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Tampines, HDB
Photograph: Unsplash/Muhd Asyraaf

The ultimate guide to Tampines

The populous neighbourhood of Tampines is constantly in flux but has plenty of hidden gems – if you know where to look

Cam Khalid
Written by
Cam Khalid
&
Izza Sofia
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Let's rewind to where it all began. The World Habitat Award-winning 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.

RECOMMENDED: Ultimate guide to Singapore's neighbourhoods and the ultimate guide to Pasir Ris

Do

  • Things to do
  • Tampines

Come to the north of Tampines, where this black-and-white Tudor-inspired architecture greets you. These blocks were originally red in colour, and were updated after a result of a residents’ vote back in 2016. Currently, it boasts a fascinating contrast of minimalism and Medieval charm. Walk through the void decks and you will notice geometric cut-outs that you can play around with for some artistic selfies!

  • Attractions
  • Tampines

Admire the hand-painted mural of paper cranes at Tampines West CC, imprinted with familiar motifs such as the signature sarong kebaya print synonymous with the Singapore Airlines uniform and the Good Morning towel. Enrol in self-improvement classes like Conversational Mandarin and cooking classes at the community club. There’s movie screenings too, and a spot where residents can get together. Parents and kids can also spend time together at the expansive Flower Dome playground and a fitness area.

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  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Tampines

Embrace your inner child at Cow Play Cow Moo and try your hand at the claw machines to show off your precision and accuracy. Whether you are a fan of anime or My Melody, there’s bound to be a plushie that you wish to win. These claw machines are regularly updated with new plushies weekly, so you can always return to win some to add to your existing collection. Aside from the claw machines, try out the slew of other classic games. Break the road rules at Daytona or engage in a scuffle on Street Fighter. Either way, you get to relive those nostalgic memories that were the highlight of your primary school escapades. 

  • Attractions
  • Tampines

For those seeking solace, venture through the tranquil garden filled with greenery and butterflies. You will be greeted with a set of garden seats at the front of the park. Go further in and you will find a small wooden alcove where you can sit and enjoy the greenery surrounding you. Although it's a small park, it's a great respite to enjoy the peace and quiet while surrounded by nature.

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  • Things to do
  • Tampines

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. There are also bird hides for some bird-watching – byob (bring your own binoculars) and look out for the Baya Weavers. Cycling is not allowed here, so that everyone soak up nature’s beauty without the fear of being mowed down.

  • Kids
  • Playgrounds
  • Tampines

Let the kids run riot at this outdoor wonderland. Also dubbed the "Adventure Playground", Tampines Green Forest Park is split into three sections – a high-element obstacle course, a fitness corner, and a playground for the tiny tots. Kids and kidults can burn some energy and challenge themselves at the cargo net structure. Scale up to the first tower before crossing the net bridge to get to the next tower and finish it down the tall slide.

 

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  • Things to do
  • Tampines

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 climbing theme park, a performing arts theatre that doubles as a cinema, a small mall complete with restaurants and a supermarket, and an open-air plaza for special events. The list doesn't even end there. 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.

  • Things to do
  • Paya Lebar

For something off the beaten track, head to this hidden gem along Tampines Avenue 10. A stone's throw away from Bedok Reservoir, the equally calm waters and untouched land of Tampines Quarry has become a popular spot for anglers, bikers and drone enthusiasts. As it's left to nature's own devices, and the quarry is now surrounded by the thick foliage of vegetation. If you're planning a trip down here, be sure to carry some mosquito repellent.

 

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  • Things to do
  • Tampines

First opened in 1995, Century Square has been given a fresh makeover, modernised with a new façade and new tenants calling it home. Bookworms can head to the fourth floor for a virtual library. A collaboration with the National Library Board (NLB), the first-of-its-kind e-book repository gives you access to a plethora of fiction and non-fiction titles that you can download straight to your mobile devices, fuss-free.

  • Kids
  • Playgrounds
  • Tampines

Easily spotted from afar due to its distinct red, green and yellow mosaic tiles, this fruity playground in the east sees slices of watermelon transformed into a slide and wooden plank swings that have been reduced to immobile benches. The fruity theme continues just a seed's throw away where there are mangosteen domes for some hide-and-seek, or shelter away from the sun. Built in 1989, the playground was designed as a nod to the fruit farms of rural Tampines before the town was developed. While they first opened with sandy pits, they now stand on rubber mats.

