Jurong Garden as I remember it, was a large but boring garden. Save for the first and only open air drive-in cinema adjoining it. The excitement lasted till the mid 80s when it finally shuttered and eventually the Fairway Country Club was built on it. In the meantime, a water theme park, Mitsukoshi Garden (later renamed as CN West) was built near the cinema. Then came Tang Dynasty City in the early 90s– a Chinese theme park built on a plot of land to the south of Jurong Garden. Alas, it was really boring and the sizzling Singapore heat didn’t help either and that eventually closed too. Surprisingly, the skating ring remained a little longer. Even the adjoining Japanese and Chinese Gardens looked tired. Until now.
Then it was announced that it will be redeveloped. The new Jurong Lake Gardens will encompass the Japanese and Chinese Gardens and will be bordered by Jurong Town Hall Road, Yuan Ching Road, Boon Lay Way and AYE. It is BIG. When fully completed, the 90 ha garden will be only second largest and is the third national garden after the Singapore Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay (101 ha). All three national gardens will be connected eventually by an 11-km green corridor along Bukit Timah.
So is it really worthy its badge – that of being a National Garden status? Take it from me if you will: it’s impressive. Even my New Zealander and friends were blown away by the beauty of Jurong Lake Gardens. Final plans were drawn up after receiving more than 14,000 suggestions from the public. Billed as a people’s garden since its final design will take into the many suggestions submitted, it risked being a Frankenstein of sort. In my opinion, it doesn’t have a particular theme as it attempts to incorporate the diverse feedback and bring back the natural Singapore landscape that was mostly lost through development. It managed to harmoniously marry all the ideas while retaining its natural topography, fauna and flora. What resulted is a truly beautiful creation that features something for everyone.
Apart from the well-formed cycling and jogging paths, there are 7 key areas in Jurong Lake Gardens: starting from the north end of the garden is Clusia Cove. It encompasses a wetland eco-pond, pavilion, a water play area that kids would love and a café set amidst a picturesque surrounding. Nearer the lake edge, you can either sit back on benches to enjoy the gentle breeze or take a stroll along the boardwalk over the water.
Further south is PAssion WaVe @ Jurong Lake Gardens. It is a gargantuan structure that sits on the edge of the lake. It serves as a launch area for water sports activities like kayaking and paddle boating. If you prefer to take it easy, head to the roof and you’ll be rewarded with a nice outlook over the lake and over to Chinese Garden. On most afternoons, it is really quiet. We had the whole place to ourselves during our visit this time.
As you head towards the southern end of the park, the scenery gradually morphs into something more rustic. Instead of of the appearance of manicured gardens, you’ll see grasslands complete with lalangs and collections of plants and trees more akin to what Singapore was 30 years ago. True, they have a man-made tree but it’s very picturesque and instagrammable. It reminded us of that famed “Wanaka Tree” in New Zealand. The southern end of the park presents an atmosphere of laidback charm. There are even spots where man-made structures are not visible. It spells NATURE.
No matter whether you’re here to play, to relax or to exercise, Jurong Lake Gardens is a must-visit destination in Singapore. Enough words. Experience it yourself by visiting this National Park yourself. It’s open 24 hours.
And remember, bring your pair of Sunday Shades when you’re out at the park.