One of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city, Toa Payoh has risen from the swamplands of Central Singapore. It’s come a long way since its days as a squatter district and ditched its reputation as the ‘Chicago of the East’. Today, Toa Payoh is peppered with high-rise buildings, shopping centres and hawker centres – and established itself as a self-sufficient community on the outskirts of the CBD.
Toa Payoh was the first town designed and developed entirely by the Housing & Development Board (HDB), making it an icon for public housing towns in Singapore. Aside from HDB properties within Toa Payoh New Town on the western side of the community, there are condos both old and new. Modern developments include 8 @Woodleigh, TreVista and Gem Residences.
While it may not be Singapore’s swankiest neighbourhood, Toa Payoh has its fair share of local eateries and artisan cafes. Toa Payoh does have a certain charm. Residents are drawn to the laidback lifestyle, reasonable rents, bargain-hunting at Toa Payoh Mall and cheap eats at the Toa Payoh Block 127 Market and Food Centre. The presence of Stamford American International and St Joseph's Institution school are a drawcard for many expats too.
There are some quirky gems in this otherwise sleepy neighbourhood: a dinosaur park in Lorong 6, Singapore’s oldest Buddhist monastery and seven-storey dragon pagoda, and Singapore’s last surviving dragon playground.
You’ll need to travel to find any major attractions or entertainment, though, and head towards neighbouring communities such as Holland Village and Orchard Road for any decent nightlife. That said, there are some family-friendly recreational facilities on your doorstep, the tranquil Toa Payoh Town Park and the exploratory Toa Payoh Sensory Park among them. Sporting facilities in the southern side of the neighbourhood include the 3,500-seater Toa Payoh Stadium, a tennis academy and a swimming complex, which are training grounds for some of Singapore’s national teams.
Toa Payoh is served by four MRT stations, namely Braddell and Toa Payoh (North-South Line), and Woodleigh and Potong Pasir (North-East line). It is well-connected to the rest of Singapore by the Pan Island (PIE) and Central (CTE) Expressways.
There are two international schools: Stamford American International School, which opened its new campus in Toa Payoh in 2012, and St Joseph's Institution School (SJI International).
Mount Alvernia Hospital and various medical centres are in Toa Payoh, and Changi General Hospital is a 15-minute drive away.
What Toa Payoh lacks in glitzy malls it makes up for with stores across Toa Payoh Town Centre that ooze plenty of character.
Entertainment is limited to park life at Toa Payoh Town Park and Toa Payoh Sensory Park, but there are sports facilities in the southern end of the neighbourhood.
Bars and restaurants
As well as having many well-established local eateries and hawker stalls, Toa Payoh is slowly attracting more modern cafes and restaurants.
Who lives here?
Expats, including many Americans, and locals.