Lau Pa Sat

18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582

Location: 18 Raffles Quay


Lau Pa Sat (then Telok Ayer Market), located along Raffles Quay, is listed among Singapore’s oldest markets. The other four were Orchard Road Market, Rochor Market, Clyde Terrace Market on Beach Road and Ellenborough Market near New Bridge Road. Being the only survivor of the 5 markets in Singapore Central Business District, the market has now been converted into a food centre. The first iron-cast structured market in Asia, featuring a graceful clock tower and the trademark octagonal plan, remains as a striking landmark and was gazetted as a national monument on 6 July 1973.


The first Telok Ayer (means water bay in Malay) Market, a timber-and-attap structure was opened in 1823 by the south bank of Singapore River and western end of Market Street. The structure was declared defective and unsafe in 1830, violating fire regulations and presenting a structural hazard. A new market building designed by George Drumgoole Coleman was constructed and replaced the dilapidated structure on the same site in 1833.

The market gave way to the Telok Ayer Basin land reclamation project in 1879 and temporarily relocated to Collyer Quay until the market building at the current site, designed by Municipal Engineer James MacRitchie, was constructed by Riley Hargreaves & Co. (now United Engineers) in 1890 and completed in 1894. The trademark octagonal design was retained from the first building and reconstructed of prefabricated cast-iron in a Victorian style. Therefore, being made of Glasgow-imported iron made by W. MacFarlane and Co. it was fondly referred in Malay as pasar besi, the market of iron. The columns still clearly bear the maker’s mark of W. MacFarlane & Co. of Glasgow.

Elegant, delicately ornate cast-iron columns with composite capitals, trusses, arches, and eaves brackets decorated with elaborate and intricate fretwork are found on the interior. The high ceiling of the building provide maximum air ventilation with eight radial passageways and a lantern-like structure on the centre of the building providing natural lighting. A four-faced clock tower and a fountain at the market centre were added to the design until the fountain was moved to Orchard Road Market in 1902 and reassembled at Raffles Hotel’s Palm Garden in 1989.

In 1972, the market was converted from a wet market into a hawker centre until it was closed in 1984 and dismantled in 1986 to make way for Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line project. The market was meticulously reassembled and renamed Lau Pa Sat in 1989. As renovations took place in the 1990s by Renaissance Properties of the Scotts Group, the clock tower acquired an additional feature with chimes ringing out local Chinese, Malay and Indian melodies. A carillon of bronze bells and a jacquemart, the 1.25m-high doll dressed like a Chinese coolie, produced by Dutch Royal Bell Foundry, Petit & Fritsen, were installed in the tower in 1991.

The market was reopened as a festive market in 1991, repackaged as a food and entertainment complex in 1992 and was eventually converted back to a 24-hour food centre serving infamous dishes since 1995. The most recent renovation began on September 1, 2013, reopening on June 30, 2014.


Lau Pa Sat provides an eclectic collection of excellent Asian foods. Open twenty-four hours a day and popular with both locals and tourists, it comes to life in the evening when satay vendors come into their own. Satay street, used during the day for traffic, is closed; as the sun sets the vendors quickly set up their stalls and tables and chairs in the road. Lau Pa Sat comes into its own with barbecued satay stalls, rising smoke, aromas, fairy lighting and cold beer. All combine to create an exceptional dining experience.


1. National Heritage Board. (8 May, 2015). Places: Historic Sites. Retrieved from NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD: Link Here

2. National Library Board Singapore . (30 July, 2015). Former Telok Ayer Market. Retrieved from SINGAPORE INFOPEDIA: Link Here

3. Singapore Tourism Board. (30 July, 2015). SEE & DO: Lau Pa Sat. Retrieved from YOURSINGAPORE: Link Here

4. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (24 June , 2015). Article: Telok Ayer Market. Retrieved from WIKIPEDIA THE FREE ENCYCLOPEDIA: Link Here

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