WESTERN SINGAPORE TRAVEL GUIDE

By LINDA JAMES | Updated June 15, 2023 | AREA GUIDES

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Home to the National University of Singapore, Western Singapore is also popular because it contains the 10km Southern Ridges National Park, which runs from near Mount Faber out to Kent Ridge. One of the highlights here is Singapore’s highest bridge, Henderson Bridge, which has a striking wave-like structure that hangs 36m above the road.

Also in the area is Jurong Bird Park – 20.2ha of Philippine Eagles, Macaws, African penguins and turacos – as well as museums, art galleries, the Chinese Heritage Centre, and the Singapore Discovery and Science Centres. One of the quirkiest places to visit is Haw Par Villa, originally built by the Tiger Balm brothers, now home to a museum of sorts that highlights myths and legends though some are on the gory side.

Getting There

The area is well serviced by both the MRT system and buses but that said getting out as far as Jurong will take time, up to 60 or 90 minutes. The East-West line goes passed Jurong East, which is where the North-South line starts. The Circle line will get you to Haw Par Villa and Kent Ridge.

It’s likely though that you’ll have to combine an MRT with a bus to get to your final destination.

What to See & Do

Chinese Heritage Centre

Learn about overseas Chinese communities and their culture through permanent exhibitions at this centre, part of Nanyang Technological University, such as Chinese More Or Less: An Exhibition on Overseas Chinese Identity. Also known as “Nantah”, this was the first and only Chinese university outside China. Also on site is the historical Yunnan Garden and a lake.

Address: 12 Nanyang Dr
Open: Weekdays 9.30am–5pm, weekends 10am–5pm
Cost: Free
Getting there: buses – 179,241,99
More information: https://www.ntu.edu.sg/about-us/history

Church of the Blessed Sacraments

The blue slate roof of this church symbolises the “tent of meeting” in the Old Testament. The main sanctuary inside is built in a crucifix shape, with glass panels lining the four points at which the hall meets the roof.

Address: 1 Commonwealth Drive
Open: virtual open house https://www.bsc.org.sg/virtual-openhouse/
Cost: free
Getting there: Near Commonwealth MRT (EW20), take Exit D and walk 10 mins; buses - 961#,61,855,961,123,51,93,100,147,153,196,198, walk 1 min from bus stop B11049
More information: https://www.bsc.org.sg/

Gillman Barracks

This is contemporary art cluster, housed in a former WWII military barracks, consists of a number of different galleries that highlight both international and south-east Asian art. There are cafes, bars and restaurants on site so allow some time to see it all.

Address: 9 Lock Rd
Open: Tuesday to Sunday, check website for hours of individual galleries
Cost: mostly free
Getting there: near Labrador Park MRT station
More information: https://www.gillmanbarracks.com/

Haw Par Villa

Also known as Tiger Balm Gardens because it was built by the founders of Tiger Balm, this is a little on the unusual side. There’s often conflict about whether it’s suitable for children. There are sculptures and dioramas about different myths and legends including an area called the 10 Courts of Hell. Some think they’re gory, others find them educational. Find out more before you go so you can make up your own mind.

Address: 262 Pasir Panjang Rd
Open: Daily 9am-10pm.
Cost: Free. There is a 1-hour guided tour that costs $S10 for adults and $S5 for children aged 7 to 12 and a night tour on Fridays from 6.30pm to 8.30pm that plays up the scary side - $S20 for adults and $S10 for 7 to 12s.
Getting there: near Haw Par Villa MRT (CC25) 7 min walk; buses – 10, 30, 30e, 51, 143, 188, 200 to stop 16019 or 175, 176, 589 to stop 16229
More information: https://www.hawparvilla.sg/

Jurong Bird Park

If birds are your thing then you shouldn’t miss this. There’s a huge variety including flamingos and the Philippines eagle, which likes to nab monkeys. Visitors can even walk around them in the Wings of Asia section.

There are two 20-minute shows – the Kings of the Skies and High Flyers – as well as dry and wet play areas for children. Shows are sometimes cancelled if there’s rain.

Address: 2 Jurong Hill
Open: 8.30am-6pm
Cost: Online tickets $S28.80 for adults (13 and over) and $S18.90 for 3-12s. Residents $S25.60 and $S16.80.
Getting there: Take the East-West MRT line bound for Tuas Link, and alight at Boon Lay (EW27). From the Boon Lay bus interchange, take bus 194, which will take you straight to Jurong Bird Park 
More information: https://www.mandai.com/en/jurong-bird-park.html

Jurong Lake Gardens

These 90ha gardens are another jewel in the crown that is Singapore’s green focus. They include Lakeside Garden, the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, and Garden Promenade, which have a huge variety of aquatic plants and dragonflies as well as squirrels, long-tail macaques and smooth-coated otters.

There are a stack of activities for children such as the 2.3ha Forest Ramble, complete with zip lines, slides and suspended bridges, and the

Therapeutic Garden, for children with disabilities.

