Feeling hesitant about traveling for now or just want to stay put with the family on the isle for the year-end holidays? Don’t worry, it’s perfectly fine to do so, because there’s actually lots to explore, discover and do in our very own backyard.
Singapore may be a small island, but we’re well-developed, with 5 demarcated regions (Central, East, North, North-East and West), each with their regional centres, precincts, planning areas, towns, and so on.
Quite a number of neighbourhoods are buzzy mini-hubs of activity and adventure – you just need to have an open mind and some time, and look out for where the fun’s at.
So we’ve compiled a list of “hot spots” to visit in our 6-part series featuring some of Singapore’s bustling nabes. For those of you living in the West, we’re starting with the mega-expansive Jurong that encompasses the areas of Boon Lay and Pioneer.
1. SAFRA Jurong clubhouse
If you are spending a weekend in Jurong, you might as well begin the day at the well-equipped SAFRA Jurong. In fact, you can spend the whole day here!
Here’s how you can work out your meals for the day. Perk yourself up in the morning with some hot, crispy prata and spicy curry at Springleaf Prata Place.
Then, fuel up with some Western food at the homegrown family-favourite steakhouse Jack’s Place.
End the day filling up your tum-tum with delish Asian fare and seafood at Rasa Istimewa Restaurant – think BBQ Stingray and Squid, Assam Pedas Fish Head, Black Pepper Crab, Cereal Butter Prawn, and loads more.
And, here’s how you can work out all those calories at SAFRA Jurong. Have a dip in the 50-metre lap pool or simply watch over the energiser bunnies play at Kidz Amaze, one of Singapore’s largest indoor playgrounds. Separately, the grown-ups can also “pamper” the car at CS Car Care with a wash, polish and wax.
The tweens and teens in the fam can engage in some cyber-gaming at Clique Gaming or sign up for Taekwondonomics’ taekwondo classes. Young couples can also opt to work up a sweat in the EnergyOne Gym or thwack tennis balls at the open-air tennis courts.
Or, book ahead for the Games Room here for a spot of Blackjack or Mahjong.
2. Jurong Bird Park
When in Jurong, look for birds. Yes, when you are in the area, visiting “Asia’s largest bird paradise” is a must (especially since it is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year).
Specifically, the must-sees here: The African Treetops (it’s a treetop walk through a rainforest canopy); Wings of Asia (it houses some threatened species such as the Bali myna and black-winged myna); and the Penguin Coast (for the penguins, of course).
You can have your own nestlings feed their feathery friends during feeding sessions, catch the “Kings of the Skies” and “High Flyers Show” entertainment shows, or hop onto a buggy for a guided tour of the park.
Just book ahead to make sure you get a slot for everyone you’re going with.
SAFRA members enjoy 20% off prevailing admission rates to Jurong Bird Park and 15% off F&B on weekdays. Click here for more information.
3. Jurong Central Park
You cannot miss this – it’s the 8-hectare belt of greenery found across from Boon Lay MRT Station and right next to SAFRA Jurong.
You can laze the day away admiring a myriad of aquatic plants, wildlife and the many dragonflies that flit across the ponds within Jurong Central Park.
A big plus for the kids: it has an outdoor play space with life-sized board game features such as a Ludo Garden, a Snakes and Ladders playground, and a dice tower!
And if you walk all the way to the other end of the park away from SAFRA Jurong, you can have some respite at the McDonald’s drive-through and diner located here.
Junction off Jalan Boon Lay and Boon Lay Way. Walk from Boon Lay MRT Station or from SAFRA Jurong clubhouse. (Note: Park lighting hours are from 7 pm to 7 am).
4. Jurong Point
How can one visit the Boon Lay area and not drop by Singapore’s largest suburban shopping mall, Jurong Point? (Retail therapy is one of the top favourite activities of the people living in Singapore.)
With some 450 shops spanning across 6 floors (and more, if you include the basement levels) totalling an estimated 70,000 square-metres, do not be at all surprised if you get lost here (so keep the young ones close).
It’s easy to find, not only because of its size, but because it is connected to both Boon Lay MRT Station and Boon Lay Bus Interchange, with the condominium development The Centris located atop the mall.
As to what to shop and where to commence, we will have to leave you to your devices – for a start, you can pick anchor tenants such as BHG, NTUC FairPrice and Popular Bookstore. Seriously, just wander around and shop till you drop here.
5. Boon Lay Shopping Centre and Pioneer Mall
If you do not have the energy to trawl a mega-mall such as Jurong Point or prefer to walk around one that’s more old-school or quaint, there are actually two that are almost equally equidistant from SAFRA Jurong: Boon Lay Shopping Centre and Pioneer Mall.
Upgraded in 2012, the former is located near Boon Lay Community Centre and Boon Lay Place Food Village (see below). While it is described as a shopping centre, it is more a clustered two-storied row of shops that run the usual gamut of general merchandise and daily necessities stores, hair salons, and food eateries – very HDB neighourhood-y.
The latter is a self-sufficient 4-storey building, housing a dozen stores, including an HDB Pioneer Service Centre, a McDonald’s resto, several beauty and wellness outlets and a Giant Hypermarket branch.
While residents drop by for the basic amenities, you can come by just for the nostalgic feels and to take some retro-vibe pics for Instagram.
6. Boon Lay Place Food Village
This is the top spot for the foodies if you come around the Boon Lay area of Jurong.
Here are the recommended hawkers to try: House of Hong Kong Soy Sauce Chicken, Ho Huat Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee, Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak, Boon Lay Fried Carrot Cake & Kway Teow Mee, and Hui Ji Tian Tian Lai.
There are lots more, so take your time to eat your way around this village.
221A/B Boon Lay Place, 640221