Forget what you've seen downtown or along Orchard Road — this is genuine Singapore. In East Singapore the shops sell more sandals than high heels, a hawker dish still costs S$3, and durian is not a dirty word. The area is largely residential so, with the exception of their arrival or departure from Changi airport, few visitors venture this far east. Depending on your perspective, East Singapore's minor attractions like markets and parks are either a bore or a relief compared to the ultra-modern city centre.
Rent a bike or take a really long walk at East Coast Park which stretches 15 kilometres along Singapore's southeast coast all the way to the airport. Most people stay out of the water due to its questionable cleanliness, but that doesn't stop people from picnicking on the beach or feasting on fresh, affordable seafood at the East Coast Lagoon Hawker Centre. On the northeast coast, Paris Ris Park is known for its mangrove forests and children's playground. At Changi Village you'll find fabulous hawker food, pristine Changi Beach Park, and the jetty for bumboats to Pulau Ubin. The Changi Chapel and War Museum is a 10-minute bus ride away.
East Singapore is also home to colourful heritage neighbourhoods worth a visit for their architecture and food. Historically, Geylang was the designated area for Singapore's ethnic Malay population and their presence remains with the Malay Cultural Village and Geylang Serai Wet Market. During the month of Ramadan the area comes alive with night bazaars selling curries and kueh (sweets) once the fasting hours are finished. In an odd mix, Geylang is also Singapore's red light district.
Katong was once the home of Singapore's wealthy Peranakan merchants who built mansions along the coast. Due to land reclamation they no longer have sea views, but the beautiful terrace houses with elaborately embellished facades remain. Look for them around Joo Chiat Road. Katong is also known for its variation of laksa, a spicy seafood noodle soup. Multiple restaurants along East Coast Road claim to have invented the version with curry and short noodles but, regardless where you try it, katong laksa is an unforgettable meal.
If you don't mind being a 15-minute MRT ride from the city centre, Eastern Singapore is home to good value hostels like Betelbox and Fern Loft.
East Singapore stretches from the eastern edge of the city centre all the way to Changi airport on the east coast. For our cut-off point, we consider anything east of Lavender Street to be in East Singapore.
The area is well served by the East West MRT line and new stations on the Circle Line which cut a little closer to the coast. Both the Geylang and Katong neighhourhoods are served by the Paya Lebar MRT. To get to Changi Village or Changi Chapel, go to Tanah Merah MRT then transfer to bus #2 or #29. Pasir Ris Park and Wild Wild Wet waterpark are walking distance from Pasir Ris MRT. The area around Tampines MRT has become a suburban shopping zone with a large mall, hypermarket, electronics store, and Ikea. The Expo, Singapore's largest convention centre, links to Expo MRT and Changi International Airport is served by Changi MRT.
Oddly, the popular East Coast Park is not easily accessible by public transportation. Bus service #401 to the park operates on weekends and public holidays, otherwise it's best to take a taxi.
ATMs, public telephones, and public toilets can be found at every MRT station. The headquarters for Singapore Post is beside Paya Lebar MRT and this is where you'll need to go for poste restante services.
Text and/or map last updated on 20th September, 2011.
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