Sunday, May 12, 2019

Jurong Lake Gardens - Singapore's Newest Gem in the Heartlands

If you have been living under a rock, chances are, you wouldn't have heard about Jurong Lake Gardens. For sub rock dwellers, Jurong Lake Gardens is one of Singapore’s newest national gardens located in the heartlands. Situated along Yuan Ching Road and next to Lakeside MRT station in Jurong, the sprawling landscaped garden flanked by the serene Jurong lake is an ideal spot for families to come together for some fun and recreation. The Garden revolves around the themes of "nature, play and the community". 

The whopping 90-hectare Gardens comprises Lakeside Garden (formerly Jurong Lake Gardens West), Chinese and Japanese Gardens (formerly Jurong Lake Gardens Central) and Garden Promenade (formerly Jurong Lake Gardens East).

Lakeside Garden opened to the public on 27 April 2019, and Chinese Garden, Japanese Garden and Garden Promenade is touted to be completed from 2021 onwards.

Being rather active on social media and following many Singapore-based parent bloggers, I heard about the buzz surrounding Jurong Lake Gardens almost immediately. What struck me on reading visitors first impressions and looking at the pictures was how much my kids would love it there. 

Outdoorsy activities are always top of our weekend/public holiday agenda since our energetic offspring get to run amok while getting some fresh air and we can get those languid limbs moving too! And it worked in our favour that the Gardens wasn't very far off from our place so the chances for our kids getting sick in the car were slim to none. Unsurprisingly, the impulsive side of me wanted to check out Singapore's latest offering right away! 

We set off on a labor day holiday. The May heat was displaying its formidable potential. I must tell you that it had been less than a week since the Gardens had opened to visitors. Although common sense told me that the place would be crowded, I imagined that if we reached the Gardens earlier, there may be a good chance of beating the crowds. How terribly mistaken I was! We managed to reach by 9:30 am and already both the North and South car parks were full and there was in fact, a line of cars snaking along the entire length of the road. After circling the area, we were forced to park in the parking lot of a nearby HDB and I thought it was an ominous sign when the (usually empty) visitor car park had barely one or two spots left. Everywhere I looked, I could see families out and about dressed in shorts, flip flops and floppy hats accompanied by a child or two with eager looks on their faces giving off major picnic vibes. There was no doubt in my mind as to where everyone was heading! 

I had asked my cousin's family to join us envisioning that it would be a fun play date for the four kids and a chance for the adults to catch up outside of the customary home visits. In hindsight, dragging them into it as well wasn't my brightest idea. But at that point there was no backing out so we reluctantly joined the sea of people entering the Gardens. I swear I caught more than a few death glares from the husband! 😆 After a while, we caught up with our relatives and began to explore the Gardens.

Before I go any further, let me tell you that this blog post is a compilation of photos and description of experiences from two separate visits to the Jurong Lake Gardens. The first, as you know, was on a public holiday as soon as the Gardens opened and the second was from a weekday afternoon visit, a few weeks later. So, if you happen to see pictures devoid of people and wonder how I managed to get such pictures despite the crowds (I was just bitterly complaining about), know that those are pictures from the second visit!

We started at the entrance closer to the North car park. Walking into the Gardens, me and my family first walked over to the water's edge where we were treated to lovely views of the lake, majestic trees, the surrounding flora and the charming pagodas of the Chinese Garden in the background.

We found an area to sit down and proceeded to wolf down the contents of our picnic basket with great gusto. 

Surrounded by Jurong Lake, the Gardens is a great location to see a wide range of water birds such as herons, egrets and storks. I'd suggest bringing along a pair of binoculars to see the birds in action.

Located a stone's throw away is the PAssion WaVe and SportsSG, a place in the Gardens for sports and recreation. The PA Water Venture building has a range of water sport facilities such as dragon boating and kayaking. The SportsSG Playfield features a lap pool and a 24-hour gym to meet the needs of those seeking an active lifestyle. Apparently, you can also sign up for outdoor programs such as yoga sessions at their facility so it is worth a checkout if your are interested. 

Next we walked over to the play area as the kids were eager for some fun. Forest Ramble, is a 2.3 hectare nature-inspired playground with play elements that encourage kids to mimic the actions and motions of the animals that inhabit the freshwater swamp habitat. 

There are different adventure stations here such as Butterfly Play, Heron Play, Crab Play, Squirrel Play, Snake Play, Monkey Play all designed for ages 5-12 years old and the (water-based) Otter Play designed for ages 2-12 years old. 

Unfortunately for us, each station was more crowded than the next and there was a long waiting time for almost every play structure.

A humble request to any parent who maybe reading this - if you see a line of kids patiently waiting for their turn, by all means, let your kids use the play structure but please give it up after a reasonable amount of time. It is extremely inconsiderate to hog! Not trying to sound preachy here but I speak from personal experience.

Based on what I saw, I can recommend that younger kids will enjoy the Butterfly Play and Otter Play while older kids will find the Heron Play, Snake Play and Monkey Play more physically challenging. 

There was an area with hammocks overlooking a particularly scenic part of the lake. While the kids were collectively chilling on it, I took a few pictures. 

Then there was this musical area of sound play where visitors are given the opportunity to strike gongs and a wooden xylophone to learn about how various materials produce different sounds. 

Unexpected but interesting nonetheless! 

We passed by the Butterfly Maze in the Therapeutic Garden. The flowering plants bring an array of colorful butterflies and caterpillars. Over 20 species of plants loved by butterflies at different stages of their life cycle are planted throughout the maze. 

