Activities

Market Gaia Guni: Guide To The Revamped Sungei Road Flea Market In Woodlands

Sungei Road Flea Market by Market Gaia Guni


Thrift stores are all the rage, with people sporting their thrifted fits on TikTok. But before all this, the OG way of getting cheap second-hand goods in Singapore was by making a stop at the renowned Sungei Road Flea Market, also previously known as the Thieves’ Market. 

Though today, it looks a little different with a new name given to it: Market Gaia Guni.


History of Sungei Road Market aka the Thieves’ Market


The market served as a rice bowl for the sellers there and was where others could get essential goods during WWII.
Image credit: Yeo Hong Eng

First, a little background. Known as the Sungei Road Thieves’ Market back in the 1930s, the market had vendors selling military and household supplies. It was also notoriously known that some of these items were stolen goods. 

In July 2017, Sungei Road closed to make way for urban developments. That’s when a volunteer stepped in and helped found Market Gaia Guni where some of the sellers from the original market could set up shop. 

Woodlands, Singapore: 2023. 

In a move to dispel the lingering stigma of the Thieves’ Market, the market was rebranded into a flea market encouraging sustainability and upcycling. The goods sold at the new Market Gaia Guni are not stolen, but gathered by the sellers, some of whom have worked as karang guni – also known as rag-and-bone men

We were curious as to what’s happened to this local landmark since then, so we went down on a Saturday to its location at Woodlands Industrial Park to see what we could find. 


15 stalls with eclectic barang-barang



The OG Sungei Road Flea Market was a treasure trove of random – and sometimes downright weird – finds. And to be honest, that’s what everyone loved about it. We’re happy to report that the new Market Gaia Guni is just as eclectic. However, the market is all jumbled up like rojak – so we don’t recommend going if you have specific items in mind. 

Hey Google, play Astronomia.

You really can’t tell what to expect and might end up leaving with 2 bags full of barang-barang and second-hand goods. After all, there are around 15 stalls selling a variety of cookware, bags, and power tools.

Tip: Be sure to bring some cash with you, as not all vendors accept DBS PayNow.


Old-school Chinese calculators, vintage ice shaver – you want it, you got it



A vintage ice shaver used to make ice kacang ($300).

If you’re an antique collector, you’ll love this place for its abundance of treasures. From a vintage Coca-cola pepper shaker to old scrolls priced at $150, the range of quirky items here is impressive. This is also a good place to just explore with your ah ma and ah gong – so they can tell you stories of the good ol’ days. 


We found an old Blackberry phone and a laptop-style Chinese dictionary in a luggage full of electronic trinkets.

In need of some props or want to relive some childhood nostalgia with old-school gadgets and second-hand electronic devices? Try your luck at finding them there. One store has them in pieces of luggage where you can find devices ranging from tablets to DSLR lenses. For both aspiring and pro photographers, there are tripods priced between $15-$35.


Up your cookware game with second-hand trinkets



One of the bigger stalls had the signage “Ben Stall No.5” – and we thought it looked a lot like a mini Japan Home. They sell cookware ranging from $8-$12 for pots and pans, to $15-$20 for blenders. If you’re looking for rare vintage enamelware or old-school pots and pans to spruce up your kitchen, you might just be able to find them here. 

If your pot is missing a lid, you can source for one here too from $6-$10, depending on the size.


Shop bags & preloved clothes from $2



You can also find backpacks, handbags, and sling bags. 

If there’s one thing you should know, is that the stall owners here are hustlers, so most of them sell more than one type of item. Outside Ben Stall No.5, we also found some pretty good-quality bags – ranging from kids’ bags to hiking bags that go for around $30

At the stall next door, Liang Po Po Stall No.6, you’ll be able to cop some thrifted fits of your own. Kids clothing and pre-loved jackets cost around $15 – maybe even lower if you negotiate well. The prices depend on the quality and brand of the items – you get what you pay for, after all.

There are also second-hand t-shirts ranging from graphic tees to dri-fit ones being sold at 1 for $2 and 3 for $5. One thing you might notice is how fresh and clean the clothes look. That is because the vendor, Liang Po Po, washes all the clothes she gathers before selling them. 


We found a fluffy cow-print bag for just $3 – a nice addition to your Y2K-inspired outfit.

Even if you don’t find what you’re looking for, there are stalls selling clothing, shoes, and accessories. One stall by the entrance, K.C Chan Store No.1, has t-shirts ($1) and bags ($4)


Get your equipment repaired or buy some spare parts



Besides shopping for second-hand goods, there are also vendors that can help you can lengthen the lives of your jewellery. Get your watch fixed or buy one for cheap at one of the stalls. Watches here are sold from $3 – some of which include bedazzled chain straps that make for a statement piece.

If you’ve got an old device that doesn’t charge with the usual USB-C or lightning cable, don’t throw it out. There’s a stall with many types of odd cables collected over the years. Simply ask one of the vendors there and they will point you in the right direction.


Pick up a new – or old – instrument



For those who’ve made a resolution of learning a new skill but haven’t gotten started, we see you. Pick up an instrument without spending too much from Clement Ten Stall No. 15. They repair and sell guitars and ukuleles that others have thrown out. Guitars can range from $30-$500, depending on the brand. 

The man who runs this stall, Clement, is also the volunteer we mentioned at the start of the article who helped set up Market Gaia Guni. So don’t be shy to drop by and say hi.


Bonus: Sing with friends at a $3 “KTV” nearby



#Throwback to the days before mall KTVs like Teo Heng.
 

Besides vintage items, Market Gaia Guni is also the place to partake in old-school activities. Right in front of the market, you’ll find a spacious coffee shop and a stage. For $3/song, you can belt out your favourite tunes and do a little number for the aunties and uncles hanging out there.  

Occasionally, you can also watch the aunties and uncles slay some old classics. There are 2 microphones available, so reel your friend in for a duet or karaoke battle. And the best part is, there are a variety of songs available in languages like English, Chinese, and Korean.


Getting to Market Gaia Guni



To get there, take bus 964 from the “Opp Admiralty Station” bus stop. Then, alight 4 stops later at the “Opp Blk 773” bus stop that’s located in front of the Wave9 Industrial building. 


Turn left once you alight and follow the pavement until you see a Chinese Temple. From there, turn right, and cut through the coffee shop. Tada, you’re now at Market Gaia Guni. 


Get thrifted goods at Market Gaia Guni



While Sungei Road itself has changed, the vendors and memories have not. If you remember your parents bringing you to the stretch of roads with umbrellas and tents of vendors selling all sorts of trinkets, you can still relive those memories here.

It may not look the same but you’ll still encounter some of the same smiley – or grumpy – vendors continuing their legacy. So drop by and you might be able to cop some underrated goods for cheap.

Find out more about Market Gaia Guni

 

Address: 200 Woodlands Industrial Park E7, Singapore 757177
Opening hours: Sat-Sun 10am-7pm (Closed from Mondays to Fridays)
Contact: Market Gaia Guni Facebook

For more shopping:


Photography by Huiwen Chan.

Nur Hidaya

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