Curious about things to do in Balestier and Novena? We’ve got you with this epic guide to two of our fave 'hoods.
The juxtaposition of Balestier and Novena is what makes Singapore unique. From swanky condominiums and posh hotels to heritage shophouses and old school eateries in the vicinity, you get the best of both worlds. A stone’s throw away from Orchard, these two neighbourhoods offer iconic local eats, hidden cafes, chill bars and fuss-free restaurants. Dive in!
Best things to do in Balestier and Novena: Eat
Loy Kee Chicken Rice
Chicken rice is ubiquitous and, dare we say, synonymous to Singapore – and Loy Kee has been serving this dish since 1953. One of the cornerstones of chicken rice has to be its fragrant aroma, and that pretty much seals the deal for us. Add a dash of chilli and dark soy sauce to the roasted chicken with a spoonful of rice – it’s perfection right there.
Loy Kee Chicken Rice, 342 Balestier Road, Singapore 329774
Founder Bak Kut Teh
Another local favourite has to be bak kut teh. With 40 years of experience under its belt, Founder Bak Kut Teh delivers a mean bowl. Even celebrities have frequented the place – just check out the photo walls. Each peppery bowl is replete with tender pork ribs and has the right amount of kick to it that will clear your sinuses.
Founder Bak Kut Teh, 347 Balestier Road, Singapore 329777
Loong Fatt Tau Sar Piah
For the uninitiated, tau sar piah is a flaky Chinese pastry that comes in two flavours: Salty and sweet. Loong Fatt Tau Sar Piah has been serving these since 1948, so you know it ain’t messing around. The shop also offers butter cakes and cream puffs that will have you filled with nostalgia.
Loong Fatt Tau Sar Piah, 639 Balestier Road, Singapore 329922
The Clueless Goat
The Clueless Goat is a cosy coffee house serving up brews that will excite any coffee junkie – piccolo, anyone? These folks also offer typical brunch fare like poached eggs on toast and yogurt with granola.
The Clueless Goat, Goldhill Plaza Mall, 189 Thomson Road, Singapore 307631
Ah Chew Desserts
Sugar fiends, take the nostalgic route with Chinese desserts at this old school shop. Depending on the weather, select from hot and cold treats like black glutinous rice, grass jelly with longan, mango sago, bird’s nest soup with red dates, and green bean soup with seaweed. Also, it’s worth mentioning the place tends to see a snaking queue on weekends, so plan ahead.
Ah Chew Desserts, Goldhill Plaza Mall, 181 Thomson Road, Singapore 307627
Craftsmen Specialty Coffee
Craftsmen Specialty Coffee has all the makings of a great neighbourhood cafe – it even made our guide to the city’s best cafes! Sourcing single-origin beans from locales like Costa Rica, Kenya and Ethiopia, the joint offers quality brews. Food-wise, dig into croissant sammies (stuffed with the likes of ham and cheese or truffle eggs and tomatoes), brunch staples (eggs benedict, breakfast platters and yoghurt bowls) and an assortment of muffins.
Craftsmen Specialty Coffee, Goldhill Plaza Mall, 173 Thomson Road, Singapore 307623
Tucked away in an unassuming location, on the eighth floor of a medical centre, this kitsch cafe is a hidden gem. With its cosy atmosphere and wooden interiors, it just makes you want to huddle up in one of the nooks with a hot cuppa and a good novel. Be sure to try the French toast!
La Ristrettos, #08-37, Novena Medical Centre, 10 Sinaran Drive, Singapore 307506
Grab your oppa and head over to this Korean BBQ joint for a meaty feast slathered with cheese. On top of the usual meat cuts like pork belly, wagyu ribeye and short plate, the eatery also has a smorgasbord of classic Korean dishes waiting for you. We’re talking about kimchi stew, spicy tofu stew and bibimbap.
Nanta BBQ, #01-175 to 177, Goldhill Plaza Mall, 175 Thomson Road, Singapore 307624
Nara’s ryokan-like facade serves an indication of what to expect here – unpretentious Japanese fare. The menu brims with chirashi, nigiri, sashimi, tempura and grilled meats. For those seeking a little adventure, treat your taste buds to a special omakase meal. All that paired with a cosy ambience? We’ve got no complaints.
Nara, Goldhill Plaza Mall, 167 Thomson Road, Singapore 307619
Perched on the 22nd floor of Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena, Sky22 is a breath of fresh air with its floor-to-ceiling glass windows and picturesque views of the city. With a weekly rotating semi-buffet menu on the weekdays and a full-on buffet on the weekends, you can expect to see local and international faves.
Sky22, Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena, 99 Irrawaddy Road, Singapore 329568
Rochor Beancurd House
Rochor Beancurd needs no introduction – and you don’t have to head to Geylang to get your fix. Be sure to dip (or break) the ivory white beancurd with golden, crispy dough fritters.
Rochor Beancurd House, #01-436, Public Mansions, 432 Balestier Road, Singapore 329813
Hong Kong Street Family Restaurant
Expect a smorgasbord of Chinese and Canto cuisine such as stir-fried pork ribs, French bean with minced pork, prawn paste chicken and sliced fish bee hoon soup at this resto. Be sure to bring your friends and family along so you can try all the popular dishes.
