East of the central area of Singapore, Geylang Serai has been the centre of the Malay community since the mid-19th century. ‘Geylang’ means ‘mill or factory’ named after the many processing plants in the old days. Today, you can browse around the markets and shops there selling wares catering to the needs of the Muslim community. During the Ramadan month of fasting, the district is turned into a colourful fairyland of lights and bustling festive stalls.
Across the road is the Joo Chiat area. Formerly a coconut plantation, Joo Chiat was developed by a wealthy Chinese businessman in the early 1900s and subsequently, became popular with the rich Straits Chinese who built homes in the area. This precinct is known for its interesting architecture. Katong, just south, is renowned for its historical appeal, with fine architectural elements rooted in the Peranakan or Straits Chinese culture.