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Singapore/East Coast

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Singapore : East Coast
Revision as of 11:40, 26 November 2011 by (talk) (added listing Vic's Wine Bar)
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Singapore/East Coast

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Beach in Pasir Ris

The East Coast of Singapore is largely residential and offers few sights as such; most visitors just cross it on their way from and to Changi Airport. For Singaporeans, on the other hand, the main attractions are 20 kilometres of white sandy beach and the food: this is the home of many of Singapore's culinary icons. The true home of Singapore's Malay community is in Geylang Serai, traces of Peranakan culture still linger in Katong, and the East Coast also offers Singapore's solitary flashback to the past, the rustic little island of Pulau Ubin.

Get in

The East-West MRT runs the length of the East Coast all the way from the center to Pasir Ris and Changi Airport.

If you've got one day to spare, consider taking in the Changi Chapel and Pulau Ubin, with a lunch break at Changi Village and a seafood spread for dinner.


Tourist literature usually hawks the restored (and, in the daytime, near-empty) Arab Street near Bugis, but Geylang Serai is the true home of Singapore's Malay community. Especially during the Islamic month of Ramadan leading up to Hari Raya Puasa (Eid ul-Fitr), the entire area lights up in celebration as people eat and shop in the evenings after the sun goes down.

  • Changi Chapel and Museum, 1000 Upper Changi Road North (Bus 29 from Tampines MRT or bus 2 from Tanah Merah), [1]. 9:30AM to 4:30PM daily. Singapore's memorial to the notorious WW2 Japanese POW camp, the setting of James Clavell's King Rat. The current site is a reconstruction and in a different location, but contains a replica of the original chapel and informative exhibits about the squalid conditions of the prison. Free.
  • Malay Village, 39 Geylang Serai. 10AM to 10PM. A rather artificial recreation of Malay kampong (village) life in the heart of Geylang. $10.
  • Sengkang LRT, (Change at Sengkang MRT), [2]. 5.45AM to 12:40AM daily. For the transport enthusiast or those interested in seeing the housing in which many Singaporeans live, the light rail is well worth a ride, as it traverses past row upon row of unit blocks. On the West Loop, detour to Jalan Kayu from LRT Thanggam station for some of Singapore's best prata (see Eat). Up to $1.10.
Shophouses on Koon Seng Rd

The East Coast's second area of historical interest is Katong and Joo Chiat, which retain a smattering of traditional shophouses and shops specializing in Peranakan crafts and food. The area is a fairly lengthy hike from Eunos, the nearest MRT station, but can be reached by eg. bus 12 from Bugis. There is also plenty of great food in the area.

  • Kim Choo, 109/111 East Coast Road, +65-67412125, [3]. Housed in an old Peranakan shophouse, Singaporeans know this shop best for its dumplings (kueh chang), but they've opened up their second story for visitors and also operate a Peranakan restaurant and gift shop with pottery, beadwork, kebayas and more. While most of what you see comes from China (as it did even back in the old days), some of their wares are still made in Singapore, and they conduct regular cooking and arts classes.
  • Koon Seng Road. A section of this short street, between Joo Chiat and Still Rds, has what are probably Singapore's prettiest shophouses. Houses on one side of the street are multicolored, while the other has more soberly decorated shophouses with elaborate flower-themed curlicues.


The best bits of eastern Singapore are its beaches. In addition to the ones below, try Pasir Ris or Punggol to really get off the tourist trail. Camping and barbeque permits for all parks are available at AXS [26].

