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Things to do in Geylang Singapore

Singapore’s Geylang neighborhood is certainly something of a head scratcher. Although descriptions often begin with its status as the country’s legally-recognized red-light district, it is also one of the country’s most culturally diverse areas.

Exploring its historic shopfronts is just one of the many things to do in Geylang Singapore, alongside delving into a food scene that includes everything from frog leg porridge to Ramadan treats. Lying to the east of the Kallang River as it flows towards the river cruises of Marina Bay, east-west running Geylang Road remains at the heart of all that goes on in the neighborhood.

Providing a sense of old Singapore, before soaring skyscrapers took hold, it’s a street busy with Singaporeans, Malays, Chinese and western expatriates by day and night. Meanwhile unnamed lorongs (lanes) span off to north and south with the promise of all manner of delights.

Wondering why Geylang is so popular and on the lips of so many? Here’s our pick of the very best things to do in Geylang Singapore!

Check out Geylang’s architectural curiosities

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There’s probably no better place to start your discovery of Geylang than Geylang Road. Stroll along even the shortest section of its three-kilometer length and you’ll very quickly get a feel of what this neighborhood is all about.

And while the low-rise properties which line this major arterial road are sure to have you reaching for your camera, Geylang’s real treasures are to be found on its surrounding streets. There’s nothing quite like picking one at random and seeing what you’ll discover – maybe the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace or Haig Road Hawker Center.

But if you’re looking for a little guidance, the colorfully-painted conserved shopfronts on both sides of Joo Chiat Road rival the Peranakan (Malay-Chinese) Houses of adjoining Koon Seng Road when it comes to the wow factor.

For the chance to head inside one of these preserved homes, make an appointment to visit The Intan, a house museum dedicated to recording Peranakan culture for prosperity. The work of one man, its collection is as encyclopedic in scope as it is colorful.

Discover Geylang’s artistic side

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If a visit to The Istan gets you in the mood for more of Geylang’s artistic side, the Eurasian Heritage Gallery is just a couple of blocks south. Created to tell the story of Singapore’s Eurasian community, it succeeds in bringing its history to life in three excellently curated galleries refurbished in 2019.

Detailing a heritage which takes in Britain, Portugal, Goa and Macau, the sections on how the community survived the Japanese occupation of the island in World War Two is particularly poignant. More uplifting stories include those of swimmer Joseph Schooling, the first Singaporean to win an Olympic gold medal.

Just beyond the official bounds of Geylang, on the banks of the Geylang River, you’ll also find the Goodman Arts Centre. Hosting a wide range of exhibitions and workshops, the center sits within a lush three-hectare site. It also includes a café serving up Australasian dishes with looks perfect for social media and flavors not far behind.

Fill your stomach with Geylang’s specialty dishes

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For a more authentic look at Geylang’s culinary magic, the choices are almost endless. Geylang Serai Market is one of the largest wet markets in Singapore, meaning you can find just about anything you might ever point towards a wok.

After you’ve breathed in the rich aroma of nutmeg, cinnamon and lemongrass (serai in Malay), enter the attached bazaar for fabrics, homewares and other dry goods. Carrying a buzz at any time of year, the market outdoes itself each Ramadan, when stalls lit up with decorations and open long into the night help adherents break their fast.

Head upstairs to the market’s food court to sample many of the region’s delicacies. Keep an eye out for asam pedas(sour and spicy fish stew), beef rendang (a dry diced beef curry) and goreng pisang banana fritters.

Alternatively, follow your nose – literally – to the durian stalls of Sims Avenue. Known as the ‘king of fruits,’ there’s really nothing else like a durian. They were the model for the Esplanade Theatres building on the opposite side of Marina Bay to Gardens by the Bay, and so pungent in aroma they are banned from hotels and aircraft. So why not let a stallholder pick out the perfect durian for you? After all, sampling the custard-like interior is something of a rite of passage when traveling in the region.

Nearby, there are several simply-decorated restaurants (think school canteen chic) and more upmarket establishments with specialties including frog leg porridge on their menus. Try G7 Sin Ma or Eminent Frog Porridge to taste this savory stew flavored with soy sauce, ginger, garlic and chili. If you’re looking for a late evening drink, there are also plenty of bars in Geylang – head either along Geylang Road, or along Geylang riverfront.

Enjoy Geylang’s green spaces

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When Stamford Raffles, ‘founder’ of modern Singapore arrived in Geylang, it was an area of coconut palms and coastal marshland. Although no longer awash with greenery, the Geylang riverfront provides a nice contrast to the bustling lanes of the area.

Save your shoe leather with Gogreen Bicycle Rentals, the easiest way of taking in all the river’s sights as it doglegs through the neighborhood. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of benches on which to rest up with an ice cream, kelongs (floating platforms) and shelters resembling the kampong (village) huts that once would have been found here.

Further north, Geylang East Park’s L-shaped form provides another escape from the hubbub of its nearby roads. Clean, tidy and well-maintained, you could do far worse than stop by for a lunchtime picnic with the daily mix of residents and office workers.

Ways to save in Geylang Singapore

Save on the top sights and attractions in Singapore with Go City. From the best things to do in Geylang Singapore to nature kayaking adventures in Pulau Ubin, we offer out of this world experiences at less than astronomical prices with our All-Inclusive and Explorer passes!

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