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Jurong Lake Gardens
Photograph: NParks Jurong Lake Gardens

The ultimate guide to Jurong

Journey west for the best nasi lemak, an Olympic-sized ice skating rink and the biggest telescope in the city for stargazing

By Cam Khalid and Cheryl Sekkappan
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Jurong Industrial Estate – and consequently Jurong New Town – has been the beating heart of Singapore’s manufacturing sector since the 1960s. But it’s not all factories, ports and shipyards. Composed of Jurong East, Jurong West, Boon Lay and Pioneer, the area was once a swampland home to mudskippers, horseshoe crabs and – as rumour has it – crocs. Now, it’s known as Orchard Road in the West thanks to numerous shopping and dining options to die for. That’s not forgetting the pockets of lush greenery for all to enjoy.

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DO

Jurong Eco Garden
Photograph: Danny Ye/Shutterstock

Jurong Eco Garden

Attractions Parks and gardens Jurong West

Nestled in the unlikely industrial location of CleanTech Park is Jurong Eco Garden, a five-hectare space complete with walking trails, a butterfly garden and a freshwater swamp. This garden makes for easy exploration, with sedate trails culminating in the Summit Lookout for great views at the surrounding greenery. Families will enjoy various educational stops, including informative panels about the park’s  self-sustaining irrigation system and a compost corner where kids can learn about how horticultural waste is converted into useful resources.

Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle
Photograph: @tkpotteryjungle/Instagram

Thow Kwang Pottery

Things to do Raffles Place

From Jurong Eco Garden, it’s an easy walk to Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle – which is the site of the oldest surviving dragon kiln in Singapore. Unlike gas or electric kilns, these brick-built kilns allow for a wood-firing process that gives ceramic wares an unmistakable blush of flame. At Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle, you’re free to shop around the hundreds of pottery items that include beautiful Peranakan pieces. If you want to get more hands-on, sign up for a pottery lesson or even venture into the mouth of a dragon with a guided tour into the kiln itself.

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SAFRA Jurong

Sport and fitness Jurong West

SAFRA members should definitely make use of the myriad of amenities at SAFRA Jurong. Besides the swimming pool, you can also play tennis and futsal, or fire up a barbeque with some friends. After a hard day’s work, you can also unwind at Fame Music & Entertainment, which offers darts and pool alongside a selection of beers.

Jurong Lake Gardens
Photograph: NParks

Jurong Lake Gardens

Things to do Jurong East

Escape the urban life and surround yourself with flora and fauna. The verdant gardens include Lakeside Garden, Chinese and Japanese Gardens and Garden Promenade, making this the largest wonderland dedicated to nature in Jurong. The grounds are specially landscaped and designed with play and learning areas in mind, making it perfect for all ages.

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JCube

Shopping Jurong East

Besides offering bargain hunters with Bugis Street-like shopping options, JCube also boasts a myriad of recreational activities that’s perfect for a fun date or day out with friends. Cool off from the sweltering heat by skating around an Olympic-sized rink, catch the latest blockbuster in an IMAX theatre, pick up pottery at Taoz Ceramic Studio, or try to win a cute plushie at Poka-oo or Whimsey arcade.

Science Centre Observatory
Photograph: Science Centre Observatory

Singapore Science Centre

Things to do Jurong East

Get schooled on all things science with regular interactive exhibitions. It also features the only dome-shaped Omni- Theatre, equipped with state-of-the-art IMAX technology, as well as the Observatory, where you can look past the artificial illumination of the city and to the stars light-years away with its mega telescope.

EAT

Yuhua Village Market & Food Centre
Photograph: Cheryl Sekkappan

Yuhua Village Market & Food Centre

Restaurants Hawker Jurong East

Not to be confused with Yuhua Market & Hawker Centre, this beloved food centre offers a huge variety of local favourites with perpetual queues testifying to their quality. Start the morning right at popular porridge stall Xiang Ji Cooked Food, or go for a classic Singaporean lunch at Hup Hong Chicken Rice. There’s also Heng Heng Cooked Food Laksa for a more fiery meal, and Taste Min Jiang Kueh for a perfect late afternoon snack.

Tien Lai Rice Stall
Photograph: Tien Lai Rice Stall/Facebook

Taman Jurong Market & Hawker Centre

Restaurants Hawker Jurong West

Built in 1971, Taman Jurong Market & Hawker Centre is believed to be the pioneering hawker centre in Singapore. This West-side gem is an oldie but a goodie, with must-try options including De Ji Hong Kong Soy Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle for one of the tastiest soy sauce chicken dishes you can get in Singapore; Tien Lai Rice Stall for amazing char siew; Sikkander’s Briyani for affordable and fuss-free hawker pleasure; and ButterNut for a more modern, healthy option.  

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Na Na Homemade Curry
Photograph: Na Na Homemade Curry/Facebook

Na Na Homemade Curry

Restaurants Hawker Jurong East

Come to Block 303 in Jurong East for some satisfying bowls of Peranakan-style curry. The Bukit Merah outlet clinched the Michelin Bib Gourmand award, and the one in Jurong is just as good. This fuss-free joint has typical options like curry fish head ($28), curry chicken drumstick ($4.60) and curry mutton ($5). The meat is always tender and the gravy is spicier than usual - perfect for those who crave more of a kick.

