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Art Deco architecture packed with quirky bookstores and European-style cafes makes Tiong Bahru a great Saturday morning destination. Jacqui Gibson is your guide to one of Singapore’s hippest neighbourhoods.
Kick start your visit by heading to the Tiong Bahru Market to fuel up on thick, sweet and super cheap kopi (Malay Chinese coffee) and onde-onde, a sweet Malaysian dumpling made from rice, liquid sugar and coconut. The much-loved hawker centre is one of the country’s oldest and the perfect place to sample iconic Singaporean dishes like pig organ soup, chicken porridge and fishball noodles.
Ready to shop? Step into any one of Tiong Bahru’s curvaceous low-rise art deco buildings and you’ll find a wide range of specialty stores. For local poetry, fiction and non-fiction, check out Books Actually. For boutique gifts and homewares, try Strangelets. (Both stores are on Yong Siak Street). Buy vinyl from Curated Records on Tiong Bahru Street. Enjoy a soothing massage at Nimble Kneed. A Thousand Smiles in the Rising Sun combines ancient Thai massage with modern Japanese Shiatsu and sets you back $76.00.
Delve into the history of Tiong Bahru – one of Singapore’s oldest, residential estates – by taking a free, weekend walking tour with the National Heritage Board. See the monkey god temple built in the 1920s and Tiong Bahru’s oldest coffee shop, Hua Bee, located on Moh Guan Terrace. Learn how this charming, walkable neighbourhood started as a government housing project in the 1930s and became the hipster enclave you see today.