The Definitive Singapore Neighbourhood Guide: Is Tiong Bahru Best for You?
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The Definitive Singapore Neighbourhood Guide: Is Tiong Bahru Best for You?

Joel Koh
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Living in Singapore, we all have our opinion as to where the best neighbourhood in Singapore is.

This age-old debate will go on, but it is not helpful in helping you to find a new place to live.

Enter our Definitive Singapore Neighbourhood Guide series.

This is where we will lay out the facts of the neighbourhood to you, and evaluate it in an objective manner as much as possible so you can make the best choice of where to live.

This guide will be good for prospective homeowners, expats looking to settle down in Singapore, people looking for a change of environments and more.

The first two instalments took us to Punggol and Tanjong Pagar.

This week we will be visiting Tiong Bahru or ‘new cemetery’.

Banner photo in artwork: Yusoff Abdul Latiff | Flickr


TL;DR: The Definitive Guide to the Tiong Bahru Neighbourhood

  • Comparison methodology
  • Is the Tiong Bahru Neighbourhood the Best Neighbourhood to Live in Singapore?
    • Personality: 4/5
    • Affordability: 1/5
    • Accessibility: 4/5
    • Schools in the area: 1/5
    • Shopping: 3/5
    • Recreational: 3/5
    • Food: 5/5
  • Final Score for the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood: 21 | B-rank 

Our Comparision Methodology to Find the Best Neighbourhood in Singapore

Each area will be evaluated based on a list of 7 criteria where no one criteria will have a higher weightage over another.

Test
Source: Giphy

Each criterion will be given a score from 1 – 5.

Personality and CharmWe will look at the distinct charm and character of the neighbourhood.

A score of 5 means that the neighbourhood is charming and full of character, while a score of 1 indicates the reverse.
Affordability
(Median Resale Flats Price)
We will look at the median price of HDB flats in the neighbourhood.

A score of 5 means that the flats are the most affordable, while a score of 1 indicates that prices are the most expensive.
AccessibilityWe will evaluate transport links such as MRT stations, bus interchanges and accessibility by private transport.

A score of 5 means that the neighbourhood is very accessible, while a score of 1 indicates the reverse.
SchoolsWe will look at all the Primary Schools, Secondary Schools and Tertiary Institutions in the neighbourhood.

A score of 1 indicates that the school landscape is rather lacking, while a score of 5 indicates that this is where you will see all the parents queueing up to volunteer at schools.
Shopping and Lifestyle AmenitiesWe will evaluate the malls and shopping available in the area.

A score of 1 means that the neighbourhood is lacking in amenities and would be rather inconvenient, while a score of 5 indicates otherwise
Recreational AmenitiesWe will evaluate the access to recreational facilities like nature parks or reserves.

A score of 1 indicates that you will probably have to go outside the neighbourhood to have fun, while a score of 5 indicates you won’t have to leave.
FoodWe will look at the hawker centres, fast food joints and restaurants available in this neighbourhood.

A score of 1 indicates much improvement needed with food options, while a score of 5 indicates a foodie paradise.

The scores will then be collated. The total score given will determine the neighbourhood’s rank.

The neighbourhoods will range from S Rank to D Rank:

  • S-Rank: 28 – 35 Points
  • A-Rank: 22 – 27 Points
  • B-Rank: 15 – 21 Points
  • C-Rank: 8 – 14 Points
  • D-Rank: 1 – 7 Points

Note: as much as I try to be objective in analysing these neighbourhoods and presenting the rationale for them, there will still be some amount of bias. Opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Is the Tiong Bahru Neighbourhood the Best Neighbourhood to Live in Singapore?

Tiong Bahru Map
Source: Google

For this guide, the focus will be on the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood as demarcated by the boundaries in red.

The neighbourhood’s name is rather dark as “tiong” means to “in the end” or “die” in Hokkien, while “bahru” means “new” in Malay.

As a result, the locals referred to it as “new cemetery” as Tiong Bahru is beside the Heng San Teng Burial Ground and the Old Chinese Burial Ground, the latter of which is where the current Singapore General Hospital is located.

Fun fact, the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood is the oldest neighbourhoods in Singapore

The housing estates there were built in the 1920s by the Singapore Improvement Trust (Housing Development Board predecessor), a body set up by the British colonial authority to provide mass housing in Singapore.

