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Hippy and Instagram Worthy: Tiong Bahru

A lot has been said about the tourist attractions around Singapore, but if you are on this little red dot for a couple more days, you will gain a lot more. by wandering around our neighbourhoods. Tiong Bahru is the best candidate to explore a side of Singapore that is more authentic and local and yet provides aesthetically interesting buildings that visitors from all over the world would appreciate.

Tiong Bahru is a historic neighbourhood in Singapore known for its unique blend of old-world charm and modern sophistication. Located in the central region of Singapore, it is one of the city-state's oldest housing estates.

Tiong Bahru primarily comprises residential apartments and shophouses. The apartments range from small walk-up units to larger flats, making it a diverse and vibrant community with a mix of residents.

The Colonial Government developed Tiong Bahru in the 1930s as one of Singapore's first public housing estates. It was part of the government's effort to provide affordable housing to the growing population. Many of its Art Deco-style buildings were constructed during this period and have been well-preserved, contributing to its heritage appeal.

We can readily see the eclectic influence on the buildings. The 5-foot way of nearby Chinatown influences the estate with covered pedestrian walks, but its facade is definitely 30s Art déco with streamlined and geometric designs of the buildings are a testament to this influence.

The neighbourhood is renowned for its distinct architectural style, characterized by low-rise, white-washed buildings with rounded balconies and curved staircases. These features give the estate a unique and nostalgic atmosphere and is one of the Instagram worthy places of Singapore.

There are two very interesting things to look for - The U-shaped block (when you look down from the sky) and a World War II-era Air Raid Shelter at 78 Moh Guan Terrace. The air raid shelter can hold up to 1600 people in its 1500 square meters of space. Too bad the air raid shelter is closed to the public but you can have a virtual tour below.

Another good reason to go to this U-shaped block of apartments is the location of one of the oldest-looking coffee shops in Singapore - Hua Bee restaurant. The 'restaurant' still has those marble table tops, sky blue tiles and a prep table for our local strong Kopi (that's how we spell coffee).

Because of the unique environment, it attracts businesses such as independent bookstores, boutiques and trendy cafes with a very odd mix of traditional and modern.

Within the district is the iconic Tiong Bahru Market and Food Center, the go-to place for breakfast and dinner for local foodies. Some foods are not well known to tourists such as Lor Mee (yellow noodles in braise sauce) and Chwee (easier to pronounce it as 'G') Kway (Teochew Steamed Rice Cake).

There is a local institution in the form of Tiong Bahru Pau (Cantonese style Steamed Buns) and you should try especially the Char Siew Pau (BBQ Bun) or the Red Bean Bun while you are here at the Tiong Bahru Food Center.

You can do a bit of shopping too with fairly cheap wet market food ingredients and sundry goods for you to purchase.

How to Get Here?

Nearest MRT Stations are Tiong Bahru and Havelock. Both stations will need at least 10-15 minutes walk to Tiong Bahru Market.

Nearest Hotels?

Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium

Furama RiverFront

Four Points by Sheraton

Grand Copthorne Waterfront

Hotel Mirama

M Social Singapore

New Cape Inn

D'Hotel Singapore


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