  • East Coast Park, [4]. The largest park in Singapore, it is a highly popular hangout for couples, groups of friends and families. The water is on the murky side, but the (imported) white sand, palm trees, and skimpily clad rollerbladers zooming past on the promenade make up for it. Mana Mana [5] and Water-Venture [6] rent watersports gear (kayak $5/hr, windsurfing, etc), while Ski 360 [7] offers cable-towed wakeboarding (from $32/hr). Bicycle and skate rental are also available. Camping, fishing and barbeques allowed.
  • Pulau Ubin, [8]. Singapore's flashback to yesteryear, a little island off the northern coast where people still live in fishing villages on stilts. The island is covered in biking trails and is an excellent spot for a little steamy jungle offroading; bike rentals go for as low as $2 a day, and the 45-hectare Ketam Mountain Bike Park has a good 10-km trail. At the east end of the island, reachable by bike or shuttle bus from the jetty, are the Chek Jawa Wetlands, with a mangrove boardwalk, an observation tower and a visitor centre. Access to the island requires a bit of effort though: take the MRT to Tanah Merah, then ride bus 2 to the bus terminal in Changi Village (alternatively MRT to Simei, then bus 9 that passes Changi Village by), find the jetty and hop on a bumboat ($2.50 each way) for the 10-minute ride to the island.
  • Changi Beach, near Changi Village, [9]. Right next to Changi Airport, you can watch (and hear) the neverending parade of airplanes from here. Usually full of local picnickers, but not too many sunbathers or swimmers around. If you walk along the beach to the southeast, you will eventually pass by Bedok Jetty and arrive at East Coast Park.
  • Gallop Stable, 61 Pasir Ris Green (10-minute walk from MRT Pasir Ris), +65-65839665, [10]. Tu-Su 8AM-noon, 2-7PM. Singapore's the first public riding school. Ponies only, maximum weight for riders 70 kg, $10/ride.
  • Forest Adventure, 825 Bedok Reservoir Road, +65-81007420, [11]. Live out your Tarzan in the jungle fantasies by completing this two-hour obstacle course: swing from trees to trees, climb rope ladders and finally, abseil down across the reservoir. Kids Course minimum age/height 5 years/1.1m, Grand Course 10 years/1.4m (under-18s must be accompanied by adult). Advance booking required. $34/22 Grand/Kids Course.
  • Mangrove Boardwalk at Pasir Ris Park, [12]. One of the fewer remaining stretches of mangroves in Singapore. You can spot mudskippers, fiddler crabs and a wide variety of butterflies.


  • Geylang Serai Market, Jln Turi (5 min from MRT Paya Lebar). The heart of Singapore's Muslim community and long one of the most atmospheric markets in Singapore, the original dense warren was unceremoniously demolished in 2006. The new version, opened in 2009, is a bland, vaguely Malay-styled two-story building, but it still has a wide array of Malay and Middle Eastern goods and gets positively packed around Ramadan.
  • Tampines is a shopping hub. There are three malls (Century Square, Tampines Mall and Tampines 1) near the MRT.


The East Coast is home to many of Singapore's best-known dishes, including chilli crab, Katong laksa and roti prata. The strech of Geylang Road between Paya Lebar and Kallang MRT stations is arguably the most vibrant part of Singapore. Despite being famous for its red light district and abundance of sleazy karaoke bars, the area is also home to some of Singapore's best kept culinary secrets, and is a favourite for locals heading out for supper with friends. Don't expect air-conditioning, white tablecloths and sommeliers though, most budget and mid-range eateries here are in grungy but occasionally atmospheric 19th-century shophouses.


Katong laksa at Famous 49, with belachan (spicy shrimp paste) and chopped laksa leaf on the spoon

Katong is the undisputed home of laksa, the coconutty noodle soup that's one of Singapore's national dishes, but there's still plenty of dispute about who came up with it first and who does it best.

  • 328 Katong Laksa, 51 East Coast Rd. Just across the street from #49, this was one of the factions of the "laksa wars" of yore. Now franchised all over Singapore, but this is the original, still supervised by the owner.
  • Famous 49 Katong Laksa, 49 East Coast Rd (Hong Tock Hin, off Ceylon Rd). The stall that started it all. No longer run by the original operators, but still one of the best.
  • Marine Parade Laksa, 59 East Coast Rd #01-57/59. Run by the people who originally ran #49, although some think the quality has gone down (see Zhen Shan Mei in Jurong for the competition).

There are plenty of other famous yet cheap eats in the neighborhoods of the East Coast.