Personality and Charm of Tiong Bahru (4/5)

As the oldest neighbourhoods in Singapore, Tiong Bahru has plenty of beautiful pre-war architecture flats that have been preserved for conservation in the neighbourhood.

On top of the conservation, this neighbourhood has been transformed into a charming neighbourhood where old meets new.

This neighbourhood is also popular with artists, creatives and culture lovers, with its trendy cafes, cool boutiques and an indie bookstore.

Tiong Bahru is also home to gorgeous murals painted by local artist Yip Yew Chong.

His work which harkens back to how life was like in the neighbourhood back in the day add a dash of character to the place.

Tiong Bahru Murals
Source: Yip Yew Chong

Undoubtedly, Tiong Bahru is a neighbourhood to be living in for its old school charm, historical and cultural significance and the many cool establishments and pretty street art. 4/5 for the new cemetery!

Affordability – Tiong Bahru Median Resale Flats Price (1/5)

For this guide, we will be using the median price of HDB resale flats during the fourth quarter of 2019.hdb logo

We have chosen this statistic as a measure of affordability as the median resale flat price provides a good indicator of the average price of housing in the area.

As a mature housing estate with excellent amenities and good connectivity, houses in Tiong Bahru are not too affordable.

The main estate consists of 30 apartment blocks with over 900 units of two to five rooms located within the Bukit Merah planning area.

Bukit Merah (Tiong Bahru) Resale Flats Median Price Q4 2019

We have included data from the most expensive areas and most affordable neighbourhoods.

Town3-Room4-Room 5-Room
Woodlands $240,000$328,000$400,000
Queenstown$301,500$739,000$832,500
Bukit Merah$320,000$710,000 $810,000

The median resale flat prices for Tiong Bahru are considered amongst the highest in Singapore and are in the same tier as neighbourhoods like Queenstown and
Tanjong Pagar.

This downgrades their affordability rating to a 1/5.

Accessibility – How Accessible is Tiong Bahru by Public Transport and Cars (4/5)

In terms of transportation, Tiong Bahru’s central location makes it one of the more convenient places in Singapore.

The neighbourhood is well connected to the majority of Singapore’s transport networks by MRT, bus or by car.

SBSTransit Bus and SMRT Train
Source: TIB1218R | Flickriver

MRT Stations Near Tiong Bahru

Currently, there is Tiong Bahru (EW17) MRT station on the East-West line.

Tiong Bahru MRT station is about 10 minutes away from Raffles Place MRT station (EW14/NS26) which grants easy access to the North-South Line.

Outram Park MRT station( EW16/NE3/TE17) is also one stop away in the other direction and grants access to the North-East Line.

Bus Services Tiong Bahru

There are many bus services in the area which connect it to the heart of the Central Business District and all around Singapore.

Bus ServicesStart Point / End Point
5Pasir Ris / Bukit Merah
16Bedok / Bukit Merah
32Bedok / Buona Vista
33Eunos
64Aljunied
75Bukit Panjang / Marina Centre
120Kampong Bahru
121Kampong Bahru
122Kampong Bahru
123Bukit Merah / Sentosa
132Hougang / Bukit Merah
145Toa Payoh / Buona Vista
175Clementi / Geylang
195Marina Centre
851Yishun / Bukit Merah
970Bukit Panjang / Shenton Way

Tiong Bahru Public Transport Commute to Work Areas

Here is an estimation of how long it will take to get to the main work areas in Singapore from Tiong Bahru by public transport:

CBD:
15 – 30 minutes

Changi Business Park:
60 – 65 minutes

One North Buona Vista:
20-25 minutes

Jurong International Business Park:
40 – 45 minutes

Tuas:
80 – 90 minutes

Tiong Bahru Accessibility by Car

Motorists can get around Singapore easily from Tiong Bahru.

Dog Driving
Source: Giphy

They can head onto the Central Expressway (CTE) to access the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) to get to the westernmost side of Singapore.

The CTE also connects motorists to the North.

Here is an estimation of how long it will take to get to the main work areas in Singapore from Tiong Bahru by car accounting for traffic:

CBD:
5 – 15 minutes

Changi Business Park:
20 – 40 minutes

One North Buona Vista:
10 – 30 minutes

Jurong International Business Park:
15 – 30 minutes

Tuas:
35 – 70 minutes

Overall Accessibility in Tiong Bahru

In terms of convenience by public transport or car, Tiong Bahru is rather well-connected but not the best in Singapore.