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The colourful murals of Tampines
Photograph: Unsplash/Muhd Asyraaf

The colourful murals of Tampines

Get your camera ready for a wall crawl that takes you around the 'hood. For a new void deck exhibition, head over to Block 151 (Tampines Street 12), 211 and 212 (Tampines Street 23). The mini showcase is a condensed version of Our Tampines Hub's current exhibition Our Tampines in a Garden. Not your typical void deck murals, this one has interactive installations such as a trick eye display and a wishing wall.

Then continue to Block 417 (Tampines Street 41) opposite Tampines North Community Club which is decorated with a test card art – a testament to old-school TV.

Over at Block 478 (Tampines Street 44), you'll find an interactive 3D heritage wall mural that features a provision store, a barbershop and a Peranakan house. The art is brought to life with benches, tables and stools which are fully functional too.

If you happen to be at Tampines West Community Club, spot the wall mural featuring paper cranes imprinted with motifs such as the Good Morning towel and the sarong kebaya print à la the Singapore Airlines uniform.

Eat

  • Restaurants
  • Tampines

Pretty in pink with gold accents, Fluff Stack’s interior is as striking as their soufflé pancakes itself. The soufflé pancakes are pillowy and delicate, and an unmistakable jiggle that many diners have come to enjoy. Each plate of pancakes are not only Instagrammable, but they are tasty as well. Highlights include the Classic Soufflé Pancakes, the Strawberry Cheese option as well as the Hazelnut Chocolate one.

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Tampines

Specialising in both thosai and appam, it’s easy to spot this stall at the Tampines Round Market - just look for the longest queue. Rajarani Thosai serves handmade dishes, and highlights include the Plain Appam, which has a piping hot soft moist center with fragile lacy edges, and a grainy savoury sweet salty flavour, and the Egg Appam with fluffy pillow soft center and eggy sweet notes. The Masala Thosai is also a treat - a savory South Indian pancake that is soft in the middle and nicely crisp around the edges, and generous spiced potato filling.

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  • Restaurants
  • Tampines

Known for its blow torch beef cubes, Beef Bro offers a wide selection of toppings such as mentaiko, cheese, garlic chilli, barbecue sauce and even sambal belacan to go with the juicy cubes. Their signature Mentaiko Beef Cubes feature Australian premium rump that’s sizzled to perfection, and topped with mentaiko and seaweed. Diners also have the option to add on scrambled egg as well as cheese. Sink your teeth in these cubes and you can taste the umami flavour bursting on your tastebuds. The eatery also serves flame-grilled seafood options and bento sets, which include Japanese or brown rice, salad, and cherry tomatoes with the protein of your choice.

  • Restaurants
  • Indonesian
  • Tampines

At this restaurant, order its signature and namesake - the Nasi Lemak Ayam Taliwang - and they will give you three different chillies in it. The dish comes with a grilled chicken leg topped with taliwang sambal, served alongside coconut rice infused with lemongrass, fried egg, fried anchovies and peanut. The dish is also served with another scoop of sweet-spicy sambal by the side. Each ingredient in this plate works harmoniously together. Other highlights from here includes Ayam Belado and Ayam Cabe Ijo.

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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Tampines

If you like your bowl of mala hot and spicy, then you have to try out Labula Mala Xiang Guo in Tampines. Their signature mala xiang guo offers a wide variety of ingredients, from your standard greens to the meal options. You can even select the spiciness depends on your tolerance level. While you can feel the heat from the chilli, you will also feel the numbness from the peppercorns in the mala xiang guo. Remember to prepare cold beverages throughout the meal as they are definitely not toying around with the spice.

  • Restaurants
  • Tampines

Zoul’s Corner is known for its Nasi Ayam penyet, and here’s why. A large portion of crispy chicken is served on a plate, including all the crumbs that’s full of goodness. Instead of using plain white rice, Zoul’s Corner incorporated the fragrant option normally found in your chicken rice. The sambal has a fiery kick to it as well, so prepare a glass of water just in case! 

Other highlights in the menu include Bee Hoon Hong Kong, Ikan Bawal Penyet and Tom Yum Fried Rice.

