The district known as Woodlands is a popular suburban area in the north of Singapore, roughly 12 miles from the CBD. Until the 1970s, it was still essentially a rural area (there were formerly a number of rubber plantations and farms in the locality) and, although that is certainly not the case today, it has nevertheless managed to remain one of the greenest, leafiest areas of the city, and so much of the area has a quiet, pleasant suburban feel to it. However, there is also an abundance of retail and entertainment options, including restaurants, bars and cinemas, and so this, along with the wide range of housing choices and styles on offer makes it a very popular part of Singapore for expatriate families with young children or for those who want an alternative to apartment living.
Woodlands consists of three sub-zones—Marsiling, Woodgrove and Admiralty—and is adjacent to Sembawang, Sungei Kadut, Upper Thomson and Yishun. Overall, the total population is about 243,000 people (in an area of approximately 1200ha) and it has been one of the fastest growing areas in Singapore over the last 15 years or so.
This growing population has meant that the range of accommodation on offer has also mushroomed, and you can find pretty well most types of housing here. There are HDB flats (usually ranging in size from 2 to 5 rooms), bungalows, terrace houses, executive maisonettes and apartments, hi-rise apartments and condominiums. Within this range, you should be able to find a property with many or all the amenities typical of expatriate areas, such as off-road parking, a garden, and perhaps a shared or private swimming pool.
Although there is a fair degree of security on show in many residences in Woodlands (security guards, electronic gates with intercoms, etc.), there is nevertheless a prevailing atmosphere of community. This is due in no small part to the presence of the Singapore American School and the correspondingly large number of US families in the neighborhood. For many expatriate families here, the school is the heart of the community and much of the social life on offer revolves around it.
There are two golf courses within fairly easy reach (Sembawang Country Club and Orchid Golf Course) along with a number of public gardens and parks. One of the most agreeable public spaces in Singapore, the Woodlands Town Garden, is in the west of the district on Woodlands Centre Road. It is spread over almost 13ha and there are beautiful Chinese pavilions and Malay huts, as well as numerous ponds and pools. To the south-east, on Sungei Kadut Avenue, you will also find the Arasakesari Sivan Temple, built in 1930 and dedicated to the Hindu Lord Shiva.
Residents of Woodlands are extremely well catered for in terms of medical services, particularly with regards to health care for children, as there are a large number of local family and children’s clinics throughout the district. You should be able find a clinic or surgery within walking distance of most housing compounds, and the standard of facilities and care on offer are generally comparable with that which can be found in western countries.
In addition, there are also clinics providing 24-hour emergency services: Central Clinic and Surgery (Block 768 Woodlands Ave 6, #02-06A, 6365 48950) and Healthway AMK Clinic (Block 721 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8, #01-2801, 6455 4629).
In addition, at the Causeway Point shopping centre and Woodlands Civic Centre you will find dietitians, spas, dental services, massage and acupuncture on offer, and there are pharmacies at all of the major shopping centres and malls.
There is a comprehensive list of all the medical practitioners in the Woodlands area available online.
As above, the Singapore American School is at the heart of the Woodlands district (40 Woodlands Street 41, 6363 3403, www.sas.edu.sg). Established in 1956, it has around 3800 pupils and is one of the leading international schools in the city.
SAS is the only international school in the district, although travelling to other schools in Singapore is not overly difficult, and most international schools run pupil bus services to and from Woodlands each day.
The district also has an abundance of Singaporean schools (see our education section for details on the Singaporean education system, entrance procedures, fees, etc.). There are 12 primary schools in Woodlands and 5 secondary schools, including the Singapore Sports School, a specialised independent school opened in 2004 that offers an integrated academic and sports programme (1 Champions Way, 6766 0100, www.sportsschool.edu.sg).
The Republic Polytechnic is also located in Woodlands (9 Woodlands Avenue 9, 6510 3000, www.rp.edu.sg).
The area is bounded by the Seletar Expressway (SLE) to the south and the Bukit Timah Exressway (BKE) to the west, which means that the road transport links into the CBD are very good. The northern end of the BKE links into the Causeway that leads to Johor Bahru in Malaysia, and makes nipping over to Singapore’s nearest neighbour very easy and straightforward.
Although in comparison to other districts in the city, the commute times from Woodlands to the CBD can be rather lengthy (roughly 30 minutes), they are still relatively painless when compared to most other major cities in Asia.
In terms of public transport, Woodlands is well served by both the MRT and buses, although some housing compounds are a substantial walk from the MRT and so travelling to and from a station may also involve a short bus trip.
The area’s most convenient MRT stations are all on the north-south line: Marsiling (NS8); Woodlands (NS9); and Admiralty (NS10). The travel time from the centre of Singapore is usually between 30 – 40 minutes.
The Woodlands Regional Bus Interchange is located at Woodlands MRT station, and is the main transport hub for north Singapore. It is one of the biggest bus interchanges in the city and serves the community very well. Local buses as well as buses to and from the CBD all pass through here and the services are generally fast and frequent. There are also express and premium bus services (see Getting Around) available to and from the CBD for commuters who work downtown.
Click the link for a comprehensive Woodlands travel guide.
Shops and Services
Like just about everywhere in Singapore, Woodlands has an abundance of shopping and eating opportunities. The largest shopping centre in the district is Causeway Point, located adjacent to Woodlands MRT station (1 Woodlands Square, 6894 2237). It has more than 250 shops, including retail and food outlets (including a Cold Storage), restaurants, banks, a post office and bookstores, and there is free wi-fi access and car parking.
There are also other malls and shopping centres in the district, including Woodgrove Shopping Centre (30 Woodlands Avenue 1), 888 Plaza (888 Woodlands Drive 50) and Vista Point (548 Woodlands Drive 44), as well as a plethora of local and smaller stores, such as NTUC FairPrice at Block 888 Woodlands Drive 50, 01-757 and Block 5A, Woodlands Centre Road, 02-180.
Across the road from Causeway Point is Woodlands Civic Centre, a one-stop centre serving the administrative needs of residents living in the north of Singapore. The Centre houses a very large and popular library, the town council and HDB offices, a range of banks and a number of private child care centres and kindergartens.
There are many places of worship in Woodlands, including churches (Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and Evangelical) mosques and temples, and a number of community clubs and recreation centres, including indoor sports facilities and a swimming pool.