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Singapore Travel Guide, Chinese Garden

Jurong and West Singapore

Jurong is a fairly modern urban area, occupying the southwest part of Singapore Island.  Large sections of it are covered by industrial zones and massive residential projects but, thanks to the fact that it has more open spaces than other parts of Singapore, it became home to some fabulous tourist attractions that are well worth visiting.


Our starting point is at Boon Lay MRT Station, on the East-West line.


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The area's main highlights...


Singapore Discovery Centre is offering its visitors a wide variety of exciting things to see and plenty of activities.  The center's prime objective is to tell the "story of Singapore" through state-of-the-art interactive devices and technological games, but the problem is that non-Singaporeans might not find it that interesting (as most of the activities here "speak to Singaporean in their own language...").  The centre occupies an area of 4,500 m² and its five halls feature eight different themes, all related to the city-state and its dwellers... 


One of the center's most notable attractions is the Visionarium, features an incredibly big dome containing a 360 degrees video screen.  120 people enter the Visionarium each time and participate in a sort of a game where they can suggest ideas that will shape the face of Singapore's future, using push buttons and interactive devices. 

At the end of the session, the final result is screened, showing how the city would have looked like if all those suggestions were accepted.


Families with kids can enjoy a decent range of activities... from Crossfire paintball to 3D cinema (iWERKS theater) and Shooting Gallery.


The centre is open Tuesday - Sunday, 9am - 6pm, closed on Mondays (unless a Monday falls on a public holiday) and it's really recommended to spend at least two hours here.


How to get there: From MRT-Boon Lay, take SBS bus Nos. 182 or 193


"Basic" admission fees are SG$ 10 for an adult and SG$ 6 for a child.  If you want special additions (like 3D cinema or paintballs) you'll need to pay for it separately.


There is also an option for a 'family ticket' of 2 adults + 2 kids at SG$ 28, as well as all sorts of "combo tickets".


For more information, you can call them on 6792 6188 or visit their website:



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Jurong BirdPark, also around the area of MRT-Boon Lay, is one of the world's best bird zoos (with the largest number of birds) and one of Singapore's most recommended tourist attractions.


Talking Parrot sings "Happy Birthday to You" and sneezes, at Jurong Bird Park.

Occupying an area of 50 acres, the park is home to almost 10,000 birds, belonging to 600 different species... From the penguins who live in an Antarctica-like area, to the birds of the tropics, who dwell in a zone with manmade 'tropical storms'...


The park management tries to give each one of the many bird-groups, a space which is as close as possible to its natural habitat.


The park holds several 'world records' : It boasts the world's largest selection of Hornbills and Toucans, and also has the world's largest walk-in aviary, where more than 1,500 birds from over 60 species are flying freely above the world's highest manmade waterfall (30 meters).


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A world record-breaking park:

Jurong BirdPark is holding quite a few "unique" world records...

  • It is the world's largest bird park in terms of number of birds.
  • it boasts the world's largest collection of Hornbills and Toucans.
  • it has the world's largest walk-in aviary.
  • The highest manmade waterfall on earth is here.
  • The park's Panorail isthe world's only rail system, running through an aviary. 


As you might expect from such a place, there are all sorts of exciting bird shows... From the Birds of Prey Show, through the mimicking parrots, to the Birds n' Buddies Show, where a large number of performing birds from different species participate in a single act.


One way to discover the park is with the Panorail: a monorail train that encircles the park, stops every few meters and provides a look-from-above over the park and its winged inhabitants.  It is also the world's only rail system, running through an aviary.  Generally speaking, there is no problem to discover the park on foot (it is even more recommended), but the Panorail gives a "different angle"... especially for the young ones, who might enjoy the idea of riding it.


If you get here early enough, you can enjoy your morning coffee at the Lakeside café, surrounded by birds singing... you can also go for the Lunch with the Birds, where you can enjoy your meal with a beautiful backdrop of the Flamingo Lake.

(These two facilities were not available at the time of writing, check it out before visiting the park).

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Jurong BirdPark is open daily, 8:30am - 6pm.


At the time of writing, admission fees are SG$ 18 for an adult and SG$ 12 for a child (Panorail ride is SG$ 5 for an adult and SG$ 3 for a child).  If you plan to visit the Zoo and the Night Safari, you might just as well purchase the "Park Hopper" combo ticket (Zoo + Night Safari + Jurong Bird Park)at a price of SG$ 58 for an adult and SG$ 38 for a child.