  • International Muslim Food, Blk 2 Changi Village Rd #01-57. This nondescript stall has a neverending queue for Singapore's best nasi lemak, Malay-style coconut rice with fried chicken, chili, egg and various goodies. Quite honestly, it's not that different from what you'll get elsewhere, but the fast turnover alone means that it's fresh and tasty. $2.50/plate.


The red-light district of Geylang is also famous for its culinary delights. Shops here tend to be no-frills affairs, but the food can be great and prices are reasonable.

  • Sin Huat Seafood, 659-661 Geylang Rd (off Lorong 35). Looks very unassuming, but the crab bee hoon stewed in rice noodles is legendary. Cooked to order, so expect to wait up to an hour and expect 'legendary' service as well: they won't serve you if you are eating duck rice from the neighboring shop. Prices have gone up since the shop was featured on Anthony Bourdain's TV show. $60-80/crab (enough for 2-3).
  • Turtle House, 403 Guillemard Road (at corner of Geylang Lorong 36), +65-67451248, [13]. Daily 11:30AM to midnight. The speciality here is turtle soup ($14 upwards), but the menu also has a whole slew of other amphibian dishes, ranging from the merely exotic (frog legs) to the outright bizarre (crocodile flippers, turtle skin and intestines). Air-con and outdoor seating. $30.


Above all, the East Coast is associated with fresh seafood, which is often excellent but always rather pricey; check prices before you order! The two primary clusters are in and near Marina Cove on the East Coast Parkway further out, and Kallang Oasis nearer to the city. Some better known restaurants:

  • Jumbo Seafood, 1206 and 1208 East Coast Parkway, +65-64423435, [14]. Best known for its chilli crabs. Other outlets at Riverside Point (opposite Clarke Quay), Serangoon Gardens, Changi and Riverwalk, but this is the original.
  • Little Red House, East Coast Parkway. Another chilli crab joint.
  • No Signboard Seafood, outlets at ECP and Kallang Oasis. Known for its butter crabs.
  • Long Beach Seafood Restaurant, 1018 East Coast Parkway, +65-64458833, [15]. Known for a wide variety of seafood including black pepper crab and butter crayfish and one of the most crowded seafood restaurants in the East Coast area on weekends. One should also try the duck they serve, which is prepared in a unique way and is available only at the main branch. Other branches can be found in Jurong East and Marina South.
  • The Mango Tree, 1000 East Coast Parkway, Blk B, Unit 23, +65-64428655, [16]. Offers Kerala-style Indian seafood in a tastefully decorated beachside restaurant, quite unlike the raucous Chinese places above. Plenty of vegetarian options too. $40.


Aside from a few beer bars in the East Coast Park there are few places to drink on the East Coast. The notable exception is Geylang (adjacent to but distinct from Geylang Serai), which is Singapore's largest red-light district. Rule of thumb is, the establishments on odd-numbered alleys (lorong) are legit, while those on even-numbered ones are brothels.

  • Vic's Wine Bar, Joo Chiat Road. 6pm to 2am. A great place to unwind, meet friends and enjoy excellent wine from Vic's own Australian vineyards SS.


Most of the East Coast's accommodation consists of cheap hotels in and around the red-light districts of Geylang and Joo Chiat, many of which rent rooms by the hour. The ubiquitous Hotel 81 [27] chain alone has 11 hotels in the area. Still, if you're on a budget and don't mind the local nightlife, Geylang/Joo Chiat are definitely worth considering: the rates are among the cheapest in town, the late night eating options are unparalleled, the area is perfectly safe, and both the airport and the city aren't too far away.


Camping is allowed in designated areas of Changi Beach Park, East Coast Park, Pasir Ris Park and Pulau Ubin. All have showers and toilets and are free to use for stays of up to five days, although you have to register with park officers or online at AXS [28].

