Singapore/East Coast

Map of the East Coast

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, the fleshpots of Geylang offer cheap lodging and late-night food, and the East Coast also offers Singapore's solitary flashback to the past, the rustic little island of Pulau Ubin.

Get in

Beach in Pasir Ris

The East-West MRT Line runs the length of the east coast all the way from the centre to Pasir Ris and Changi Airport. The North East MRT Line travels up to Sengkang and Punggol in the island's northeast, but not to very many places of interest for even the most determined of travellers. The transport enthusiast might like the Sengkang & Punggol LRT Lines, a small light rail network that traverses row upon row of apartment blocks.

If you're only heading to Katong or the East Coast Park, Bus 36 may offer a faster and more direct route as it uses the expressways. It travels from Changi Airport to City Hall and Orchard Road and back again. Get off at Parkway Parade and use the overhead bridge to walk to Katong or stop at certain bus stops (Mandarin Gardens or Lagoon View for example) along Marine Parade Road and take one of the underground walkways under the ECP to get to East Coast Park. Check gothere.sg for detailed directions.

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.

See

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 pasar malam (night markets) in the evenings after the sun goes down.

The quiet Changi area has been left relatively untouched by redevelopment and hence retains a lot of significance for its World War II history. The rather serene Changi Beach was once a site of the Sook Ching massacre, which saw the occupying Japanese "cleanse" the local Chinese population by executing anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 young men suspected of having anti-Japanese tendencies. The now-abandoned Old Changi Hospital is reputed to be one of the eeriest buildings in Singapore, while the Selarang Barracks and Roberts Barracks which hold the Changi Murals are off-limits to the public.

Terraced houses on Koon Seng Road

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 e.g. Bus 12 from Bugis. There is also plenty of great food in the area.

Do

Map of Katong and East Coast Park

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 barbecue permits for all parks are available at AXS.

East Coast Park

There are other interesting things to do like prawning over at Carpark C3 near Burger King, and you get to grill your fresh prawns (if you catch any in the first place). People watch or try some fishing at Bedok Jetty or shoot the breeze with your buddies over a nice cold beer at Harrys. For travellers who want a taste of extreme sports, remember to check out the huge Xtreme Skatepark at F1 carpark or spend an afternoon learning to rollerblade from professional instructors at Inline Fitness. You can walk over to East Coast Lagoon Food Village for a nice plate of satay or yummy stingray after all that workout!

Changi

Other

Buy

There's a mall or shopping area at every MRT stop.

Eat

The East Coast is home to many of Singapore's best-known dishes, including chilli crab, Katong laksa and roti prata. The stretch 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. You'll find quite a few fruit stalls open as well, selling durians, mangosteens, rambutans and other Southeast Asian fruits. If you're game for it, buy some and eat them right there at the roadside tables.

Budget

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. Famous 49 Katong Laksa had a claim as the very first and has since moved to the west side of Singapore, perhaps finally marking an end to the Katong laksa wars.

Gluttons Bay, Lau Pa Sat, and Newton? Forget about those and go to Old Airport Road Food Centre, possibly the best collection of hawker food in Singapore, and now even easier to reach using the Circle Line (it's a short walk from Dakota MRT station). From noodles to satay to seafood, the food here is widely acclaimed and Singaporeans come from all around for dinner which unfortunately means a crowded car park and even more crowded tables. Just follow the queues and you won't go wrong.

For a nicer seaside atmosphere, East Coast Lagoon Food Village in East Coast Park is a popular food destination. There are even tables with the occasional sea breeze and sand under your feet. If you're savvy, the seafood here is a much better choice than the pricier restaurants in the nearby East Coast Seafood Centre. Get here by cab (or by bus as noted in #Get in).

There are plenty of other famous yet cheap eats in the neighbourhoods of the East Coast. You might have heard of the original Jalan Kayu roti prata, but it has long passed its prime. Simpang Bedok (near Tanah Merah MRT) has grown in popularity for its cluster of late night prata shops, and while the food is not particularly outstanding, the wide range of open air eateries make it a great place to eat late suppers, drink beer, and watch football on giant TV screens. Some well-known but more difficult to reach hawker centres are Chomp Chomp at Serangoon and the Changi Village Food Centre.

Map of Geylang

Mid-range

The red-light district of Geylang is also known for its culinary delights. Shops here tend to be no-frills affairs, but the food can be great and prices are reasonable. Katong and Siglap are other two main areas of mid-range eateries on East Coast Road.

Splurge

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 East Coast Seafood Centre on the East Coast Parkway further out, and Kallang Oasis nearer to the city. Some better known restaurants:

Drink

There are only a few places to drink on the East Coast. East Coast Road has over 30 excellent bars and restaurants, clustered around Katong and Siglap. Joo Chiat Road has many bars, but also many "karaoke" joints. The most infamous of all is Geylang (adjacent to but distinct from Geylang Serai), which is Singapore's largest red-light district. Rule of thumb is, the establishments on even-numbered alleys (lorong) are brothels, those on odd-numbered lorong are not.

Sleep

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 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.

Budget

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.

Geylang at night

Mid-range

Splurge

Connect

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.

Cope

Laundry

Go next


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 23, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.