Geylang Serai Malay Village

The Malay Village of Geylang Serai, built in 1989, sits on a one hectare area about the size of two football fields. Completed with rows of replica Malay kampong houses, it is a museum-styled exhibition site which showcases the lifestyle of the local Malays before the sixties.

The objective of the Malay Village is to preserve the Malay heritage and promote Malay cultural activities, with displays of traditional costumes, musical instruments and tools. Other than restaurants specialised in authentic Malay cuisines, there are also dozens of shops selling handicrafts, souvenirs and herbs.

Visitors to the Malay Village can also view traditional dances, wedding rituals and plays, which are held at 630pm everyday. The daily opening hours are from 10am to 10pm, and the cost of admission is $5 per person.

Costing $10 million and three years of construction, the Malay Village created buzz of excitement at first but somehow business was not as good as expected. The management changed hands several times, and by 2006, it was running into huge losses.

In 2008, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced that the Malay Village will be demolished when its lease expires in 2011. Despite many appeals and petitions to save the site, the Malay Village is officially to be shut down on 26 September 2011, bringing down the curtains of its 23 years of history.

Standing in its place will be a new civic centre called Wisma Geylang Serai. It will be housing a community club and a Malay Heritage Gallery and is expected to be completed in 2016.

The name Geylang Serai was derived from kilang and serai, which mean factory and lemon grass in Malay respectively. But the area was more than lemon grass plantations in the past; coconut, rubber and tapioca plantations also flourished, which was why part of Geylang Serai was named Kampong Ubi (ubi is tapioca in Malay).

Published: 16 September 2011

12 Responses to Geylang Serai Malay Village

  1. Aizat Sharif says:

    Everytime when I go to Singapore, Geylang will be the first choice for me to find Malay cuisine. Before Geylang Malay Village closed for demolition, my uncle opened a grocery shop there.
    Dear sir, could you make a review on Panggung Taj at Geylang and old Utusan Melayu newspaper building at Cecil Street before the newspaper company move and operates in KL..I really want to know what happen to this two buildings.
    from Aizat Sharif
    Kuala Lumpur

    • alangmd says:

      Panggung Taj was an old cinema in Geylang popular with the locals, screening Malay movies of the fifties and sixties era.It was demolished in 1975 to make way public housing and new road(now known as Sims Avenue).A new cinema named Singapura was built in late 70s nearby along Changi Road opposite old Change market(now Joo Chiat Complex) .It continued to screen Malay and Hindi movies until demolition in 2010. Site is currently under construction for new commercial complex.

  2. Intan Liana says:

    Is this place still open to visitors? Because I heard that it is already closed.

  3. emi says:

    what is the name for the shop that sells traditional instrument at the kampung melayu?and do you know where is the shop allocated now?

  4. zul says:

    Gone through your articles, gives me a huge sense of nostalgia. Makes me miss Spore now.

  5. Jayakumar says:

    Wow that’s all I can say about tis website…..wat a treasure …..I accidentally bump into tis and no regrets….thks for bringing back good and innocent memories from the past

  6. kazaure aminu mohammed says:

    i was at singapore two years back i like malay peole. i used to pray at khalid mosque.

  7. Adam Fuaad says:

    Please visit Mini Malaysia & Asean Cultural Park Melaka

  8. F.B says:

    still remember renting of traditional dance costume. and also, every weekend theres a show. and also, especially, during fasting month, hav “dikir barat” performance to watch. atmosphere have been missed the most. :)

  9. Nick says:

    You should do a post on lion city hotel and Hollywood canteen

  10. There was no mention in the history book, but from the word of mouth passed on generation after generation, the word ‘Geylang’ means ‘kilang’ (factory) and ‘Serai’ is a kind of lemon-grass (citronella-grass) to produce citronella-oil. There was a lot of lemon grass growing in the surrounding area. That was how the place gained its name. This fact was not mentioned at all in the history books, we only learned about it from my grandfather verbally“- Lamion Ahmad bin Ishak

    (Source: National Library of Singapore)

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