Singapore was divided into 28 different districts in 1950. It evolved to a 4-digit postal system in 1979, where the first 2 digits are the postal district and the last 2 digits are the postal sector. Moving forward to 1995, the 4-digit postal code is replaced by a unique 6-digit postal code for each building and landed property, where the first 2 digits refer to the postal sector and the last 4 digits refer to the specific delivery point within the sector. This change was implemented to facilitate the sorting of mails and we have been sticking to this system until today.

Although the postal district code is no longer in use, property agents and house hunters are still using the district numbers as a way to identify the location of different properties.

About Tiong Bahru

Tiong Bahru falls under District 3, along with Queenstown. Back in 1859, the area was the extension of an existing cemetery, located at the present-day site of Singapore General Hospital. Hence, the literal translation of “Tiong Bahru” is “new cemetery”, “Tiong” means cemetery in Hokkien and “Bahru” means new in Malay. However, graves in both sites were exhumed in 1930.

Being one of the oldest housing estates in Singapore, it is where public housing was first built. Some of the pre-war units have been listed for conservation by Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). While some things from the past remain, such as Tiong Bahru food market and the pre-war units, many businesses took over the space and turned them into cafes, bookstores, yoga studios and quaint little stores that attracts the hipster crowd these days. It is definitely a neighbourhood where you find a mix of old and new.

Housing Options

Walk-up Apartments

There are 20 blocks in Tiong Bahru estate, the first public housing in Singapore. The buildings were built in Art-Deco Style with architecture of British public housing in that era. They are low-rise (up to 5 Storeys), with flat rooftops, spiral staircase, rounded balcony and underground storages. These blocks are listed as the conservation area in 2003.

There are no lifts in these buildings and the only way to get to the apartments are through the stairs, thus the name, walk-up apartments. The good thing about these apartments is the luxury of space as they were built long ago; size of a 3-bedroom walk-up apartment in Tiong Bahru is around 1,000 square feet, with prices ranging from $1 million to $2 million. The pre-war units are especially favoured by permanent residents and foreigners, who like the rustic ambience of the estate.


There are also newer developments in Tiong Bahru such as Highline Residences, built in 2018 and The Regency, built in 2010. These are high-rise buildings with facilities like gym and swimming pool included within the development. They are more modern as compared to the apartments in Tiong Bahru Estate but the newer condos tend to have smaller units. For instance, a 3-bedroom unit is around 900 square feet in Highline Residences and 1,200 square feet in The Regency. Prices of condos in Tiong Bahru goes from $2 million onwards for a 3-bedroom unit.

How we feel about Tiong Bahru?

Tiong Bahru is growing in popularity, especially amongst the expats and younger generation. It has so much to offer; many people go there for the nostalgia factors but still enjoy the comfort of modernity. They can choose to go to one of the oldest coffeeshop in Singapore or hangout in the trendiest café, all of them just a stone’s throw away. The area may have evolved over time, but one thing that hasn’t changed is being a social haven that brings people together.