Tiong Bahru Goes Little: Exploring Tiong Bahru with Kids

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The old and the new nestle snugly next to each other in Tiong Bahru. Hip cafes and swanky boutiques lounge easily side-by-side, against the backdrop of iconic conservation buildings.

One of the oldest housing estates in Singapore, the neighbourhood was built in the 1930s.

It was an estate famous for housing the rich upper class, and (this is for daddy and mummy’s eyes only) infamous as the place where the rich and powerful supposedly kept their mistresses.

So it earned the name ‘Mei Ren Wo’ or den of beauties.

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Now, neo-gentrified Tiong Bahru is also home to chic resto-cafes and upmarket shops where people – yes, even the little ones – can have some playful chomp and romp.

Come on, let’s have a little day out on foot with our kewpies and eat, browse, and play!

Tiong Bahru FlatsTiong Bahru’s distinctive brickwork facade.

Tiong BahruThe old and new at Tiong Bahru.

Tiong Bahru Market

This is no classy cafe, but the famous Tiong Bahru Market Food Centre is a class act. Lots of good hawker food, and a vibrant wet market to boot. You can take your kids round the rows of fresh produce, meats, and seafood, all found on the ground floor of TB Wet Market.

Tiong Bahru MarketTiong Bahru Market: Fruits and veg are good for you.

You can find organic vegetable and fruit stalls by Malaysia-based Zenxin Organic and Singapore start-up Sky and Land Organic Agriculture. The prices here won’t break the bank and are cheaper than at the supermarket.

A big bag of organic potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, lemons, and garlic from the Sky and Land stall will only set you back $9. Kids can even help to dig around in a crate of mud and unearth sweet potatoes to take home – a treasure hunt of a different sort.

Tiong Bahru Market YamThe hunt for sweet potatoes.

After that, you can choose to have a hearty local brekkie here with the kids to get the full Tiong Bahru experience. Or head over to family-friendly Tiong Bahru Bakery or Flock Cafe for brunch (see below).

Some recommended stalls: Jian Bo Shui Kueh (Stall #02-05), known to be the original chwee kueh stall in Tiong Bahru; shark meat lor mee at Lor Mee 178 (Stall #02-23); slurplicious noodles at Teochew Fishball Noodle Dry/Soup (Stall #02-13); hot and yummy char siew pau at Tiong Bahru Pau (Stall #02-18), fresh fish cakes and firm fishballs at Tiong Bahru Fishball (Stall #02-20).

Tiong Bahru Market
30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore 168898
Food Centre
Daily: 8.00 am – late

Wet Market
Daily: Early morning – midday


Nana & Bird Kids

Both mummy and bub can have a good time at Nana & Bird Kids. Chic wear and accessories for mum, and hip apparel for children. Everyone goes home happy.

And oh, harried mummies will love the spacious – and safe – play area strewn with lovely toys to occupy the kids while the adults shop.

Bop around on a larger-than-life sized leather rabbit, muck around with click-clack wooden toys, or simply play make-believe with silly hats and weave in and out of the Alice in Wonderland-esque colour-block fitting rooms. We didn’t really feel like leaving either.

Nana BirdNana & Bird: Carefully curated.

Nana & Bird was started by two best friends Nana (Georgina) and Bird (Chiew Ling). The carefully curated multi-label store carries apparel and accessories such as Los Angeles-based Building Blocks, and funky homeware such as Heinui from France and British brand Falcon Enamelware.

Nana & Bird Kids, a recent offshoot of the original brand, features refreshing, edgy designs by labels like Singapore-owned Cavalier and Swedish brand Mini Rodini.

Nana & Bird Kids (Eng Hoon)
#01-65 59 Eng Hoon Street, Singapore 160059
Tuesdays – Fridays: 12.00 pm – 7.00 pm
Saturdays – Sundays: 11.00 am – 7.00 pm


Woods in the Books

Our next stop brings us to Woods in the Books, a shop specialising in picture books for all ages.

The little ones will love this quiet, cosy shop, where the meticulously selected titles boast a bevy of award-winning works in children literature, and even comics and graphic novels for the bigger people. There are quality stuffed toys by brands like Moulin Roty available, too.

Kids’ books are thoughtfully placed at a comfortable height for toddlers to browse. Older children can spend a long time lost in a book of their choice. Younger toddlers will enjoy tottering about in the generously-spaced book-corridors, and drink in the colours and textures of the many books.

Wood in the BooksWoods in the Books.

The books look like they are laid out around the store with delicious abandon (the way books should be), yet there is method to the madness and they are placed orderly stacks (again, the way books should be). So browsing is an organic and unfettered experience.

See if you can spot Woods in the Books’ resident pooch, Scotti (who they call their boss). The kids might have a treat and work in a friendly pat or two.

This is a fun and quiet place to hole-up in cool comfort while the sun blazes outside, as your mind gets lost in an adventure in another world.

