Journeying to the East? We’ll show you where to eat, shop, play and explore when you’re in the quaint heartlands of Tampines.
East versus West: which is cooler? Now, that’s one debate that’ll never cease. Sure, the Westies have it good with easy access to cool cafes, beautiful spots to catch the sunset and, of course, the holy quartet of Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, Jurong Bird Park and River Safari. But make no mistake, living in the East is pretty awesome too. It has perennially popular ‘hoods like Siglap and Geylang. And Tampines? Don’t scoff. Any resident will tell you it’s home to stellar eateries, mega malls and even a hidden quarry! Here are our top picks from this heartland hotspot.
Tampines guide: Where to eat & drink
1. Three’s A Crowd
Can’t get enough of multi-coloured food? This little cafe, sheltered under a housing estate, is a feast for the eyes with its modern and vibrant decor. It also entices you with homemade ice cream and gourmet milkshakes. Talk about guilty pleasures!
Three’s A Crowd, #01-11, Block 802 Tampines Avenue 4, Singapore 520802
2. Soi Thai Kitchen
East-siders don’t have to travel too far to slurp up Soi Thai’s fiery tom yum soup. Located below an unassuming HDB flat, this is where you can get your Thai fix in a no-frills space (yes, there’s no GST or service charge). We highly recommend you order the minced meat omelette and basil chicken.
Soi Thai Kitchen, #01-28, Block 824 Tampines Street 81, Singapore 520824
3. Swee Choon
Tampines is now home to two iconic dim sum institutions. One of them being Swee Choon. The 40-seater outlet boasts all the familiar faves like carrot cake, siew mai and Sichuan chilli oil wanton. On top of that, new bites like baked BBQ and black pepper char siew bao grace the menu.
Swee Choon, #01-01, Century Square, 2 Tampines Central 5, Singapore 529509
4. Tim Ho Wan
The other big dim sum player in the ‘hood is Tim Ho Wan. You’ll be greeted at the entrance with a beautiful mural of its Michelin-starred flagship store in Hong Kong. Look forward to five store-exclusive dishes. That includes pan-fried minced pork patty with salted fish, hot and spicy sesame steamed chicken, and XO sauce luncheon meat fried rice with pork chop.
Tim Ho Wan, #01-43/55, Tampines 1, 10 Tampines Central, Singapore 529536
This 24-hour institution needs no introduction, especially to the night owls. It’s famed for its Maggi goreng (if you’ve not tried it, where have you been?!). The dish is basically mee goreng made with instant Maggi noodles, topped with a sunny-side-up and accompanied with a plate of cucumbers drenched in tomato sauce. Go for the roti john as well. It’s a tasty, meaty fusion dish that resembles a sandwich stuffed with eggs, cheese, mushrooms and, on occasion, mutton.
Al-Azhar, #01-1155, Block 201D Tampines Street 21, Singapore 524201
Hidden inside the heartland’s community and lifestyle hub, this kitsch cafe serves up souffle pancakes and bubble tea – sugar rush, anyone? The former comes in three flavours: original, matcha and tiramisu. For the latter, you can expect classic and peculiar flavours like taro, milo and injeolmi (Korean rice cake).
19Tea, #01-K7, Our Tampines Hub, 1 Tampines Walk, Singapore 528523
7. Tampines Round Market and Food Centre
This food centre is the answer to Serangoon Garden’s Chomp Chomp. Home to local dishes like fried carrot cake, wanton noodles and kway chap, the place brims with hungry heartlanders during lunch and dinner.
Tampines Round Market and Food Centre, 137 Tampines Street 11, Singapore 522137
8. Tipsy Penguin
Not to be confused with Tipsy Cow (but what’s up with bars named after drunk animals), this neighbourhood bar is the perfect Friday night spot for something chill. There’s an extensive selection of whiskies alongside gin, rum, tequila, vodka and bourbon, but go for classic cocktails like old fashioned and mojito if you’re feeling bougie. Peckish? The steak frites will definitely fill you up.
Tipsy Penguin, #01-02A, 300 Tampines Avenue 5, Singapore 529653
Tampines guide: Where to shop & explore
Ok, so there’s another Ikea on Alexandra Road and one in Jurong but this branch is undoubtedly cooler. What’s not to love about the brand’s Scandinavian-style furniture and Swedish meatballs? Bonus: Courts and Giant hypermart are just a stone’s throw away – plus points for convenience!
Ikea, 60 Tampines North Drive 2, Singapore 528764
10. Tampines 1
One of the hot trio of malls in the ‘hood, this place beckons you to spend hours browsing through more than 100 stores including Daiso, Sephora and G2000. Looking for some R&R? Check out Heart Springs Spa or Browhaus.
Tampines 1, 10 Tampines Central 1, Singapore 529536
11. Century Square
After its opening in 1995, the mall went through a recent facelift and now offers a slew of dining options, from juice bars to bubble tea shops to popular restos like Hai Di Lao and Ichiban Boshi.
Century Square, 2 Tampines Central 5, Singapore 529509
12. Tampines Mall
Located right next to the MRT and bus interchange, this mall is a convenient pitstop. You can duck in for some quick shopping or, if you’ve got time on your hands, catch a movie at the GV cinema.
Tampines Mall, 4 Tampines Central 5, Singapore 529510
13. Tampines Eco Green
If mall-hopping isn’t your thing, head to this park where you’ll find grasslands, freshwater wetlands and a secondary rainforest. It’s a no-bike zone, so you know you won’t be disturbed by two-wheelers when admiring the flora and fauna.
Tampines Eco Green, Tampines Avenue 9, Singapore 520491
14. Our Tampines Hub
This is probably Singapore’s biggest community centre. Spanning 5.7 hectares, it features a mall, bowling centre, FIFA-quality football field, regional library, art theatre, community garden, gym, sky garden and six swimming pools! We’re pretty sure you’d need an entire day to fully explore the place.
Our Tampines Hub, 1 Tampines Walk, Singapore 528523
15. Check out unique HDB flats
We’re suckers for intriguing architecture and this neighbourhood has two worth checking out. Make your way to Tampines Street 42 and marvel at the iconic TV test screen murals plastered across 15 blocks. Tip: head up to the eighth storey to get the perfect shot for the ‘gram. Up next? Block 497 at Tampines Street 45. This estate is a sight for sore eyes, with its red brick walls, symmetrical arches and the basketball court that adds a pop of green colour amidst the red and brown tones.
16. Tampines Quarry
Looking for something off the beaten path? Here’s a hidden sanctuary for bikers and fishers. Head to its location along Tampines Avenue 10 to explore the untouched land and soak in the beauty of scenic spots. Just remember to bring insect repellent!
Tampines Quarry, along Tampines Avenue 1
For a change of scenery, explore the hip ‘hood of Tampines.