Address: Yuan Ching Rd
Open: 24 hours
Cost: free
Getting there: near Chinese Garden MRT (EW25), 14 min walk; buses – 154,154B,49
More information: National Parks Board

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

This contains more than 560,000 catalogued lots and a million specimens over 8500sqm in seven storeys. There are landscaped areas that simulate natural habitats and a huge biodiversity gallery that traces the history of life on Earth, as well as three diplodocid sauropod skeletons.

Address: 2 Conservatory Dr
Open: Tuesday to Sunday 10am-4.30pm
Cost: Singaporean residents – adults $S16, child/student $S9; others – adults $S21, child/student $S13
Getting there:
More information: https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/

NUS Museum

The focus here is on Asia, its culture and heritage with nine galleries that contain an extensive collection of Asian art and artefacts – more than 8000 items.

There are ancient and contemporary Chinese paintings, pottery and ornaments in the Lee Kong Chian Collection and the South and Southeast Asian Collection contains Indian classical sculptures, modern paintings and mixed-media pieces.

Address: 50 Kent Ridge Cres
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 10am-6pm, closed Sunday
Cost: free
Getting there: go to Clementi MRT, take bus 96, 183 or 188, Kent Ridge MRT, take NUS Shuttle Bus D2, K or BTC; buses – 151,183,188,33,95,96,96A
More information: https://museum.nus.edu.sg/

NTU Centre for Contemporary Art

This Nanyang Technological University (NTU) centre highlights contemporary art in a range of exhibitions, public programmes, residencies and research programmes.

Address: 43 Malan Road
Open: Tuesday to Sunday noon-7pm, Friday noon-9pm
Cost: free
Getting there: near Labrador Park MRT station
More information: https://ntu.ccasingapore.org/

Reflections at Bukit Chandu

One of the biggest battles fought against the Japanese during WWII was the Battle of Pasir Panjang. This memorial honours the heroic actions of those involved.

The building is near the battle site where 1400 Malay Regiment soldiers tried to hold off the 13,000-strong Japanese army.

Address: 31-K Pepys Rd
Open: Daily 9.30am-5pm, closed on Monday
Cost: Singaporeans free; others $S5
Getting there: near Pasir Panjang MRT (CC26), 14 min walk; buses – 143,175,188,30,51
More information: https://www.nhb.gov.sg/bukitchandu

Singapore Art Museum

The first art museum in Singapore, it highlights South-east Asian contemporary art in Tanjong Pagar Distripark as well as its two heritage buildings in Bras Basah Rd and Queen Street. The latter two are being redeveloped and are planned to open in 2026.

SAM also organises the Singapore Biennale.

Address: 39 Keppel Rd #01-02
Open: daily 10am–7pm
Cost: $S10 (adults), children 6yrs and below free; residents free
Getting there: takes buses 10, 30, 57, 80, 97, 97e, 100, 131 or 145 to bus stop 14061 (opposite Former Railway Station)
More information: https://www.singaporeartmuseum.sg

Singapore Discovery Centre

Discover everything you wanted to know about Singapore through the permanent exhibits and a 4D simulator ride in which visitors can “join” the defence forces and take on invaders. There’s also a massive 5-storey high screen in the iWERKS theatre where guests can watch 2D and 3D movies.

Address: 510 Upper Jurong Rd
Open: weekdays noon-7pm, weekends 11am-8pm
Cost: Residents free; others $S10 13yrs and over, $S8 3-12yrs for entry to one permanent exhibit; movies are $S7 for adults/children
Getting there: near Joo Koon MRT (EW29), 12 min walk; buses – 192,974,99
More information: https://www.sdc.com.sg/

Singapore Science Centre

All sorts of science-y things happen here – shows about fire tornadoes, chemistry and the solar system as well as permanent exhibitions about climate change and 3D printing.

Address: 15 Science Centre Rd
Open: Friday to Sunday, 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm
Cost: Half-day session adults $S12 (including a $S5 Curious Shop voucher), children 3-12yrs $S8. Residents $S6 adults and $S4 3-12s.
Getting there: near Jurong East (EW24/NS1) 11 min walk; buses – 160,198,51,718
More information: https://www.science.edu.sg/

Snow City

Given the heat in Singapore, it’s probably not surprising that the 3000sqm “snow city” is a popular attraction although the snow is a little sparse on the ground. Entrance includes rental of a jacket and boots but insulated pants and gloves come at an extra cost. Socks can be bought.

Address: 21 Jurong Town Hall Rd
Open: Tuesday to Friday 10am-5pm, weekends/public holidays 10am-5pm
Cost: For 1-hour snowplay session and 1 bumper car ride $S21 for all aged 3 and over. 
Getting there: near Jurong East (EW24/NS1)	13 min walk; buses – 176,198,66
More information: https://ticket.snowcity.com.sg/

Southern Ridges

These are made up of 10km of green spaces that connect Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and Labrador Nature Reserve. Popular with hikers, nature lovers and families, there are some great views to be had of the city and the southern islands as well as a host of flora and fauna.

Some of the things to see include Henderson Waves, which is 284m long and 36m above Henderson Rd, connects Mount Faber Park to Telok Blangah Hill Park and is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore; the Forest Walk and Canopy Walk; and Berlayer Creek at the Labrador Nature and Coastal Walk.