Zai Shun Curry Fish Head
Photograph: Cheryl Sekkappan

Zai Shun Curry Fish Head

Restaurants Hawker Jurong East

Contrary to its name, Zai Shun Curry Fish Head is actually more popular for its steamed fish and Teochew porridge. Pick from a wide selection of farmed and wild-caught fish, including red grouper and pomfret as well as rarer species like the empurau. The fish is steamed for you in Teochew or Cantonese style in a secret sauce that perfectly complements the delicate flesh of the fish. To complement your porridge, don’t miss out on standout dishes like bittergourd with eggs, braised pork belly, salted egg minced meat and fish cake.

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The Carving Board, Tuna salad
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

The Carving Board

Restaurants Jurong East

Those craving for Western fare should check out The Carving Board, an affordable grill restaurant in the heart of Jurong East’s residential estates. You can expect to find relatively upmarket and well-executed menu items here, including striploin steak ($23), pork steak ($16), mushroom risotto ($15) and a slew of pasta options. For a little treat, check out their small selection of craft beers and ciders going at $10 a pop.

Time Table Cafe

Restaurants Italian Jurong West

Free-flow water, power points under the tables and stable Internet – this neighbourhood café has all you need for a quiet study session or a lazy afternoon. Hot mains are easy on the wallet too, with pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and sides going for less than $10. To satisfy a sweet tooth, opt for the café’s Instagram-worthy rainbow cake or lemon meringue tart.

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power nasi lemak
Photograph: Power Nasi Lemak

Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak

Restaurants Singaporean Jurong West

Easily spotted by its snaking long queues, this nasi lemak stall is a strong contender for the best in the country and it’s worth the wait. From $4, you get a power-packed plate with your choice of meat – fried chicken, fish, otah and more – and a generous mound of fragrant coconut rice as well as a dollop of sambal that’s both sweet and spicy. It’s also one of the few stalls in the area that’s open till late – 3.30am to be exact.

Brio

Restaurants Jurong West

Save on that Euro trip and dine closer to home. Tuck into a mosaic of European street food at this Halal-certified resto set in a cosy, industrial setting. Savour every bite of the juicy charcoal bun shroom and cheese burger ($15.50), the sweet and savoury duck and waffle ($16.50), or the signature seafood cataplana linguine ($16.80). Pro tip: order your pasta with chilli padi like a true Singaporean for that extra kick.

DRINK

Brotzeit

Restaurants German Jurong East

Brotzeit at Westgate is a charming spot for casual drinks, sporting a breezy, open-air concept with widely-spaced seating and a welcoming bar. Start off pulled pork crockets ($9) or a medley of German spreads, featuring various cheeses and liver paté ($18), or dive right into the drinks menu to sample their wide variety of wheat beers and lagers, or even beer cocktails if you’re classy like that. We love the Radeberger Pilsner for its crisp and balanced taste, or Schlenkerla Helles Rauchbier for its aromatic, almost meaty bitterness. Happy hour runs on weekdays until 6pm.

Beer
Photograph: @radovan_be/Unsplash

Devil's Hideout

Bars and pubs Jurong West

Situated off Yuan Ching Road is a mini lifestyle destination complete with bowling alleys, karaoke bars, and a MacDonald’s drive-through within walking distance of each other. Devil’s Hideout is holed away here, and its laid-back vibe is great for an unpretentious nightcap in the neighbourhood. Jurong residents frequent this place for its darts machines and affordable drinks – there’s Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc, Sapporo and Carlsberg on the menu, available in pints or towers.

SHOP

IMM

Shopping Shopping centres Jurong East

Go crazy at Singapore’s largest outlet mall, where you can find more than 90 outlet stores offering up to 80 percent discounts all year round. Take the link bridge from JEM and Westgate to get to IMM, and shop up a storm without breaking the bank at outlet stores like Adidas, Calvin Klein, Onitsuka Tiger and Timberland. The Miniso here even has everything retailing at only $2.  

Jem
Photo: Joshua Dasey

Jem

Shopping Jurong East

Rivalling the malls along Orchard Road, JEM is the third largest suburban shopping centre in the city. It houses various stores from fashion and beauty to tech and homeware across six levels. Today, it boasts the largest Don Don Donki in Singapore, with two whole levels offering hot Japanese food, plenty of fresh produce, snacks and lifestyle and beauty products. With retail options like H&M, Uniqlo, Love Bonito, Muji and even Fairprice Xtra for last-minute grocery shopping, there’s no need to go anywhere else.

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Westgate Mall
Photo: CapitaLand

Westgate

Shopping Shopping centres Jurong East

Westgate completes the trio of mega malls in Jurong, with a character all of its own. This naturally ventilated space is lush, tropical and laidback, with hip retail stores like The Editor’s Market, Freda’D and Aesop. Of course, the food options at Westgate will also leave you spoilt for choice ­– standouts include Ippudo, Honolulu Café, Lady M and at least four major bubble tea chains.

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