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

14 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.

      • ridzuwan237@ says:

        the new development. . residential and shopping complex rename Millage. luckily I get a unit there. ..reminds me of the nostalgic past of Panggung Taj

  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)

  11. Work to begin on $55m Geylang Serai civic centre

    21 September 2015
    The Straits Times

    Residents of Geylang Serai can expect a new civic centre come 2018, as work will start on the new Wisma Geylang Serai after a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday.

    The project, developed by the People’s Association, will house the new Geylang Serai Community Club, the South East Community Development Council office, a Malay Heritage Gallery and arts facilities, along with senior care, childcare and family service centres.

    Located where the Malay Village used to stand in Geylang Serai, before the heritage attraction closed in 2011, the five-storey, 10,000 sq m centre is intended to be a community hub for the area which reflects Geylang Serai’s rich Malay heritage.

    The multi-agency effort is estimated to cost $55 million. These agencies include the Ministry of National Development, National Arts Council, Ministry of Social and Family Development, Ministry of Health, and National Heritage Board.

    Speaking to reporters after the groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor for South East District, Dr Maliki Osman, said the centre was originally slated to open in 2017, but was delayed to 2018 as the design reviews had to get the approval of all stakeholders before construction could proceed.

    “It took a bit of time to ensure that the needs of all the different stakeholders are met,” said Dr Maliki, who is also Minister of State for National Development and Defence.

    “It’s taken a little bit longer than what we had hoped for, but nonetheless I’m very happy that today we’re able to break ground and that the community can look forward to a brand-new hub.”

    Once complete, pedestrian pathways and bridges will link the centre to nearby amenities such as the Geylang Serai market across the road, Joo Chiat Complex and Paya Lebar MRT station.

    The ceremony was officiated by guest of honour Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, and three other MPs for Marine Parade GRC, which Geylang Serai falls within – Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef and Mr Seah Kian Peng.

    Mail officer Rashid Ridza, 55, who has lived in Geylang Serai for the past 20 years, said the central location of the centre will make it convenient to hold various activities there.

    “Rain or shine, there will be walkways for us to get here for activities,” he said. “And it will be convenient for people to come from all over Singapore, even tourists who want to visit.”

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