Time Out Melbourne

The place to be for art deco charm, specialty shops, café culture, hawker food and boutique hotels

Just over the Central Expressway (CTE) from Chinatown is Tiong Bahru, Singapore’s first public housing estate. Begun in the 1930s, it’s an attractive array of low-rise flats painted orange and white. The architecture is a mix of art deco and Straits Settlement styles, with flat rooftops, rounded balconies and spiral staircases. An upper-class housing estate before World War II, it fell out of favour in the following decades, but the refurbished flats are now popular with hip, young homeowners.

Tiong Bahru Market (30 Seng Poh Rd) has a wet market and some of Singapore’s best hawkers under its roof; it’s a great place to try out local delicacies. Gentrification has seen the opening of places like 40 Hands (#01-12, 78 Yong Siak St, +65 6225 8545) – a graffiti-walled café producing speciality coffee. Alternatively, drop by Eng Hoon Mansions’ Caffe Pralet (#01-03, 17 Eng Hoon St, +65 6223 5595) if you fancy quick meals and dainty desserts.

Independent bookstore BooksActually (9 Yong Siak St, +65 6222 9195), has a wide spread of titles, whimsical stationery and tchotchkes. Nearby at Flea and Trees (68 Seng Poh Ln, +65 8139 1133), vintage lovers can peruse pre-loved clothing from around the world, top-brand shoes and furniture. Additional old-school treasures can also be uncovered at nana & bird (#01-02 Tiong Bahru Commons, 79 Chay Yan St, +65 9117 0430), a hole-in-the-wall offering totes, accessories and frocks.

In Tiong Bahru’s art-deco styled district lies White Canvas Gallery (#01-41, 78 Guan Chuan St, +65 6220 8723). Get comfy on the gallery’s couches and gaze at the South-East Asian artwork on its concrete walls.

Wangz Hotel (231 Outram Rd, +65 6595 1388) outclasses the surrounding hawker stalls in both style and stature. Diners at its downstairs eatery Nectar can delight in the chic East-meets-West interior while enjoying an all-day alfresco dining menu. Bring the party upstairs to Halo – a luxurious rooftop bar offering an exhaustive list of cocktails, including their signature drinks ($18) that are categorised by colour.

Drinks can also be thrown back at SocialHaus (11 Yong Siak St, +65 6557 0286), an elevated watering hole mixing up New American bites with happy-hour deals, or a few doors down at Open Door Policy (19 Yong Siak St, +65 6221 9307) where they offer a Modern European menu along with an extended wine list. Prefer to stick with Eastern fare? Visit Por Kee Eating House (#01-02, 69 Seng Poh Ln, +65 6221 0582) and try the home-made tofu with mushrooms and baby kailan with garlic.

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