Think of a typical pasar malam, or night market, in Singapore. What probably comes to mind would be tons of cheap and good food with the occasional accessory or toy stall, along with some crowds due to a lack of space. Take that, but make it much bigger – with added entertainment and shopping areas, arguably more vendors, and an overall bigger space. That’s Singapore’s Shilin Night Market pop-up at first glance.
As per our previous post with details about the event, Shilin Night Market is hosted at Kranji – a pretty out of the way location for people who don’t stay in around the Northern part of Singapore. Once you make your way down from wherever you are, it’s pretty easy to get to the place from the MRT. Just follow the signs set up around the area, or if it’s really crowded, just follow the sea of people.
Once you’re nearer to the event area, they’ll have you line up to enter the actual event space. This was surprisingly fast for me, though it might have been because people were being let in pretty quickly – even through the normal queue. There was a separate, priority entrance queue for people with ‘Fast Passes’, that senior citizens were also allowed to access.
Benefits of a ‘Fast Pass’.
Apart from having priority to enter Shilin Night Market, if you have a ‘Fast Pass’, you will also have priority in terms of queueing at certain stalls. From what I saw, though, this queueing priority only applied to stalls belonging to bigger brand names, such as Gongcha, Blackball and Playmade. For other smaller stalls, you just had to slog it out and queue with everyone else. Are Fast Passes worth it? I’ll leave that for you to decide.
Shilin Night Market Itself.
It’s a little tough to tell from this picture, but the areas were clearly segregated by category, with large neon signs of the Chinese variations of the word. An example that we saw: a “吃” sign (meaning “eat”) near the entrance of the food area, where rows of food stalls were lined up.
Unfortunately, the event area being huge doesn’t mean much when there’s so many people. At the rows with the smaller food stalls, there’s so much traffic that it’s hard to really navigate the area. That, and there’s little to no crowd control, so queuing in that area is a messy process. It seems like stall holders are supposed to manage their own queues, but it’s hard for them to do so when they have to focus on selling their food and drinks.
The queues aren’t super efficient, either. Each stall is pretty small, with only a handful of people helping to manage each one. I queued for drinks at a stall with a relatively shorter queue, but purchasing my drink and getting it took at least 45 minutes in total.
Overall, if you want to queue for something to eat or drink, you’ll probably have to ask around to check where the queue starts, and mentally brace yourself for people walking through the queue (to avoid crowds).
Apart from that, the other areas were comparatively more empty, with less queues overall. If you’re planning on visiting the event just to shop, or to play games, you’ll probably have a better time.
Shilin Night Market will ultimately be crowded no matter what day you visit, as it is a limited-time only weekend event that is meant to draw crowds. Perhaps it was exceptionally crowded on the day I visited because it was the first day of the event (as well as a public holiday), but expect crowds nevertheless. Given that it’s hosted at a new location, it offers a change of pace from typical pop-up markets here, though it’s arguably not something you’ll really miss out on if you don’t go.
If you do choose to go: my advice is to bring an umbrella, for shelter in case it rains, and a portable/ handheld fan and water to keep you cool while queuing. It’s also best to bring friends! That way, you can split up to queue for different kinds of food, or at the very least, have a buddy you can stick with amongst the crowds of people.
Shilin Night Market will be happening once again this weekend, from 26th to 28th April. Will you be there?