Phone: +65 6258 8181

Website: http://www.hotel81.com.sg/

The Nostalgia

There is no better place to stay than at this colonial-style boutique hotel. The outdoor swimming pool at this hotel is one of its selling points; it provides stunning views of the Tiong Bahru neighborhood and is the perfect place to unwind after a day of sightseeing. In each room of the Nostalgia, there are also historical items from Tiong Bahru.

A 4-star hotel

Address: 77 Tiong Bahru Road, Singapore 168727

Phone: +65 6808 1818

Website: http://www.hotelnostalgia.com.sg/

D’Hotel Singapore

A stay at one of D’Hotel’s 41 rooms will surround you with beautiful floral and natural art. The hotel also features a rooftop bar with panoramic city views and a fitness facility.

A 4-star hotel

Address: 231 Outram Road, Singapore 169040

Phone: +65 6595 1388

Website: https://www.discoverasr.com/en/others/singapore/dhotel-singapore

Famous culinary tour

Foodie trips to Tiong Bahru are a necessity since the neighborhood is home to both internationally renowned restaurants and trendy hangouts frequented by locals.

Tiong Bahru Market

It’s no secret that Bib Gourmand Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice in Tiong Bahru Market is one of the most highly regarded chicken rice restaurants in all of Singapore. The chwee kueh (radish cake), Jian Bo Shui kueh, and min nan prawn noodles at this hawker center are also rather well-known.

Hawker centre

Address: 30 Seng Poh Rd, Singapore 168898

Bincho Restaurant

This concept yakitori restaurant in a kopitiam (food court) serves incredible grilled foods and delicious beverages that no connoisseur would dare pass up. The most exciting and flavorful Japanese cuisine is available from Chef Asai Masashi.

Yakitori restaurant

Address: 78 Moh Guan Terrace, #01-19, Singapore 162078

Website: http://www.bincho.com.sg/

Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry (Permanently closed)

If you’re a fan of classic cakes, you should check out Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry. This bakery has become famous in Southeast Asia for its excellent ongol-ongol, putu ayu, pie, and sponge cake selection.

Get ready to starve your eyes when you visit this cake shop because of the many types of cakes that look tempting.

A Pastry shop

Address: Blk 55 Tiong Bahru Rd, #01-39, Singapore 160055

Phone: +65 6324 1686

Tiong Bahru Bakery

Because of how well received it is by Singaporeans, Tiong Bahru Bakery has expanded to other locations around the country. Croissants from Tiong Bahru Bakery have been considered the best in Singapore.

For breakfast, try the flaky croissants and other pastries, and for lunch, try the hearty sandwiches and burgers.

In search of the best croissants, Tiong Bahru Bakery is always bustling with customers. Don’t forget to indulge in (or take home) some kun aman, a flaky crepe filled with butter and sugar, and check out the selection of eclairs, pies, and muffins.

Cafe

Address: 56 Eng Hoon St, #01-70, Singapore 160056

Phone: +65 6220 3430

Website: https://www.tiongbahrubakery.com/

PS. Cafe Petit

To rejuvenate after a day of exploring the city, nothing beats a quick bite to eat, like a freshly made pizza with a glass of wine or a blueberry muffin and a cup of great coffee. In a very short amount of time, you will feel your strength returning.

Cafe

Address: No. 41, Blk, 78 Guan Chuan St, Singapore 160078

Phone: +65 6708 9288

Website: https://www.pscafe.com/pscafe-petit-at-tiong-bahru/

The Butcher’s Wife

In a hip watering hole frequented by loud businesses Take in the incomparable Manhattan vibe, get some tasty bar appetizers to share with friends, have the bartender whip up something special, and relax—you’ve earned a night out!

Gluten-free restaurant

Address: 19 Yong Siak St, Singapore 168650

Phone: +65 6221 9307

Website: https://www.thebutcherswifesg.com/

The Dispensary(Permanently Closed)

What was once a Chinese hospital is now a cafe bakery serving up all the trendy sweets of the day, such as macaroons. To keep the feel of antiquity, however, traditional Chinese interior elements have been preserved.

Bakery and Cake Shop

Address: 69 Tiong Bahru Rd, Singapore 168723

Phone: +65 6536 0225

Shopping at Indie shops

Tiong Bahru is known for its independent boutiques, or “indie stores,” where you can discover a wide variety of niche businesses selling products you won’t find anywhere else.

Nana & Bird

It will be simple to discover clothes by both domestic and foreign designers that are not currently available on the market. In addition, this shop also sells accessories and perfumes.

