( Bishan Street 21. Image courtesy of Terence Ong.)
The District 20 estate derived its name from the Mandarin phrase ‘bishanting’, which translates to ‘pavilions on the green’—a salute to the area’s former function as a Cantonese burial ground. The area was later redeveloped into a primarily residential estate.
Bishan is located near the heart of Singapore, making it a popular housing estate among home-seekers. Surrounding the estate is Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 to its north, the Central Expressway to its east, Braddell Road to its south, and Upper Thomson Road to its west.
The Sungei Kallang canal leading to the Lower Peirce Reservoir cuts through the neighbourhood.
Bishan is filled with lush greenery and a generally cosy atmosphere. Bishan Park, in particular, is a massive recreational park that takes up the entire portion of land between the canal and Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1. The park stretches to about 2.8 km lengthwise, and is divided into two parts—Bishan Park 1 and Bishan Park 2—by Marymount Road.
The sprawling park is dotted with footbridges, ponds, a spa, and footpaths, making it popular among joggers and fishing enthusiasts. Nature lovers who want more greenery can head westward, where a nature reserve, two golf courses, and another park can be found.
The estate is also popular among young families as it is not short of schools, ranging from primary to tertiary levels. Schools in the vicinity include Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary School, Catholic High School, Raffles Junior College and ITE College Central (Bishan).
Bishan is not famed for its gastronomical offerings. However, there is a handful of interesting food outlets to explore.
One of them is bakery Chocolat N’ Spice (Shunfu Road) which, fans say, whips up tantalising muffins worth queuing for. Meanwhile Ming Kee Chicken Rice & Porridge, which helms a stall at Kim San Leng Food Centre (Bishan Street 13), has fans clamouring after its fragrant rice and big servings.
A good array of fast food joints and mid-priced cafes and restaurants can be at Junction 8 shopping centre.
Perhaps because of its family-oriented environment, bars and pubs in Bishan are not common. Head out of the neighbourhood to nearby Jalan Gelenggang and check out Western Bar. The cowboy-themed bar-and-grill offers burgers and lamb shanks to accompany your jug of beer.
Junction 8 houses arguably a larger variety of retail shops than the average neighbourhood mall. Some of its more notable tenants include higher-end supermarket FairPrice Finest, footwear house ALDO, blog shop tracyeinny.com.sg, and electronics store NuBox.
Smaller scale malls include Bishan North Shopping Mall and Thomson Plaza.
Bishan MRT Station serves residents of this small town. The station, being an interchange, provides commuters the advantage of easy linkage between the North South Line and the Circle Line.
The estate also boasts the well-connected Bishan Bus Interchange, and convenient access to the Central Expressway.