District Guide: Balestier

A heritage area in District 12, Balestier is known among Singaporean foodies for its wide variety of hawker cuisine. But did you know that it also has a rich history, with ties to countries such as Myanmar and historical figures such as Chinese revolutionary Dr Sun Yat Sen?

(Balestier is known for its central location and good food)

The district derives its name from Joseph Balestier, who served as the country’s first US Consul during the mid-1800s. It’s also one of the few remaining areas in Singapore where you can find Art Deco shophouses as well as unique landmarks such as the Maha Sasana Ramsi Burmese Buddhist Temple, which was founded in 1921 by a Burmese physician. There’s also the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, which hosted the famed Chinese revolutionary on three separate occasions and was the headquarters of the anti-Manchu revolutionary movement in the early 20th century.

Today, Balestier is an up-and-coming suburban residential district that’s a magnet for young working professionals who want to live close to the city without paying premium housing prices. Comprising estates such as Moulmein and Whampoa, it is characterised by its low-rise shophouses and is well-served by amenities such as wet markets, supermarkets, clinics and shopping centres.

With a history spanning more than 160 years, Balestier has justifiably been earmarked for conservation. The Thomson-Balestier area is also touted as a rising fringe estate. Currently, though property prices in the area are increasing, they are still below the national average according to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), which pegs the increase in prices in Balestier at 9 percent. The national fringe average, meanwhile, is 11 percent.

In recent years, the booming property market has seen a number of high-rise condominiums such as 368 Thomson and Ei8ht Raja being developed.

A popular foodie haunt, Balestier has no shortage of eating places. It is particularly famous for the bak kut teh (pork rib broth) as well as tau seah peah (savoury bean paste biscuits).  Some well-known institutions include Founder Bak Kut Teh (347 Balestier Road) and the 24-hour Balestier Market (401 Balestier Road).

If you like your Tiger served up with a side of popular Bollywood tunes, head to Jeanz Live (262 Balestier Road, 01-17 Balestier Complex).

Apart from food, Balestier is also known for its lighting shops, which number more than 50, ranging from high-end retailers such as Casa Nuovo (specialising in Swarovski lighting fixtures), to your middle-of-the-road variety.

It is accessible by Central Expressway (CTE) and the Pan Island Expressway (PIE). Its closest MRT stations are Novena and Toa Payoh. Balestier is also well-served by a number of bus services that connect residents to zones such as Bugis, Chinatown, City Hall and Orchard Road.

Read Balestier residents’ views on living in the district, link.
Read expert analysis on the Balestier property market, link.