To get here: From MRT-Boon Lay, take SBS bus Nos. 194 or 251


BusHub operates direct, air conditioned buses from the city centre (passing through most major hotels), Little India and Chinatown to the BirdPark (via Harbour Front - link to Sentosa).


Buses depart  from either Orchard Hotel, or Golden Mile Complex at 9am and pass through Grand Hyatt, Meritus Mandarin, Concorde Hotel, Little India, Chinatown and some other stations, before proceeding to the BirdPark. Price is SG$ 4.5 one way for an adult and SG$ 2 for a child.  They also operate a service between the Singapore Zoo/Night safari and Jurong BirdPark (leaving the BirdPark on 2 and 4:45pm daily / Leaving from the Zoo to the BirdPark at 2pm daily).  For more information and timetable, call BusHub on: 6753 0506 or, better, visit their website.


For more information, you can call Jurong BirdPark  on 6661 7830 or visit their website (visiting their website is really recommended as they might have all sorts of special events at the time of your visit...)


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The next attraction can be found next to MRT-Chinese Garden, 2 stations before MRT-Boon Lay (on the green marked East-West line).



The Chinese Garden and the Japanese Garden (also known as Jurong Gardens) are two amazingly beautiful gardens, located on islands in the middle of Jurong Lake, a few minutes walk from the MRT station.  Bridges connect the two islands to each other, as well as to the lakeshore.


Built in 1975 and designed by a famous architect from Taiwan, Prof. Yuen-chen Yu, The 33 acres Chinese Garden features the Imperial architecture style and landscaping of North China, with magnificent structures like the grand 13-arch stone bridge, the 7 storied pagoda, twin pagodas, pavilions, bridges, a teahouse and a stoneboat.  The spectacular Chinese gardening includes fish ponds and some fabulous themed gardens, like the Bonsai Garden (one of the best in the world) and the Garden of Abundance, where you can see stone sculptures of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals.


The small Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum is another major attraction of the Chinese Garden (Visit their website).


The Chinese Garden is particularly popular during Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival, when it hosts the traditional lanterns parade (see Festivals).



The Bonsai Garden, within the Chinese Garden, has thousands of well-groomed Bonsai trees on display, mostly from China, and there are experts on sight, who give helpful tips and advice about those miniature trees.


From here, you can cross the bridge to the Japanese Garden, on the adjacent island.  In contrast to the visual extravagance of its northern neighbor, the Japanese Garden is more modest and unpretentious, with focus given to simplicity, peace and tranquility.


The Gardens open daily, 6am - 11pm and the entrance is free. The Bonsai Garden and the Garden of Abundance are open daily, 9am - 6pm and the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum is open daily, 10am  - 7pm.  There is a small entrance fee of SG$ 2 for an adult and SG$ 1 for a child or a senior, to the themed gardens.


How to get there? The Chinese Garden is a couple of minutes walk from MRT-Chinese Garden




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From the gardens, walk back to the MRT station and continue to your next destination.


Science Centre Singapore is a very large and exciting museum, specializing in the promotion of scientific and technological education for the general public.


Through hundreds of interactive exhibits, spread across the center's eight galleries, the visitor familiarizes himself with the wonders of technology... From optical illusions, through robotics, to vehicles of the future, the wonders of aviation and more...


In Singapore, like in Singapore, the museum's sponsors did not spare any expense to get the best, and the place is, indeed, chockfull with electronic devices and computerized effects that display the various themes in a very interesting way, and allow the visitor to experience, to feel and to take part...


The excellent exhibitions include: i-space, where you can "take a look into the future", Genome, where you can learn about the basics of genetics, NanotechnologyWorld of Energy, The Human Body, The Kinetic Garden, The Mind's Eye (Optical illusions) and Waterworks.


The Science Centre's Observatory is one of only a few observatories in the world located next to the Equator.  Its unique position allows constellations in both the northern and southern celestial hemispheres to be observed and thus opens up more vistas in the sky for observers.


The Centre also operates an IMAX cinema (the Omni Theatre) where you can watch some excellent 40 minute documentaries on various scientific topics, like research of the deep sea, discovery of Mars and more... The movies play every round hour, from 10 am to 8pm.


