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Dairy Farm, Singapore: Guide to living, eating and shopping near the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

The Dairy Farm area is a verdant neighbourhood tucked away near the beauty and tranquillity of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. It’s popular with locals and expats who yearn for a laidback lifestyle that’s outside the city but not isolated. Its distinctive selection of restaurants, pubs, malls and parks give Dairy Farm a unique small-city feel.

Juliet Kelly-Wong, UK

Where did you live when you first came to Singapore?

I first lived in a beautiful black-and-white house in Woodleigh Park with my parents. When my parents moved from Singapore, my now-husband and I lived in an HDB flat on Farrer Road. We moved to Goodluck Garden in the Toh Tuck area after the birth of our second child. We then fell in love with the Upper Bukit Timah area and bought a home there. Luckily, we found The Dairy Farm and Chestnut Drive areas and just last year we bought a place at Chestnutville, off Jalan Pakis and Dairy Farm Crescent.


What were your main reasons for moving to this area?

It feels that we are as far out in “the country” as one can be in Singapore. We enjoy seeing the nature reserve from our living room and bedrooms. The air here is fresher and it can actually get “cold” in the evenings. We see beautiful birds in the morning and have monkeys that steal bananas from our neighbours. Not to mention the roosters that crow at 6am – not a perk, but part of the country feeling.

What is best about living in this neighbourhood?

There are lots of walks around here, which are great for us, the kids and the dogs. It’s also very quiet, removed from the hustle and bustle of urban Singapore. Yet we can be on Orchard Road in 15 minutes outside of rush hour. We are also within walking distance from The Rail Mall, which has a great variety of shops, including an organic grocery store, a bank, a kids’ activity centre, a dentist, several pubs, great restaurants, a Cold Storage supermarket and 24-hour eateries. But really, the best thing is that you can actually walk to do your shopping or just go for a prata and a coffee. 


What’s missing from your local area that you would like to have?

An ATM for DBS or POSB. It’s a conspicuous absence of Singapore’s largest banks.

Any drawbacks to living in this area?

None, except for the occasional snake!

Why this specific home?

Our home is a two-storey maisonette, with commanding views of the nature reserve. It’s bright and airy, and allows us to relax and enjoy our home and the surrounding nature. Having two storeys allows the four of us to spread out, yet it keeps it cosy. With only about 40 units in our condo, the kids are able to run around outside and ride their bikes without us having to worry too much. The kids even make “secret agent tree houses” and play the way children are meant to. We also have lovely neighbours, which makes it feel like a welcoming community.

What facilities are important to you?

A pool and space for the kids to play safely. We also have a basketball court that has been invaluable for birthday parties, barbecues, and even screening outdoor movies.

 

Preferred local leisure area?

The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, near Dairy Farm Quarry, is an easy walk for us. It has bike paths and walks, even a grassy field to fly planes, run dogs, play games and have picnics.

Preferred local shopping centre?

Bukit Timah Plaza. The Fairprice supermarket there is fantastic and much cheaper than Cold Storage. It also has a lot of great little shops and a Chinese medical hall where you can try lots of wonderful traditional Chinese medicinal goodies and remedies.

Special finds?

Sunny Choice, an organic shop at The Rail Mall, which sells a great variety of reasonably priced organic fruits, vegetables and sundries, plus organic homemade ice cream.

Favourite restaurant for a special night out?

The Thai restaurant called Sweet Salty Spicy, and Let’s Clap, a great crab restaurant, are both in The Rail Mall. You can sit outside and enjoy the evening with the occasional train rolling by during dinner. Great for trainspotters!

Favourite “cheap and cheerful” restaurant?

Our local toast and prata shop, Ah Mei Café at The Rail Mall, is great for breakfasts. There’s a local banana-leaf curry restaurant called Karu’s further along Upper Bukit Timah Road towards Ten Mile Junction. Everything is served on a big banana leaf and tastes delicious. A sushi bar opened recently at Dairy Farm Estate, a short walk away from us. We can relax and nibble on sushi while watching the kids in the playground right in front. 

Recommendations

Ah Mei Café
Bukit Timah Plaza
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Kairu’s
Let’s Clap, crab restaurant
The Rail Mall
Sunny Choice organic foods
Sweet Salty Spicy, Thai food
450 Upper Bukit Timah Rd
1 Jalan Anak Bukit
At end of Hindhede Drive
810 Upper Bukit Timah Rd
398 Upper Bukit Timah Rd
424 Upper Bukit Timah Rd
434 Upper Bukit Timah Rd
392 Upper Bukit Timah Rd

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