"Which is your favourite flea market in Singapore?"

Interesting Flea Market in Singapore

Sungei Road 'Thieves Market'

The oldest Singapore flea market

Getting Here:
Take the MRT to Bugis Station. Walk on Rochor Road until you hit the junction with Jalan Besar. Turn left and you'll see the flea market.

Best time:
Open daily. But the best times to visit are weekend afternoons.

Flea market in Singapore - Sungei Road Thieves Market
My favourite flea market in Singapore is the Sungei Road 'Thieves Market', simply because it is one authentic, unchoreographed place.

If you are tired of Singapore's glitzy, air-conditioned mega-malls, head for the Sungei Road flea market to see another face of Singapore.

There are no pretensions here. Here, you'll find bare-chested, pot-bellied old men manning their stalls. Here, they cast their cigarette ash carelessly and make no attempt to put on fake smiles. Nor do they ask those rehearsed may-I-help-you-sir questions.

"$7 only! Wan or not?" is all the man would say.

Then suddenly, the bargaining turns into a banter party as the other stall-holders join in, "Don't buy his jade. They are all fake!" It's a family atmosphere here. And I find it very charming.

Many years ago, this flea market in Singapore was allegedly the place to buy stolen goods. Hence the name 'Thieves' Market'. And there is one saying that just refused to go away: if you had something stolen from your house, just go down to Sungei Road and buy it back. I heard this from my grandfather. I heard this from my uncles. And I still read about it in the travel guides. Amazing!

But the authorities have stepped in. The stall holders now have to declare that they are not selling stolen goods. Perhaps this has eroded the mystery of Sungei Road somewhat. But I've just returned from there, and liked it.

Take a leisurely stroll and soak up the atmosphere. Then look a little more carefully and you might find a gem among the junk. Perhaps a yellowed Shanghai cigarette advertisement? Or an original Beatles vinyl record? Don't rule it out. Let me tell you what I saw at Sungei Road...

  • 4 Singapore postcards from the 1930s
  • the so-called 'banana' notes (currency of the 1940s Japanese occupation)
  • a Cosina CT-4 and a Nikon FM (circa 1977)
  • a barbequed iguana (for potency, the vendor told me)
  • a pair of beaten-in Caterpillar trekking boots, and
  • several wooden dildos!!! (placed alongside Buddhist amulets!)

The last items, you'll agree, are quite funny. They looked sooo real I thought they had really been taken off some poor fellas. I walked up to the seller and asked, "Do you have something for the men?" He smiled politely and asked me to go back the following week.

This, in my opinion, is the most enchanting flea market in Singapore.

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