“Thieves” market in Singapore?

Ask any older folks and they will probably tell you that Sungei Road is known as “thieves” market. Setting out from the junction of Bras Basah Road and Bencoolen Street, it’s a good 15 minutes walk along Bencoolen Street right up to the junction of Rochor Road and Ophir Road. A few step ahead, you will reach Sungei Road. “Sungei” means “river” in Malay. Literally, Sungei Road lies alongside the Rochor river which is now known as Rochor Canal. Sungei Road is synonymous with the “Thieves’ Market”. Rumours has it that stolen goods were often on display for sale at this flea market in Singapore. You can hunt for old bric-a-brac or second-hand goods such as used clothing, mobile phones, motor parts, bicycles, electrical appliances, counterfeit watches and pirated VCDs, as a cheap replacement for one’s faulty or lost item. Let’s take a walk down Sungei Road. Who knows, you may find something interesting.

Sungei Road. A walk to a place where used and second-hand goods, bric-a-brac items can be found.

Along Sungei Road, the Rochor canal is at the foreground. The buildings are Golden Landmark Hotel, the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes with her steeple, Raffles Hospital, and the brown-greyish building popularly called “Gotham Building”.

The snaking Rochor river which is now Rochor canal. The row of yellow taxis ply between Singapore and Johor Bahru ferrying passengers across the Causeway.

An old photograph of Sungei Road in the 1950s. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore)

A row of old shophouses along the junction of Weld Road and Sungei Road. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore)

Sungei Road back then. You may remember the yellow-top taxis seen in the background against the backdrop of old dilapidated shophouses. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore)

Pitt Street. One of the series of small streets where peddlars ply their trade along Sungei Road.

A man examining a toy – Tigger, a friend of Pooh Bear. “Is this binoculars working?” the other man wondered.

Old telephones that require you to dial the number. Without any redial feature, your finger will get pretty sore after a few rounds of dialling.

An array of push-button telephones.

Someone may have signed 1206 for a missing full-pack that ended up at the flea market.

Just a verbal quote of the price for an item, a brief haggle, and the exchange is completed.

Cassette tapes. You need a cassette player from yesteryear to play these tapes.

The karang guni van. Unloading his wares for display.

Both sides of the street are occupied by flea traders in makeshift stalls, some with tentage and some with large canopy unbrellas seen in this photo.

SAS (Special Air Service) manual. This may help you through your BMT.

Before the advent of electronic calculators, the abacus was pretty much the only mathematical instrument besides using your fingers and toes.

Found anything interesting?

This flea trader was teased by his friends when I took this photograph. Thinking that his face will show up in some heritage photos, he jokingly stretches out his hand showing a big “five”. Hoping that he’ll get $5 from me for shooting his image.

Waste disposal in the past consists of the nighsoil truck that made their rounds clearing wastes during the night.

With the SAF lately introducing the new pixelated No.4 uniform and the special vests that the soldier wears on his body containing all sorts of high tech gadgets, the SBO (Skeletal Battle Order) may one day end up here.

Squash, a sport with very minimal followers. This Dunlop squash racket has probably seen better days.

Anyone need a mahjong set, a pair of sports shoes, or perhaps a kettle?

The children’s television show “Teletubbies”, a UK production, was a hit with kids in the ’90s. Here’s La-La, the yellow teletubby. I wonder where the rest of his friends are? Dixi, Tinky Winky and Po?

Was this golf set from Tiger Woods?

Laser discs was popular back then. You’ll need an equally huge laser disc player as well as an equally large storage rack for these discs.

The lady of the stall told me that these Heineken bottles would become antique in ten years time. Drink up…YAM SENG!!!

A flea trader examining a laser disc before putting it on display. Can you remember the actor Tom Cruise from the movie “Top Gun”?

Saturday shopping at Sungei Road.

As I end my journey, a man plough his heavily laden cart, zipping across a two-way traffic road, making his way to his plot. Another day…another sale.

If you like to take a trip to Sungei Road, here’s the map.

If you are looking for some fabulous places to stay while touring our little sunny island of Singapore, you may like to check out Singapore Hotels that offers a variety of hotels and accomodations for you to choose from. Have a pleasant stay in Singapore.


13 Responses to ““Thieves” market in Singapore?”

  1. Business blog » Blog Archive » “Thieves” market in Singapore? Says:

    […] Read the rest of this great post here […]

  2. Lam Chun See Says:

    In the old days, this place very popular with the army boys because they sell a lot of camping and army goods like mess tin, jack knife etc. Now these stalls have shifted to Beach Road.

  3. ordinary guy Says:

    Hi Chun See,

    Yes indeed. Sungei Road is now selling more of commercial goods rather than army accessories. I may look into paying a visit to Beach Road where army equipments are being sold. Who knows, the old Temasek green uniform could still be around for sale. Thanks for dropping by.

  4. Lam Chun See Says:

    I was there recently. Compared to our days, very much less army stuff. A lot of outday camping gear. I guess the SAF is more generous, nowadays or they don’t like the fact that our boys have to go to such places to buy stuff which should be army-issued anyway, or maybe nowadays the shops at the camps are better equipped.

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  7. Greg Says:

    Brilliant info!

  8. perfect golf swing Says:

    perfect golf swing…

    does anyone know where a good place is to buy a callaway ft-5 9* netural for a reasonable price? I don’t really care if its somewhat used, but I don’t have the money to shell out over $200 for this club. Thanks in advance….

  9. Hardwire Says:


    What kinda bicycles do u get at Sungei Road?

  10. sooooo Says:

    im hopping the sungei road well closeing the pace wan sell … hell seller r in sungei rd …. very rude seller… this people go to hell in sungei rd…not to let that to sell over there….

  11. Thieves’ Market at Sungei Road: One Man’s Junk; Another’s Treasure « Urban Journey Says:

    […] button Telephones from BlogofSorts. Perfect for that 1970s retro look. I don’t know if they’re working […]

  12. Thieves’ Market at Sungei Road: One Man’s Junk; Another’s Treasure | MyUrbanJourney Says:

    […] button Telephones from BlogofSorts. Perfect for that 1970s retro look. I don’t know if they’re working […]

  13. irl Says:

    I love thieves market. I still go there nowadays, even though the region has been greatly reduced as compared to the past. I always find interesting vintage old trinkets worth buying, and they always offer free things.

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