Rasa Sentosa – Iconic Food Centre In The 80s Located Where Shangri-La Hotel Is Today

Rasa Sentosa, a former food centre in Singapore

If you’re a history buff like me, you’ll often find yourself deep-diving into interesting facets of Singapore’s past. It could be the origins of interesting road names in Singapore, or why we’ve got hidden islands that are out-of-bounds to visitors.

There’s also one of Singapore’s most prestigious resorts, Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa. Did you know that it stands on the grounds of a formerly iconic food centre known as Rasa Sentosa? Ask your parents or grandparents who were around in the 80’s – they’d probably be familiar with it.

One of the first few attractions on Sentosa Island

Image credit: National Heritage Board 

Rasa Sentosa was a food court located next to the ferry terminal on Sentosa Island. It was part of the plans by the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board – now known as the Singapore Tourism Board – to attract more visitors to Sentosa in 1980.

Other attractions that were planned during this time were budget youth hostels, a second 18-hole golf course, and a musical fountain. This was also when Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) implemented a new monorail system.

Rasa Sentosa food court can be seen in this map of Sentosa showing the latest attractions.

Image credit: National Museum of Singapore

The food centre cost $200,000 to build and opened in April 1982. It was old-school, with stalls that resembled pushcarts commonly spotted in the country before WWII.

Expansion of the food court with an open-air hawker centre

Image credit: Sentosa via Facebook 

Rasa Sentosa and the Musical Fountain were a success, and the visitor numbers to Sentosa rose by 7 times. The food court was then expanded the following year, followed by Sentosa Island Food Centre, an open-air hawker centre that was added next to it in 1987.

Goodbye Rasa Sentosa, it’s the end of an era

As Resorts World Sentosa was established, the food centres and ferry terminal were then closed. The food centre was then closed down to make way for Rasa Sentosa Resort in 1993. This made it one of the first Sentosa hotels – along with Beaufort Singapore, now The Sentosa Resort & Spa.

The former was renamed Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort in 2011 after an $80 million makeover and has since become one of the island’s most iconic staycay spots.

It’s unfortunate that not much is known about Rasa Sentosa food centre, especially amongst the younger generations.

But with the recent popularity of Sentosa Heritage tours, hopefully more Singaporeans will be intrigued by this island that’s rife with history. If you’re curious, you can read a perspective from a grandpa who lived in Sentosa in the 60s. Else, explore the island on foot with our Sentosa hiking guide.

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Cover image adapted from: National Museum of Singapore & National Heritage Board

Dewi Nurjuwita

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