Within any city, there is usually one area that you return to time and again. In London I always go to Marylebone for a wander through the shops and a coffee (it is also where my husband and I first met so it provides a kind of trip down memory lane as well), in Melbourne I love visiting Fitzroy and Albert Park, in Sydney it’s the Bondi to Bronte walk for that ‘ahh Sydney’ moment and Surry Hills for some shopping and cafe action. In Singapore, it’s Tiong Bahru. This is my favourite area in Singapore for wandering around, shopping and sipping coffee. For anyone that follows me on Instagram this will come as no great surprise as I am often posting photos on the weekend from our cake eating exploits with kids and dog in tow. So, in celebration of Singapore’s 50th birthday as a Nation, I am sharing my walk around Tiong Bahru.
Tiong Bahru’s beauty starts with it’s architecture. You will not find rows of pretty, dainty, colourful shophouses that Singapore is so well known for here – instead there is an altogether different type of historical beauty – solid low rise buildings built during the 1930’s with curves, rounded windows and column lined breezeways – minimalistic and simple with exposed bricks and rendered white walls. The embodiment of ‘streamline moderne’ architecture and a beautiful backdrop to your wanderings.
Yong Siak Street
I always start on Yong Siak Street at Plain Vanilla Bakery for coffee and a salted caramel cupcake, or if I am feeling particularly peckish, brunch across the road at 40 Hands. Once satiated, I drop in to Woods in the Books and buy the kids a new book before a little shopping for me. Just down from Plain Vanilla Bakery is a pop-up shop space, which is currently occupied by Super Farmers, the most adorable shop with hanging planters, seeds and gardening items as well as a workshop area to learn the art of watercolour. The shop is beautifully presented so it’s worth stopping by for a look or to pick up a few items to start your very own kitchen garden.
A couple more shops along is Strangelets – a great store with a range of homewares, stationery, jewellery and gift items from local and international designers. I never come out of here empty handed. I am completely obsessed by Rifle Paper & Co stationery so if nothing else, I buy a beautiful card for a friend. And then it is on to Books Actually. I could spend hours in here. It is a small store but it stocks the most wonderful array of books. I particularly love their selection of local authors. At the back of the shop is a treasure trove of vintage items. If you re looking for old milk bottles for vases this is a great place to buy them.
Moh Guan Terrace
From Yong Siak Street curve around to join Moh Guan Terrace (sometimes I pop in to Flock Cafe for a cold drink or lunch time snack). They have a few tables and chairs on the pavement which are great to sit at and people watch. Then it’s across the road to walk through the HDB to Seng Poh Road. As soon as you step off the street and onto the shaded walkways of the housing estate you are immediately aware of how quiet and peaceful it is.
Seng Poh Road
Walk along until you emerge on to Seng Poh Road at the back of the market where you are met with all the noise and smells that make Singapore fun to live in. Head into the wet market and watch the butchers and fishmongers at work or head down the corridor laden with fruit, eggs and stalls. Out of the market and across the road is a great local business selling all manner of practical household items. They have fantastic enamel ware which I love and on the corner across from the hawker cafe is Aphorism, an antiques store that has some very cool Art Deco pieces in it’s collection. I have my eye on a brass Art Deco lamp that I spied through the window.
Eng Hoon Street
Head down Seng Poh Street to Eng Hoon Street. On the corner is another great cafe, Whisk. Calm and cool inside with delicious coffee and cakes and Lee Broom style cut crystal lights all in a row. Across the road and down a little further is Tiong Bahru Bakery. Stop in here for some lunch or simply to get some bread or pastries take away. On a little further and over Tiong Poh Road past the Monkey God temple and you start the next shopping area.
Stop in at The Floral Atelier for the most beautiful flowers and homewares. I love their copper wire baskets perfect for holding magazines. Further along is Maissone, a homewares shop stocking brands such as Kate & Kate, L:A Bruket, Papaya and Zakkia. I love the concrete planters and they have a good range of bedlinen and cushions. This is also a good place to find a little gift for someone who likes homewares.
This is just a snippet of what is on offer in Tiong Bahru. I am usually with the family so this walk around is about their limit while I ‘just pop in’ to shops while they wait with our dog on the street. But there are many more streets to wander along so if you have the time and don’t have kids and a dog – make a day of it.
Majulah Singapura. Thanks for letting us call this amazing city home. Happy 50th birthday.