Singapore Science Centre open Tuesday - Sunday, 10am - 6pm, closed on Mondays (unless a Monday falls on a public holiday) and it's really recommended to try and spend not less than 2 hours here.


Admission fees are SG$ 9 for an adult, SG$ 5 for a child (under 16) and SG$ 6 for a senior citizen.


The movies, at the IMAX, play every round hour, from 10am to 7pm (last show) and the ticket price is SG$ 10 for an adult, SG$ 8 for a senior and SG$ 7 for a child (below 12).


For more information, you can call them on 6425 2500 or visit their website.


How to get to Science Centre Singapore:


By foot: Walk out of MRT-Chinese Garden through exit-C and proceed straight along Boon Lay Way (The road should be on your left and the park on your right). After less the five minutes, turn right to to Jurong Town Hall Road and walk along it for approximately one kilometer, until you will see the Science CentreandSnow City on your right hand side (all in all, it's about 20 minutes walk from MRT-Chinese Garden).



By public transport: From MRT-Jurong East (on the green marked East-West line): Walk out of the station through the covered walkway, to Jurong East Street 13, cross it and proceed strait along the covered path, between the buildings (Block No. 135 should be on your right) until you reach a big junction. The Science Centre is on its other side (less than 10 minutes walk from MRT-Jurong East)



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Next to the Science Centre is Snow City, Singapore's first indoor snow centre.

It features a three-storey high, manmade snow slope where you can sky, snowboard or just play with the snow... Other than the idea of snow in the middle of equatorial Singapore, there is not much interest here (especially if you come from a country where snow falls naturally...)


Open Tuesday-Sunday, 9:45am - 5:15pm and there are different prices for different gears.


For more details, call them on 6560 2306 or visit their website:


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Not far from here is the Singapore Mint Coin Gallery, where you can see some collections of coins and medals from all over the world, including some historic collections, dating back more than 200 years...  You can also purchase coins and press your own coin with the press machine they have there.


Open Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm and entrance is free (you'll have to pay a small fee if you want to join one of their short guided tours)


To get here: take TIBS bus No. 178 outside Jurong East Library, along Jurong Town Hall Road (a short stroll from the Science Centre) and ask the driver where to alight.

For more information, call them on 6566 2626



Not far from Clementi MRT Station, on the green marked East-West line, between Jurong East and the City Centre, NUS Museum (National University of Singapore Museum) specializes in both ancient and modern art collections from China and other Far East countries.  Spread across the museum's four exhibition halls, the fabulous collections cover 7000 years of Chinese culture...  Sculptures, ceramics, porcelain, jade, bronze, Chinese paintings and beautiful calligraphy...


Open Tuesday - Sunday (closed on Mondays and public holidays), 10am - 7:30pm (until 6pm on Sunday).  Entrance is free


How to get there: from the bus interchange, next to MRT-Clementi, take route No. 96 and alight at a bus-stop called "NUS Raffles Hall", which is just a few steps from the University Cultural Centre, where the museum is.


For more information, call them on 6516 4617/6 or visit their website.




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Haw Par Villa and Hua Song Museum (also commonly known by its former name: Tiger Balm Gardens) is a Chinese mythological theme park, boasting hundreds of statues that depict different tales and legends from the Chinese mythology.  Originally, the place was built in 1937 by a charismatic Chinese entrepreneur, Aw Boon Haw, as a mansion for his younger brother Aw Boon Par, and the park, indeed, bears their names.


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The two brothers amassed a great fortune at the beginning of the 20th century, when they introduced the Tiger Balm, an extremely popular heat rub containing a mixture of Menthol, Camphor, Clove bud oil, Cassia oil and more... They got the formula for the heat rub from their father, who was a herbalist in Rangoon, Burma, and perfected it before starting mass-production.


In 1979, The Aw family sold the Gardens to the Singapore Tourism Board, who renovated and improved them.  In the park, you can see and experience thousands of years of Chinese mythology, folk tales and legends, presented by groups of statues and figurines.  The visitor passes through different themes that shape Chinese folklore, like Love, Generosity, Honesty and more...


One of the park's highlights is the 10 courts of hell area, where the visitor can see all the tortures that wicked and unrighteous souls will have to suffer before reincarnating.


The park also hosts quite a few street-shows, puppet shows, parades and what have you...