Address: Henderson Rd
Open: 7am-7pm daily
Cost: free
Getting there: bus 145 takes you right to the bridge and there’s a staircase; 20-minute walk from Mt Faber cable car station
More information: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/the-southern-ridges

Where to Eat & Drink

Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre

This is handy if you’re planning to do any hiking on the 15-mile Green Corridor nature trail. There’s a range of hawker dishes such as boneless braised duck, appam (fermented rice pancakes), fried prawn mee and peanut pancakes.

Stalls to try

Li Lao San Ghim Moh Chwee Kueh (#01-54)

Dish: chwee kueh

Open: Daily 6.15am–6.30pm

Jiu Jiang Shao La (#01-17)

Dish: char siew (barbecue pork), roast duck, roast pork

Open: Thursday to Sunday 10am–2pm

Heaven’s Indian Curry (#01-26)

Dishes: thosai, appam, putu mayam

Open: Tuesday to Sunday 6am–1pm

Address: 20 Ghim Moh Rd
Open: Daily 8am-9pm
Getting there: near Buona Vista MRT (CC22/EW21) 9 min walk; buses – 100,105,111,92

Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre

A stack of favourites on offer here: chicken rice, bak kut teh, wonton mee (egg noodles with dumplings), chwee kueh (steamed rice flour cakes topped with preserved turnip/radish), sweet mung bean soup and lor mee. The hawker centre is on the second floor with the wet market on the first floor.

Stalls to try

Lee Hong Kee Cantonese Roasted (#02-60)

Dishes: Roasted duck rice, char siew rice, roast pork rice

Open: daily 9am-8pm, closed Thursday

Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice (#02-82)

Michelin Bib Gourmand

Dishes: Steamed chicken rice, roasted chicken rice

Open: daily 10am–8pm, closed Monday

178 Lor Mee (#02-23)

Dish: Lor mee

Open: Tuesday to Sunday 6am-9pm

Koh Brothers Pig Organ Soup (#02-29)

Dish: Pig organ soup

Open: daily 9am–2.30pm, 5pm–7.45pm, closed Monday

Min Nan Prawn Noodles (#02-31)

Dishes: Prawn noodles, pork ribs noodles

Open: Daily 8am–2.30pm

Zhong Yu Yuan Wei Wanton Noodles (#02-30)

Dish: Wanton noodles

Open: Tuesday to Sunday 8am–2pm, closed Monday and Friday

Jian Bo Chwee Kueh (#02-05)

Dish: Chwee kueh

Open: daily 6.30am-9pm

Hui Ji Fishball Noodles and Yong Tau Foo (#02-44)

Dishes: Yong tau foo, fishball noodles

Open: daily 5.30am-2.30pm, closed Wednesday

Tiong Bahru Fishballs (#02-20)

Dishes: Fried fishballs, fried fish cakes, ngio hiang

Open: Tuesday to Sunday 7am–3pm

Tiong Bahru Pau (#02-18)

Dishes: Char siew bao, big bao, siew mai

Open: Daily 6.30am–9pm

Tiong Bahru Lor Mee (#02-80)

Dish: Lor mee

Open: Tuesday to Sunday, 5.30am–2pm

Address: 30 Seng Poh Rd
Open: Daily 6am to 11pm
Getting there: Near Tiong Bahru MRT (EW17) (Walk 8 minutes from Exit B); buses – 5, 16, 33, 63, 123, 195, 851, and NR5 (Walk 1 minute from bus stop B10141)
More information: https://www.roots.gov.sg/stories-landing/stories/Hawker-Centres/Tiong-Bahru-Market-Food-Centre

Yuhua Market and Hawker Centre

These last two centres are in in Jurong East and have just had some of their stall holders awarded with Michelin Bib Gourmands.

Stalls to try

Lai Heng Homemade Teochew Kueh (#01-218)

Michelin Bib Gourmand

Dish: Teochew kueh

Open: daily 6.30am-2.30pm, closed Monday

Address: 347 Jurong East Ave 1
Open: daily
Getting there: near Chinese Garden MRT (EW25), walk 9 min; buses – 157,185,187,198,334,99
More information: https://guide.michelin.com/sg/en/article/dining-out/9-new-bib-gourmand-hawker-stalls-2021-what-to-order

Yuhua Village Market and Food Centre

Stalls to try

Fei Fei Roasted Noodle (#01-28)

Michelin Bib Gourmand

Dish: roasted meat

Open: daily 9am-12.30pm, closed Sunday

Heng Heng Cooked Food

Michelin Bib Gourmand

Dish: prawn noodles, laksa

Open: daily 8am-2pm, closed Wednesday and Thursday

Address: 254 Jurong East St 24
Open: daily 7am-11pm
Getting there: near Chinese Garden MRT (EW25), walk 13 min; buses – 157,176,180,185,187,98
More information: https://guide.michelin.com/sg/en/article/dining-out/9-new-bib-gourmand-hawker-stalls-2021-what-to-order

Conclusion

Western Singapore is home to many of Singapore’s natural attractions – the bird park and beautiful gardens. It’s further out than many other areas but it’s worth the trip if you make it.

More area guides

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