It’s one of the highlights of Singapore after dark.
I can genuinely say my heart jumps for joy when I see a pasar malam (“Night Market” in Malay). These local temporary pop-up event peddle everything from tech accessories to cheap clothing and guilty pleasures in the form of sloppy burgers, fried oreos, and other indulgent food.
These markets started in Singapore in the mid-1950s before the modern conveniences of heartland malls came along. Today, they typically operate at the location for about 15 to 20 days before moving to a different vicinity. (Check out organiser TLK Trade Fair and Events‘ page for the latest markets around town.)
Never been to one? Here are some things you can expect at a pasar malam.
Food is definitely one of the main draws of a pasar malam. Don’t miss your chance to try the unique Ramly Burger, a Malaysian original famed for their egg-wrapped patties. Bonus: all the theatrics of patty-flipping involved in the making of a street burger.
I always get some takoyakis, a ball-shaped Japanese snack made with flavoured batter, typically filled with diced octopus, for a mere $2. The drizzle of Japanese mayonnaise and crowning bonito flakes add even more savoury goodness to this typical Japanese street food.
These days, you’ll also find a new range of food being introduced. We’re talking about the likes of churros, fried ice cream, and deep-fried Oreos (pictured).
Some pasar malams also have a designated area where you can sample the King of Fruits (yes, the durian) and other delicious fruits native to the region.
Browse through the stalls for affordable goods and everyday items at lower price. Pasar malams usually offer clothes, bags and wallets, mobile phone accessories, little trinkets, and dry foodstuff. However, most of the time, you shouldn’t be expecting too much in terms of quality. But it still makes a fun hunt if you’re looking for a good bargain!
Kids will love the section for the little ones, with toys, some taken out of their packaging for the kids to try out, kiddy fashion and more.
If you’re really lucky, you might stumble upon a pasar malam with a rare travelling fair next to it! Soak in the carnival atmosphere by playing some simple games like dart balloons, ring tosses to win some stuffed toys and other prizes.
If you see bouncy castles, bumper car rides, a carousel and ghost trains and other large rides, then you’re really in luck – while hugely popular back in the day, these are now hard to come by. Unleash your inner kid!
The catch? These pop-up night markets rotate around the island at different points of time. Where to find them: The next time you see an area with tentage, music, bright lights, the smell of food and a buzz surrounding it, you can be pretty sure it is a pasar malam. Check out this Facebook page for updates on the next pasar malam near you.
In addition, during annual festivals in Singapore, you’ll find some of the most excitement night markets around. Don’t miss: the Hari Raya Bazaar in Geylang Serai and Deepavali Festival Market in Little India!
By Muneerah Bee, Updated October 2018
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