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Singapore’s hipster district

Tiong Bahru, Everton Park and Duxton Hill, three historic housing estates, form Singapore’s hipster district. Explore the area’s brilliant blend of modern trends and charming tradition.

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    The three locations form a crescent around the Singapore General Hospital. These modernist social housing complexes and pre-colonial ‘shophouses’ are a treat for architecture fans, while other visitors will delight in the trendy eateries, cafés and design hotels. We have made a selection of the best destinations in this trendy district. 

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    Tiong Bahru

    Day spa in shipping containers

    Don’t be alarmed: “Welcome aboard, beautiful cargo” is a common greeting at Nimble/Knead, a day spa housed in shipping containers. Here you will be skilfully kneaded with a Thai, Balinese, Chinese or Japanese massage. Two hundred metres down the road, men can treat themselves to a grooming session with the barbers of We Need A Hero. They cut and shave, but also offer scrubs, moisturising and massages.

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    Tiong Bahru

    Breakfast at the market

    Tiong Bahru offers plenty of choices of Singaporean and English cuisine. For a traditional breakfast, head to the top floor of the Tiong Bahru Market where you will find 83 food stands selling roti, noodles, nasi, eggs and banana pancakes. Be sure to wash down your meal with a sweet cup of kopi (coffee). Or indulge in a leisurely brunch at 40 Hands, with a full English breakfast of fried eggs, sausages and bacon, and the best cappuccino in town

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    Tiong Bahru

    Picnic in the park

    Cobble together a picnic at the Foodie Market Place, a deli packed with cheeses, cold cuts, juices and the best treats from Singapore, Asia and around the world. Then stroll towards the striking semi-circular residential tower of Pearl Bank and climb the stairs to Pearl’s Hill. This city park has been built around a reservoir that has been supplying drinking water to Chinatown for over a century. A peaceful oasis with a great view of the hectic city.

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    Check-in: heritage or design

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    Link is a 4-star hotel with 274 rooms, housed in the renovated apartment buildings Lotus and Orchid. Rest your head in one of these modernist colonial heritage buildings from the 1950s that have made this district famous. Design fans may prefer the Wangz Hotel, a round aluminium tower with 41 spacious rooms. Both accommodations boast a rooftop terrace overlooking the twinkling lights of Tiong Bahru and the Singapore skyline.

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    Everton Park

    Back to the 19th century

    The neighbourhood of Everton Park is also known as ‘the new Tiong Bahru’. This housing estate, built in the 1960s and reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s modernist housing complex La Cité Radieuse in Marseille, is a popular location for new cafés, restaurants, boutiques and barber shops. But the area also boasts some traditional architecture: Baba House is a 19th -century shophouse that offers a fascinating peek into Singapore’s eclectic history.

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    Everton Park

    Turtle-shaped sticky rice cakes

    Everton Park also offers plenty of choices between the traditional and the trendy. Ji Xiang Confectionery sells thousands of ‘Ang Ku Kueh’ every day: steamed turtle-shaped sticky rice cakes with a sweet filling. This ancient recipe contrasts greatly with the hip mousse cakes at Grin Affair. Sold in glass jars with a spoon, these treats come in unusual flavours such as green tea, honey-lavender or durian: the fruit that is said to smell like hell, but taste like heaven.

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    Duxton Hill

    Monumental houses and trendy restaurants

    If Everton Park is the new Tiong Bahru, then Tiong Bahru is the new Duxton Hill. Duxton Hill is the most established neighbourhood of the three. Once occupied by brothels, gambling dens and opium kits, the restored elegant row houses now boast pastry shops, (cocktail) bars and restaurants. Start with a visit to the Red Dot Design Museum, then grab a spot at the Tippling Club for a masterfully mixed Daruma Mazuma with wasabi or a Negroni with pink pepper.

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    Open Door Policy

    Tiong Bahru

    Don’t be fooled by the name Open Door Policy: without a reservation you don’t stand a chance of getting in. However, planning ahead pays off as the menu is created by Tippling Club chef Ryan Clift. Even better, the Tiong Bahru location is easy on the travel budget: here you can enjoy a five-course meal for S$68 (€45). Watch the staff in the open kitchen prepare your meal while you wait.


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