I travel to Asia every year not only for work but also to visit family and friends. I often have to transit in Singapore and usually just breeze through unimpressed by the mega-malls and glitzy casinos. This trip however was different and I was surprised to find myself charmed by the island.
My newest discovery is a neighborhood called Tiong Bahru. Far away from the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road Tiong Bahru is Singapore’s first housing estate that was built in the 1930s. It’s a neighborhood in transition and one where traditional “hawker” stalls stand side-by-side chic cafes.
These spiral staircases are characteristic of Singapore’s first housing estate.
231 Outram Rd
The Wangz is a 41-room boutique hotel located opposite the famous Tiong Bahru bao place (see EAT section below). The rooms are spacious and feature flat-screen TVs, an i-Pod dock and Molton Brown amenities. Daily shuttles are provided to Orchard Road (if you must) and the financial district. The best part about the Wangz? The attentive staff.
78 Yong Siak Street
For the best cup of coffee look no further than Forty Hands. This unassuming cafe serves only sustainably-sourced coffee that is brewed at a precise 94 degrees celsius. A selection of sandwiches and desserts are also available but the coffee is the star here.
The Orange Thimble
56 Eng Hoon St
Adorable cafe with a leafy rear courtyard. Don’t forget to try their hazelnut dacquoise and earl grey ice-cream served in vintage porcelain. In case you’re wondering the name is a tribute to the sewing shop which previously occupied the shop space.
Tiong Bahru Bao
Opposite the Wangz Hotel
This place is famous for their baos and siew mai. It’s been around for forever and is well known among locals and tourists. There might be a line but it’s worth it!
9 Yong Siak St
I could spend hours in this bookstore cum vintage shop. The front of the store is filled with new books as well as some rare editions. The rear of the store is chock-full of vintage memorabilia like hard-to-find Pez, 70s soda bottles and dead stock stationary. Don’t forget to look out for the vast collection of Singaporean authors published by their in-house press.
Flea & Trees
68 Seng Poh Lane
I had not planned to visit Flea & Trees but stumbled in there to get out of a sudden downpour. I was happily surprised to step into a place filled with unexpected treasures like decades old Vogue magazines, unique ceramics and hanger after hanger of flirty dresses. The shop girl there is adorable and helped me pick out a vintage orange necklace and peekaboo back top.
7 Yong Siak St
Photo from TimeOut Singapore
Strangelets is located next to Books Actually and per it’s name stocks a variety of strange and whimsical products. I fell in love with a wooden pig there but unfortunately it was too heavy for me to carry all the way back to San Francisco. They have a vast array of delicate pottery, heavenly smelling soaps and intricate jewelry.
Spotted in Tiong Bahru!