Boutique in Singapore

Address: 1 Yong Siak St, Singapore 168641

Phone: +65 9117 0430

Website: https://shop.nanaandbird.com/

Woods in the Books

Bookstores are great places to spend time if you’re a reader who enjoys socializing with other bookworms. Tiong Bahru’s bookshop, on the other hand, is a more exciting option because it also sells a wide selection of toys and other novelty items in the form of charming and vintage knickknacks.

Childrens book store

Address: 3 Yong Siak St, Singapore 168642

Phone: +65 6222 9980

Website: https://www.woodsinthebooks.sg/

First Stitch

The First Stitch apparel business first opened its doors in the 1980s as a booth in front of the Tiong Bahru Market.

First Stitch evolved into a contemporary store that now features ready-to-wear clothing at reasonable costs. Clothes that are well-suited to the warm weather in Singapore and come in flattering cuts are the specialty of this shop.

Clothing store

Address: 58 Seng Poh Rd, #01-21, Singapore 160058

Phone: +65 6227 2896

Website: https://www.firststitch.co/

Store Curated Records

With over a thousand albums, this little boutique is your best bet if you’re looking for indie records (the Laneway festival comes to mind).

Record store

Address: 766A North Bridge Road Singapore, Singapore 198734

Website: http://www.curatedrecords.com/

More Places:

Art project Gray Projects

It’s a library, a workshop, a hub for creative exchange, and a safe space for trying out new ideas and hearing others’ insights.

Art center

Address: 6B Kim Tian Rd, Kai Fook Mansion, Singapore 169246

Phone: +65 6655 6492

Website: https://www.greyprojects.org/

Ki Tiangong Temple

The temple, which has been around since the early 20th century, is devoted to a god that looks like a monkey. Celebrations are conducted in the first and eighth lunar months to mark the deity’s birth and rebirth, respectively.

Taoist temple

Address: 44 Eng Hoon St, Singapore 169786

Phone: +65 6220 2469

We Need A Hero

The time has come for a savior to emerge. Hair, eyebrow, undesired hair, shave, and laser hair removal services are all available at this men-only spa.

Salon/Barber shop

Address: 57 Eng Hoon St, Block 57, Singapore 160057

Phone: +65 6337 8747

Website: https://www.weneedahero.sg/

Books Actually Store (Permanently Closed)

Peruse the classics and modern works by Singaporean writers on the shelves, or get lost in the shop’s collection of Singaporean literature. Books Actually, it is a bookstore, gift shop, and publisher of books under the Math Paper Press imprint.

Address: 9 Yong Siak St, Singapore 168645

Shop Strangelets (Permanently Closed)

A veritable realm filled with unique curios, chic home furnishings, and fashionable accents. Discover your inner artist by perusing unique, handcrafted creations. You girls have to go there!

Address: 7 Yong Siak St, Singapore 168644

Tiong Bahru man in green shirt riding bicycle near white concrete building during daytime

Things you can do: Take pictures of murals and buildings

Exceptional Tiong Bahru Tiong Bahru was Singapore’s first residential district, and it’s filled with interesting buildings just begging to be photographed and shared on social media.

Tiong Bahru is unique in Singapore since it is the only neighborhood that was not developed by the Housing and Development Board.

A spiral staircase and rounded edges are hallmarks of the art deco architecture found here. Those of you who have an interest in architecture will find these structures very attractive.

Photograph the mural by Singapore’s most famous artist, Yip Yew Chong, then carry on with your trip. He spent much of his youth in Tiong Bahru, and many members of his extended family still live there, so he decided to paint three murals there to celebrate his early years.

The Bird Singing Corner, Pasar & Fortune Teller, and Home are the titles of the murals that Yip created in Tiong Bahru.

Bird Corner is a historical landmark in Tiong Bahru where “uncles” (middle-aged men) hang their bird cages and have conversations about the neighborhood’s past. Location: Block 71, Seng Poh Lane. It’s simple to find a Peranakan fortune teller in Singapore, and the movie Pasar and Fortune Teller captures the ambiance of the old Tiong Bahru traditional market. This mural can be found on Block 73 of Eng Watt Street, which houses this block.

Home, the third mural by Yip, was inspired by a fond childhood recollection of the traditional houses in Tiong Bahru. Tiong Poh Road/Eu Chin Street Block 74 is where you will find the mural.

Things you can do: Visiting historical sites

Tiong Bahru is home to the almost century-old Qi Tian Kong Temple. Taoists gather at this colorful temple. The legendary monkey deity, Sun Wo Kong, whose quest to the West in search of texts inspired the construction of this pagoda, is honored here.

The Air Raid Shelter, a wartime bunker constructed in 1939, is another important historical landmark in Tiong Bahru beside the Qi Tian Kong temple. This bunker is 1,500 square meters in size and hasn’t been updated in a very long time. The bunker is closed to the public at the present time, although there is information available.

