Bukit Panjang: Close to nature with the convenience of modern comforts

/ EdgeProp Singapore
July 26, 2019 9:00 AM SGT
Blocks of varying heights at Bukit Panjang look like the undulating terrain of rice terraces (Credit: Bong Xin Ying/ EdgeProp Singapore)
For 28-year-old Claire Lee, Pang Sua Pond was her first introduction to the residential town of Bukit Panjang. It was a visit that garnered many an “ooh” and “ah” from her, although she had not expected much from the trip. “I never knew such a gem existed in Bukit Panjang until I explored the area,” says Lee. She is now open to the idea of living in the town in Singapore’s West Region, despite enjoying the ease of access with her current home in the Central area.
Indeed, the scenic Pang Sua Pond – and its floating boardwalk, suspended about seven metres above the water – is a sight to behold. This comes especially after having received a $6.8 million makeover over a 30-month period, under the Public Utilities Board’s (PUB) Active, Beautiful, Clean (ABC) Waters Programme.
Reopened in 2017, Pang Sua Pond is now Singapore’s second-largest man-made floating wetland, home to an impressive biodiversity. Leather fern, fragrant pandan, miniature flatsedge, and water cenna are just some types of wetland plants that can be found there. These plants were carefully chosen by PUB as they help to absorb nutrients, improve water quality, and generate a habitat for fishes, turtles, and dragonflies. Unusual suspects, like otters, have also been spotted at the pond.
Pang Sua Pond after a $6.8 million makeover over a 30-month period (Credit: Bong Xin Ying/ EdgeProp Singapore)
Curving over and around the floating wetlands is the 480-metre timber boardwalk that is a community focal point, connecting residents to nearby facilities like the adjacent Senja-Cashew Community Club; a 3G Wellness Centre featuring a fitness corner, roof terrace and activity rooms; a multi-purpose stage with over 200 seats; and viewing decks where a panoramic view of the area can be enjoyed. In the evenings, the boardwalk lights up, illuminating the path where residents can enjoy a good stroll or even a romantic date.

Transport and good food

Just across Senja-Cashew Community Club is Bukit Panjang Plaza (BPP), a CapitaLand mall, and also the subject of multiple revamps over the years. Prominently lodged between Bukit Panjang and Senja LRT stations, and next to the Bukit Panjang Integrated Transport Hub (ITH) that opened in 2017, the mall was the only one in the area for years, serving residents from the nearby Cashew Park, Chestnut Drive, and Hillview, and even those from Teck Whye, Choa Chu Kang, and Upper Bukit Timah. A two-storey F&B block was added in 2014, and in early 2016, $32.7 million was pumped into its second phase of renovation works, which includes the expansion of the Bukit Panjang Public Library.
CapitaLand’s Bukit Panjang Plaza is a familiar favourite for residents (Credit: Bong Xin Ying/ EdgeProp Singapore)
Since then, the area’s F&B options have expanded with the addition of Hillion Mall, which is part of the Bukit Panjang ITH, as well as Hillion Residences developed by Sim Lian Group and Sim Lian Development. Bubble tea lovers are spoiled for choice, with LiHo at BPP, and Koi, Kung Fu Tea, and Each-A-Cup at Hillion Mall. Popular favourites among youths and families are Eighteen Chefs, and Suki-Ya for hotpot at BPP. If you are looking for lighter fare, Maki-San at Hillion offers sushi and salads. For a fuss-free meal, Saizeriya has good western fare such as pasta and baked rice.
“I love [Hillion] mall because it’s convenient for me to buy stuff, as it’s literally right opposite [where I stay],” says Janice Loh, a Bukit Panjang resident of 19 years. With the ITH and Downtown Line, there is an added ease of access for Loh, who stays at Maysprings, a condo directly opposite Bukit Panjang LRT Station.
Hillion Mall and Hillion Residences developed by Sim Lian Group and Sim Lian Development (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/ EdgeProp Singapore)
As for hawker food, Bukit Panjang does not pale in comparison with other neighbourhoods. Hai Xian Zhu Zhou Koka noodles, or more widely known as “Ke Kou Mian”, draws many fans making the trip down to the coffeeshop at 163A Gangsa Road. Be it the spicy seafood koka noodles or pork ban mian, this stall will be able to satisfy one’s cravings from as early as two in the morning.
A short two-minute drive will bring one to Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre and Market, which opened in 2015, with a modern twist to the traditional hawker centre, and a wide array of food selection. The prawn noodles soup at Zai Lai Prawn Noodle (#01-09), known for its lor mee, is also well-received. The Father & Son stall (#01-23) serves a hearty portion of carrot cake and char kway teow, sweet, savoury and sinful, all at once.
Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre and Market opened in 2015 (Credit: Bong Xin Ying/ EdgeProp Singapore)
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Down the road from Hillion Mall, along Upper Bukit Timah and towards the city, lies a row of old shophouses visibly weathered by the passing of time. They are bookended by apartments and Bukit Panjang Hokkien Kong Huey’s main office, a four-storey building at 794 Upper Bukit Timah Road – a far cry from the simple hut when it was first established in 1958. On the ground floor of the building is the unpretentious Ga Hock eating house. The old-school zi char stall is the main draw, although many also order otah and satay to complement their meal. At night, the road may be void of activity, but the open space right at the back of the eating house is bustling with tables of ravenous diners.
The Father & Son stall at the hawker centre serves delicious carrot cake and char kway teow (Credit: Bong Xin Ying/ EdgeProp Singapore)
It is so popular that 27-year-old Justin Lim, who stays at Sunset Way in Clementi, will make the trip down for a meal, even if it means a 15- to 20-minute drive. “It is quite out of the way,” he says, “but my family will travel for food. [Ga Hock has] good food, good satay, and also curry fish, even though I can’t take spice.”
Located at 794 Upper Bukit Timah Road, the old-school Ga Hock Eating House features a popular zi char stall that draws hordes of hungry diners day and night (Credit: Albert Chua/ EdgeProp Singapore)

Architectural features

To carve out a new identity for Bukit Panjang New Town, HDB architects specifically designed flats with special architectural characteristics to distinguish it from other towns. The designs include H-shaped 25-storey blocks, and blocks of varying heights to suggest the undulating terrain of rice terraces. This pays homage to the origin of the name Bukit Panjang, or “long hill” in Malay. The town’s identity has not deviated far from its past, when it used to be a largely agricultural and industrial area, for much of the terrain and greenery has been kept in the current town.
Located at 794 Upper Bukit Timah Road, the old-school Ga Hock Eating House features a popular zi char stall that draws hordes of hungry diners day and night (Credit: Albert Chua/ EdgeProp Singapore)
The proximity to nature is appealing to some. “Considering the allure of Pang Sua Pond and the scenic views, I don’t mind moving to Bukit Panjang,” Lee says. “I get to be in a peaceful and quiet environment within walking distance to a variety of amenities and malls. The CBD is also just a 30-minute express bus away.”
Loh agrees. “Others who have not been to this area will call it ‘ulu’, but they have no idea that even before the Downtown Line was built, I could get to most places in Singapore by bus pretty quickly,” she says. “It’s a nice, cosy neighbourhood, and I don’t see myself moving out of this area.”
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