Sungei Road market, known also as Thieves Market, has always been an opposition to the new image of Singapore, one of the few remaining landmarks of its old character.
It started somewhere around the 30s as a small trading spot, to become the locals’ place to visit for cheap household items during the Japanese Occupation and the vintage goods destination during the 50s.
During the 60s, the market was famous for its uniforms and any army goods, right after the withdrawal of the British army.
Unfortunately, ever since the 70s the market has met a decline and is now closing forever on July 10th. Here is a guide of tips and hacks on how to make the best of the market before it closes, and how to have the best time ever there with your family.
Prepare your children: highlight the cultural value
Keep in mind that children nowadays have seen so many colorful malls and places attracting their attention in any possible way, so chances are that a humble flea market will not impress them.
Tackle this by talking to them beforehand about the cultural importance of the market: having been around for almost 80 years, it is Singapore’s oldest and most iconic market.
If that fails, play the ‘Thieves’ card and the shady past of the market: especially during the mid 40s, many of the goods were believed to be either stolen or smuggled. Rumour had it that if you had lost an item, you could go to the Thieves Market, ask for it, and the peddlers would eventually find it and sell it back to you!
Make it look like an adventure
If you want to go on your Thieves Market adventure all prepared, check out the best bargains on this savings portal found from locals’ suggestions and go for what they suggest you should keep an eye for: old vinyls, watches and vintage bags, while staying away from electronics and collector’s coins.
Meanwhile, get the kids excited about the trip by preparing a treasure hunt for the family. Encourage the the kids to find the items in the market to be rewarded with a present or extra dessert at the end of the day!
To this end, there are three shops nearby selling sweets: try Moghul Sweet Shop in 48 Serangoon Rd., the Petite Sweets House in 463 Crawford Ln., or Candy Empire 313 in 313 Orchard Rd.
Don’t forget the basics
It can get very hot in the market since it is outdoors, so keep in mind to always have sunglasses, hats and water as well as small snacks – the kids will appreciate you for the latter!
As always, keep your kids’ safety a top priority by holding their hands at all times and when this is not possible, by not letting them wander off too far from you.
How to get there
Sungei Rd. Thieves Market is reachable by MRT (Rocher pr Burgis) or by bus (64, 65, 130, 139, 147, 857). The market is open every day from 11am to 7pm.
After effort comes comfort!
All this bargain hunting is bound to get you and the little ones hungry! Visit the Sungei Road Laksa on Kelantan Lane, and Ye Zhi Mei Handmade Dim Sum on Jalan Basar for scrumptious food options to make even the fussiest of little tummies very happy.
Have fun at Thieves Market!