Block 53, The “VIP Block”, as well as the surrounding blocks, were among the first blocks built in Toa Payoh town. It later gained its reputation as a “VIP block” after visits from prime ministers, presidents and monarchs in the 1960s and 1970s.
Known for its unusual bat-shaped design, Block 116 is unique as most blocks were built based on a linear design in the early 1960s. Block 116 also features extended corridors, a characteristic of early HDB designs that have become less common today.
The Peak @ Toa Payoh was completed in 2012 and incorporates features such as roof gardens and mid-tower communal spaces.
A landmark block dating back to the 1960s, the curving Block 157 is one of the longest semi-circular blocks in Singapore.
Toa Payoh Town Park houses a 25-metre-tall Look-Out Tower conserved by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Completed in the 1970s, the popularity of this park led HDB to set aside sizeable plots of land for parks in each public housing town that followed.
Central Horizon (Blocks 79A to 79E) was completed in 2003 and can be distinguished by the golden ‘crowns’ on each block.
The 1973 SEAP Games Village allowed athletes to stay in point blocks close to everyday amenities such as cinemas and hawker centres, which allowed them to experience a slice of Singapore life. Today, one of the blocks, Block 179, is better known for hosting games of checkers (known regionally as “dum”) at its void deck, which regularly brings together enthusiastic players and spectators alike.
Designed and built by HDB in 1979, Toa Payoh Dragon Playground with its terrazzo-clad head and ringed body has become one of the most recognisable icons of Singaporean culture. A smaller variation of the dragon playground design is located at Lorong 1.
Completed in 1909, Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery is the oldest Buddhist monastery in Singapore and includes the Hall of Celestial Kings and Mahavira Hall, which were collectively gazetted as a National Monument in 1980. The monastery compound also houses Shuang Lin Cheng Huang Temple, which is a Taoist temple managed by the Buddhist monks of the monastery.
Originally located along Orchard Road, Sri Vairavimada Kaliamman Temple relocated to Toa Payoh in 1982. The temple’s primary deity is Kali, whose sculpture occupies the central position in the temple’s majestic gopuram (entrance tower).
Completed in 1974, United Five Temples of Toa Payoh houses five temples founded during Toa Payoh's kampong past. This Taoist temple was the first in Singapore to bring together temples from different Chinese dialect groups and enshrining different deities within one compound.
Toa Payoh Seu Teck Sean Tong enshrines Song Da Feng as its primary deity and has practiced Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian traditions since its establishment in 1942. It also includes a facility that houses ancestral tablets and a Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic which provides free medical care to all, regardless of race or religion.
Opened in 1977, Masjid Muhajirin was the first to be built with support from the community and the Mosque Building Fund, which comprises contributions from working Muslims across Singapore.
The Church of the Risen Christ was established in 1971 and has traditionally offered Mass in English, Mandarin and Tamil. In recent decades, it has also drawn parishioners from Myanmar, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Toa Payoh Chinese Methodist Church has its roots in a free clinic and kindergarten established by a group of Christians in the late 1960s. The church building was constructed in 1973 using funds raised by the Methodist community.
Since the kampong past of Toa Payoh, the banyan tree where the Tree Shrine at Block 177 is located has been regarded as sacred. Today, the shrine is dedicated to the Taoist deities Tian Gong, Guan Yin, Datuk Kong and Tua Pek Kong.
Toa Payoh Sports Complex comprises Toa Payoh Stadium, Sports Hall, Sports Centre and Swimming Complex. The complex was constructed in time for the 1973 Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games. Over the decades, these sporting facilities have been well-used by athletes in competitions such as the National Schools’ Swimming Championships, as well as for community activities.
Established as a free Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic at Chung Shan Association in 1956, community members from all walks of life contributed funds to construct the current Chung Hwa Medical Institution building that opened in 1978. It has since expanded its research and development into various TCM fields and continues to provide low-cost treatments to patients from all backgrounds.
Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA) was founded by seven clan associations and formally inaugurated in 1986. Having moved its headquarters to Toa Payoh in 1997, SFCCA promotes Singaporean Chinese culture through events, exhibitions and publications, and funds scholarships and bursaries for underprivileged students and inmates.

This is a self-guided trail.

Toa Payoh has long been characterised as a pioneering Housing & Development Board (HDB) town. In the 1960s, the development of Toa Payoh town occurred
at a pivotal point in Singapore’s history. As the first town planned with comprehensive town amenities, the innovative public housing prototype would go on to serve as a model for the development of future residential towns in Singapore.

For the new residents who moved into Toa Payoh, their relocation from a kampong or crowded quarters in the city to HDB flats was a drastic change to their way of life. It was not the first time, however, that the area had been through sweeping transformations.

In the 19th century, gambier and pepper planters replaced the forests and the swamps Toa Payoh was named after with plantations that proliferated at an unsustainable rate. These plantations offered economic opportunities, which drew settlers who established kampongs and various cottage industries.

Numerous institutions were also founded during this period, including Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery, which stands out amidst the modern high-rise apartment blocks in the neighbourhood today, as well as others including those brought together in United Five Temples of Toa Payoh. Along with community institutions such as Chung Hwa Medical Institution, they continue to serve the people of Toa Payoh and beyond.

Today, iconic landmarks abound in Toa Payoh, such as the Dragon Playground and Town Park which were forerunners when introduced in this town but have since become common features in other housing estates. Despite having undergone town rejuvenations and changes in its landscape, Toa Payoh has retained the character of those who contributed to its development and evolution as reflected in the shared memories of residents, some of which have been captured in this companion guide through oral and historical accounts.


Explore the Suggested Short Trail Routes: