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The Old And The Bold
How Tanjong Pagar’s unique blend of innovation and heritage reflects the history of Singapore.
From sleepy fishing village to global 21st century metropolis, Singapore’s current status as a city of the world is remarkable, to say the least. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Tanjong Pagar, a neighbourhood where the modern and the traditional blend together in seamless harmony.
The Lion City’s hard-fought history is written in these streets: Where the island’s tallest building – a symbol of our future potential – towers over intrepid new businesses and conservation sites with remarkable heritage. On the brink of Singapore’s 52nd birthday, take a walk with us through this unique neighbourhood to savour its unique blend of old and new, and to appreciate how far we’ve come.
A Walk To Remember
Interesting factoid: If you’d like to pray for good fortune at work, one of Seng Wong Beo’s resident deities, Wen Chang, can be given offerings like garlic and soya bean curd.
Tanjong Pagar and its adjacent neighbourhoods are home to many hidden gems from Singapore’s past. Begin your walk in the heart of the neighbourhood, at Tanjong Pagar Centre. It’s a five-minute stroll to our first destination, Seng Wong Beo Temple.
A time capsule of Straits Chinese beliefs, Seng Wong Beo Temple has been a place of worship since 1905. One of the last temples in Singapore to offer the folk ritual of ghost marriages for the dearly departed, this Taoist place of worship is dedicated to the Chinese City God, Cheng Huang Ye, whose domain of influence is the preservation of a city’s wellbeing and prosperity.
Located at the foot of Mount Palmer, Fook Tet Soo Khek Temple is one of the oldest Hakka establishments in Singapore, and is home to a small repository of relics dating to the 19th century.
From Seng Wong Beo Temple, take a walk down Parsi Road to Anson Road, before turning into Palmer Way. The Shenton Way Bus Terminal is a useful landmark to ensure sure that you’re on the right track. Keep heading down Palmer Way, and you should be able to spy Fook Tet Soo Kek.
Before land reclamation stretched Singapore’s shoreline beyond its natural limits, Fook Tet Soo Kek was in close proximity to the sea. Built in 1844, this site is one of Singapore’s oldest places of worship. The temple was established by clan members of the Hakkas, a Chinese dialect group that Lee Kuan Yew – Singapore’s founding father and first Prime Minister – belonged to.
Where Hip Meets Heritage
If you find yourself lost amidst the small, winding streets of this neighbourhood, use Tanjong Pagar Centre as a landmark to orient yourself.
Take a leisurely walk back to Tanjong Pagar Centre, where you can grab lunch at Japan Rail Café, or at one of the many food kiosks in the basement. Then make your way towards the Duxton Hill neighbourhood, and the adjacent Neil Road and Duxton Road.
Home to a unique blend of hipster cafes and heritage sites, this buzzing enclave is a perfect representation of Singapore in miniature.
We’re not going to spoil the fun of exploring this unique neighbourhood. But to whet your appetite, here’s a handful of interesting establishments in the vicinity that you can visit at your leisure.
Established in 1972, Tong Mern Sern Antiques stocks a compelling mesh of charming antiques and sentimental bric-a-brac.
Tong Mern Sern Antiques
51 Craig Road
From old typewriters to vintage furniture and statues of Chinese deities, Tong Mern Sern Antiques has been in business since 1972. This quaint antique shop hearkens back to the days when karang guni men were a common site along Singapore’s bustling streets
Book lovers should definitely pay a visit to Littered With Books, an indie bookstore nestled along Duxton Road that offers a surprisingly diverse and affordable selection of contemporary paperbacks and literary classics.
Shop Name: Littered With Books
Address: 20 Duxton Road
Opening Hours: 12pm-8pm
End your walk with a pick-me-up at Joe & The Juice, back at Tanjong Pagar Centre. This Scandinavian-inspired juice bar serves up coffee made from South American coffee beans and a unique blend of juices. Stress Down, a refreshing mix of strawberry, apple and ginger, is our personal favourite pick.
Shop Name: Joe & The Juice
Address: Tanjong Pagar Centre, 7 Wallich Street, #01-07
Opening Hours: 8am-8pm
From independent bookstores to beautifully preserved conservation shophouses, Tanjong Pagar fuses the best of The Lion City’s traditions and aspirations.
Feeling patriotic after reading about Singapore’s unique blend of heritage and innovation? Keep your eyes peeled for a special announcement on our Facebook and Instagram. We’ll be celebrating Singapore’s achievements through honest words, heartfelt sentiments and good, old-fashioned alcohol. Not to spoil the surprise, but drinks will (quite literally) be on us!