Next we moved on to The Logs Trail in the Butterfly Field. This nature trail is made from materials recycled from Rain Trees (Samanea saman) and Senegal Mahogany (Khaya senegalensis) trees. The untreated wood logs are held together to form a series of adventurous paths of different elevations under the shaded canopy, intended to age naturally in the weather. 

One can observe up close the various parts that make up the tree including the protective bark, sapwood, heartwood and growth rings that forms the wood grains. 

My kids were thrilled to climbing the small hill (mountain they called it!) in the area, running in the open field and hopping from one log to the other. 

We reached the Garden House, the epicenter of all gardening related activities at Lakeside Garden where we made a quick pit stop to grab refreshments. 

Adjacent to the Garden House is Singapore's biggest allotment garden, which has 300 plots.

Towards one side of the Garden House is the man-made Alstonia Island planted predominantly with Alstonia spatulata. The island’s conditions are greatly influenced by changes in the water level of Jurong Lake, and the plant species on Alstonia Island were chosen to reflect the natural history of the area - swamp forests and wetlands that were the original habitat prior to the development of Jurong. 

From here, if it isn't too hot, you can take a stroll along the 300m meandering brick red boardwalk called Rasau Walk along the water’s edge to learn more about riparian vegetation and animals.

This area of the Gardens is connected to the adjacent hilly Grasslands area and wetland trails, which feature a variety of habitats where grey herons, oriental pied horn bills and smooth-coated otters live.

Dominated by lalang and grass tufts, the 3.5-hectare Grasslands is home to six different species of grass and around 300,000 plants. 

I know that people have been going on and on about how Instagram-worthy this spot is and blah blah but to a hard-core Instagram-addict like me, although unique with a countryside-esque vibe, this area did not hold much fascination. It certainly did not gain a place on my Instagram feed!

Maybe it is just me...

You will not miss the striking Lone Tree which from a distance looks like a lonely bare tree but is actually a man-made tree made from recycled rope-like iron bars.

Kinda cool yeah 😎 What will they think of next! 

We had heard that there was a water play area for the kids before we visited the Gardens and we kept that for last. We walked all the way back to where we started from (closer to the North car park).

Leading up to Clusia Cove is an unmistakable gabion wall called The Canyon. Large laterite boulders were excavated from the Jurong Lake Gardens development site. The wall acts as a natural platform for plants to grow on. This wall is a good landmark to find the water play area. 

Finally we reached Clusia Cove. There are two distinct areas - Tidal Play Pool and the Sand Play Pool.

At Clusia Cove, children can experience a unique water playground experience featuring tidal patterns, surface ripples and directional currents that mimic water movement of coastal shores. They can also learn about how the water they are playing in is cleansed by natural treatment methods using a water recycling system. Fun with education at the same time. That is a big thumbs up from me! 

I had brought along a change of clothing for the kids so I left them to their own devices. There is a sand pit as well so if you have beach toys, you could bring them along too (something for us to consider for next time!). The kids can spent a big chunk of time playing in the water. It was the perfect way to cool off on a blisteringly hot day!

Note that there are toilets available and a F&B outlet called Fusion Spoon offering Asian & Western dishes in the adjacent building.

The area around Clusia Cove is tranquil and picturesque so I suggest you spend some time looking around and enjoy the surroundings. You can also take a stroll on the Jurong lake boardwalk which is located close by. 

The Gardens is a popular spot among exercise enthusiasts. You can strap on your Fitbit and go for a heart-pumping jog. It is also a great place for leisurely morning and evening strolls. There are plenty of benches and rest areas to take a break and soak in the natural surroundings. 

Pet owners can also use the Dog Run to let their dogs roam free and interact with other like-minded people.

To conclude, despite the relentless crowd and the unforgiving heat, we did indeed have a nice time at the "Jewel of the West". Jurong Lake Gardens is a lovely place for families to come together and enjoy some much needed downtime. Kids (of all ages), elderly seeking some peace and quiet, fitness enthusiasts, picnic lovers and nature lovers will appreciate what the Gardens has to offer.

I'd highly recommend visiting during non-peak periods such as weekdays (if possible) and going later in the evenings when the sun isn't trying to fry you crisp!

Park Information

How to get there: 
Jurong Lake Gardens is accessible from Chinese Garden or Lakeside MRT stations, and also by bus services 49 and 154 from Jurong East or Boon Lay Interchanges.

Car parks are accessible from Yuan Ching Road. There are 2 car parks - the North car park is nearer to the playgrounds and water play area while the South car park is nearer to the Grasslands and Rasau Walk. Note that the walk between the 2 car parks can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes.

Park Size: 90 hectares

Opening hours:
Lakeside Garden – Always Open (Note: Clusia Cove closed on Mondays)
Chinese Garden – 5:30am to 11:00pm
Japanese Garden – 5:30am to 7:00pm

Admission: Free

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible in most areas

Important Considerations: 
  1. Do not feed the birds, fish or other wildlife in the Gardens
  2. Jurong Lake Gardens is a smoke-free garden
Suggestions when visiting with children:
  • The most fun areas for the little ones are the Forest Ramble and Clusia Cove. Both are located closer to the North car park. I suggest going to the Forest Ramble first and keeping Clusia Cove for later. 
  • Carry umbrella, sun screen, insect repellent, small change for vending machines, a towel and an extra set of clothes
  • A hat, comfortable shoes and light cotton clothes are recommended. Long pants may be a good option since my kids who were dressed in short skirts were getting bitten by insects in the grass. 
  • Ball, frisbee and beach toys would be nice add-ons



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  7. Hi, I love your article on this! do you know if it is possible to do picnic in the garden?

    1. Hi Yukie. Yes I think picnic should be possible. I have seen many people having a picnic with their families at the gardens. However, now in light of Covid restrictions, it is advisable to keep the number of people to 5 or less.


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