The Balestier Heritage Trail – Off the beaten track in Singapore

Looking for things to do in Singapore?

Singapore is a wonderful destination for solo female travellers.  A wonderfully safe city filled with a richness of culture and diversity combined with an interesting history.  There is so much to showcase in this wonderful place, from the well heard of places like Raffles, Chinatown and Little India, to the treasures known to the local Singaporeans.

Singapore off the beaten track

I love a good off the beaten track stay in the places I visit and was not disappointed when I booked to stay away from the typical tourist haunts, on the Balestier Road. The Balistier Heritage trail is where you’ll find some of the best hidden corners of Singapore.

Armed with sunscreen, insect repellent, good walking shoes and my camera, I set about walking the Balestier Heritage Trail. From the moment I set out from my hotel, I was caught up in the history of this area that tells the tale of Singapore’s remarkable journey from British trading post to a modern city.

This district’s almost 180 year old history is where some of the key moments in the 1911 Chinese Revolution were conceived, where coffee is still brewed in the traditional way and home to traditional bakeries and wonderful places of worship.

Singapore Balistier Heritage TrailWhat strikes you first is the wonderful old buildings and shopfronts, many filled with vanishing trades. Balestier is one the best places to sample Singapore’s national dish Chicken Rice.

The Balestier market which was built in 1922 for local farmers to sell their produce houses food stalls serving a variety of mouth-watering local favourites.  A walk along Kim Keat Road and the wonderful smell of coffee grinding eminates from the Lam Yeo Coffee Powder shop where the locals still by their coffee supplies.  The traditional coffee or ‘kopi’ is served with sugar and sweetened condensed milk.  I gave it a try, a little too sweet for my liking, but a very different experience from your modern day coffee shop.

Spice market Singapore

You’ll find traditional bakeries here too. Sliced toast with butter and ‘kaya’ (a local jam made from coconut and egg) combined with soft-boiled eggs is the local breakfast fare, well worth a taste.

A small cart stands at the corner of Boon Teck Road, offering water and tea to passers-by free of charge.  It is a legacy of past times when clean drinking water was a luxury and the provision of water was seen as a charitable act.

Chicken rice Singapore

Along the Balestier trail, you find a number of places of worship.  The Novena Church, the Sasanaramsi Burmese Buddhist Temple, The Goh Chor Tua Pek Kong Temple, the Leng Ern Jee Temple and the Masjid Hajjah Rahimabi Kebun Limau mosque highlight the diversity of cultures that make up the Singaporean community and well worth a look.  Just make sure you have clothing covering your legs and shoulders and take along a scarf to cover your head if visiting a mosque.  You will need to take off your shoes in many places including some shops.

Singapore off the beaten track

Declared a National Monument in 1994, the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall was the headquarters for Dr. Sun Yat Sen. It now hosts a museum that offers a closer look at the life of Dr. Sun and the contributions made by the Chinese communities in Southeastern asia to the 1911 Chinese Revolution, that overthrew the Qing Dynasty. A valuable experience.

Singapore off the beaten track

Your journey through the Balestier will take you past beautiful pre-war terrace houses, conserved shophouses and art deco single story shop fronts.  It will offer you a glimpse of the past and well worth a trip a little out of the downtown area for a visit.  It’s a place where you’ll see very few tourists and where you can immerse yourself in the local culture without spending a lot of money.  Why not hit the Balestier Heritage trail yourself and find the hidden corners of Singapore.

Happy Travels!


Singapore off the beaten track. Balistier Heritage Trail