After a two-year hiatus, the annual Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar is finally back and running from Apr. 2 to May 2, 2022.
What to expect
And it's off to a good start, too — for our visit on its very first day, a healthy crowd had already formed when we arrived at about 5:30pm.
The queue to enter the bazaar moved quite fast in the late afternoon to early evening, but expect it to get more congested as the night wears on.
From our observations, peak period was about 7pm - 8:30pm.
However, once Ramadan starts tomorrow (Apr. 3), the opposite is likely to happen: things might be quieter around 7pm before reviving, as the breaking of fast takes place then.
As expected, most of the crowd was congregated at the food area.
We counted nine F&B stalls in total, although some of the stalls were split between two vendors.
A good portion of the retail stalls, such as fashion, homeware, and lifestyle vendors, were still in preparation mode.
Ventilation wasn't too bad, and one gets a decently wide corridor to navigate the crowd.
You'll have to keep your masks on, so that will contribute a little to the heat.
Beside the bazaars, there are tables and benches where you can sit and dine more comfortably.
As it got progressively more crowded at night, a new barricade was set up between the food area and the retail area, presumably to prevent overcrowding in the former.
While many are glad to see the bazaar return, there are quite a few deviations that make it a distinctly different experience from past years.
1. Designated entrances and capacity limits
This should come as no surprise, but there are now fixed entrances and exits due to the need for crowd control.
Visitors are given a small, laminated card upon their entry, which they'll have to return when they exit the premises.
The system is used to keep track of the crowd, as the ushers will stop those in the queue from entering when a certain number of cards have been given out.
According to Berita Harian, the capacity limit is 600 people.
2. Much smaller area, and a lot fewer stalls
One of the most obvious and impactful differences is that the bazaar now covers a much smaller land area, and hosts significantly fewer stalls.
While there used to be a number of larger zones spread across the neighbourhood, this year's version sees only two zones, relatively near each other.
The individual zones are not big as well, and you can easily finish exploring them in 10-15 minutes if you don't stop to shop.
3. Food is more expensive
In recent years, Geylang Bazaar has become increasingly known for selling "hipster" food, and this year has its fair share of such stalls, too.
We like that all the food stalls were in one place, which makes locating a particular vendor much easier, as opposed to going through a maze of booths to hunt down a food item (although that is, admittedly, part of the experience).
We notice that food prices are higher this time around, but vendors we spoke to revealed that rent is on the rise, too.
If you're looking to fill your stomach, you'll likely have to spend upwards of S$15, especially if you're also getting a drink.
Snacks and classic bazaar food, like Ramly burgers, were lower-priced than hipster grub.
Watch our live coverage of the bazaar here:
Top image by Mandy How