Things to do in Tiong Bahru Singapore

Things to Do in Tiong Bahru

Tiong Bahru, Singapore's Hippest 'Hood

The neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru is unlike anywhere else in Singapore. Tiong Bahru is an Art Deco oasis hidden amongst Singapore’s many high rise condos and tower blocks. Though fairly small in size there are plenty of things to do in Tiong Bahru to fill a few leisurely hours.

Tiong Bahru Area Guide - Table of Contents

What's So Special About Tiong Bahru?

Arguably the trendiest neighbourhood in Singapore, Tiong Bahru oozes character and charm. Tiong Bahru’s beautiful low-rise apartments were amongst the first public housing projects to be built in Singapore following the Second World War.

Things to do in Tiong Bahru
Tiong Bahru's unique Art Deco architecture

This thriving yet laid back neighbourhood hosts a harmonious mix of aunties and uncles, younger Singaporeans and international expats. 

Today Tiong Bahru is a perfect blend of one-of-a-kind architecture, ultra-chic cafes, independent shops and some of the best food in Singapore.

Where Is Tiong Bahru?

Tiong Bahru is just on the edge of the main sights of downtown Singapore. A stone’s throw from Chinatown and the Central Business District, Tiong Bahru is only three stops on the East West Line from Raffles Place in the centre of the city.

What to Do in Tiong Bahru - the Complete Guide

Shopping in Tiong Bahru

There are a number of excellent independent shops in Tiong Bahru that will make you a little lighter in the wallet, especially if you love arty souvenirs and books. Here are the best shops in Tiong Bahru.

Cat Socrates

Cat Socrates Tiong Bahru
Cat Socrates in Tiong Bahru

This much loved Singaporean craft and lifestyle store recently relocated from Bras Basah to Yong Siak Street. Directly opposite Books Actually and sandwiched between two of Tiong Bahru’s most popular cafes, they couldn’t have chosen a better new home. 

Cat Socrates‘ wide range of funky homewares, fashion accessories, stationery and books places a huge emphasis on great design and all with a strong local flavour.

Woods in the Books

The whimsical Woods in the Books has been in Tiong Bahru since 2009 and specialises in books for children

From early learning books for toddlers to young fiction and educational books on topics such as science, history and nature, Woods in the Books has something for children of all ages.

Things to do in Tiong Bahru

Curated Records

On Tiong Bahru Road is Curated Records, a paradise for vinyl collectors. This tiny shop is crammed with a huge range of records, with everything from jazz to metal and almost everything in between. 

All of the records are brand new (rather than secondhand), reflecting vinyl’s resurgence and growing popularity in Singapore

Visit Galicier Pastry in Tiong Bahru, one of the most essential things to do in Tiong Bahru
Curated Records in Tiong Bahru

Sweet tempting treats at Galicier Pastry and vinyl for sale at Curated Records

Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry

Anyone with a sweet tooth will love Galicier Pastry, also on Tiong Bahru Road. This much-loved old school bakery serves delicious homemade traditional Nonya kueh – sweet and savoury pastries, cakes and biscuits.

The most popular pastries tends to sell out quickly so arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Spiral staircases of Tiong Bahru's heritage housing
Wander amongst the palm trees, one of many things to do in Tiong Bahru, Singapore
Chinese lanterns hang at the entrance to a flat in Tiong Bahru

The post war architecture of Tiong Bahru

Where to Eat in Tiong Bahru

For many Singaporeans eating is at the very top of the list of things to do in Tiong Bahru. This little neighbourhood is synonymous with food and it’s best to arrive on an empty stomach.

Crammed into Tiong Bahru is a bewildering number of trendy cafes, bakeries, traditional Singaporean eateries and mid-range to pricier international restaurants. Here are the best places to eat in Tiong Bahru.

Cafes & Bakeries in Tiong Bahru

Tiong Bahru Bakery

Tiong Bahru’s hipster tag is partly down to the number of swish cafes that have popped up in the neighbourhood over recent years. Tiong Bahru Bakery on Eng Hoon Street is one of the most well established. 

A truly authentic French bakery, the baguettes, croissants and sweet pastries makes Tiong Bahru Bakery enormously popular. Expect to queue for a table on weekends.

Plain Vanilla Bakery Tiong Bahru
Eating is one of the best things to do in Tiong Bahru

Plain Vanilla Bakery and Tiong Bahru Bakery

Plain Vanilla Bakery

Tiny Yong Siak Street also offers up plenty of food choices. So laid back that it’s practically lying down, Plain Vanilla Bakery’s collection of cookies, cupcakes and coffees more than a match for anywhere else in the neighbourhood.

