Bukit Panjang is not as swanky as Orchard, nor is it as happening as new towns such as Tampines or Punggol. But as a resident who moved into Bukit Panjang recently – after staying in Clementi, Choa Chu Kang and Yew Tee in the past – I’ve since grown to love its quiet charm.
In fact, it’s one of the most underrated neighbourhoods in Singapore. The beauty of the many parks and nature spots entices you to step out of the house, and there’s a hidden glow-in-the-dark path that lights up the way at night.
From scenic boardwalks to hot supper spots, here are the perks of living at Bukit Panjang that only residents of the area are privy to – until now.
Image credit: @cyeejen
Zhenghua Nature Park is another highlight of Bukit Panjang. It’s roughly the size of 16 football fields and stretches along part of the BKE. Even though it’s nestled beside rows of HDBs, its trees are densely packed together and the shrubs are unpruned at certain areas – making you feel like you’re truly in the wild.
Bird-watchers have caught sight of over 35 species of birds in the park, and the area is also home to long-tailed macaques, squirrels and monitor lizards. Keep your eyes peeled and you might also spot the Giant Orchid – the world’s tallest orchid plant – and some bamboo trees.
Image credit: @arnoldcruz
There’s also a children’s play area, exercise station, pavillion, as well as public toilets.
A windy staircase that leads down to the park
Image credit: @imaxsmileyface
Image credit: @charlottewangwang
Bukit Panjang’s crown jewel is our famous ke kou mian (from $3.50) from Hai Xian Zhu Zhou. The stall’s name translates literally into Seafood Porridge, and is located at the kopitiam at Blk 163A, Gangsa Road.
Ke kou mian is essentially zhng-ed up Koka instant noodles. Generous slices of tender pork meat, minced pork meat, vegetables, prawns, razor clams, chillies and more – depending on the version you order – add intense flavours to an otherwise boring packet of instant noodles, so it’s no wonder it’s a hit with foodies.
Image credit: @yia86
Hai Xian Zhu Zhou’s odd opening hours from 4AM to 2.30PM also makes it a popular and supper spot for night owls.
Hai Xian Zhu Zhou
Address: Blk 163A Gangsa Rd, Singapore 671163
Opening hours Fri – Wed 4AM-2.30PM | Closed on Thu
Image credit: @joeugoexplore
The Rail Corridor, a former railway track that runs from Woodlands to Tanjong Pagar is now hot news, following this year’s National Day Rally speech where PM Lee said it will be connected to Sentosa.
But back in mid-2017, a separate 400m-long “test track” built in Bukit Panjang was the talk of the town. URA’s idea was to outfit the test track with four types of surface materials and get the public’s opinion on which would work best for the future Rail Corridor.
Image credit: @gordon61
Of the 4, the most buzzworthy one was the glow-in-the-dark path made of minerals that absorb UV light during the day to emit a glow at night. If this material isn’t chosen to pave the Rail Corridor, Bukit Panjang will likely be the only place in Singapore to have this special pavement.
Image credit: @m.i.s.t.e.r.t
Every Bukit Panjang resident knows of Bus 190. The bus hits the BKE/PIE directly after Bangkit Road, and there are only 6 stops to Far East Plaza after it leaves the PIE – it takes just 15 minutes from Bukit Panjang to Orchard Road. No other neighbourhood in the West can lay claim to that.
Even now, with the convenience of the Downtown Line, Bus 190 is still the favoured way to travel to Orchard because of its “express” route.
Image credit: @chyeguan.tan
Pang Sua Pond sits at the heart of Bukit Panjang, with its main draw being a picturesque 480-metre boardwalk that’s especially popular among dog owners taking their furkids for a walk.
Benches with umbrella shades are available if you need a rest
Image credit: @wong_tl61
It was originally a stormwater collection pond built back in the ’90s, but PUB revamped the pond into Singapore’s 2nd largest floating wetland in 2014. Apart from the floating wetland and its winding path, the 30-month-long renovation added a multipurpose stage and viewing decks for events and performances.
Image credit: @snowythespitz_
If you’re lucky, you might even be able to spot some otters and terrapins.