This is also one of the main reasons for its price premium.

I would give Tiong Bahru’s accessibility a 4/5 score because of this.

Schools in the Tiong Bahru Area (1/5) 

Unfortunately, there is a lack of Primary schools, Secondary schools and Tertiary Institutions in the Tiong Bahru area

Strictly speaking, only Zhangde Primary School is the only school in the estate.

SCHOOLS IN TIONG BAHRU
Source: Tiong Bahru

I had to widen my search to include schools around the neighbourhood via MOE’s SchoolFinder.

Primary Schools in Tiong Bahru

  • Alexandra Primary School
  • Zhangde Primary School

Secondary Schools Tiong Bahru

  • Gan Eng Seng School

However, there are quite a few pre-schools and kindergartens in the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood:

Preschools in Tiong Bahru

  • Hampton Preschool Tiong Bahru
  • MY World @ Tiong Bahru View Preschool
  • PCF Sparkletots Preschool
  • Superland Tiong Bahru Preschool

Kindergartens in Tiong Bahru

  • CS Montessori Kindergarten
  • PAP Community Foundation Tiong Bahru Kindergarten

Thus, this area is more ideal for parents with young children.

I am rating the school situation in Tiong Bahru 1/5 due to a shortage of Primary schools, Secondary schools and a lack of tertiary institutions

Shopping and Lifestyle Amenities in Tiong Bahru (3/5)

The biggest mall in Tiong Bahru is Tiong Bahru Plaza which is conveniently integrated with Tiong Bahru MRT station.

Tiong Bahru Plaza
Source: Tiong Bahru Plaza

There are six floors of retail and Food and Beverage (F&B) options with a cinema, Golden Village Tiong Bahru located on the fourth floor.

Tiong Bahru Supermarkets

There are quite a few supermarkets and grocery stores available in and around Tiong Bahru and even a wet market as well.

Supermarkets

FairPrice Havelock Road

FarePrice Finest Tiong Bahru Plaza

FairPrice Kim Tian Road

Giant Express Jalan Membina

Grocery Stores

Foodie Market Place

Kuriya Japanese Market (Tiong Bahru Plaza)

Leo’s Indian Grocery Shop

Pin Pin Piau Kay & Co

The Providore Warehouse

T.S. Foods

Wet Market

Tiong Bahru Market & Food Centre

Hospitals And Clinics in Tiong Bahru With CHAS

Strictly speaking, there are no polyclinics or hospitals in Tiong Bahru.

The nearest polyclinic is SingHealth Outram.

There are also no hospitals in Tiong Bahru, you will have to be sent to Singapore General Hospital (Outram Park) for more serious ailments.

Otherwise, you will be sent to Alexandra Hospital if you prefer a private hospital.

Do remember to check your Integrated Shield Plans to see what kind of coverage you are entitled to.

Now the good part, there are quite a few private clinics in Tiong Bahru.

Family Medicine

  • Hua Mei Mobile Clinic, HMSCA (caters to people with low mobility)
  • Kao & Tan Family Medical Centre & Surgery
  • Marina Medical Centre (Tiong Bahru)
  • OneCare Medical Clinic Tiong Bahru

Dental

  • Accent Dental Surgery
  • [email protected] Bahru Dental Clinic
  • Tiong Bahru Dental Surgery
  • Q & M Dental Surgery (Tiong Bahru) Pte Ltd

You’ll be glad to know that these clinics support the new and improved CHAS card which provides subsidies for ALL Singaporeans for chronic conditions, regardless of income.

Post Offices in Tiong Bahru

You’ll be glad to know that there are the Tiong Bahru Post Office and a [email protected] Bahru for all your mailing needs.

In terms of shopping and lifestyle amenities, Tiong Bahru has everything you need but nothing too extraordinary.

I am giving it a 3/5 middle of the road score.

Recreational Amenities in Tiong Bahru (3/5)

You can get close to nature at Tiong Bahru Park, which is just a five minutes walk away from Tiong Bahru MRT.

The park features fitness corners a foot reflexology footpath and a cool children’s playground with a crazy tilting train that young and the young at heart will enjoy.

Tiong Bahru Park Playground
Source: Little Day Out

There is also a calming therapeutic garden, with its various themed botanical landscapes.

You can also download the Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail from Roots.sg if you would like to know more about the history, architecture and culture of the area.

