Let's rewind to where it all began. The area we now know as Tampines is named after the Tempinis tree, a type of timber tree that was once abundant in the district. No matter how you pronounce it – both ‘tam-pee-knees’ or ‘tam-pe- knees’ are acceptable, ‘tam-pines’ definitely isn’t – Tampines is the beast in the East that draws the crowds with its shopping malls, 24-hour eateries and lifestyle destinations. And if it’s tranquillity you’re seeking, Tampines Eco Green is just a stone’s throw away.
Retail area in Tampines with IKEA, Courts and Giant mega-stores in the area, inaugurated in 2006.
This integrated lifestyle destination is a star all on its own. It has a massive stadium with a FIFA-quality football field, six rooftop swimming pools, a 30-lane bowling centre, an indoor sports hall, a performing arts theatre, which also doubles as a cinema, a small mall complete with restaurants and a supermarket, and an open-air plaza for special events. There’s also a library that’s decked out with a culinary studio, a 700-metre-long running track, a hardware lab and stationary exercise bikes.
Lace up your best trainers and head to this oasis of peace in the East. Linked via park connectors from Tampines Biking Trail and Sun Plaza Park, this eco-friendly stretch allows you to wade through open grasslands, freshwater wetlands and a secondary rainforest to discover the flora and fauna that surround it. No cycling is allowed here, so you can soak up nature’s beauty without the fear of being mowed down.
Get your caffeine fix at Penny University’s sister – or rather, brother – café. This hole-in-the-wall noshery sits on the second floor of the Tampines West Community Club, and dishes out palate-pleasing fare at affordable prices. Start the day with its signature Builder’s breakfast ($15) or Moroccan baked eggs ($12), and a cuppa joe. For the insatiable meat-lovers, order up the beef steak ($15) smothered in beetroot thyme purée.
If your Instagram feed is an endless scroll of pretty, colourful food, get on the sugar bus and head to this little neighbourhood café. Satisfy your sweet tooth with an assortment of homemade ice creams, oven-baked cakes and rich milkshakes. Flavours include espresso, rum-infused vanilla for something boozy and durian if you’re a fan of the King of Fruits.
Here’s a multi-concept boozer that’s full of surprises – penguins not included. Perfect for after-work drinks, Tipsy Penguin is an Asian- fusion bistro, sports bar, karaoke joint and live music venue under one roof. If that’s not enough, the menu here is just as extensive with pasta, Hawaiian poké and Mod-Sin dishes available on top of bar bites and desserts. As for the tipples, unwind with pints of draught beer, glasses of house pours and signature cocktails including the Tipsy Old Fashioned ($15) with bourbon, demerara and dried orange peel.
Having late night cravings for egg prata, murtabak, mee goreng or chicken biryani? This open-air Indian joint has your back 24/7 and draws the hungry crowds every night – a testament to its highly raved prata. The star dish is a happy medium between fluffy and crispy, and is worth every calorie. We recommend having your prata with sambal and fish curry on the side for an extra kick.
Frequented by famished folks from around the island, this stalwart of local food is easily spotted a mile away. The circular market is nestled within a ring of shophouses, and boasts a variety of stalls serving everything from nasi padang and thosai to rice dumplings and Sarawak kolo mee. Pro tip: head there early as food runs out before lunchtime. We’re also a fan of the nasi rawon that’s priced at $2.50 a pop.
Do note that the hawker centre is closed until June 14 for repairs and redecoration works.
Tampines 1 attracted many an 'outsider' to trek to the eastern side when Singapore's first Uniqlo opened its doors. Besides other perennial favourites like Esprit, Muji and Sephora, the mall houses over 150 shops spread over six storeys. There's a large variety of spas and beauty outlets, including Browhaus and Amore Living, which integrates gym facilies with spa services (there's even a 'kid-fit-club'). Need your furniture (or Swedish meatball) fix? The mall is a shuttle-bus ride away from IKEA.