Geylang is a township in the Central Region of Singapore that is infamous for its red light district, proving that even in Singapore, where citizens are generally straight-laced and law-abiding, you can find outliers and rebels. And here is where they are allowed to ply their trade where sex is the main commodity.
While it’s true that you can find Singapore’s seedy bars, sex shops, and brothels in this area, there are a lot more to Geylang than its regulated sex industry. In fact, if you’re in the look out for more affordable accommodations, you can opt for a cheap hotel in Geylang that offers top-quality, wholesome service. Indeed, the area’s dodgy reputation helps keep the prices in Geylang cheaper than other areas in Singapore.
Like any part of Singapore, however, Geylang is pretty safe, even when you’re walking at night. Moreover, you can avoid the back alleys so you won’t even have to see any of the shady businesses the area is notorious for. More importantly, you’ll find that Geylang is actually a fascinating place with its own charm and personality that’s a little more colourful than the more developed areas of the country. Here, you’ll find hawker food courts, markets, and historical landmarks that are truly worth visiting. Below are just some of the activities and destinations that we recommend for anyone visiting this other side of Singapore.
Shop at Geylang Serai Market
Immediately, you’ll see the strong Malay influence as the Geylang Serai Market is housed in a traditional Kampung house. It’s one of Singapore’s busiest and largest markets. Most of the businesses offer Malay specialties and products with some shops offering Middle Eastern spices as well. Along with fresh seafood and produce, the market also has shops that sell dry goods like fabrics and souvenirs.
Eat at Geylang Bahru Market and Food Centre
After a year of renovations and construction, the Geylang Bahru Market and Food Centre reopened its doors to hungry customers in 2018. This hawker centre offers an assortment of Chinese and Malay dishes with some stalls offering western fare as well. You can satisfy your craving for braised duck, nasi lemak, spring rolls, noodles, and more. With a newly renovated building, the centre features a more airy and comfortable ambiance filled with light and mouth-watering food options.
Take Picture of the Pre-War Double Story Terrace Shop Houses
Take your Instagram shots to another level by featuring these incredible pre-war terrace and shop houses found along Lorong 24A and Lorong 34. The buildings’ façades feature colourful tile patterns, uniquely designed windows, and other beautiful architectural details. They date back to the 1920s and feature a mixture of Chinese, Malay, and European design influences. These pre-war structures stand in stark contrast to Singapore’s iconic high-rise buildings, but they are an important historical side of Singapore that’s worth appreciating.
Visit the Wisma Geylang Serai
The recently opened Wisma Geylang Serai is a multi-purpose facility that’s modeled after traditional Malay houses with pitched roofs. Built to house Malay and Muslim organisations along with social government agencies, this building is a testament to the vision of Singapore to strengthen the Geylang community through better understanding and cooperation. Aside from appreciating its awe-inspiring architecture, you can also view the Geylang Serai Heritage Gallery that showcases the history of the township.
Set an Appointment to Visit The Intan
The Intan is a private home-museum that requires appointments for personal tours. It centers on the Peranakan heritage or the ethnic groups that first came to the Malay Archipelago. The tour is conducted by the owner, Alvin Yapp, who is also a prominent antique collector. At the end of the tour, a Peranakan tea and dining experience is offered.
Immerse in the Malay Culture at the Geylang Serai Malay Village
Get a comprehensive view of the lives of Malays in Singapore before the 1960s. Also known as the “Kampung” Days, Malays had their own unique traditional dances, instruments, clothes, and rituals. Their culture and history is in full display in this one-acre gallery that was built in 1989.
As you can see, Geylang has a lot to offer visitors. From its unique architecture to its fascinating history, there’s a whole other side of Singapore to learn and discover here. It’s a mistake to avoid this area simply because of its more sensationalised reputation that’s really limited to a just a number of streets. Come see for yourself how Geylang adds variety and colour to Singapore as a diverse melting pot.