Hong Kong Street Family Restaurant, #01-01, 273 Thomson Road, Singapore 307644
Just around the corner lies another Japanese establishment – but this one is easy to miss with its nondescript facade. Still, it’s a hidden gem worth checking out! Plus, the place is owned by a sushi chef from Hokkaido, so you know the sushi will be stellar.
Sushi Matsuo, #01-17, 1 Goldhill Plaza, Singapore 308899
Togather Kitchen & Bar
Merging different stalls under one roof, here’s where you can take your pick from burgers, sushi, pizzas, Thai grub and local eats in one spot. Think of it as a slightly upscale hawker centre. It also makes for a decent drinking den with friends as the beers are served in towers.
Togather Kitchen & Bar, #01-05, 1 Goldhill Plaza, Singapore 308899
The Marmalade Pantry
Hidden away in the lobby of Oasia Hotel Novena, The Marmalade Pantry offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of its flagship store in Ion. On the menu, you’ll find wholesome pasta, delicious cupcakes and desserts, great weekend brunches and tea accompaniments to fuel your body and soul.
The Marmalade Pantry, #01-02/04, Oasia Hotel Novena, 8 Sinaran Drive, Singapore 307470
ThaiLily Novena Restaurant
You know the food is good is when a restaurant doesn’t rely much on theatrical deco. That’s what you get at this unassuming Thai joint. Order the papaya salad, fried kang kong, clear tom yum soup and fried seabass in tamarind sauce, and you’re all set for a great meal.
ThaiLily Novena Restaurant, Goldhill Plaza Mall, 165 Thomson Road, Singapore 307618
A local homegrown ice cream brand, Udders produces unique flavours like Bailey’s and bourbon (from the liqueur flavour range) and Snickers Mars honeycomb vanilla (for an unforgiving chocolate-y experience). We recommend pairing your creamy dessert with the fluffy waffles!
Udders, 155 Thomson Road, Singapore 307608
Best things to do in Balestier and Novena: Drink
After a hearty dinner at Sky22, head up to Urbana on the 33rd floor of the hotel for a nightcap. If you enjoyed the view from Sky22, expect to be in awe with Urbana’s view of Singapore’s glitzy cityscape.
Urbana, Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena, 99 Irrawaddy Road, Singapore 329568
Brauhaus Restaurant and Pub
Situated in the basement of United Square, this pub is home to over 200 beers from around the globe, including Ukraine, Croatia, Mongolia, Holland and, of course, Singapore. Explore the world one beer at a time!
Brauhaus Restaurant and Pub, B1-13/14, United Square Shopping Mall, 101 Thomson Road, Singapore 307591
Craft beer enthusiasts should add this beer joint to their list of breweries to check out. The place features over 15 beers on tap, and you can pair your drink of choice with pizzas – the perfect combo, if you ask us.
Nickeldime Drafthouse, #01-01, Regency, 275 Thomson Road, Singapore 307645
Best things to do in Balestier and Novena: Explore
Located in a close cluster, the trio of malls in this ‘hood is worth a visit. For gym bunnies, check out the extensive range of sports shops (hello, Decathalon!) at Velocity. Meanwhile, Square 2 is the perfect place for Japanese goodies with Daiso and Don Don Donki in the mix. Plus, United Square has a supermarket, food court, clinics, salons and a wide array of dining options – all the hallmarks of a good neighbourhood mall.
Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall
This museum provides insights into Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s work. Throughout the exhibition, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of his mission, which led to the success of the Chinese Revolution. Also, check out the veranda overlooking the serene garden entrance.
Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, 12 Tai Gin Road, Singapore 327874
Burmese Buddhist Temple
Just around the corner from the Sun Yat Sen museum lies one of the oldest temples in Singapore. Gape at the 11-foot marble Buddha statue that was transported from Mandalay. And on the second floor, you will see murals depicting Buddhist folktales.
Burmese Buddhist Temple, 4 Tai Gin Road, Singapore 327873
Lam Yeo Coffee Powder Factory
Coffee connoisseurs, be sure to check out this extensive collection of coffee beans from locales such as South Africa and India. And if you don’t have a coffee grinder, these folks will do it for you on the spot.
Lam Yeo Coffee Powder Factory, 328 Balestier Road, Singapore 329760
Balestier Heritage Trail
Here at Honeycombers, we love heritage trails. That’s why they’re always on our list of things to do! So be prepared to catch Art Deco shophouses, pre-war terrace houses and more on this lovely trail by the National Heritage Board.
Best things to do in Balestier and Novena: Stay
Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena
If you plan to do all the things listed above, a staycation is in order. Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena is conveniently located next to Velocity and all its rooms are on high floors, boasting either city or lush nature views. Did we mention the infinity pool is located right next to the highest bar in Novena?
Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena, 99 Irrawaddy Road, Singapore 329568
Oasia Hotel Novena
With four types of room to choose from – Club Room, Deluxe Room, Superior Room and Club Suite – this is where you can unwind your body, soul and mind. Besides offering facilities like a swimming pool and sauna, the hotel also conducts yoga classes every Sunday.
Oasia Hotel Novena, 8 Sinaran Drive, Singapore 307470
And there you have it, the best things to do in Balestier and Novena!