The entire path is beautifully lit at night
Image credit: @yiming123456
Image credit: @kittyowlye
Karu’s Indian Banana Leaf restaurant is a lesser-known foodie spot in Bukit Panjang, serving some of the best briyani in the region. Everything in the standard meal set (from $7.20) – rice, 2 vegetable dishes, appalam and chicken or fish curry – is free-flow in a la carte style so you can eat to your heart’s content.
Other dishes such as chicken masala, beef rendang, and squid can be ordered to complete your standard meal set (top up another $3 or more) or a la carte (from around $6.50 per dish). If you’re going in a group of four or more and want to order something more substantial to share, try the fish head curry (from $23.50), which gets many thumbs up too.
Karu’s Indian Banana Leaf
Address: 808/810 Upper Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore 678144
Opening hours: Tue – Sun 10.30AM-10PM | Closed on Mon
Telephone: 6762 7284
Image credit: @jasonetta
Bukit Batok’s Xiao Guilin is one of those “hidden gems” in the West that’s already well-known. But not Hindhede Quarry, which is an equally quaint spot to visit. It’s located in Hindhede Nature Park, which has easy trails and footpaths suitable for those who are athletically challenged and even families with young kids.
Hidden among the trees within the park are a playground, rope bridge, swings and even a flying fox for kids to enjoy. But the most unique would be a climbing structure designed to look like forest trees.
Image credit: @justtey
Wildlife photography fans also frequent the park to snap photos of animals such as the banded woodpecker, glider, and stork-billed kingfisher in their natural habitat. You may even spot a brown hawk owl or two.
Image credit: @leehsia_gan
If your legs are not feeling the burn, try to conquer the nearby Bukit Timah Hill at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve which shares the same entrance as the park.
A little bridge that’s part of Hindhede Nature Park’s trail
Image credit: @quekjiayi_art
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The children and adult sections of some libraries are segregated, but usually share the same entrance. But the Bukit Panjang Public Library at the top floor of BPP is separated into 2 spaces with 2 different entrances, located at opposite ends of the mall.
The children’s section has cute bunny chairs
Image credit: @w00sunny
This means you’ll never have to run into noisy toddlers when trying to have a quiet reading session. And parents of restless toddlers are at a lower risk of getting judged whenever their children forget to use their quiet voices.
Bukit Panjang Public Library
Address: #04-04 & #04-16/17, Bukit Panjang Plaza, 1 Jelebu Road, Singapore 677743
Opening hours: Fri – Wed 4AM-2.30PM | Closed on Thu
Telephone: 6332 3255
Lamb Rack from Spruce
Image credit: @skyenrae
Bukit Panjang’s strategic location makes it convenient to join your friends for supper without having to deal with all the grease and noise on a daily basis. There are a couple of popular spots located within a 10-minute drive, easily accessible by a direct bus or the Downtown Line.
Image credit: @spruce_sg
One of these is Spruce at the Old Bukit Timah Fire Station, suitable for those looking to chill with their friends over drinks. The restaurant is open till 1AM every night and 2AM on Saturdays, and has live music for entertainment on selected nights.
Spruce at Fire Station
Address: 260 Upper Bukit Timah Rd, #01-01, Singapore 588190
Opening hours:Mon – Wed 5.30PM-1AM | Thu & Fri 11.30AM-1AM | Sat, Sun & public holidays 9AM-1AM
Image credit: @pekweilun
Another hot supper spot among Westies is the stretch of food outlets at Cheong Chin Nam Road, located at the Upper Bukit Timah Road area opposite Beauty World Centre. Famous restaurants there include Boon Tong Kee and G7 Sinma Claypot, but those in the know will tell you that the main draw is Al-Azhar, an Indian-Muslim restaurant that’s not only popular for their prata (from $1.10) but Western food such as spaghetti and fish and chips as well.
Address: 11 Cheong Chin Nam Rd, Singapore 599736
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Telephone: 6466 5052
Image credit: @jaychin
There’s also The Rail Mall is a stretch of shophouses that’s a 5-minute walk from Hillview MRT, just 2 stops from Bukit Panjang MRT. Supper spots here include:
The latter is a great place to visit on nights where there are popular football matches, but be sure to arrive early to reserve a good seat.