  • 98SG Hostel, 96A Lor 27 Geylang, Singapore (1 min from Aljunied MRT Station), +65-62261221 (), [17]. Clean, good beds, air-conditioned, free Wi-Fi, free breakfast. lockers free of charge. laundry and dryer available extra charge. Very close to MRT, Library, Olympic size swimming pool. Dorm $12-26, room from $45.
  • Betel Box Hostel Singapore, 200 Joo Chiat Rd, Katong District (Paya Lebar MRT), +65 62477340, [18]. checkin: 1PM; checkout: 11AM. Free bed linen, use of a security locker, free 30 mins broadband Internet access, free unlimited Wi-Fi, free use of fitness centre. All rooms are air-conditioned and there are hot and cold showers. $20 including breakfast.
  • Ideal Backpackers Hostel, 89 Geylang Rd (Kallang MRT), +65-6846 4741, [19]. Offers clean, budget hostel accommodation. Dorm $20, room from $45.
  • Urban Hostel (Backpackers), 67A Lor27 Geylang, Singapore (1 minute walk from Aljunied MRT station), +65-81868336, [20]. We are a new hostel which provides budget accommodation for backpackers, we have private room of 2 beds, Female Dorm room with 4 beds, Mix dorm with 6 beds and 8 beds which gives you a lot of choices. Provides 24 hour check in,Free Wi-Fi, Free coffee and tea, Big LCD TV and DVD, a lot movie selection for you to spend your time. Dorm.
  • WOW Hostel, 67B Lor 27 Geylang, Singapore (1 min from Aljunied MRT Station), +65-91009123 (), [21]. Brand new boutique hostel, with privacy wall. Good security with card access. Great to have universal power point, usb charger and reading light on every bed. Clean,safe, good beds, powerful air-conditioned, free Wi-Fi, free internet(regardless of how long you use), free breakfast. Lockers free of charge. Good water preasure hot/cold showers. Very close to MRT, Library, Olympic size swimming pool. Dorm $16-26, room from $45.


  • Gateway Hotel, 60 Joo Chiat Road #01-06 (100m to Paya Lebar MRT), +65-63420988, [22]. One of the few hotels around here with some character, the 82-room Gateway is housed in a restored shophouse and the theme rooms come in flavors including "Safari", "Paradiso", "Tatami" and even "Da Bronx". The standard rooms, though, are nondescript but clean. Internet and self-service laundry available. $98/148 standard/theme double.
  • Goldkist Beach Resort, 1110 East Coast Parkway, +65-64484747, [23]. An almost historic place which holds some good memories for most Singaporeans. Its also one of the few locations right on the beach. Big rooms and close proximity to the airport make it a good location to come with families. From $118.


  • Changi Village Hotel, 1 Netheravon Rd, +65-63797111, [24]. Formerly known as Le Meridien Changi Village, the hotel has since changed its management and gone through a long-overdue renovation. It is located at Changi Village, an otherwise sleepy enclave of cheap (but surprisingly good) eateries and pubs, and is about 15 mins by taxi from the airport. The hotel also provides an hourly airport shuttle bus for its guests. The downside is that it is somewhat out of the way and public transport can be rather inconvenient, so visitors staying here should consider renting a car to get around. $180.
  • Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, 75 Airport Blvd #01-01, +65-68235300, [25]. Opened April 2008, this four-star airport hotel is directly connected to Changi's Terminal 3 and easily reached from T1/T2, but you do have to pass through immigration to stay here. Pool, gym, spa, bar, two restaurants, pay-per-minute Internet. $240.


East Coast Rd has a slew of cheap Internet cafes. Try Red Hot Internet Café at 63 East Coast Rd or CyberWorld Communications at 67 East Coast Rd, both offering rates of $1/hour.



  • Systematic Laundromat, 80 Marine Parade Road #04-K1/K2 (Parkway Parade, 15 min from Eunos MRT), +65-64401554. Self-service laundromat. 30 min washing machine for up to 6 kg of laundry for $6, then $1/8 min cycle of the dryer.
  • Wonder Wash, 1 Lorong 23 Geylang, High Point (5 min from Aljunied MRT), +65-9786 0239. 24hrs Self-service laundromat. 32 min washing machine for up to 8 kg of laundry for $4, then $1/10 min cycle of the dryer.
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