10 Places To Visit In Singapore’s Trendy Tiong Bahru Neighborhood
Built in the 1930s, the Tiong Bahru housing estate is one of the oldest in Singapore, and was known for its colonialist architecture and inhabitants (much like Singapore’s Chinatown area). However, it has undergone a ‘revival’ of sorts, catalyzed by the Spa Esprit Group, who has opened several cafés and eateries. Whether it’s a cocktail or coffee you’re after, check out our top ten watering holes in this trendy area.
Named after the belief that it takes approximately forty hands to “make” a coffee (from planting to consumption), 40 Hands Coffee specializes in sustainable coffee. The café also offers a range of pastries, nibbles, and sweets, including the unique ‘scookie’, which is a cross between a scone and a cookie. For those looking for something substantial, 40 Hands also offers brunch from Fridays to Sundays. Boasting a happy and vibrant atmosphere, 40 Hands is a wonderful place to enjoy good coffee and equally good conversation.
Though Bloesem originally started as a blog in 2006, founder Irene Hoofs channeled her following into an online store, and eventually, a physical shop. What makes Bloesem so unique is not just its fantastic range of beautiful lifestyle and design products, which include delicate house adornments, quirky stationery, and home-wares, but its dedication to one basic concept: a love of all things design. Bloesem is also a studio and showroom that offers classes ranging from beginner’s calligraphy to styling. A gem nestled within the Tiong Bahru area, the shop is the embodiment of the artsy and lively spirit that the neighborhood has come to represent.
An independent bookstore filled with obscure surprising finds, Books Actually is sure to delight the avid reader. The staff curates a wide selection of specialist books on diverse topics, such as contemporary politics, human anthropology, music review and travelogues. In addition to housing a collection of international literature, the shop also displays and promotes the works of local authors, such as Joshua Ip. The place is known for having a wonderful collection of specialist stationery, like hand-stitched notebooks and vintage pens.
Blessed with a wonderful vibe and equally good coffee, Drips Bakery Café specializes in offering gourmet coffee and freshly-baked pastries, including chocolate tarts, macadamia nut tarts, and fig and blueberry tarts. What makes this place particularly endearing is the aura of comfort that Drips Bakery Café exudes, as the café utilizes space and sunshine to create an area of great light and spaciousness, conjuring an atmosphere of easy banter.
Much like 40 Hands Coffee, Fleas & Trees has a strong focus on environmentalism and sustainability. Founded on the premise of LOHAS (Lifestyles Of Health and Sustainability), Fleas and Trees is a mind-boggling repertoire of of beauty and features home-wares, jewellery, clothes, accessories, and more. This place houses everything from Agatha Christie-esque 1920s necklaces to vintage Louboutins, all of which can be bought at reasonable prices.
Nana & Bird started as a pop-up concept, but evolved into a multi-label boutique that stocks fashion and lifestyle items, including jewelery, bags, art deco, and innumerable accessories. It is especially known for displaying items made with unusual and striking materials, like wooden rings and the collection of ‘tassel’ jewelery (by Jennifer Loiselle Margot), which is said to be inspired by ‘neon lights, tropical climates, and cowgirls’. With its wide-ranging paraphernalia of the wonderfully bizarre, Nana and Bird is the perfect place to find gifts for others, or yourself.
Famed for its openness and energetic ‘fizz’, Open Door Policy is known for its casual intimacy. Priding itself on its food, which is only taken from the best sources and uses the freshest ingredients, as well as its friendly and homely service, Open Door Policy also boasts of a well-stocked bar (with a decent range of cocktails), and a comprehensive wine list. This is a wonderful place for those wishing to enjoy top-quality food in a lively atmosphere, without the fuss or frills.
Known as ‘the place’ where art meets food, The Orange Thimble Café has become a favorite for art enthusiasts. A chilled-out space where one can sip coffee, eat, and view art pieces within the café itself, the ambiance is a great place for simply relaxing and enjoying the company of friends.
As the name suggests, Strangelets is the go-to place for all things eccentric and fun. Displaying a wealth of items that is astonishing in its diversity, from quirky cards (with truly wonderful truisms, such as ‘I am not sleeping, I am meditating’ and ‘I am not weird, I am unique’), to cutesy cushions, to stylish satchels, to even porcelain pottery, Strangelets is not only a shop, it is an experience that it both viscerally overwhelming and absolutely mandatory. Strangelets is the perfect outlet for those sick of mass-produced items who are looking for something unique.
An eatery with a name that is evocative of the Roman God Janus, Two Face Pizza and Taproom is indeed meant to be as ‘two-faced’ as the god himself. A ‘kopitiam’ (a local term for a coffee shop) by day, it metamorphoses into a jazzy pizza place and bar at night. Two Face is characterized by having that fuss-free and chic vibe that is now very much synonymous with the entire Tiong Bahru area.