The Rail Mall
Address: 380 Upper Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore 678040
Opening hours: 8AM-12AM, Daily
Telephone: 6507 0180
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Address: 422 Upper Bukit Timah Rd, The Rail Mall, Singapore 678051
Opening hours: Sun – Thu 7.30AM-11PM | Fri & Sat 7.30AM-1AM
Telephone: 6764 8210
Address: 426/428 Upper Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore 678054
Opening hours: Sun – Thu 11.30AM-1.30AM | Fri & Sat 11.30AM-3AM
Telephone: 6766 1588
Image credit: @tze1
This observation tower is located in Chestnut Nature Park, Singapore’s largest nature park. It’s 7 storeys high and serves as a great vantage point.
And since it’s right smack in the middle of the Central Water Catchment area, a large part of the 360-degree view from the top is just the zen sight of trees. Just turn your back to the HDBs and condos that peek out from the canopy, and it’s easy to be at one with nature.
Image credit: @hmdirt
The park has a 5.6km-long hiking trail split into two parts, North and South. The latter is longer at 3.5km and runs in a loop back to the main road without any attractions except two huts for hikers to catch their breath at. The North trail is the one that leads to the Observation Tower.
Image credit: Dean Koh for Redbull
Cycling enthusiasts will be no stranger to the biking dirt trails here, with 2 paths of varying difficulty levels from easy to extremely difficult. The Northern Biking Trail connects to Chestnut Bike Park, and the Pump Track – a biking circuit for bikers to practise their techniques over a series of humps and dips.
The entire park is full of dense foliage
Image credit: @waseem_yusaf
If you are riding or using the Pump Track or Bike Park, you are required to wear safety gear and helmets.
Bukit Panjang is not one of the first neighbourhoods to have three shopping malls. But the three here are pretty distinct from each other, even if there are 2 McDonald’s, 2 KFC, 2 Starbucks and 2 Fairprice outlets combined.
Image credit: @halfinsane_
Bukit Panjang Plaza was built way back in 1998. Its Fairprice outlet was most recently revamped into Fairprice Finest with more atas groceries in addition to the usual selection.
There’s also a Harvey Norman, Popular bookstore, and public library. There’s almost always something happening at their atrium – big sales, car roadshows, or kid-friendly events to keep the little ones entertained. You could call it the Takashimaya of Bukit Panjang.
It’s also the only mall out of the three that has a rooftop garden and playground.
Image credit: Google Maps
Junction 10, formerly known as Ten Mile Junction, is as old as Bukit Panjang Plaza. It appeals to families with kids because there are numerous enrichment centres located there, such as Kumon and The Ballet School, among others.
The food options here are more limited, but there’s a Fitness First gym and Teo Heng KTV Studio that draw a wider crowd during non-family-peak hours.
Image credit: Khun Aung on Google Maps
Hillion Mall is the new kid on the block, opened in early 2017 with a 24-hour Fairprice. It’s directly connected to the integrated bus interchange and Bukit Panjang MRT station.
It’s the place to go if you don’t know what to eat. Restaurants such as Dian Xiao Er and A-One Claypot are great for families. And there’s Maki-San, Tori-Q, and Sushi Express which are popular options among the younger crowd.
I Love Yoo! – serving traditional breakfasts of porridge, you tiao, and fritters
Image credit: @iloveyoosg
The open area in front of the mall is also home to events such as free Zumba sessions, pasar malams, farmers markets, and mini fun fairs.
While Bukit Panjang residents face the same struggles as others living in the West – such as longer commutes to work or school – our district does have its fair share of unique qualities that make it a joy to live in. And our proximity to numerous nature parks, including the largest one in Singapore, is great for those who enjoy being in the outdoors during the weekends.
Funnily enough, I remember having a breakdown when I signed my CPF money away to buy my BTO here. I was living near Yew Tee MRT at that point in time, no one knew that there was going to be a Bukit Panjang MRT, and I hated taking buses to get around because I get motion sickness easily.
But since moving here, the neighbourhood has really grown on me. And I find myself hanging out in the area a lot because there’s always something to do in the vicinity.
Check out our other neighbourhood guides:
Cover image adapted from: @chyeguan.tan
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