The Malays had been living in Singapore long before the Chinese or the Indians, and Geylang became their enclave in the 1840s after the British dispersed the Malay floating village at the mouth of the Singapore River. Together with the large influx of Malaysians and Indonesians, many wealthy Arabs then congregated in Geylang.
In the early 1920s, Kampong Glam's Malay population moved out en-mass to Geylang Serai as a consequence of the keen competition for land in Kampong Glam. Malay influence is still strong in Geylang Serai as reflected in the restaurants and shops specialising in Malay cuisine and ethnic goods, arts and crafts.
The best time to visit Geylang Serai is during the month of Ramadan, where the streets come alive after dusk as what seems like the entire Malay population in Singapore descends here to imbibe in traditional favorites. The entire area is also converted into a makeshift pasar malam -- night market.