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As Hari Raya Puasa celebrations begin, here are the best places to be at in Geylang Serai
By Pamela Chow
Known as the heart of Singapore’s Malay community, Geylang Serai is an exciting hub of activity, especially now that Hari Raya Puasa celebrations are underway. Its name was derived from the Malay words kilang (meaning “factory”) and serai (“lemongrass”), referring to the lemongrass plantations that used to flourish here in the 1800s.
Geylang Serai was also home to many other plantations such as coconut, rubber and tapioca, leading to its other name, Kampong Ubi (or “tapioca village”).
If you’re in the area for the occasion, or happen to pop by this culturally rich part of town, here are the top places to explore for a greater appreciation of the neighbourhood.
The Geylang Serai Market sells mostly Malay and Middle-Eastern products. (Photo: Jeff Masilungan / Flickr)
1. Geylang Serai Market
Located just five minutes from Paya Lebar MRT, Geylang Serai Market is a two-storey Malay-style building housing a trove of Malay and Middle-Eastern products such as spices, traditional medicine, batiks, cosmetics and more. You may even come across exotic products such as snakes and turtle eggs here.
After shopping up a storm, you may be feeling slightly peckish. Trot over to the hawker centre beside the wet market, where you can feast on hearty Malay fare like nasi padang (rice with ingredients) and irresistible goreng pisang (fried banana fritters).
If you’re here for a leisurely exploration, visit the market during off-peak hours and avoid the peak period of 6 a.m. till 9.30 a.m. If you’re up to testing out your haggling skills, you can try approaching the shopkeepers toward the end of the day.
Geylang Serai Market, 1 Geylang Serai
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of Weekender, Issue 156, July 8 - July 21, 2016, with the headline 'Sedap! Sights & sounds at Geylang Serai'.