Bukit Timah is arguably Singapore’s most family-friendly area, and as Sassy Mama’s resident, well, resident, I’m excited to give you the ultimate run-down on my local ‘hood. Just to get things straight up front, this isn’t necessarily a definitive best-of, as there’s just too much amazingness to cover in one article, but my personal faves and those of my fam. So, grab your EZ link card or hail a taxi (there’s limited MRT yet in BT – though we’re keenly anticipating the launch of the new Downtown line) and let’s GO!
We’ll kick off with the obvious ultimate rainy day destination, The Grandstand (formerly Turf City). Love it or hate it, it has a ton of things going for it, and it’s improving at a rate of knots. We’re fans of the free parking (there’s also a shuttle bus that runs from Botanic Garden MRT) and its jewel in the crown, PasarBella. Browse the wide selection of gourmet goodies, grab a cup of java at the Dutch Colony Coffee Co (or the new Providore café perched above the carpark) and then mosey on down to Giant if you’re looking for some bargainous groceries (well, bargainous for Singers) or some DIY bits and bobs.
If you’re looking to make a slightly more upscale interiors investment, you’ll love checking out Chillax Market up on the 3rd Floor, which in addition to homewares carries a good selection of home-grown women’s and childrenswear.
Little ones running wild? Then make a beeline for Fidgets or Kiddy Fun, the two softplays which no Singapore mama worth her salt can avoid. Kiddy Fun is more for the tiny tots, while Fidgets can entertain the big’uns. Rock on with your socks on! Also worth a mention are Piccolo House for stylish kids’ furny and Omakase Burger for super-awesome burgers and fries. If all that’s not quite enough, pick up a sweet treat at Twelve Cupcakes for the road.
The area around The Grandstand
Those with slightly older kiddos will be familiar with the bevvy of sporting programmes available on the fields just behind and around The Grandstand – we’ve covered most of them here, so we’ll just quickly mention that you can get your little ones trying out soccer, horseriding, cricket, rugby, lacrosse and swimming, all in a couple of square miles of sweaty turf and greenery. Coming soon is even a go-karting track, opened by Sassy Girl Claire Jedrek and her buddies, which we’ll be giving you the scoop on soon!
Once your juniors are all tuckered out you’ll need a bite to eat, and there’s plenty around. Our fave is Riders Café for a yummy brunch and pint of iced tea, but if you forgot to make a reservation (they’re kind of a must at weekends), skip over to Marmalade Pantry or Picotin and they’ll also see you right. Shout-out also to The Blue House Nursery and International School which is at 2 Turf Club Road, and which has a little café called The Pantry as well as its fab Infant & Toddler Atelier that’s a peaceful centre for exploration for the under-3 crowd. Run, don’t walk mama.
You know how we said there’s no MRT in Bukit Timah? Well, this is the end of the line at the moment – jump off at Botanic Gardens station or risk the nerve-jangling carpark (I confess to a personal scraper on this one – don’t tell my husband!). I’ve previously waxed lyrical as to my faves in Cluny Court so I’ll just give you the quick heads up that in my humble opinion Rosalie Pompon, The Children’s Showcase, Elly and Bungalow 55 are the unmissables, but there’s a ton here to keep you occupied. Just check opening hours before you go, OK? Because Sundays and Mondays can be a little on the quiet side…
In terms of entertainment and education for the kids, Abrakadoodle in Cluny Court runs great art lessons and holiday camps, and the fabulous Rain Trees Kindergarten is just a hop, skip and a jump away across Bukit Timah Road.
Greenwood Avenue and Watten Estate Area
Pay a visit to Watten Estate Park and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d unknowingly stumbled into a London or Sydney suburb – this is expat mama central. The reason? Well, apart from the proximity to Baker & Cook for caffeine refueling, this trad little playground ticks all the boxes with a swing-set, multiple climbing frames, picnic tables and even a flying fox. We’re big fans.
Once you’re done with playing (and if you can’t face cooking again!), Greenwood Avenue Fish Market & Bistro is Sassy Mama Partnerships Director Kristin’s top pick in the area for a take-out fish & chip supper. Or if you’re looking for a date night spot, we like the vibe of Rubato’s terrace for a cheeky aperitif, followed by dins at Fratini La Trattoria or Donna Carmela.
Upper Bukit Timah
I’d be remiss if I didn’t call out a couple of our greatest hits as we (occasionally) venture further north. Firstly, our favourite new Italian resto hands-down is iO Italian Osteria in the newly-opened HillV2 Mall up past the tired Beauty World. The food is fresh and delicious, the prices are reasonable, the décor is light and airy and the service is excellent. Two thumbs up and don’t you dare think about leaving without sampling the tiramisu.
Also on the eating tip, we adore Carpenter & Cook, which does simply super cakes and pastries served up among a treasure trove of vintage knick-knacks. It’s not super kid-friendly unless you’re a smug mother of girls who’ll sit quietly with little fingers cocked (guilty!), but defo worth the schlep if you’re planning a mamas’ coffee morning. The main attraction is the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (currently only open on weekends) for a bit of monkey-spotting; just remember – don’t get too near, don’t feed them and pack your mosquito-repellant!
Random Assorted Bukit Timah Gems
Some additional gems which don’t quite fit into the little areas I’ve mentioned above are:
- Blu Kouzina – our go-to Greek for either dining in or taking out. You’ll swear you were in Mykonos…
- The Missing Pan for a great brunch
- The Living Café for when your body is a temple (order a Chocolate Monkey for the kids if they’re not so into green juice)
- Originals for super-stylish furny
- ToTTs for all kinds of kitchen gadgets and gizmos (plus they can also host kids’ cooking parties)
- UFIT for whipping your bod into killer shape (not that it isn’t already, of course)
- Ikeda Spa if you feel like an amazing massage after all that eating/shopping/playing/working out!
Phew… I’m exhausted just thinking of all the amazing things there are to do in Bukit Timah. It’s a wonder I ever leave isn’t it? I often don’t… after all, west is best mamas!