With an abundance of hip cafes, indie boutiques and iconic wall murals, it’s no wonder that Tiong Bahru is a favourite haunt of many local artists, creatives and culture lovers. One of Singapore’s oldest housing estates, this district has been transformed over the years into a neighbourhood where the contemporary and the traditional merge into a seamless blend.
Whether you’re looking to express your individuality with a keepsake curio, or looking for inspiration for your next work of art, we’ve got you covered in our handy guide to this neighbourhood.
All venues are near the Tiong Bahru MRT station
1. Tiong Bahru Bakery
You’re going to need energy to hunt for inspiration: Start the day with breakfast at 1 Tiong Bahru Bakery, an artisan bakery that’s famous for its fresh bread, perfectly flaky croissants and delectable pastries. We recommend that you try the original kouign amann (a crusty pastry made with bread dough, containing layers of butter and sugar) or the almond croissant.
2. Curated Records
If you need a playlist to score your creative endeavours, you’ll be able to get your dose of aural inspiration at 2 Curated Records. This hole-in-the-wall musical hideout stocks over 1,000 vinyl records across an eclectic range of genres, from mainstream pop and indie folk to French baroque pop and 90s rap-metal.
3. DEGIOSART Gallery
3 DEGIOSART Gallery is a perfect pit-stop for avid collectors looking to fully express their idiosyncrasies, with an eclectic mix of vintage furniture, paintings, antiques and artwork from both Europe and Asia. Gallery founder Giuseppe De Giosa credits his childhood in Italy with having subconsciously infused his aesthetic and passion for the creative arts, leading to the establishment of his art gallery in Singapore.
If fashion inspires you, you may want to check out DGA Threads. Tucked away behind DEGIOSART, the sister fashion boutique prides itself on its vintage-inspired pieces, jewellery and accessories.
Break for lunch at 4 Bincho, a seven-decade old kopitiam (local coffeeshop) that transforms into a yakitori-inspired bistro at night. The establishment serves up Singaporean staples like mee pok (flat yellow noodles) and kaya (a traditional jam made from coconut and eggs) toast in the day, and cocktails and omakase-style dishes in the evening. Fun fact: This was one of the principal shoot locations of the award-winning movie Mee Pok Man, by local film auteur Eric Khoo.
5. Seng Poh Tea Garden
Inspiration doesn’t have to be restricted to an art gallery. If you’re looking for a tranquil location to sketch, write or meditate on your latest idea, 5 Seng Poh Tea Garden is a cosy park in the heart of the neighbourhood.
Tiong Bahru is also home to iconic murals that offer charming insights into a Singapore of yesteryear; the murals dot the entire area, but 73 Eng Watt Street and 69 Seng Poh Road are the addresses of two mural locations in the immediate vicinity to begin your hunt.
6. ArtBlue Studio
If you’re looking to gain insights into how modern artistic styles have evolved in the Southeast Asian region, drop by 6 ArtBlue Studio. The exhibition gallery showcases the work of some of Vietnam’s most prominent contemporary artists, and owner Phuong Nguyen is more than happy to share her passion with visiting enthusiasts.
An indie bookshop that doubles up as one of the pillars of Singapore’s literary scene, 7 BooksActually is beloved by budding writers and established local literati alike. Immerse yourself in the store’s collection of classics and local literature, support Singapore’s finest writers, and be inspired to delve into your own exploration of the written word.
Note: BooksActually is now operating online
8. Grey Projects
A non-profit art space that houses two galleries, a library, a residence apartment and a studio, 8 Grey Projects is a space for culture lovers and creatives to engage in an exchange of ideas and aesthetic appreciation. Multi-hyphenate talents and those who are inspired by multi-disciplinary pursuits are likely to find both muse and musings at this location.