Guide to Geylang: Food, Culture, Shopping, and More
Singapore/ Nomads/ Explore

Guide to Geylang, Singapore: Food, Culture, Shopping, and More

Guide to Geylang

There's more to Geylang than the neon-lit underworld it's known for. As an entertainment hub and Singapore's lone legal red-light district, Geylang's nights are long, the area made alive by the bars and clubs that seem to never sleep.

Beyond its nightlife reputation, Geylang has a rich history as one of the oldest Malay settlements in the city-state. In the 1840s, the Malays and Orang Laut (sea nomads) residing along the Singapore River were diffused by the British government, which led to their resettlement at the mouths of the Kallang and Geylang Rivers, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Initially known as Geylang Kelapa, Geylang was known for its abundant coconut plantations in the mid-19th century. Around this time, according to the National Library Board, the Arab-owned Alsagoff and Company purchased land near Geylang Serai and established the Alsagoff Estate. Later, this was merged with another plot of land, and the entire estate was renamed Perseverance Estate where lemongrass was cultivated.

Geylang still teems with Malay and Chinese communities today, a testament to Singapore's multi-ethnic diversity. It is peppered with beautiful architecture in the form of storied shophouses, the Former Queen's Theatre, temples, and mosques, as well as longstanding, beloved restaurants and new community centres that serve as third spaces.

If you’re visiting Geylang soon, here’s a guide on what to see!

Geylang Serai Market

Geylang Serai Market Singapore
Website/Visit Singapore

When in Geylang, make sure the Geylang Serai Market is on top of your itinerary. The market is one of Singapore's busiest wet markets and is also considered the third largest hawker centre in the city-state. It's popular among locals and tourists, offering traditional cuisine, Malay delicacies, fresh fruits, spices, fabrics, and more.

The bustling market was completed in 1964 under the administration of then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and went through an S$18.2-million revamp from 2006 until 2009. The present market now boasts bigger food stalls and passageways, handicap-friendly facilities, and an intricate structure inspired by Malaysian architecture and design. Visit its wet market on the ground floor and head upstairs for its food centre and varied shopping stalls.

Where: Geylang Serai Market, 1 Geylang Serai

No Signboard Seafood Restaurant

Craving crabs? Sample award-winning white pepper crabs at No Signboard Seafood, an institution in Singapore's F&B scene. No Signboard Seafood was established in the 1970s at Mattar Road Hawker Center by Madam Ong Kim Hoi at a time when fresh seafood was rare in hawker stalls. The restaurant, which now has two branches in Esplanade and Geylang, has won the hearts of many locals and foodies the world over for offering the freshest seafood, with a homemade recipe that remains a secret until this very day. Aside from its signature white pepper Alaskan king crab, try its salted egg Sri Lanka crab dish, deep-fried butter prawns, sambal kangkong with Spanish octopus, Boston lobster linguine, and more. Book here.

Where: No Signboard Seafood, 414 Geylang Road

Wisma Geylang Serai

Wisma Geylang Serai is your one-stop shop for culture and heritage. This multi-agency development houses various shops, restaurants, and centres to promote Geylang Serai's heritage and create an inclusive space for people of all ages and ethnicities to connect and bond. You'll find here the Geylang Serai Community Club, the South East Community Development Council, the Geylang Serai Heritage Gallery, and KURNIA@WGS, among others. To refuel, there's Saap Saap Thai, Selera Serambi by Tang Tea House, Mutiara Seafood, Terang Bulan, and more.

Where: Wisma Geylang Serai, 1 Engku Aman Turn

Space Coffee

For your caffeine fix, look no further than Space Coffee, an industrial-style cafe serving up delicious dishes, bakes, tea, and coffee-based drinks in Geylang. The establishment is an airy and minimalist space with huge windows for natural light, making it the perfect spot to unwind, or indulge in a sumptuous brunch or afternoon cuppa. Space Coffee serves classic coffee drinks like espresso, piccolo, and macchiato, among others, as well as babychino and coffee tonic. Don't miss its avo on toast, truffle cream mushroom pasta, and cheesy berries toast, to name a few, and gluten-free bakes to tide you over. Check out Space Coffee's menu here.

Where: Space Coffee, 587 Geylang Road

Yes Natural Restaurant and Bakery

If you're on a plant-based diet, Yes Natural is the place to be. For almost two decades, Yes Natural has been offering healthy and fresh bread and meals to the public. Today, the brand has expanded and includes three retail outlets aside from the bakery and restaurant. Its vegan and vegetarian breads, cakes, and pastries are additive- and preservative-free and use healthy ingredients like natural unbleached flour and organic brown sugar. Its a la carte meals are also delicious yet guilt-free, with mushrooms, bean curd dishes, and meat-free alternatives on the menu.

Where: Yes Natural, 57 Lor 27 Geylang

Nan Hai Fei Lai Guan Yin Monastery

It would be hard to miss this bright yellow structure on Geylang Road. The Nan Hai Fei Lai Guan Yin monastery is the calm in the chaos of Geylang and is named after Putuo Mountain, one of China's four sacred mountains. Its main goddess of worship is the Goddess of Mercy Guan Yin Pusa, who hails from the South China Sea. The monastery, which turned 100 years old in 2023, is a must-visit for photography beginners and enthusiasts hankering for a photowalk and anyone who wants a quiet repose from Singapore's bustling urbanity.

Where: Nan Hai Fei Lai Guan Yin Monastery, 35 Lorong 27 Geylang Road

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