What to do in Singapore: 12 things to do in Tiong Bahru

This is one of Singapore’s oldest housing estates, and it’s a gem that’s very different from the rest of the city

Tiong Bahru is a neighbourhood that’s older than Singapore itself. Singapore is 54 years old in 2019, and Tiong Bahru is a good 20-30 years older than that.

And since it was built so early on, the architecture is really different from most parts of Singapore, and it’s one of the few areas that doesn’t have high-rise buildings.

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Why visit Tiong Bahru though?

This place has a lot of amazing local food, plenty of nice cafes to chill at, and if you enjoy people watching, I think you’d enjoy walking around here! It’s a nice place that’s off the beaten path for tourists.

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So what can you do in Tiong Bahru? Check out this map I made for a list of things to check out, or scroll down to read about them!

You could pop by for brunch or tea time

There are so many cafes around! Bring a friend and go have a nice afternoon chat at one of these places.

1) Tiong Bahru Bakery

For starters, try Tiong Bahru Bakery. It is one of the most popular bakeries in Singapore and is well known for its croissants.

I tried it and I think it’s a pretty good croissant overall. It’s flaky, has a very thin and lightly crisp outer layer, and the fluffy inside pulls apart really easily.

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It is definitely one of the prettiest croissants I’ve seen too. I love that they bake it every two hours, so it’s always fresh.

Price: $3 SGD ($2.20 USD) per plain croissant
Address: 56 Eng Hoon St, #01-70, S160056 

2) Galicier Bakery

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Galicier Bakery is a a hole in the wall bakery. You’ll find plenty of kueh (traditional Malay pastries) here for around $1 SGD ($0.75 USD) or less.

Tapioca kueh

This is crazy cheap for Singapore’s standards, and if you try to buy the same stuff elsewhere it’s easily 1.5-2x more expensive.

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My favourite is the putu ayu which is sort of like a muffin. The green part is incredibly soft and has a nice pandan aroma, and the bottom is made of shredded coconut that is half infused in gula melaka (a type of brown sugar from palm trees).

This is a must try if you want to have a taste of authentic local pastries.

Price: Around $1 SGD ($0.75 USD) per kueh
Address: 55 Tiong Bahru Rd, #01-39, S160055

3) The Maker’s Market

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This is a relatively new ice cream cafe that you’ll want to check out if you’re visiting on a hot, sunny afternoon. There are flavours like sea salt lavender or peach & roasted green tea, and my favourite was the chrysanthemum honey and wintermelon.

Chrysanthemum and wintermelon tea are common in Singapore and it’s really nice to try them in ice cream form.

Credit: @subarustibluedragon / Instagram

I guess the one thing that could make it even better is to have the ice cream in bread! That’s how we Singaporeans love our ice cream. 🙂

Price: $3 SGD ($2.20 USD) per scoop
Address: 56 Eng Hoon St, #01-70, S160056 

4) Plain Vanilla

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Plain Vanilla’s another popular cafe known simply for its great quality cupcakes. My personal fave is the red velvet.

There is also have a selection of cakes, tarts, cookies, and coffee.

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Bonus tip: See those bicycles at the front of the cafe? You can rent them to cycle around the neighbourhood, for $10/h.

Price: $3.90 SGD ($2.90 USD) per cupcake
Address: 1D Yong Siak St, S168641 

5) Forty Hands

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Forty Hands has been around in Tiong Bahru for many years now, it was one of the first few cafes to turn this quaint neighbourhood into a hip one.

Credit: @40handscoffee / Instagram

This place is a great choice for locally roasted coffee or classic brunches like smashed avocado toast, croque monsieur, or eggs benedict. Get a cup of the house coffee blend to go with it, which has notes of cherry, citrus, and dark cocoa. Yum.

Price: Around $25 SGD ($18.50 USD) for a full brunch with a drink
Address: 78 Yong Siak St, S163078 

Next, get some delicious local food for lunch

You haven’t really experienced Singapore fully if you haven’t tried the local food. And at Tiong Bahru, there’s some of the best hawker food to be found. 

6) Chicken Rice

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Mm, this was one of the best chicken rice dishes I’ve tried. Chicken rice is practically the national dish of Singapore, and it’s made by infusing rice with chicken stock, topping that with tender steamed or roasted chicken, and eating with fresh chilli sauce and a touch of garlic sauce.

Everything about this one was great for me, especially the fragrance of the rice and brightness of the chilli sauce. Ooh, and did I mention that this stall has a Michelin Bib Gourmand award? That means it was shortlisted for a Michelin star.

That award is well deserved!

Price: $3 SGD ($2.20 USD)
Address: Tiong Bahru Market, 30 Seng Poh Rd, #02-82, S168898 

7) Chwee Kueh

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This hot mess you see here is chwee kueh, a traditional Chinese side dish made of steamed rice cakes. They’re topped with a generous serving of pickled radish and sambal (a sweet-spicy chilli paste).

I didn’t think I’d like it, but it hit all the right notes for me. It was sinfully savoury and spicy, with the delicate flavour of the rice cakes balancing it out.

Go try it, you must!

Price: $2.50 SGD ($2.20 USD)
Address: Tiong Bahru Market, 30 Seng Poh Rd, #02-05, S168898 

8) Lor Mee

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Mmm. (Okay writing this post is giving me serious cravings.)

Lor mee is a mix of egg noodles and thick, delicious brown gravy that just about envelopes battered fish, wontons and Chinese sausages buried beneath.

It’s the ultimate comfort food, especially when it’s garnished with black vinegar that gives it a touch of acidity, and fresh coriander that balances the fried food in there.

Price: $2.50 SGD ($1.85 USD) for five pieces
Address: Tiong Bahru Market, 30 Seng Poh Rd, #02-82, S168898 


Bonus: Check out the Hokkien mee (prawn noodle) stall at #02-01. It’s got a Michelin Bib Gourmand award too!

I didn’t get to take a picture of it cause it was closed when I went, but I have tried it before and it’s pretty tasty.

Then check out books + yoga + art

Tiong Bahru is home to a bunch of lovely local business. Check them out! 

9) Have a look at the local boutiques

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Along Yong Siak St, you can find boutiques with beautiful furniture and trinkets for sale.

I also stumbled across some non-alcoholic distilled spirits! Interesting. 🤔

A little further down, there is ArtBlue studio, where I saw a Vietnamese artist working on painting a live subject.

It was quite cool, and you get to view the gallery in the studio as well.

10) Browse books at Books Actually

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If you’re a bookworm who wants to try new kinds of books, you need to come to Books Actually. There are a lot of local books that you can’t find easily in mainstream bookstores.

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I like how they have a vending machine of mystery books too! It’s something you could try if you have no clue what to get.

Address: 9 Yong Siak St, S168645

11) Try a yoga class

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There are two yoga studios that I could find in Tiong Bahru, if you’re into that, maybe pop by for a single class.

Yoga Inc.

Price: $30 SGD ($22.20 USD)
Address: 21 Yong Siak St, S168651

Yoga Movement

Price: $35 SGD ($25.90 USD)
Address: 11 Yong Siak St, S168646

12) Take a walk down the alleys and lanes

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I don’t know about you, but for me, there’s something about just walking down these streets and seeing people’s lives behind the scenes.

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Whether it’s seeing people go about their day-to-day work, stumbling across heritage murals on the walls, or seeing a cute alley cat, you’re bound to experience something that makes up the old neighbourhood charm of Tiong Bahru.

So if you’re visiting Singapore and you wanna explore what’s beyond the city, go check out Tiong Bahru.

And that’s just my take. 🙂