It’s been quite some time since Geylang has taken the crown from Bugis Street as Singapore’s so-called premier “red light district.” But Geylang’s true place in the small city-state lies beyond this reputation. It’s a thriving and bustling part of Singapore that’s built around one of the small country’s oldest Malay settlements, Geylang Serai. But over the years, it’s become much more diverse. As a result, it can offer a unique way to experience the entirety of Singapore in a smaller scale.
The first step to experiencing one of Singapore’s most vibrant areas is to book a reasonably cheap hotel in Geylang. Preferably, it should be one that gives you a strategic starting point for your daily adventures. After that, the most important places should be within easy reach. Read on for some sure ways to get the most out of your Geylang experience.
Shop at Geylang Serai New Market
Right in the heart of the greater Geylang area, Geylang Serai New Market is one of the place’s most prominent features. Visually, it stands out with a design that’s inspired by Malay kampong houses. After Geylang Serai New Market was renovated, it has indeed more closely reflected the community’s strong Malay roots.
In its current configuration, Geylang Serai New Market has two floors. The ground floor is dedicated to fishes, spices, and other savoury wares. Meanwhile, the upper floor is the place to be if you’re a foodie. Indeed, it’s home to a colourful collection of establishments that specialise in Malay- and Indian-style food—which brings us to our next recommended activity.
Have a Taste of the Food
As a reflection of Singapore’s status as a melting pot of cultures, it’s also seen an explosion of different types of cuisine. This is in turn reflected by the increasing variety of delicious cuisines for grab in Geylang alone.
Just in Geylang Serai New Market, you should definitely try out two of the most famous food stalls in the area. The first, Hajjah Mona Nasi Padang, serves delicious Malay food. Meanwhile, Geylang Briyani Hal should be more up your alley if you’re in the mood for some authentic spicy Indian food. And of course, you shouldn’t leave Geylang without experiencing one of the region’s most unique fruits: the durian. Whatever you may hear about its pungent smell, it continues to be a local favorite and even have some foreign converts. If you’re up to the challenge, you won’t have a hard time finding hawkers throughout Geylang who sell the unique fruit.
Get Close with the Local Culture
Even a simple walk through Geylang’s winding lanes (or lorong, as they’re locally known) should tell you how the area reflects modern Singapore. Just from the places of worship, you can see that it’s become home to a diverse group of peoples. Throughout the area, you’ll see a handful of Buddhist temples, Christian churches, Muslim mosques, and even a Hindu temple. All of this is just barely scratching the surface, though.
You can even see signs of the area’s diversity through the various different shophouse designs around town. The various businesses’ frontages portray an eclectic assortment of styles from Chinese, Malay, Southeast Asian, and even European design. All of these factors make travelling through Geylang a truly unique experience for all sorts of tourists.
Once you’ve actually gotten to know Geylang, you’ll find out that it has more to offer than what it’s reputation can suggest. Indeed, it has an atmosphere of its own that is, in some way, very emblematic of Singapore’s own unique place in Southeast Asia. Get the most out of your stay and take home some unforgettable memories by experiencing Geylang—and Singapore, in general—to its fullest.
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