Neighbourhood Guide: Balestier

Neighbourhood Guide: Balestier
June 23 04:36 2016

Often forgotten by locals and ignored by tourists, Balestier offers not only heritage and pretty shop houses, but might just become the next hip neighbourhood of Singapore. From Bak Kut Teh and Chicken Rice to cosy cafes and fancy bikes – Balestier has more to offer than one might expect.

History of Balestier

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Balestier Road

The pulsating Balestier Road, running like a vein through the neighbourhood, was named after Joseph Balestier, who was the first American Consul to Singapore in the early 19th century. Originally occupied by sugar cane fields, the area was filled with cotton factories in the early 1900s. As Balestier became populated in the following decades, the popular Art Deco style became the new face of local houses. In 1986 the architecturally famous Balestier Point building opened on the site of the former Ruby Theatre, which was a symbol for Balestier once being an entertainment district.

Fun Facts about Balestier

Malay Motion Pictures

Did you know that Jalan Ampas was once home to the Shaw Studios – Singapore’s answer to Hollywood and a driving force in Asian cinema between the 1930s and 1980s?

Origins of Chicken Rice

Singapore’s national dish is closely related to Balestier Road, as Hainan migrants have opened up shops here in early 1950s.

Tigers in Balestier

Balestier’s sugar cane plantations were in the middle of the jungle when they were first set up, leading to regular and uncomfortable tiger visits. As tigers continued to roam their territories, the work on the plantations remained anything but easy.

Entertainment Hub

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Shop houses on Balestier

In the 1960s-70s Balestier used to be Singapore’s entertainment hub, with cinemas, theatres, and shows. The Hoover Theatre was for example a venue for Chinese variety shows. In the early 1990s it was converted for church services, but returned to be a film venue for Indian movies shortly after.

Street of Lights

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Signs along Balestier Road

Balestier Road has an unusually high concentration of lighting and bathroom supply shops. There are around 40 light-related shops along Balestier Road. In fact, Balestier Road has such a rich culinary history that you can find Bah Kut Teh next to bath supply shops and chicken rice next door to a lighting enterprise!

If you want to find out more about Singapore’s history, why not visit the National Museum today?

We love

Zhongshan Park

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Zhongshan Park

Zhongshan Park is the oasis of the neighbourhood, offering excellent Asian dining options, several cosy bars and cafes as well as beautifully calm and taken care of square – all just off Balestier Road.

We recommend

Must Try – Han Dynasty Spa

Relaxing boutique spa experience – perfect for active sport aficionados and girly evenings.

221 Balestier Road, 10am-3am

Must Eat – Loong Fatt Eating House & Confectionery

The unmatched bestseller here is Tau Sar Piah, a traditional Teochew Chinese biscuit made from rice flour and filled with beans.

639 Balestier Road
Open Mon-Sat & PH from 8am to 430pm
Closed on Sundays

Must Do – Climb Asia

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Climb Asia

Rise to the top in the fun and challenging indoor climbing gym with 9m high walls and bouldering.

60 Tessensohn Road
Open daily from 12pm-11pm

Where to eat in Balestier

Founder Bak Kut Teh

Although wholesome, healthy, and inexpensive, making good Bak Kut Teh is an art in itself. Founder has inarguably some of the best in Singapore.

347 Balestier Road,
Open Wed-Mon from 12pm -230pm, 6pm to 2am
Closed on Tuesdays


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A cool and comfortable pool-side café, offering itself as a casual brunch option (after taking a dip in the pool). Fix is also the best place for Naan-wiches in Singapore.

31 Ah Hood Road HomeTeam NS
Open daily from 11am to 10pm, kitchen closed 3-530pm on weekdays


A bistro that is created around fresh Stärker beer, offering classic lager, dark, and even a lychee-flavoured beer. Their al fresco area is perfect if your kids need space to run around.

1 Jalan Rajah
Open Sun-Thurs & PH from 3pm to 2am, Fri-Sat & eve of PH from 3pm to 3am

Honourable mentions

21 on Rajah

Located in Days Hotel, this restaurant offers both Mediterranean cuisine as well as popular local fare.

1 Jalan Rajah
Open Mon-Fri from 6am to 1030pm, Sat-Sun from 630 am to 1130pm

Regroup x Scoop Therapy 

A dual concept of cafe and ice-cream bar by the people behind popular Group Therapy cafes, with whimsical decor and great homemade ice cream, this is the ideal dessert spot after a hearty meal in Balestier.

 12 Kim Keat Road
Open Tues-Fri from 12pm-10pm, Sat, Sun & PH from 10am to 10pm

Balestier Market Food Court

The original market dates back almost a century and wasn’t more than a few huts with zinc roof. Today, one can find excellent Bak Kut Teh and some of the best popiah in town (Miow Sin Popiah).

429 Balestier Road
Open daily from 9am to 9pm

Want to know where to eat in Tiong Bahru? Follow our Tiong Bahru neighbourhood guide here!

What to see in Balestier

Maha Sasana Ramsi Burmese Buddhist Temple

Founded by the Burmese in 1878, the temple and the surrounding streets are a reminder of the neighbourhood’s heritage. During Buddhist festivals the temple becomes a gathering place for worshippers.

14 Tai Gin Road
Open daily from 630am to 9pm
Visit their website for more information on programmes/tours

Goh Chor Tua Pek Kong

Visit the small and colourful Buddhist temple with a long history dating back to 1847, making it one of the oldest in Singapore.

261 Balestier Road
Open daily from 730am to 530pm

Where to shop in Balestier

Lam Yeo Coffee Powder

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Lam Yeo Coffee Powder Shop

Roasting, mixing and blending – Selling the finest coffee bean mixtures since 1960, this small local shop might not be fancy, but is a paradise for all those who are passionate and addicted to coffee. Buy your beans here and you will never go to Starbucks again.


328 Balestier Road,
Open Mon to Fri from 9am to 7pm, Sat from 9am to 5pm
Closed on Sundays & PH

Wheeler’s Yard

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Wheeler’s Yard

This trendy and bike-friendly café bar stands at the forefront of Singapore’s cycling transformation. Cycle by and enjoy coffee and beers in their cosy backyard by the canal. Although food here may be not be the best, we highly recommend checking out new cycles at their shop.

How to get to Balestier


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Peter Schimke
Peter Schimke

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