A visit to the "10 courts of hell", at Haw Par Villa (by


Hua Song Museum, adjacent to the garden, is dedicated to Chinese communities around the world and shows how these communities developed, what hardships the newcomers had to face and how did they contribute to their new societies... The nice thing about this small museum is that most of the exhibits are actuall life sized "scenes" of the migrants' daily life, which means it is not boring even for people who usually can't stand museums.


The garden is open daily, 9am - 7pm and entrance is free (try to avoid public holidays, as it might be jam-packed)


Hua Song Museum is open daily (except Monday), 9am - 6pm and there is a small entrance fee.


How to get there: Haw Par Villa - MRT Station should open on or before the end of 2011 and will provide direct access.


Until that happens, you can get here quite easy by bus:


Bus No. 10 comes here from the area of Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay (The bus-stop stands next to One Raffles Link, opposite the Chopsticks monument).


No. 51 can be boarded along North Bridge Road, near St. Andrew's Cathedral and also near Boat Quay (after the corner of Circular Road).


No. 143 comes here from the city centre and has stops on Scotts Road (next to Far East Plaza) and along Orchard Road (The first is outside Tangs Plaza, the second is near "Paragon" - opposite Meritus Mandarin, and the third is next to Concorde Hotel).


Route No. 200 comes here from Buona Vista – MRT Station


For more information, call them on 6872 2003 or  6872 2780




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Labrador Nature Reserve


This lovely coastsal nature reserve lies west of Singapore Port and offers its visitors a small heaven, integrating nature, beautiful beach, historic sights and even a good restaurant...


It is one of the only paces in Singapore where you can see a real rocky shore, with cliffs and familiarize yourself with its unique ecosystem, especially when the tide is low, when the coral reef is almost entirely exposed and its dwellers are unveiled…


Another notable sight within Labrador Nature Reserve is Fort Pasir Panjang, one of the main coastal forts the Brits built in Singapore… It was constructed initially in the 1880s and refortified during the 1930s, as part of "Fortress Singapore" campaign, which was meant to defend the city from a Japanese naval attack… Unfortunately, the Japanese came from Malaysia and the rest is history…


There are also "secret tunnles" in the park, which the British army dug more than a century ago, as well as wide lawns, picnic areas, beautiful vantage points and a good restaurant, where you can dine 'alfresco' and enjoy the scenery.


The reserve is open daily and entrance is free.


For more info, you can download this free PDF brochure, which also contains info about walking trails in the park.


Labrador Park – MRT Station should happen circa the end of 2011 and will provide direct access to the park


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Southern Ridges


This is a series of bridges and nature trails, winding along 9 kilometres, from Mt. Faber westwards, through Telok Blangah Hill, Kent Ridge and all the way to West Coast Park, offering a pleasant stroll in nature, right next to the city centre… Other than beautiful panoramic views, the trails pass through manicured gardens, as well as indigenous forest, just like the one that covered most of Singapore more than a hundred years ago.


Long suspended boardwalks that wind between the forest's treetops are, undoubtedly, the main attraction here… Especially the section called "Henderson Waves", which boasts the best vantage points and some pleasant shady corners.


The trails are open all day, every day and entrance is free.


For more info, you can download this (free) excellent PDF brochure, which contains maps and details about the various walks and what can be seen along every one of them.


Getting there:



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If you want to start from the "Jewel Box" shopping centre, up at the top of Mt. Faber, you'll better use the Sentosa cable-car: From HarbourFront MRT Station, walk to the adjacent bus interchange, where Seah Im Food Centre is located and onwards, via a long pedestrian bridge, across the main road, to the building next to the cable-car station.


To Henderson Waves and the "best" sections: Take the following buses to the bus-stop on Henderson Road, corner of Blangah Heights:


No. 124 comes here from the city centre and has stops on Scotts Road (next to Far East Plaza) and along Orchard Road (The first is outside Tangs Plaza, the second is near "Paragon" - opposite Meritus Mandarin, the third is next to Concorde Hotel and the fourth is next to exit-E of MRT-Dhoby Ghaut), as well as on North Bridge Road, near St. Andrew's Cathedral and also near Boat Quay (after the corner of Circular Road).


No. 145 can also be boarded from the bus-stop near Boat Quay (Corner of North Bridge and Circular).


Bus No. 131 comes here from Little India (Sungei Road, near "The Verge" shopping centre – Just a few steps from the corner of Serangoon Road)