The old fashioned bikes and outdoor swing make it a hit with those for whom Instagram is everything.

40 Hands

40 Hands is now well established as a Tiong Bahru staple, having been a part of the neighbourhood since 2010. The name is inspired by the number of people it supposedly takes to create a single cup of coffee from bean to cup.

Featuring a small but varied Aussie-inspired menu of beautifully prepared meals and an industrial chic interior, 40 Hands is always popular. Again, expect to have to wait for a table on weekends.

Things to do in Tiong Bahru
Interior of Creamier in Tiong Bahru, Singapore

Waffles and ice cream and the stylish interior at Creamier, Tiong Bahru

Flock

Around the corner on Moh Guan Terrace is the excellent Flock. With an extensive menu and lovely laid back atmosphere Flock is well worth a visit on its own merits, but especially if you can’t get a seat at 40 Hands. Any of Flock’s generous breakfast’s will set you up for the day.

Creamier

If you have a craving for something sweet, pop into Creamier and take your pick from a mouthwatering selection of handmade ice cream. 

Enjoy a couple of scoops on homemade waffles along with a perfectly brewed coffee whilst relaxing amongst the typically Tiong Bahru shabby chic interior. 

Traditional Eats in Tiong Bahru

It’s not all avocado on sourdough in Tiong Bahru. There are plenty of places that offer up fantastic traditional Singaporean food in the neighbourhood. 

If you’re heading to Tiong Bahru for lunch or later in the evening here are the best places to tuck into some local (and more substantial) dishes.

Tiong Bahru Food Centre

For some of the best traditional food in Tiong Bahru the first port of call has to be the Tiong Bahru Food Centre.

Located one floor above Tiong Bahru wet market is a typical Singaporean hawker centre filled with delicious local classics for just a few dollars a dish. 

There’s every kind of Singaporean staple that you could wish for here, from lor mee to chicken rice, char kway teow to carrot cake and popiah.

Things to do in Tiong Bahru
A generous helping of steamed chicken rice for just $3 from Tiong Bahru Food Centre.

Chengs

A family run Hainanese restaurant, Chengs is a Tiong Bahru stalwart, having relocated here from Chinatown in 1989. Laid back and welcoming, Chengs is hugely popular with local residents. 

The food at Chengs is unpretentious home-style cooking and packed full of flavour; the ginger crispy chicken is a must, as is the pandan cake.

Old Tiong Bahru Bak Kut Teh & Loo's Hainanese Curry Rice

On Seng Poh Road are two of Tiong Bahru’s long running staples, Old Tiong Bahru Bak Kut Teh and Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice

These two very popular street corner restaurants often have a queue of customers snaking down the street. Tiong Bahru Bak Kut Teh specialises in a traditional peppery pork rib broth, whilst Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice are known for their deep and rich flavours.

Enjoy a traditional Singaporean meal at Old Tiong Bahru Bak Kut Teh, one of the many things to do in Tiong Bahru
Things to do in Tiong Bahru

Old Tiong Bahru Bak Kut Teh restaurant and a pasted goat on the side of Tiong Bahru market

Sin Hoi Sai

Sin Hoi Sai claims to be the oldest restaurant in Tiong Bahru. A traditional Singaporean seafood restaurant with an extensive menu set in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, Sin Hoi Sai is famous for its sumptuous fresh crab dishes. 

If you’re looking for delicious Singaporean chili crab at an affordable price then Sin Hoi San is the place to come.

The House of Peranakan Petit

For another authentic local feast, book a table at House of Peranakan Petit. Peranakan cuisine is a rich fusion of Chinese and Malay cooking, using a combination of strong, fresh flavours and spices. The House of Peranakan Petit dishes up much loved Nonya classics such as duck soup and black nut chicken.

International Restaurants in Tiong Bahru

A touch pricier than the traditional local restaurants, there’s a great range of Western and international restaurants in Tiong Bahru. Here are some of the best in the neighbourhood.

Little Elephant

A recent addition to Tiong Bahru is Little Elephant, a Thai bistro just next door to Tiong Bahru Bakery that serves big portions of authentic and flavourful Thai dishes. 

Friendly staff, an extensive menu, a large outdoor seating area and very reasonable prices have made Little Elephant an instant hit. 