The trail takes you to the Bird Corner, former Hu Lu Temple, graves of Singaporean figures such as Tan Tock Seng, Chua Seah Neo & Wuing Neo, the Monkey God Temple.

You’ll also find art galleries housed in conservation shophouses, cosy record stores and BooksActually a cosy indie bookstore that’s is great for finding new books.

This earns it a 3/5 in my book as although this is a nice place to spend a relaxing weekend, there isn’t enough variety for everyone.

Tiong Bahru Food (5/5)

Tiong Bahru has to be considered a good food haven.

Like the neighbourhood, the food here is a melding of the new and old.

The eateries range from the hawker stalls that serve up delicious traditional local food to the modern cafes that are well received by the cafe hoppers in Singapore.

The sheer variety of eateries in this neighbourhood are what make this neighbourhood so charming.

Tiong Bahru Hawker Centres – Tiong Bahru Market

The famous Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre needs no introduction.

Tiong Bahru Market Food
Source: SG Food on Foot

The hawker centre and wet market is home to a good number of acclaimed stalls including:

  • Koh Brothers Pig Organ Soup
  • Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice
  • Tow Kar Pop rojak, Min Nan Prawn Mee
  • Hwa Yuen Porridge
  • Lor Mee 178
  • Jian Bo Shui Kueh,
  • Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee

Need I say more?

Havelock Cooked Food Centre is also no slouch with Ivan’s Porridge, Yu Mei Mei Shi fish soup, Covent Garden Kway Chap, Covent Garden Prawn Noodle and there’s even Havelock Turtle Soup.

Beo Crescent Market is also home to Loi Kee Cooked Food’s prawn noodles, fried carrot cake at Heng Heng Cooked Food, Kueh Du Du’s Nyonya kueh, Century Egg Porridge at Porridge and more.

Tiong Bahru Cafes

Tiong Bahru is known for its cafe hopping scene. The neighbourhood has some of Singapore’s best cafes like:

  • Drips Bakery for its tarts
  • Forty Hands Coffee with its speciality coffee and Australian style brunch
  • Merci Marcel Tiong Bahru with its French food
  • Plain Vanilla Cafe with its cupcakes
  • PS. Cafe for its signature truffle fries
  • The original Tiong Bahru Bakery at Eng Hoong Hoon Street with its croissants
Drips Cafe
Source: Source: @delidoko |  Drips Bakery Cafe

Tiong Bahru Restaurants

Tiong Bahru restaurants also offer up a rich variety of old and new. They can be largely grouped into traditional food and contemporary joints.

Traditional food like Sin Ho Sai Seafood Restaurant, House of Peranakan Petit for its authentic Nnyona food, Old Tiong Bahru Bak Kut Teh and Cheng’[email protected] with its home-cooked Hainanese Zi Char.

Contemporary joints like Bincho at Hua Bee with its an all in one Yakitori-ya (small shops selling yakitori) concept, BAKALAKI Greek Taverna with its Greek food, Teru Sushi with its fresh oysters and not forgetting gluten-free bistro The Butcher’s Wife.

Tiong Bahru Bars

Tiong Bahru is home to many cool bars.

There is Coq and Balls with its cheeky name and bold drinks, Cozy Wine with its rich selection of wines, Lin Rooftop Bar with its amazing views, Canjob Taproom for its chill ambience and
Lee Tai Fu with its fantastic selection of craft beers and ciders.

With the sheer variety, availability, quality and melding of traditional and modern, Tiong Bahru gets a 5/5 for its food in my books.


Final Score and Evaluation for Tiong Bahru

The scores are in.

  • Personality: 4/5
  • Affordability: 1/5
  • Accessibility: 4/5
  • Schools in the area: 1/5
  • Shopping: 3/5
  • Recreational: 3/5
  • Food: 5/5
  • Total Score: 21

Tiong Bahru scores a good 21 points which land it in the B-Rank category.

There is a reason why the neighbourhood is popular with older Singaporeans, young couples, professionals and families.

If you have any other more specific questions and would like to discuss property, the friendly Seedly Community is here to help!

Do also let us know in the comments what your favourite neighbourhood is!

About Joel Koh
History student turned writer at Seedly. Before you ask, not a teacher. My time as a history student has equipped me with the skills to evaluate the impact societal development has on financial and nonfinancial events, as well as financial transactions and models.
You can contribute your thoughts like Joel Koh here.

Still have more questions after reading the article? Fret not, ask our community here!

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