Tiong Bahru is a great place to go on vacation in Singapore if you’re looking for a laid-back environment and some unique activities.

The MICE, tourism, and food service businesses are just a few that will benefit from Singapore’s current SG Clean program, which aims to raise the bar for cleanliness throughout the country.

Tiong Bahru History

The Tiong Bahru Housing Estate was the first of its kind in Singapore (Queenstown is considered the first satellite city). In the 1930s, this project was started by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT), which was set up by the British government in 1927.

The name (Tiong Baru) is a mash-up of two foreign words. The Chinese term “Tiong” means “burial” here, whereas the Malay word “Baru” means “new.” The same Chinese character also came to signify the word “central” in modern times. Before the local population was relocated, there was a cemetery here.

As a rule, buildings in Tiong Bahru don’t go higher than 5 stories, and the neighborhood’s architecture has the hallmarks of Nanyang architecture and Art Nouveau, two styles that were prominent in 1930s Singapore.

A hallmark of this design is the combination of long horizontal lines and rounded corners. In addition, the majority of the structures have been painted in bright tones, and they all include either spiral staircases or flat roofs, and some even have bomb shelters hidden beneath the earth. The SIT was replaced by the Housing and Development Board (HDB), which kept building similar apartment complexes until the 1960s.

Once upon a time, Tiong Bahru was known as a wealthy man’s neighborhood, with many financial tycoons purchasing mansions there for their mistresses to live in. After WWII ended, however, growth resumed quickly (around this time, the Lim Liak Street neighborhood was constructed, and a growing number of people settled in this area). Because of this, throughout time, middle-class citizens became the majority of the population.

In 1955, SIT constructed the massive Tiong Bahru Market to centralize the business and bring together all the food vendors for the convenience of clients. Even though it was renovated in 2006, locals still frequent the same market.

Both Tiong Bahru Hokkien Mee and Jian Bo Shui Kueh, two of the area’s most well-known restaurants, have been open for more than 60 years. A favorite of locals for 20 years, Bak Kut Teh can be found in the heart of traditional Tiong Bahru. The Kopitiam on Seng Poh Road houses it inside its establishment.

All the streets in Tiong Bahru are named after the early Chinese settlers, which is another unique aspect of this district. Many of them were pioneering businesspeople who not only accumulated vast fortunes but also significantly benefited society.

The streets of Yong Siak Road and Yong Siak Court, for example, are named after Tang Yong Siak (1831–1914), a businessman and philanthropist from Chaoshan Province and a prominent Chinese statesman who helped the revolutionary Sun Yatsen when he was in Singapore.

Shelters and warehouses constructed there during World War II are still visible in the 78th block of Guan Chuan Street today. The doors are closed and there doesn’t appear to be anyone living inside, but there are little gaps in the thick walls that provide ventilation.

None of Singapore’s other residential areas have a shelter like this one, making Quarter 78 the only place in the country with such a facility.

The National Heritage Board (NHB), a government agency in charge of preserving historical sites, held tours of the dungeons in January 2012 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Singapore’s capitulation at the conclusion of World War II.

It’s not hard to envision the fear and despair of those who hid in these dank, confined spaces during the Japanese invasion. Official estimates state that 1,500 people can be housed in the shelters at once, although they have never been that full.

Alexandra Brickworks was the primary source for the red brick used in the building, albeit it was not the only red brick utilized. Up until the 1970s, the area around Alexandra Road and Jalan Bukit Merah was home to a large number of brick companies.

Alexandra Brickworks was a supplier that competed with Hock San Brickworks, which was also an important supplier. Many residential neighborhoods and the historic old National Library were built with materials from Alexandra Brickworks.

When Thiong Bahru was at its peak, it was known for its songbird celebrations. For hours, hundreds of bird owners sat in the park near Tiong Bahru Road and Seng Poh Road, chatting and listening to the bird’s sing.

Because of the notoriety and popularity of this show, Western journalists started traveling to Singapore, particularly to write about it. In the same spot, close to the newly restored square, you’ll find the Link Hotel, where birdwatchers still congregate. Still, there don’t seem to be as many people at these events as there used to be.

Nearly eight decades after its founding, Tiong Bahru looks virtually the same as it did when it first opened. Many people left Tiong Bahru for the new HDB housing complexes in the 1970s and 1980s, and the older district gradually fell out of favor.

Twenty pre-war home blocks between Seng Po Road, Tiong Poh Road, and Moh Guan Terrace were chosen by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in 2003 and designated as a conservation area. Still, the Tiong Bahru district is once again full of signs for shops and businesses.

This is because young Singaporeans are drawn to the architecture and nostalgic beauty of the older housing estates.

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Daniel Wong
Daniel Wong
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