Merci Marcel

A few doors away is another new addition to the street, Merci Marcel, which, as it’s name suggests, is a French cafe and restaurant. With an extensive menu of classic French dishes and a beautifully decorated interior Merci Marcel has quickly become a neighbourhood favourite.

Things to do in Tiong Bahru
Cat on Yong Siak Street in Tiong Bahru, Singapore

The streets of Tiong Bahru

Chapter 55

Just around the corner on Tiong Bahru Road is Chapter 55. Specialising in mostly Mediterranean dishes with an occasional south east Asian twist, Chapter 55 is much loved by local Singaporeans. 

The food is full of flavour and the portions are generous, though the huge tantalising tubs of gelato displayed at the front counter make skipping desert practically impossible. 

Bakalaki

Just on the edge of the Tiong Bahru estate at the bottom of Seng Poh Road is Bakalaki, a superb Greek restaurant where the level of service matches the incredible quality of the food. 

For a long time Bakalaki was rated as the best restaurant in Singapore on TripAdvisor, which is quite an achievement considering the quality and quantity of the competition. Booking a table in advance may be required.

Hua Bee / Bincho

Hua Bee Restaurant in Tiong Bahru Singapore
Entrance to Bincho restaurant in Tiong Bahru Singapore

Back on Moh Guan Terrace is Bincho, one of the neighbourhood’s most unique dining experiences. By day the restaurant is a traditional kopitam called Hua Bee serving typical Singaporean staples, such as kaya toast with soft boiled eggs and noodles with fish ball soup. 

At lunchtime the rear of Hua Bee is taken over by Bincho, a Japanese fine dining restaurant. At night the front doors close, and come evening Bincho reopens at the rear for dinner. 

Entrance for the dinner service is through the back door in the car park at the rear of the shop. The next morning Hua Bee reopens and normal service resumes.

Tiong Bahru's Local Landmarks

Besides shopping and eating there are a few local landmarks to add to the list of things to do in Tiong Bahru.

Qi Tian Gong Temple

On the corner of Tiong Poh Road and Eng Hoon Street is Qi Tian Gong Temple. This small temple is dedicated to Sun Wukong, known as the monkey god, who is the main character from the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West

The temple dates from the 1930s and claims to be the first to be dedicated to the monkey god in Singapore. 

The exterior of Qi Tian Gong monkey god temple in Tiong Bahru
The Qi Tian Gong monkey god temple in Tiong Bahru

Tiong Bahru's Street Art Murals

Around Tiong Bahru’s streets and alleyways are several murals by the renowned Singaporean artist Yip Yew Chong

Yip specialises in playful and sentimental depictions of Singaporean heritage scenes, and Tiong Bahru is a fitting location for his work. 

There are three of his murals in Tiong Bahru; a group of men listen to their singing birds on Seng Poh Lane, whilst a fortune teller predicts a customer’s future next to a street food stall in an alley off Eng Watt Street. An uncle relaxes with the paper and a cat in his living room on Eu Chin Street.

Admire the street art murals depicting heritage scenes, one of the best things to do in Tiong Bahru
Pasar street food mural in Tiong Bahru Singapore
Admiring the murals of old Singapore are some of the best things to do in Tiong Bahru

Yip Yew Chong’s street art murals in Tiong Bahru

How to Get to Tiong Bahru

Tiong Bahru is easily reached by MRT on the East West line. It’s only three stops from Raffles Place to Tiong Bahru, and it’s around a 5 minute walk to the heritage estate from Tiong Bahru MRT station.

Accommodation in Tiong Bahru

Just on the edge of Chinatown and with Orchard Road within easy reach, Tiong Bahru is a very good place to stay if you’re spending a few nights in Singapore.

There are a handful of very good hotels around Tiong Bahru Road, just a few minutes’ walk from Tiong Bahru and Outram Park MRT stations.

Hotel 81 OsakaTucked away on Eng Hoon Street opposite Qi Tian Gong temple, Hotel 81 Osaka is a Japanese inspired chain hotel. This is one of the more reasonably priced hotels in the area and a great place to stay for anyone on a budget.

Link HotelOccupying two buildings on either side of Tiong Bahru Road, the Link Hotel is a boutique hotel that occupies some of Tiong Bahru’s original Art Deco housing blocks. The hotel also has Korean and Japanese restaurants on site, as well as a rooftop bar.

Nostalgia Hotel: Another boutique hotel, Nostalgia Hotel is perfectly located right in the heart of Tiong Bahru, right next to Tiong Bahru market and the bars and restaurants along Eng Hoon Street.

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