Many people have questioned why we would go to Singapore, citing that Singapore is not a durian producing nation. This answer is simple: how could we not go to Singapore? Our Year of Durian would not be complete without experiencing this teeming metropolis of durian fanatics.
Singaporeans have the highest reported consumption of durian in the world. With a population of only 5.8 million people, the small island nation imports more than 22,000 tonnes of durian every year. Durian is plentiful and it’s around. Singapore has more durian bakeries and pastry shops than anywhere we’ve ever been. No matter where you are, I can pretty much guarantee there’s some place close by with durian something. And to top that, durian actually does grow in Singapore.
When is Durian Season in Singapore?
It’s always durian season in Singapore, thanks to the nation being one of the largest trading centers in the world and a hotspot for durian fanaticism. Singapore mostly imports durian from Thailand and Malaysia, although durian from the Philippines will be making its debut in the next few years. This ensures that the small island nation is flooded with durian between May and August and again in November through January. To taste Singapore’s own, wild durian, visit in July.
Where to Get it
Durian is available almost everywhere, although some locations are more well known than others. The Geylang Red Light District has the greatest agglomeration of stalls, lining the north side of Sims Avenue, but quality durian is found elsewhere. Visit 717 Trading, 818 Durian, Sembawang, or any of the other vendors or durian bakeries mentioned on my favorite Singapore durian blog, ieatishootipost.sg. The point is, you will have plenty of options to choose from.
To taste Singapore’s wild kampung durians, you have to get up early and head to one of the few forested places left. Since most of the durians grow on government property, trespassing is strictly illegal. According to this article, this article,
the last durian spots are Bukit Panjang, Kranji, Bukit Batok Forest, and Punggol Forest. Pulau Ubin, a small island off the coast of of Malaysia, also has wild durian. A Singaporean blogger gives regular updates on the status of Pulau Ubin durian.
To help future durian tourists sort out the many, many durian options in Singapore, I’ve created a map of durian locations. If you’d like to review or recommend a
stall, please leave a comment below.
View a larger Singapore Durian Map
Most Popular Varieties
Musang King is by far the most popular variety, followed by the more affordable D24. Many locations are now only offering these two varieties. Golden Phoenix and Red Prawn are available at the more specialty stores. For more varieties commonly available, please see Malaysian Durian Varieties.
|Rob in sticker shock|
Singapore is not a haven for those durian fans on a budget.
Spending more than $100 USD on an evening durian feast is not unheard
of, and not even that uncommon. Price per kilogram of top end durians
hovers around $20 SGD per kilogram ($8 US/pound), meaning that a single
durian can cost as much as a dormitory bed, which is not by any means
cheap. In the Geyland district, some varieties can be found for
as low as $5 SGD ($4 US) each, but you pay for what you get. Now compare
these prices to just over the border in Johor Bahru, where we bought quality durians for $5/kilo and stayed in a decent private room for only $12 US.
“Don’t trust used car salesmen or durian vendors,” is common advice in Singapore, and unfortunately it’s true. The durian industry is such a racket that durian vendors, particularly in the Geylang district, are well known for deceiving customers through sleight of hand by hiding worm holes, broken stems, or previously opened (and rejected) sides. Some vendors will trick customers by giving free durians with the order (not an uncommon practice) and then demand payment at exorbitantly high rates after the durians have been consumed. It’s even happens that after you have selected your durian, the vendor will switch it for a bad one when you are not looking. Know your durians and be on your toes.
This is why in Singapore, going to one of the higher end locations is actually worth it. You pay not only for a assuredly good durian, but for avoiding the hassle of arguing with durian sharks. At such places, it is customary to sit down and make your order. The durian waiters will reject the bad durians for you. If you are not satisfied with your durian, they will bring you a new one.
If you haven’t had enough durian by the time you leave Singapore (we never have enough!), make sure to stop by Durian MPire’s durian shop in Terminal 3.
There are also many durian events happening around the city, like the one we attended at RSW Sentosa. To find out more, please check our Durian Events and Festivals page.