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  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Tampines

If you need to get your Indian rojak cravings fixed, come by Tampines Junction for a plate of delicious Al Mahboob Indian Rojak. Get spoilt for choice with the wide variety of ingredients from tempeh, crispy dough fritters, fried fish cake and fried prawn fritters among others. These ingredients are freshly deep-fried to perfection, and served alongside a fiery, homemade chilli dip with crunchy peanuts in it. The chilli dip is refillable, so don’t hold back when you’re chowing down these fried goodness.

 

  • Restaurants
  • Hawker
  • Tampines
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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 was recently given a facelift with wider walkways for better ventilation. The food centre is also decked with new seats including baby chairs for families. Like it was pre-renovation, the food centre 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 nasi rawon (from $2.50) from Kayat Nasi Padang.

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  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Tampines

A popular spot for night owls in the east, Al-Azhar has your back 24 hours (now open from 8am-11.30pm) when it comes to a late-night supper fix. It's affectionately known for its naan, which is toasty and crisp on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside. The flatbread is served with flavourful curries for that added kick. There's also maggi goreng, biryani, murtabak and more, but the calorie-laden prata and butter chicken set ($7.90) is our go-to pick for the munchies.

  • Restaurants
  • Tampines

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 (from $3.50), oven-baked cakes (from $6.90) and waffles with – what else – ice cream (from $10). Flavours include coconut for something tropical, espresso for a perk-me-up, and durian if you’re a fan of the King of Fruits.

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • Tampines

This Halal-certified café prides itself in massive portions of comfort food sans the hefty price tag – there's no GST and service charge, either. Expect the usual suspects of Western delights – pasta, steaks, burgers, and desserts. For something familiar, tuck into its bestselling chicken aglio olio which packs a punch with chilli padi ($10), or its battered fish fillet carbonara ($10) if you can't handle the spice. Otherwise, try its Craze Firebird burger ($13.50 with burger buns or $15.50 with waffles) which comes with double fried chicken smothered in its homemade harissa chilli sauce, as well as curly fries and salad on the side.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Tampines

Full of jiggly joy, 19Tea is one of the few places in the east to get your fix of floofy, soufflé pancakes. Originated from South Korea, the milk tea and dessert specialty café is praised for its thick, towering and wobbly pancakes which are served in various flavours including matcha ($4.20), tiramisu ($4.20), meringue milk tea ($5.90), and the signature original snow pancake ($3.90). Pair your dessert with bubble tea for the ultimate sweet treat. Together with the pastel-hued interiors of this cosy café, one bite will send you on cloud nine.

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  • Restaurants
  • Tampines

Having late-night cravings for egg prata, murtabak, mee goreng or chicken biryani? This open-air Indian joint has your back 24/7 (it's currently opened from 7am to 11pm during Phase 2), and draws the hungry crowds every night – a testament to its highly raved prata. The star dish ($1.30) is a happy medium between fluffy and crispy, and is worth every calorie. We recommend having your prata with egg ($2) or with sambal and fish curry on the side for an extra kick.

Drink

  • Bars and pubs
  • Tampines

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. However, it's currently open for dining and drinking only during Phase 2. But the menu here is just as extensive with pasta (from $15), Hawaiian poké (from $14), and Mod-Asian dishes (from $14) available on top of bar bites and desserts. As for the tipples, unwind with pints of draft beer (from $10), glasses of house pours (from $9), and signature cocktails including the Tipsy Old Fashioned ($15) with bourbon, demerara and dried orange peel.

  • Restaurants
  • Bubble tea
  • Tampines

New name, same delicious smoothies. Previously known as A1 Penang Chendol, A1 Chendol & Durian prides itself in making rich smoothies and heavenly chendol desserts that are – as it puts it – "worth a second cup". The popular neighbourhood dessert shop has been serving Tampines residents and students from nearby Temasek Polytechnic for almost two decades, and with the revamp, it's showing no signs of slowing down. Beat the heat with its signature A1 Penang chendol (from $4) topped with a generous amount of red beans and pandan jelly. It also comes with a smoothie option.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Sports bars
  • Tampines

Since 1992, the sports bar has always been a solid choice for catching a game or two. It has over 20 bars across the island, and you won't have to travel far to catch a screening in the east as Harry's has a new, hip home at Tampines Grande. Order up the signature laksa popcorn chicken ($14) or go big with a wings platter ($28), and a pint of Harry's premium lager ($16), or a bottle of Tiger ($13) as you catch the latest in the sporting world.