Woods in the Books
3 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168642
Tuesdays – Saturdays: 11.00 am – 8.00 pm
Sundays: 11.00 am – 6.00 pm


Books Actually

Down the street, the adults can have a browse in Books Actually, an indie bookstore that features literature and other critical, even obscure works. A long-time supporter of local writers, Books Actually also sells literary-themed trinkets and stationery.

The shop is packed to the gills with books, so, not so great an idea for younger kids to be running about. There isn’t space to do so.

However, older kids could occupy themselves with hunting down the three cats at Books Actually. That is, if these feline friends are not hunkered down in the back room, out of everyone’s way.

Books ActuallyBooks Actually: Books, actual books.

But for sure, the array of good literature – beautifully bound and designed – will captivate book lovers young and old. So will the vintage homeware and trinkets (watch out for breakable glass, tots!), found in the back room of Books Actually – incidentally, where the three cats might most likely be found.

Books Actually
9 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168645
Mondays: 11.00 am – 6.00 pm
Tuesdays – Fridays: 11.00 am – 9.00 pm
Saturdays: 10.00 am – 9.00 pm
Sundays: 10.00 am – 6.00 pm


Plain Vanilla Bakery

We’ve pottered around in a wet market, bopped up and down on a rabbit in swanky new threads, and poked our noses into fictional new worlds. There’s no better time than now to have cupcakes!

Cupcake specialist Plain Vanilla Bakery is touted to serve up one of the best cupcakes on the island. And better than that, it’s kid-friendly.

Plain VanillaPlain Vanilla Bakery: Cupcake specialist.

While dad and mum sip a cold latte, the tots can help themselves to the drool-worthy cupcakes – or they could run around in the large semi-outdoors space and rock themselves silly on the rocking red moose, play at some choo-choo with the train set, or kick up some dust on the rustic wooden swing at the entrance.

While the kids are gainfully occupied, the adults can steal all the cupcakes.

You’re probably gasping at this stroke of parenting brilliance.  We aim to please.

Any little day out should have something in it for everyone, not just the littlies!

Plain Vanilla Bakery
1D Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate, Singapore 168641
Tuesdays – Fridays: 11.00 am – 8.00 pm
Saturdays: 9.00 am – 8.00 pm
Sundays: 9.00 am – 6.00 pm
Mondays: Closed


Flock Cafe

If sweets don’t tickle your fancy, and you want something more substantial for tea, then Flock Cafe is your thang.

With good coffee, all-day breakfast, pastas and hearty sandwiches, family-friendly Flock Cafe has something for everyone.

Give the Pork Cheek and Gruyere sandwich a go – the braised pork cheek is tender and flavourful and the gruyere cheese, nutty and satisfying.

FlockSignboard outside Flock Cafe.

Flock Cafe
78 Moh Guan Terrace, #01-25
Singapore 162078
Daily: 8.00 am – 6.00 pm


Little Playground

We will be honest and say it point-blank: There is nothing spectacular about this playground. No gimmicky roller-coaster bridge or whoop-inducing slides.

In fact, it is rather old and faded, and when no one is playing in it, the playground has the hang-dog look of seeming slightly abandoned.

PlaygroundSimple fun at the playground, Blk 38 Kim Pong Road.

Why would we recommend a place like this?

First of all, it is the nearest playground you can reach on foot from our earlier locations.

Secondly, it is, after all, a playground. And all playgrounds have a bit of magic in them. (This magic costs money in some places; this one is free.)

Kids need to expend some energy, see-saw crazily and slide up and down – this is the place.

Also, there is this old-school neighbourhood charm about this playground. Other than looking typically representative of a non-descript heartland playground, it fits right into the new-old loveliness of Tiong Bahru that you wouldn’t want your kids to miss.

The kids will know how to have fun here, even if we don’t!

Little Playground
In front of Blk 38 Kim Pong Road


Tiong Bahru Park Adventure Playground

If the Little Playground at Blk 38 doesn’t satiate your need of a playground fix, then the impressive Tilted Train playground much further away at Tiong Bahru Park might be more up your alley.

Meant for kids 5 years old and older, this playground shares the park with a merry-go-round and mini-maze, which are located close to Tiong Bahru Plaza.

But it is quite a walk from where we are in the Yong Siak Street area.

Tiong Bahru Park Adventure Playground
Tiong Bahru Road


Tiong Bahru Bakery

The interior of this popular bakery-cafe, opened in collaboration with celebrity French baker Gontran Cherrier, isn’t quite ideal for young tots and high chairs because of the space constraints. You could fit a high chair at maybe two or three tables, but that’s about it.

BreadYummy pastries.

Those with kids – and also pets – tend to hang around the outdoor seating area, where there is space to stretch the legs and roam.

Don’t miss Tiong Bahru Bakery’s famous croissants and their unique, smoky Red Latte, which contains a ‘espresso’ shot of caffeine-free rooibos tea extracted using the espresso machine.

Tiong Bahru Bakery
56 Eng Hoon Street
#01-70 Singapore 160056
Tel: +65 6220 3430
Daily: 8.00 am – 8.00 pm

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