Find Your Dream Home
Tel: +65 6255 1027

Neighbourhood Guide

Street Talk: Your guide to living in hip Tiong Bahru in central Singapore

Name: Caitlin McNeal
From: San Francisco, US
Occupation: Professional expat

What street do you live on?
Chay Yan.

What does it mean?
It refers to rubber plantation merchant and philanthropist, Tan Chay Yan.

What’s the name of your neighbourhood?
Tiong Bahru.

Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home?
“Tiong Bahru – behind the wet market.”

Closest MRT station?
Tiong Bahru is the closest and Outram Park is a close runner-up.

How long have you lived here?
Two years. It’s our fourth place in Singapore.

Why here?
It’s amazing, from its close proximity to the CBD to all the quirky shops and great cafés.

When you walk outside, the first thing you see is:
Our smiling guards. They not only take their jobs seriously, but they add to the neighbourhood feel.

The closest store to your front door is:
Plain Vanilla, a fabulous bakery! Their brownies are to die for – or, if chocolate isn’t your thing, pick up the ginger lime tea cake.

Your street would make the perfect backdrop for a remake of:
Gossip Girl, where Dan Humphrey lived. Or, any movie or TV show that features Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City.

Your neighbours are great, but you wouldn’t mind a little less:
Nothing comes to mind. I actually love the diverse neighbourhood. Our building is mostly owner-occupied, which gives our condo a real “neighbourhoody” feel. We’ve received welcome baskets and notes from our neighbours, which never happened elsewhere.

The unofficial uniform of your street is:
Hipster attire – skinny jeans and thick-rimmed glasses.

If a celebrity moves in next door, it will most likely be:
Lena Dunham; she’s young and seems the epitome of hipster. Or Sean Penn, but I’m not sure if that ages us!

When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you:
Peruse the great little indie bookstore, Books Actually, or wait for coffee shop turned upscale bar Bincho to open.

If you’re missing home, you:
Head to Foodie Market to buy some US meat!

A mandatory stop for out-of-town guests is:
Stopping at the wet market and showing guests our favourite fishmonger. (Look for the guys in blue and yellow!)

You’d swap houses in a second with:
A renovated walk-up.

A common myth about your neighbourhood is:
That it has only bakeries and coffee shops. There is also some great, low-key nightlife: Bincho’s for drinks, PS Café Petite for wine (look for Joel, Eric and Dette!) and the newly opened Tiong Bahru Club.

If you’re ever woken up at night, it’s almost always due to:
A local funeral procession; other than that, the neighbourhood is very quiet.

A massive late-night rager on your street is likely to be:
A Chinese festival in the HDB apartment blocks. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does you can hear it from every room.

Your favourite neighbourhood joints are:
PS Café Petite, Tiong Bahru Bakery, Foodie Market, Open Door Policy and 40 Hands.

You won’t find better local food than at:
The wet market. There is a great wanton mee stall called Zhong Yu Yuan Wei Wanton Noodles (#02-30). Get there early before it’s sold out! And Loo’s Curry Rice is probably the most popular in the neighbourhood; I’ve never not seen a line there.

The strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street is:
TV crews – probably a dozen or more times so far.

We love a good bargain. The best deals in your neighbourhood are:
The cheese and frozen berries at Foodie Market. Try to get there on Friday at 11am when they receive their new stock.

The guiltiest pleasure in your area is:
Nimble and Knead massages. Make sure to check out the discounted “siesta” prices.

One thing you’d never change is:
The low-rise HDB apartments; they are the heart of Tiong Bahru.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is:
The influx of tall buildings, both HDBs and condos.

The city gives you $5 million to soup up your street. You use it to:
Build better footpaths and crossings! This was never a problem until I had a pram to push.

Why should your neighbourhood be featured in a guidebook?
It’s one of only a few neighbourhoods in Singapore that ooze culture. Even Vogue named Tiong Bahru one of the top 15 coolest neighbourhoods in the world in 2014.

Street Talk: Neighbourhood guide to Keppel Bay View, Singapore

Name: Jenilee Rawlins
From: Essex, England
Occupation: Professional singer, dancer, actress and teacher

What street do you live on?
Keppel Bay View, off Telok Blangah Road.

Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home?
I smile and try to get in before they ask where I want to go, as taxi drivers never seem to want to come out as far as here (even though it’s not that far). Then I say: “Keppel Bay, please – near HarbourFront.”

What’s the name of your neighbourhood?
HarbourFront.

Closest MRT station?
HarbourFront and Telok Blangah are both within walking distance.

How long have you lived here?
We moved here last July from River Valley; before that we lived in Novena.

Why here?
It’s really close to my boyfriend’s workplace. Plus we love being by the water and boats, as it reminds us of growing up by the seaside.

When you walk out of your place, the first thing you see is:
The amazing super-yachts on the water, and palm trees!

The closest store to your front door is:
The minimart downstairs, which is super-handy, especially for a Mini Magnum run before we watch a movie at home.

Your street would make the perfect backdrop for a remake of:
A sci-fi movie, or I could imagine the next Bond movie being filmed here. The tall geometric towers look pretty futuristic.

Your neighbours are great, but you wouldn’t mind a little less:
Dragging furniture on the floor upstairs each mealtime.

The unofficial uniform of your street is:
Beachwear mainly, on the people on their way to Sentosa… or the pool.

If a celebrity moves in next door, it will most likely be:
Leonardo DiCaprio (here’s hoping!). He’d love it, and the yachts remind me of his character, Jordan Belfort, in The Wolf of Wall Street.

When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you:
Head to an art gallery or one of the exhibitions at the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay, or go to the Esplanade Theatres to watch a show.

If you’re missing home, you:
Go to VivoCity, as it’s close by, and have a chai tea latte at Starbucks and a wander round the shops. When I’m working abroad I tend to find a Starbucks if I’m feeling homesick, as it reminds me of catching up with my best friends. If I feel down I try to remember the British weather, and the long commute to London in crowded trains.

A mandatory stop for out-of-town guests is:
Café Prive for dinner and drinks on Keppel Island, and taking the cable car from HarbourFront to Sentosa.

You’d swap houses in a second with:
The people living in the apartments on the top floor at the front of our condo; they have huge balconies overlooking the marina.

A common myth about your neighbourhood is:
That this area is really far from the city and that if you move here you never leave VivoCity. I’ll admit we go there fairly often, but we always make sure we venture somewhere else at the weekends, as it’s only a short MRT or cab ride away.

If you’re ever woken up at night, it’s almost always due to:
The air-conditioning making strange noises or a ship sounding its horn.

A massive late-night rager on your street is likely to be:
Me and my boyfriend! It’s really quiet in this area and you never hear any loud noise at night. (I’ve probably jinxed it now!)

Your hands-down favourite neighbourhood joints are:
Café Prive
, our favourite place for excellent food at brunch, lunch and dinner, plus Prive Bar next door for great cocktails and music to chill out and relax, day or night.

Moonstone Bar at Faber Peak, next to the cable car station, for great views – it’s romantic and peaceful. Paradise Dynasty for delicious Chinese food. Golden Village at Vivo to catch the latest movie. (And sometimes we go for the comfortable Gold Class option, with a foot rest, reclining chair and blanket!)

You won’t find better local food than at:
Food Republic: so much choice and extremely reasonable prices.

The strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street is:
People returning home in the rain after watching Robbie Williams at the F1 in September, all covered in mud and wearing wet ponchos – including us!

We love a good bargain. The best deals in your neighbourhood are:
Giant; it’s amazing for everything you need at very reasonable prices, plus they deliver. And Daiso, the $2 shop, for random finds.

The guiltiest pleasure in your area is:
A tasty French waffle from Bakerzin, served with cream-cheese ice cream, berries and raspberry sauce. Yum!

One thing you’d never change is:
Waking up and seeing the swimming pool, the beautiful gardens and glistening water. It feels like we’re on holiday, and I have to pinch myself sometimes.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is:
The construction work between our condo and HarbourFront MRT station.

The city gives you $5 million to soup up your street. You use it to:
Construct an undercover, air-conditioned walkway to VivoCity, HarbourFront MRT and Telok Blangah MRT for when it rains heavily or is just too humid, and all my makeup slides off en route to meet the girls for coffee.