Several private residential projects have sprung up in Choa Chu Kang in recent years. (Photo: Erwin Soo, Wikimedia Commons)
Formerly a kampung, Choa Chu Kang has transformed over the years into a self-contained satellite town with homes, eateries and recreational options. However, it still retains much of its laid-back charm.
By Joanne Poh
Tigers once roamed Singapore, and the nation’s very last one was shot in Choa Chu Kang in the 1930s.
Since then, Choa Chu Kang has undergone a massive transformation, and has even had a television personality named after it – Phua Chu Kang, one of the country’s best-loved television characters.
A rural past
The Choa Chu Kang area was formerly a kampung (Malay for village) scattered with plantations and a mostly Teochew population. Hokkien residents later settled there, adding to the existing gambier and pepper plantations by introducing pineapple, coconut and rubber plantations, as well as some poultry and vegetable farms.
The area’s name is derived from the word kang chu, which in Teochew is a reference to the headmen charged with the care of the gambier and pepper plantations which used to line the river. The first such headman in the area had the surname of Choa, and his memory lives on in the name of the area.
The former kampung was later developed into an HDB town. The Choa Chu Kang of today is divided into seven subzones, namely Choa Chu Kang Central, Yew Tee, Teck Whye, Keat Hong, Peng Siang, Kranji and Pang Sua.
The first HDB flats in the area were built in present-day Teck Whye in the 1980s, and the residential cluster was later expanded and then joined by what is now Yew Tee.
A vibrant place to live
Over the years, Choa Chu Kang has grown into a populous neighbourhood with its fair share of hidden food haunts, recreational options and a unique natural and agricultural landscape envied by residents of other towns.
31-year-old Charlene Tan is a Choa Chu Kang resident who goes for runs or walks almost every day along the Pang Sua Park Connector. “It’s a nice, quiet and breezy place for a run after work or at night,” she says.
She cites Choa Chu Kang Sports Centre and Choa Chu Kang Park as popular spots for residents hoping to de-stress on weekends.
But no neighbourhood in Singapore would be complete without great food options.
Tan recommends Rasa Istimewa C2K Restaurant at Choa Chu Kang Park, which is famous for its sambal stingray, and West Co’z Cafe at YewTee Point. She and her family have been visiting these eateries for years.
Choa Chu Kang has benefitted greatly from the opening of the Downtown Line on the MRT network linking the northwest of Singapore to the city centre.
Eugene Lim, Key Executive Officer at ERA Realty Network, says, “Choa Chu Kang differs from the typical HDB estate in that it has an LRT system in place connecting it to Bukit Panjang MRT station on the Downtown Line. This is in addition to the Choa Chu Kang and Yew Tee stations on the North-South MRT Line. Residents of Choa Chu Kang therefore have access to two different MRT lines.”
In addition, residents enjoy the convenience of having two major shopping malls close to home. Lot One is the area’s biggest mall and houses a cinema, library and supermarket, as well as a wide selection of shops and F&B establishments. YewTee Point is the area’s other major mall, and is well known for its wide range of eateries.
Families can also take advantage of the fact that there are numerous schools in the area, including Bukit Panjang Government High School and Pioneer Junior College.
A wild ride
Today, the Choa Chu Kang area remains one of the few places in Singapore where large-scale agriculture is practised and people can escape the urban jungle.
Most of Singapore’s farms are clustered in the nearby Kranji area, and are now a tourist attraction under the banner of Kranji Farms.
Some of the most interesting farms to visit include the Hay Dairies Goat Farm, where fresh goat’s milk can be purchased, Jurong Frog Farm, Long Kuan Hung Crocodile Farm and Seng Choon Farm, which produces the eggs purchased at supermarkets across the island.
Bollywood Veggies, another attraction at Kranji Farms, is not just a farm, but also home to a food museum, cooking school and well-known restaurant where organic produce grown on the premises is served up.
Kranji Farms is also home to the D’Kranji Farm Resort, a countryside getaway containing villas set amidst the greenery of one of Singapore’s last rural areas.
Thanks to the tranquillity and the availability of wide open spaces in the area, it is no surprise that organisations such as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) operate in the area.
To complete the experience, the world-famous Singapore Zoo and Night Safari are just a short drive away.
iNz Residence is a recently launched EC project in the area. Source: Qingjian Realty
An upbeat future
Fazilla Nordin, Corporate Communications Manager at PropNex Realty, thinks Choa Chu Kang is developing into a vibrant community with a plethora of upgrading plans in the works.
She says, “In August 2015, the Choa Chu Kang Town Council unveiled the Master Plan for the area for the next five years. This included $385 million worth of upgrading projects by the town council, HDB, LTA, NParks and various agencies.
“Sheltered linkways will be built between a 200-metre radius of the LRT and 400-metre radius of the MRT, while a network of cycling paths spanning about six kilometres is also being planned.”
ERA’s Lim is also confident Choa Chu Kang will benefit from the development of the nearby Tengah town, a brand new HDB town which will feature Singapore’s first car-free town centre. The first HDB flat launches in Tengah are expected in 2018.
“Choa Chu Kang is likely to benefit from spillover effects from the development of the new town,” says Lim. “In addition, the Jurong Region MRT Line, expected to be completed around 2025, will also serve the Choa Chu Kang area and improve connectivity.
Nordin agrees, saying, “The transformation of the Choa Chu Kang hinterland in the western region as part of the URA Master Plan, including the Jurong Innovation District, High Speed Rail and Jurong Region MRT Line, will definitely benefit the residents of Choa Chu Kang and their property prices.”
While Choa Chu Kang began as an HDB town, there have been several private residential project launches, including executive condominiums (ECs), in recent years.
Most recently, Chinese developer Qingjian Realty launched a new EC project called iNz Residence in Choa Chu Kang Avenue 5.
“The development features a range of smart-living features,” says Lim. The Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) for iNz Residence is expected in the second half of 2019.
Another EC development in the area is Sol Acres by MCL Land. The development includes a slew of facilities including a freeform pool and pool deck, Jacuzzi and hydro spa.
It is also the first EC project to offer units comprising one-bedroom and study configurations. The TOP is expected in early 2019.
Wandervale by Sim Lian Group is yet another EC development in the area, conveniently located just a few minutes’ walk from Choa Chu Kang MRT / LRT station and bus interchange as well as Lot One. The TOP for Wandervale is expected in 2019.
Western Singapore is now one of the most exciting areas to be in, thanks to aggressive redevelopment and upgrading.
Choa Chu Kang, with its charming mix of natural landscapes and urban convenience, is a great place to enjoy the fruits of this progress.
Did you know?
– An HDB flat in Choa Chu Kang was featured on reality show The Amazing Race in 2002, when players retrieved a clue from Gurmit Singh in the incarnation of his famous character Phua Chu Kang.
– Block 308 Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4 is one of Singapore’s smallest HDB blocks. It is two storeys tall and consists of only two four-room units and two five-room units.
– Yew Tee used to be referred to as Choa Chu Kang North. The subzone only started going by its present name when Yew Tee MRT station was named after a kampung that used to stand in the area.