Hidden Gems along the New Thomson-East Coast Line

The new extension on the Thomson-East Coast Line will have 11 new stations, extending the line from Caldecott to Gardens by the Bay

Phase 3 of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) is finally opening! The long-awaited extension will open its doors on 13th November 2022, surviving delay after delay. The city’s biggest papers and media outlets are already heralding its arrival. If only it could open earlier, at least getting home after Oktoberfest would have been a little easier.

metroresidences apartment rental singapore - thomson-east coast line bright hill station

Overview of the Thomson-East Coast Line

The TEL was first announced in August 2014, as the government decided to merge the Thomson Line and the Eastern Region Line. The first stage, which opened in January 2020, only had three stations, Woodlands North, Woodlands, and Woodlands South. Then, in August this year, the line extended all the way to Caldecott, running through Springleaf, Lentor, Mayflower, Bright Hill and Upper Thomson.

As for the new extension, it will run along Upper Thomson Road, through to Orchard and Great World, before ending at Gardens by the Bay. Key interchange stations on the new extension include Stevens, Orchard, and Marina Bay.

By the time of its slated completion in 2025, the line will be connecting neighbourhoods along Singapore’s East Coast, such as Tanjong Katong, Marine Parade, and Siglap. The completed line will run 43 kilometres long and serve 32 stations, all the while connecting to all of the existing MRT lines: the North South Line (NSL), East West Line (EWL), North East Line (NEL), Circle Line (CCL) and the Downtown Line.

metroresidences apartment rental singapore - thomson-east coast line train

Get off the beaten path with the Thomson-East Coast Line

No wonder it’s a hugely anticipated opening. The new extension saves plenty of time for commuters, all the while opening up the less-trodden corners of Singapore. Locals and tourists alike can now enjoy even more hidden gems of the city. As the opening day approaches, let’s look at some of Singapore’s hidden gems along the new Thomson-East Coast Line extension.

1. Dempsey Hill

Here is where the past and the new meet. The area was once a nutmeg plantation before the British repurposed it as a military camp during World War II. Today, the barracks and structures remain intact, housing an exciting mix of cafes, restaurants, boutiques, wellness studios, art studios, and a luxury pet hotel. All of that is within a ten-minute commute from Napier MRT station.

So forget about its reputation for brunch. Dempsey has plenty else to offer. For those wanting to get a dose of culture, you can take on pottery at the Impressions Art Studio. Aspiring chocolatiers can head to ANJALICHOCALAT for their chocolate-making workshops too.

If you’re looking to spruce up your home instead, there are plenty of homeware stores. The chic-obsessed will certainly enjoy Bungalow 55 and Lifestorey Prestige @ Dempsey. Want a little more character and personality for your living spaces? Check out the fine collection of Asian antiquities at Woody Antique House, or British ones at Timothy Oulton.

Well, if you’re still insisting on brunch, you can go green with the farm-to-table concept at Open Farm Community. Or you can opt for a rich fusion of British and Asian flavours at Hathaway.

Getting There from TEL:

Alight from Napier MRT station and get to the bus stop at the side of Holland Road with the Australian High Commission. You can take bus numbers 7, 77, 105, 106, or 123. Alight at CSC Dempsey Clubhouse, which is only two stops away.

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2. Tanglin Mall

This is Singapore’s second oldest mall, after the People’s Park Complex. Maybe this is one of the OG heartland malls too. Fun fact: Tanglin Mall shares the same local architect as the People’s Park Complex, William Lim. Its quiet elegance has even courted celebrities, from Elton John to United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Tanglin Mall now houses an eclectic mix of shops and eateries. But we’re looking at all the fetching collections of gift shops there. The Better Toy Store specifically curates its award-winning toys. The Children’s Showcase, Kidz Story, and Gifts Greetings similarly have top-notch toys, games, crafts and party supplies.

Getting There from TEL:

Tanglin Mall is just a five-minute walk away from the upcoming Orchard Boulevard MRT station.

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3. South River Valley

metroresidences apartment rental singapore - river valley neighbourhood

Stretching across the upper bends of the Singapore River, the locale has an exquisite constellation of cafes, restaurants, and offices. We especially recommend Toby’s Estate if you’re hunting for specialty coffee. The eponymous founder, Toby Smith, decided to forego his legal ambitions to pursue the perfect cup of coffee, touring across the globe to experience first-hand the dedication of coffee growers. He first opened Toby’s Estate cafe and roastery in Chippendale, Sydney, before opening their Asia branch in Singapore in 2011.

For a local touch, head over to Zion Riverside Food Centre for a smattering of local dishes. Freshly renovated in August last year, the famed hawker centre still retains its wide selection of stalls. Must haves include the carrot cakes from Lau Goh Teochew Chye Thow Kway and the Sichuan delicacies from Ah Wang La Mian Xiao Long Bao. If you’ve been painting the town red for the evening, Zion Road Big Prawn Mee will still be serving their decadent prawn heads and pork ribs broth, all the way to 2 in the morning.

Getting There from TEL:

You can get to Toby’s Estate and Zion Riverside Food Centre on foot from the Great World MRT station. From the station, you need to walk past Kim Seng Park and continue along the Singapore River to get to Toby’s Estate. Meanwhile, Zion Riverside Food Centre is across from the Great World shopping centre.

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4.  Pearl’s Hill City Park

While you may have heard of the famed, colourful enclaves of Blair Road and Tiong Bahru nearby, Pearl’s Hill City Park sits right between the two. It’s cleverly hidden from all the bustle of Chinatown, so you can escape into the oasis for a little peace and quiet. The mature Tembusu trees allow for a cool respite in the park. And if you’re lucky, you may get to see the lotus in full bloom at the pond.

Getting There from TEL:

The park is just a four-minute walk from the Outram Park MRT Interchange.

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5. Maxwell

metroresidences apartment rental singapore - maxwell station construction

The locale is as debonair as it sounds, so digital nomads are sure to find excitement here. While it may be known for its row upon row of beautiful shophouses, there’s a cool smattering of queer-friendly bars along Neil Road. Some stalwarts like DYMK have since closed down, but legends such as Tantric, Backstage Bar and Taboo still stand strong. But there are new kids on the block, such as the controversial Neil Conversion Clinic.

But fear not introverts! Maxwell is home to a couple of indie bookstores. Littered with Books is just around the corner on Duxton Road. You can find Grassroots Book Room over at Bukit Pasoh Road to get your fill of Chinese literature. Perhaps you can read the latest paperback to your collection along the sliver of greenery along Neil Road Park.

For those on the hunt for scrumptious food, you simply need to find your way to the dizzying array of food options along Tanjong Pagar Road, Cook Street, and Tras Street.

Getting There from TEL:

Maxwell MRT station will provide easy access to the area.

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Apartment Rentals along Thomson-East Coast Line, and More!


Whether you’re staying for a longer period or not, we have a wide range of options across coveted locales such as Raffles Place, Orchard Road, and Arab Street. If you’re planning to move your furkid abroad with you, we’ve even got a couple of pet-friendly Singapore condo rentals and serviced apartments too.

All our serviced apartments and hotel rooms are conveniently located, with hassle-free access to public transport. It all comes fully furnished too, with amenities like wi-fi, air-conditioners, and even fully-equipped kitchens. With MetroResidences, you can find your home away from home.

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