This post was supposed to be for yesterday, but since it took me forever to upload photos, I’ll just settle for a belated Happy Easter. And since I skipped a couple of days–whoops–I’ll make this an extra-special post…and that means PHOTOS.
People are always surprised when I tell them that Singapore’s among one of my favorite places to visit. It might be small and–let’s face it–pretty hard on the wallet–but I find it far from boring. Aside from the super efficient public transportation system and the good security, one of the things I love about the Lion City is its interesting neighborhoods, among which is the über-hip Tiong Bahru. It’s a bit far from Singapore’s central area, but like every other place in the country, it’s accessible by bus or train. I took the bus, since I had time to kill, and I always like seeing the scenery pass me by.
Just a quick primer about Tiong Bahru: it’s actually one of the oldest neighborhoods in Singapore. It was once called Mei Ren Wu (den of beauties), because this was where kept ladies–if you know what I mean–were…well, kept. Don’t expect to see rundown buildings, though. This area’s full of flair and flavor, with its curvilinear buildings, unique specialty shops, and laid-back designer cafes. When my friend told me that it’s home to cool bookstores and good coffee shops, I knew I had to make the trip down.
Here are some places you shouldn’t miss when you’re in Tiong Bahru:
Tiong Bahru Market
If you’re looking for a cheap but satisfying place to eat, the hawker center is the place to go. Unlike those in the central area, you’ll see few tourists here, so it’s the perfect place to rub shoulders with the locals. Try the chicken rice from the Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice stall and the local favorite chwee kueh from Jian Bo Tiong Bahru Chwee Kueh.
Woods in the Books
This bookstore is exactly as whimsical as the name suggests. I was shy to take photos inside (I know, I know, there’s no place for shyness when traveling! My bad), but I did manage to snap a shot of the owner’s adorable pet dog. I loved their illustrated city maps and their artsy children’s books.
This is heaven for serious book lovers out there. Here, you’ll find books you won’t see on Kinokuniya’s shelves–and there’s a nice supply of creative stationary too. Go round the back to check out their many vintage trinkets. You might just find a special souvenir!
Relaxing interiors? Check. Delicious coffee? Check. Awesome latte art? Definite check. This coffee shop’s long gained a following of its own, so don’t be surprised to find it filled with locals and foreigners alike. I totally dug their cappuccino (smooth with a hint of chocolate and topped with a gorgeous swan to boot!), and I recommended it to my family, who loved it as well. Ultimate must-try!
Tiong Bahru Bakery
If you strike out on a table at Forty Hands, you can get the same coffee fix at Tiong Bahru Bakery. They’re both under the Spa Esprit Group, and so is the nearby Open Door Policy, a New York-style bistro. This bakery has a wide selection of delectable pastries care of popular baker Gontran Cherrier. Get a load of their heavenly croissants!
Now, enough with the talking. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. If you’re interested in finding out more about Tiong Bahru’s offerings, check out Lady Iron Chef and City Nomads, and follow the self-guided heritage trail. You’ll see the signs as you go along. I know I, for one, will be back to explore its many other shops and restos!