  • Restaurants
  • Bubble tea
  • Tampines

You best believe that Xing Fu Tang's first outlet is at Century Square, with plenty more in the works. The main star of the show is none other than the brown sugar milk ($5.30). Its brown sugar pearls are freshly made in-store, and are lightly fried to give it a burnt, caramelised taste. The rest of the menu is slightly kitschy but as Instagrammable – the mango smoothie with pink cactus pearls ($6.90) is topped with a rabbit-shaped jelly, while the matcha pearl milk ($6.50) and strawberry pearl milk ($5.90) are coloured in different hues.

Shop

  • Shopping
  • Toys and games
  • Tampines

This outlet is the first store in Singapore to have a Lego Art wall with Star Wars-themed mosaic. The Lego Art series is designed for adults who have a keen interest in pop culture (and Lego, of course). Older Lego fans will love the dedicated Adults Corner where pro builders can assemble more complicated sets. Kids, on the other hand, get to enjoy the vertical play wall in the store or sit at the play table and build new worlds with Lego bricks. When it's time to shop, head to the Pick-A-Brick wall and fill a container with all the bricks you want or take your pick at the Build A Minifigure station and customise your very own collectible. 

  • Shopping
  • Shoes
  • Tampines

Did you know that the first Foot Locker store in Singapore is housed in Century Square? Here, you'll find everything from the classic styles to the latest trends from the big guns like Nike, Adidas, Puma, New Balance, Vans and more proudly sitting on the shelves of the iconic sportswear retailer. Shop its impressive selection of trainers, slides, and activewear, as well as collections that are exclusive only to Foot Locker stores. 

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  • Shopping
  • Boutiques
  • Tampines

What started as a blog shop has grown into a full-fledged boutique. The local label had its first brick-and-mortar at Cineleisure Orchard before setting camp at 313@Somerset, Bugis+, Wheelock Place, Westgate, and Tampines. Hung on its racks are fashion-forward pieces that works well for any occasion from boardroom to bar. Expect a trendy mix of edgy, playful and plain minimal dresses, tops, trousers, and accessories. En route to sustainability, the label is also designing more pieces made using sustainable fabrics like linen and lyocell.

  • Shopping
  • Tampines

Previously known as Mt. Sapola, Hysses continues to make products that smell amazing and are completely natural, only containing botanical and bioactive ingredients that help provide healing and nourishment for the skin and hair. The homegrown brand has an extensive range of essential oils that target concerns such as stress and anxiety to nausea and premenstrual syndrome. Men's needs are accounted for too, with oils to combat low testosterone and hair loss.

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  • Shopping
  • Tampines

Looking to recreate the Muji-esque vibe for your new home? Look no further than local lifestyle brand Iuiga to nail that Scandinavian vibe to a tee – at an affordable price tag to boot. Launched as an online store, Iuiga has branched out with physical stores at Funan, Paya Lebar Quarter, and more. Its store at Tampines 1 is the largest and features the full lineup of products, as well as an experiential area where you can interact with its exclusive solid wood furniture collection. Go forth and browse Instagram-worthy tableware, home decor, and even the trendy metallic suitcase for your next vacay.

  • Shopping
  • Home decor
  • Tampines

There are only two Ikea stores in Singapore – one in Alexandra, and the other at Tampines Retail Park. Shopping at this Swedish furniture behemoth is a guilty pleasure most of us won’t normally ’fess up to. The affordable prices and stylish designs make it easy for anyone to spruce up their home. After all that shopping, take a break with a hot dog and soda, or those tasty, tasty Swedish meatballs.

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  • Shopping
  • Electronics
  • Tampines

Shop all things electronics including domestic appliances, home entertainment solutions and the latest digital technology as well as modern furniture under one roof at the biggest Courts store in Singapore. What sets this multi-levelled Megastore apart from other Courts stores is its home-like showrooms, contemporary retail concepts, end-to-end home solutions and a huge array of products at affordable prices.

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