Neighbourhood guide: Geylang

Neighbourhood guide: Geylang
June 24 08:32 2016

In 2010 a taxi driver told me that Geylang is dangerous and dirty. Half a decade later, the neighbourhood is changing. Although Geylang was never really dangerous, the area is full of contrasts. Where there are new condos nowadays, there used to be illegal prostitution. Although the ladies of the night continue to legally roam the streets, Geylang has become increasingly attractive to locals and expats alike – be it craft beer bars, traditional hawker feasts or the shop-house charm.

History of Geylang

Geylang’s earliest settlements were nothing but wetlands and coconut plantations. There are multiple theories for the origin of ‘Geylang’. My improbable favourite is a Malay translation for ‘to crush’, referring to the extracting process of coconut milk. However, it more likely refers to an edible plant found in the area.

Fun facts about Geylang

27 churches 

"geylang guide, singapore, neighbourhood, fun facts"

Geylang cityscape. Photo by Leong Him Woh

With 27 churches within 5mins from Aljunied MRT, Geylang has one of the highest concentrations of churches and fellowships in Singapore. 

Bubble Tea Techpark

The location of today’s Ubi Techpark in the east of Geylang was used for cassava root plantations. Extracted from the root is tapioca, ubi in Malay, and the beloved bubble tea’s special ingredient.

Bomb explosion in Geylang

On 12 April in 1963 there was a bomb explosion in an HDB block on Jalan Rebong, killing two people. It was part of a series of attacks on the Malaysian Federation (which Singapore was a part of) during the ‘Konfrontasi’ with Indonesia.

Oldest Post Office

Geyland is home to Singapore’s oldest post office, dating back to 1930.

Football champion Geylang United

Singapore’s local football league may not be wildly popular but if it matters, Geylang United (Geylang International then) was the S.League champion in its inaugural season in 1996.

We love

We love the fact that living in the neighbourhood is becoming increasingly attractive for young couples and families. Condos between Geylang Road, Mountbatten, and Dakota MRT are extremely cheap, relatively new, and rather quiet.

We recommend

Must Try – Onsight

Onsight is Singapore’s biggest indoor climbing gym including 43 lanes and over 100 routes.

100 Guillemard Road
Open Mon & Fri from 11am-10pm, Tue-Thu from 11am-11pm, Sat-Sun & PH from 10am-9pm

Must Eat – Ban Mian @ L32

Commonly touted as the best Ban Mian in Singapore, you might have to queue a while before getting your steaming hot bowl  of handmade noodles but trust me, it’s worth the wait! 

558 Geylang Road
Open daily from 1130am -930pm
Closed on Mondays

Must Do – Eat at a coffee shop on Geylang Road at night

"geylang coffee shop must do geylang guide singapore"

Geylang coffee shop. Photo by Lucian

People-watching while eating and having a beer is certainly a must-do in Geylang!

Where to eat in Geylang

Wen Dao Shi

Blink and you might miss the small Wen Dao Shi – aka 126. Some locals swear by their Dim Sum, naming them best in Singapore. Baby pork bun and king prawn dumplings are definitely recommended.

126 Sims Ave
Open 24/7

Leong Kee (Klang) Bak Kut Teh

The visual appearance might not suggest much, but this stall is local-approved for their Bak Kut Teh. For only $6 you get tender pork rips with an aromatic soup and herbal notes.

205A Sims Ave
Open daily from 11am-9pm

Liu Poh Sixth Granny Crystal Hotpot (permanently closed)

This Chinese hotpot/BBQ restaurant offers seven different types of soup, over 60 dishes and a buffet option for those who just can’t get enough. The Crystal Hotspot is perfect for families and groups.

291 Geylang Road
Open daily from 12pm-3am

G7 Sinma Live Seafood Restaurant

You haven’t tried Frog Claypot Porridge yet? Even if frog isn’t your thing, your seafood dreams will be fulfilled.

163 Geylang Road
Open Mon-Sat from 3pm to 330am, Sun from 3pm to 12am 

Brawn & Brains

"brawn and brains singapore geylang guide neighbourhood"

Brawn & Brains. Taken from Brawn & Brains

This cafe serves great coffee, food and does so unpretentiously by offering you a place to escape from the surrounding hustle and bustle. So, if you just want to chill out with a good cuppa don’t hesitate to walk in!

100 Guillemard Road
Open Tues-Fri from 9am to 7pm, Sat-Sun from 930am to 7pm
Closed on Mondays

Bar Bar Black Sheep

Famously known for no service charge or GST, it’s a favourite amongst locals and expats in the neighbourhood. Besides attractive Happy Hours deal (3 for 2), the bar also offers an open-space concept – for those who can’t decide whether or not they like the air-con.

362 Tanjong Katong Road
Open daily from 11am to 12am

The Tuckshop

It is the first of its kind in the neighbourhood, serving brunch, craft beers, and Instagram-worthy coffee art. 

403 Guillemard Road
Open Mon-Fri from 5pm-12am, Sat-Sun 11am -12am

Visit the nearby Joo Chiat/Katong neighbourhood for great food options too!

Do.Main Bakery

"macarons, do.main bakery, geylang guide, neighbourhood, singapore"

Do.Main Bakery. By Do.Main Bakery

Craving for some good pastry? Why not try those made Pastry Chef of The Year 2016 Chef Frederic Deshayes? Try their highly popular Natural Starter Sourdough Selection!

226 Tanjong Katong
Open Tue-Thu & Sun 8am to 9pm, Fri-Sat 8am to 1030pm 

What to see and do in Geylang

Geylang Serai Market

Shopping at Geylang’s wet market is a dying habit amongst the younger generation. No matter if you shop for fruits, veggies, and fish or taste some of the Malay and Indian-Muslin specialities – Geylang Serai Market is worth your time.

1 Geylang Serai

Joo Chiat Complex

" joo chiat katong joo chiat complex neighbourhood guide"

Joo Chiat Complex. Photo by Choo Yut Shing

Whatever you don’t need, you will find at Joo Chiat Complex. While Joo Chiat Road is well-known among local foodies, the complex offers everything from fabrics to household tools. If you just moved to Singapore, you might want to explore Joo Chiat instead of IKEA.

1 Joo Chiat Road
Open daily 11am to 10pm

Here are some other forgotten sights in Singapore!

Geylang Road at Night

As soon as the sun has set, Geylang Road shows a different face. What was once the island’s shame has become a rather accepted attraction for foreigners – and is most definitely a landmark. As prostitution is legal in Singapore, you can find girls standing alongside the street, offering the world’s oldest service.

Where to shop in Geylang

 Aik Guan Pet Trading

An almost overlooked trade, but inherent part of Geylang, are the bird shops. Enter a forgotten world and browse through the shop – you might fall in love with one of the birds.

197 Sims Avenue

Highpoint Thrift Shop

Slightly difficult to find, the shop is located on the premises of the HighPoint Community Services. This second-hand store offers everything from books and toys to clothes and furniture. All profits are helping underprivileged families.

1 Lorong 23 Geylang,
Open Mon-Sat from 10am-6pm

City Plaza

"city plaza shopping geylang guide singapore neighbourhood"

City Plaza

Although it may look like a run-down mall from the outside, the City Plaza is one of the best wholesale spots in the city where you can resell your clothes and buy new stuff for little money. Filled with clothes and seemingly random things, it is the perfect hunt for a great deal!

810 Geylang Road

How to get to Geylang

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Peter Schimke
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