Singapore's Wet Market Survival Guide
You would not have experienced the full spectrum of the Singaporean culture if you have never been to a wet market. So dive into the sights and smells of Singapore’s exuberant wet markets with this survival guide.
Its eclectic wet market stalls and hawker stalls are a common sight across Singapore’s neighbourhoods. More than just a place to get food & groceries, or the freshest seafood and vegetables, a local wet market is THE place to hone your Singlish, bargaining skills, and get a taste of the lesser-hyped (but equally tasty) local dishes. It is similar to a farmer’s market, but we’ll be honest – things could get a little daunting for a first-time visitor. So here are some handy tips to survive a trip to the wet market. Maybe, afterwards, you can get a treat at the hawker centre too, which is usually adjacent to most wet markets.
Keep it short and sweet
Singlish is not only about learning when to use the “lah, lor, leh”, it also includes how one masters the art of shortening sentences. At the noisy and bustling marketplace, you will need to keep your questions and instructions short. That way, wet market stallholders will keep their attention on you.
Instead of “How much does this cost?”
Try “How much?”
Instead of “Could I have more/less of this, please?”
Try “More!” or “Less!”
The rule of freebies
The market is not a place for freebies, but if you have purchased a substantial amount of greens or have become a regular customer, you could ask the stallholder to throw in some free chillies, green onions, lime or parsley. We don’t recommend trying this at other stalls.
Know your grams.
This skill is best put to use when patronizing the dry goods stall – the one with sacks of onions, potatoes, dried mushrooms and other canned food. Unlike supermarkets where every item is well packed, you have to indicate the weight of the ingredients you would like to purchase. It’s kind of like a wet market tradition.
For example, “500g of chilli”. You may notice seasoned shoppers indicating quantities in the form of price – e.g. “$2 of onions please”. We suggest only doing this when you are familiar with the pricing.
Ready to explore the wet markets? Here are some essentials you should carry along with you.
- Cash: Cards are not accepted so make sure that you have sufficient cash with you, especially coin and notes of smaller denomination.
- Dry/wet tissue: Great part about shopping in wet market is getting to handpick the seafood and vegetables and these tissues will definitely come in handy afterwards.
- Grocery trolley: While this is not necessary, we encourage you to bring one along
Lastly, put on a pair of anti-slip sandals/slippers!
There are wet markets in almost every neighbourhood in Singapore but here are some popular ones that you should definitely check out; some of which are even within minutes’ walk from the MetroResidences’ serviced apartments.
Chinatown Wet Market
335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335.
Opens daily, 8am-12pm.
Tekka Wet Market
L1 Tekka Centre
665 Buffalo Rd, Singapore 210665
Opens daily, 6:30am – 5pm.
Ghim Moh Market & Food Centre
20 Ghim Moh Rd, Singapore 270020
Opens daily, 6am – 10:30pm.
Geylang Serai Wet Market
1 Geylang Serai, Singapore 402001
Opens daily, 6.30am – 12pm.
Tiong Bahru Wet Market
30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore 168898
Opens daily, Early moring – 1pm.