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Time Required : 1 - 2 hours

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Geylang, Singapore Overview

Singapore may be aptly called the city which never sleeps. A place where sophistication and gaiety run side by side, where sobriety and wildness travel parallelly, where the early bird and the night owl coexist in harmony, Singapore is a mark above the rest. Out of the several places that make up this bustling city-state, the one place that buzzes with excitement and thrill is Geylang. Situated at the eastern part of Singapore's central region, this township is home to a majority of the Malay community. Singapore's historical artefacts and topographical maps bear a witness to the fact that the word Geylang was used to signify the coconut plantations and marshlands lying in close proximity to the Kallang River.

Malayan vocabulary implies that "Geylang" might have originated from the word "geylanggan", meaning 'to crush' or 'to twist'. This may refer to the process of milk and meat extraction of the coconuts, a common occupation among the locals in order to thicken the gravies of their cuisine. Another possible reason behind the nomenclature of the place is from the word "gelang" which is a kind of edible creeper growing around this area. The vibrant culture of the Malays can be witnessed once you step into Geylang. Dotted with restaurants, shopping centres, leisure facilities and magnificent historical buildings, this place is more than just a red-light district. Contrary to popular belief, Geylang Serai is a residential, safe place and is an ideal hangout spot both in the day and at night.

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Sightseeing at Geylang

  • Pre-war shophouses: If you are a history enthusiast, step into the world of the shophouses that have been standing here since the early years of the 1900s.Stretching out along the Lorong Avenue, these ancient buildings are adorned with intricate carvings, colourful panels made of ceramic tiles, preserving the rich history of Singapore. Today, these shophouses run meagre businesses like coffee-houses, medicine shops and dance studios.
  • Khadijah Mosque: Also known as the Masjid Bagarib, The Khadijah Mosque was constructed in 1920 at Geylang Road. With extraordinary architectural style inspired from India’s Nagore Shrine, this place of worship, with a graveyard to its left, is thronged by hundreds of devotees who come to seek blessings from Allah.
  • Queen’s Theatre: Even though the Queen’s Theatre was closed in 1982, the gorgeous facade of this building is worth a visit. In the former days, the Queen’s Theatre used to screen Indonesian, Malayan and Egyptian movies since the early 1930s. At present this beautiful piece of architecture belongs to Grandlink Square, but it still remains a popular hub among the history buffs.
  • Joo Chiat Street: Probably one of the most popular streets located right next to Geylang, Joo Chiat Street is  witness to the rich cultural history of Singapore. With beautiful shophouses and buildings built in the Peranakan architectural style, it is the ideal spot to spend a tranquil hour or two. It is no wonder that this street, lined with ornate buildings, is a hidden gem to photography enthusiasts.
  • Malay Village: Travel back in time to the 50s and 60s in the cultural themed destination of Malay Village. From ancient weaving tools to musical instruments, from vintage coffee shops to the traditional handicrafts, Malay Village offers an insight to the kampong as it used to be in the earlier days.

Activities at Geylang

Situated in the heart of the Malay community, Geylang offers a plethora of things to do to locals and tourists alike.
  • Geylang Serai Market: No trip to Geylang is complete without going on a shopping spree in its market. From spices to snake eggs, from fabrics to fruits, Geylang Serai Market is a two-storey storehouse of surprises. Try to avoid the peak hours from 6.30 AM to 9.00 AM and feel free to test your haggling skills.
  • Rock Climbing: With over forty lanes to climb at a bouldering place which spreads out to 2000 square-feet, Onsight knows how to keep you occupied for a long time. This indoor climbing gym in Geylang is the largest of all in Singapore and is worthy of a visit, especially by the adrenaline junkies.
  • The Apartment – an escape game: Be a part of a real-life escape game hosted by Encounter. With themes which are spine-chilling, the rooms of the apartment, namely the Boutique, the Cruise and the Hospital act as settings from a crime scene which you are supposed to solve. Keep in mind that these rooms are quite realistic and frightening and sometimes, to solve a mystery, you may encounter a criminal who is not human.
  • Gorge on some delicious food: Once you are in Geylang, you will know why it is often called the Foodie’s Paradise. With restaurants and food courts teeming throughout the place, some of which work round the clock, you will have no dearth of options to choose from. Try out some delicious Frog Leg Porridge or grab a bite of the standard favourite Beef Kway Teow. Kway Chap, Chilli Crab and Fritters are also some of the dishes you should not miss. Step out of the restaurant and head towards one of the Durian Street Stalls to taste the revered “king of fruits” in Asia.

How To Reach Geylang

By MRT: The Geylang area is well connected by the MRT system of Singapore. The Aljunied MRT station, accessible through the East West Line, lies in the heart of Geylang. Other MRT stations around the area are the Geylang Bahru MRT Station and the Macpherson MRT Station, accessible through the Downtown Line, and the Kallang MRT Station, accessible through the East West Line.
By Bus: The Geylang Road Bus Stop is situated at the heart of Geylang, accessible by buses 2, 13, 21, 26, 51, 62, 63, 67, 80, 100, 158, and 853C.

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