Balestier Road is just off Thomson Road on one end and the Novena area on the other end. Unlike most typical residential areas, which are more homogeneous in character, Balestier Road is more eclectic — with shops, eateries, hotels, temples, industrial buildings, hospitals and apartment blocks. “This makes the neighbourhood colourful and busy,” says Ong Teck Hui, JLL national director of research and consultancy.
Aerial view of Balestier and Whampoa Drive, which has undergone a renewal
URA identified Balestier as an identity node in 2002 and gazetted many conservation buildings in the area, including heritage shophouses built in the 1840s and monuments such as the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall under its Old World Charm conservation proposal.
Part of Balestier’s charm is its blend of old and new — the juxtaposition of heritage shophouses against retro-age and new buildings. It has a rich history spanning 160 years and was named after Joseph Balestier, the US’ first consul to Singapore and a sugarcane plantation owner who named his plantation Balestier Plains.
The Novena area has also long been a desirable CBD fringe office location, with office towers at Novena Square as well as the upcoming Royal Square and its mix of offices and medical suites
People can now learn more about Balestier from the 1.6km Balestier Heritage Trail and the Balestier Food Trail map detailing special spots that set the area apart as culturally unique. Places of interest on the heritage trail include the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, the Maha Sasana Ramsi Burmese Buddhist Temple and The Former Shaw Malay Film Studios — a significant site in Asian Cinema from the 1930s to 1980s.
Long associated with its numerous lighting shops, hardware and home-fitting shops and local food, Balestier is also evolving. The traditional food haunts are still there, including Loong Fatt Eating House and Confectionery, House of Tau Sar Piah, Noi’s Mushroom Minced Meat Noodles, Founder Bak Kut Teh, Boon Tong Kee and Loy Kee Chicken Rice.
The famous Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice draws tourists to Balestier