Tiong Bahru is the oldest housing estate in Singapore, and when you visit this quaint community, you’ll immediately notice an intriguing mix of old and new. While many older residents have lived in the shophouses and flats here for decades, the younger generation flocks here for the food, shops, and culture. The name Tiong Bahru actually means ‘new cemetery’ – Tiong means ‘end’ in the Chinese Hokkien dialect, and Bahru means ‘new’ in Malay – because it used to be a burial ground. The neighbourhood is one of the hippest places in Singapore today, but it’s also a neighbourhood steeped in fascinating history.
With this comprehensive things-to-do itinerary in Tiong Bahru’s top attractions and hidden gems, you may explore the hidden alleyways and bustling streets on foot while taking in its heritage and cultural sights. Have fun exploring!
1. MURALS HUNT. These carefully crafted murals echo the familiar stories of life in HDB estates, sending a wave of nostalgia that is sure to strike a chord with many Singaporeans. The street art in Tiong Bahru is an artistic way to explore Singapore’s past across the last four decades. Local artist Yip Yew Chong designed several murals here to capture glimpses of the nation’s bygone days, some even making use of his personal family items. Some murals are the “Bird Corner” mural at Seng Poh Road, which tells the tale of bird singing competitions that were one held every week at Tiong Bahru. Other installations you can find are “Home”, where you can ‘check in’ on a local’s home and “Provision Shop”. To find out more about the backstory of these murals, click here: https://yipyc.com/blog/2016/11/11/the-story-of-ycs-tiong-bahru-murals/
2. EMBARK ON QUAINT LITTLE SHOPS @ TIONG BAHRU TOUR. Seek inspiration by exploring one of Singapore’s oldest housing district with an intriguing mix of old and new. From quaint little shops to hipster cafes and iconic murals, Tiong Bahru is a treasure trove of inspiration. In one of Singapore’s oldest housing district, the charming way where traditional merges with the new makes this an interesting place to spend your time. Let Tribe help you to discover Singapore the artsy way where we visit shops with absolute local flair.
Float into this art trail and understand the Singapore art scene. Appreciate the art deco architecture while learning about Singapore’s housing story. Go mural hunting and visit traditional businesses to discover what life was like in the 1970s. Immerse into dainty books and words of local writers, poets and artists who help uncover more of local lifestyles and mannerisms through the beauty of literature. Do a local food crawl to discover Singaporean’s favourite passion and local flavours. Let this 2.5 hours tour be filled with endless beautiful little things and memories! https://tribe-tours.com/product/quaint-little-shops-tiong-bahru/
3. MONKEY GOD TEMPLE. The Tiong Bahru Qi Tian Gong (齐天宫), more popularly known as the Tiong Bahru Monkey God Temple, was founded in 1920 in a small attap hut located within a taro garden just across Eng Hoon Street. At this temple, you can see more than ten statues of the Monkey God, the oldest of which is almost a century old. The trustees of this Temple claim that this was the very first temple in Singapore dedicated to the worship of the Monkey God. Look out for Uncle Lim, the chatty temple caretaker who’ll tell you all about the Monkey God and its many different incarnations. Visit this unique temple and learn more about its history!
4. PRE-WAR AIR RAID SHELTER. The air raid shelter at Blk 78 Guan Chuan Street occupies an area of 1,500 sqm and it could accommodate up to an estimated 1,600 persons. It is also believed to be the site for the Air Raid Precaution Wardens’ depot. It is is significant because it is the only public housing building by the Singapore Improvement Trust to have been built with an air raid shelter as part of its design and is the last remaining pre-war civilian air raid shelter still in existence today. Visit this iconic location and snap some pictures for memory!
Lastly, end off your exploration in this quaint neighbourhood with 3 must-eats!
1. TIONG BAHRU BAKERY. Couldn’t resist scrumptious viennoiseries and pastries? Be sure to check out Tiong Bahru Bakery – A Stylish French Bakery in Singapore. Local cafe aficionados will be familiar with this beloved bakery brand, which started as a single bustling cafe in the hip neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru in 2012, and now has several outlets. Its kouign amann pastries are legendary, and its coffee and artisanal breads are hand-crafted with French flour and butter, while boasting local flair and quirky flavours. Head down now to grab some of these French pastries or decent Australian-style brunch!
2. LOO’S HAINANESE CURRY RICE. Operating since 1946, Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice at Tiong Bahru has become an all-time favourite of families generations after generations. The key to Loo’s is their moreish curry which takes three days to prepare. The first day is spent preparing fresh herbs like blue ginger, tumeric, shallots and lemongrass which have to be peeled and ground into a paste. The next day, these are then slowly fried to make the rempah which is then used to make the curry sauce on day three. Head down early to choose from dishes such as Dark Soy Sauce Stewed Pork, Crispy Pork Chop, Sambal Sotong, Sambal Prawns, Curry Chicken, Chap Chye (cabbage) and more as many of the popular food items generally get sold out by 1pm or so.
3. JIAN BO SHUI KUEH. Talk about Tiong Bahru Food Centre, and one of the must-visit stalls would be Jian Bo Shui Kueh. For tourists, the “Shui Kueh” or more commonly known as “Chwee Kueh” is a hawker dish of steamed rice cakes topped with chye poh (preserved radish) and accompanying chilli sauce. You can also find Jian Bo as kiosks in malls such as Nex, Century Square, and Seletar Mall. But it hits different to savour this at its original stall, make your way down to try this now!