Tiong Bahru, Singapore


Tiong Bahru – a housing estate in Bukit Merah, developed in the 1920s. Still standing here are a couple of blocks of Art Deco, Streamline Moderne-style complexes that remind me of retro airport buildings. There is also a long row of hip cafes and bakeries here where you can enjoy everything from Thai to Western to French. But if you like something more local, simply cross the street and have your pick from numerous stalls at the sprawling Tiong Bahru Market (which supposedly has a couple of Michelin Bib Gourmand stalls under its roof).

We spent a free half day here during our last family trip, and we didn’t really have a map or goal — we just got off at Tiong Bahru station and started walking around. Aside from the vintage HBDs and restaurants, we also spotted some cool street art on walls, some interesting shops and boutiques, and the Qi Tian Gong temple which dates back to the 1920s. It’s definitely a worthy stop if you’re on your 2nd, 3rd, or 256th time in Singapore and looking for something different to explore in the Lion City. Though it is a small nation, Singapore’s history is so rich and layered and there’s so much to discover and appreciate under all that order and modernity.

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