Perched at the Western edge of Singapore, close to Malaysia, is the large town and regional hub, Jurong. Constituting of two broad neighbourhoods, Jurong East New Town and Jurong West New Town, this district houses about 20 smaller zones including Boon Lay, Pioneer, and Jurong Industrial Estate. It is heavily developed as an industrial hub and residential area. There are however a couple of tourist attractions located within, including Jurong Bird Park, Science Centre, and Asia-Pacific Breweries Ltd. which maybe worthwhile visiting despite being located quite far from the city centre.
Jurong was most likely named after the Malay word “jerung” which means shark. Reasons for such a naming remain unknown although speculations are that there was a strong shark presence along the coastal areas of Jurong way back in early Singapore.
If you compare the Jurong then and the Jurong now, you will find a marked difference in its landscaping. A sleepy rural village in pre-colonial and colonial times, Jurong was a hilly-forested area with a river (Jurong River) infested with crocodiles. Then Chief Surveyor John Thomson carved out Jurong Road during 1852-1853 and kampongs - villages made up of mostly attap houses- were scattered around the area, which contained numerous fish and prawn ponds. A large and renowned gambier plantation also grew in the area till 1906 accounting for why early local Chinese commonly referred to the district as “peng kang” or gambier. After 1906 however, rubber plantations grew predominantly and areas within were named according to them.
In 1959 after Singapore attained self-governance status despite being under British colonial rule, the government decided to develop Jurong as an industrial area as it was relatively far from the city centre and residential areas. Furthermore, deep coastal waters surrounded Jurong, which allowed a port to be built. The early 1960s saw the industrialization of Jurong and by May 1965, Jurong Port was fully functioning. In the 1990s, the construction of Jurong Island began as there was a need for space to house new oil refineries and chemical industries. Jurong Island is an extension of Jurong, constructed mostly from reclaimed land. Residential areas also developed around Jurong with well-equipped infrastructure, amenities and shopping malls.
Topping the highlights list in Jurong is a highly popular tourist attraction, Jurong Bird Park. Housing over 8000 birds from 600 different species in a 20.2 hectares park, it is the largest bird park in the Southeast Asia region and family-oriented vicinity that promises an exhilarating and colourful experience for all visitors
Another children’s chart-topper highlight in Jurong is Science Centre Singapore, a scientific edutainment (educational and entertainment) institution-cum-museum with 16 different permanent galleries exhibiting on subjects such as Sound (Exhibition).
If you are in the vicinity, stop by the Omni-Theatre, a five storey dome-shaped cinema for an educational yet one-of-a-kind, immersive cinematic experience. Mainly 40 minutes educational films are screened through the IMAX technology and enjoyed in reclined seats for a relatively low cost of S$10 for adults and S$3 for children (3 to 12 years old).
At the outskirts of Jurong in Tuas sub-zone lies a place of interest for beers- and brewery-lovers. Better known as Tiger Brewery, Asia Pacific Breweries Ltd as it is officially called, offers a guided tour around the brewery and an hour of free drinks at their warm, cosy, and nicely decorated Tiger Tavern for a cost of S$10.70.
If you are in Jurong and thinking of doing some shopping, Jurong Point Shopping Centre is a popular suburban mall housing 450 retail stores and eateries. Mostly catered for locals especially the residents living around the area, Jurong Point Shopping Centre will certainly provide you with a “heartland” shopping experience.
Also consider the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, island-cum-garden parks on Jurong Lake designed by renowned Taiwanese architect Professor Yu Yuen-chen. Proposed as a tourist attraction, it is mainly visited by locals and foreign expatriates as well as a scenic haunt for photographers. Picturesque views offered throughout the gardens make them enjoyable to stroll around but not worth a trek down from the city centre. You are more likely to head up here if you have children or a Chinese culture lover.