Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Jurong Bird Park

You have heard of wildlife attractions in Singapore like the Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari, right? There's also another wildlife attraction worth checking out in the western part of Singapore called the Jurong Bird Park. The Jurong Bird Park has different varieties of birds ranging from the cute and chubby penguins to the tall and graceful flamingos. The Jurong Bird Park also has plenty of activities and shows for the public to enjoy and it's also a great place for the whole family to have a great day out. Scroll down to check out more photos and write-up of my trip to the Jurong Bird Park.

As mentioned above, the Jurong Bird Park is located in the western part of Singapore called Jurong West. It's location is in close proximity with an industrial park but it's still accessible via public transport. You can take a cab here or you can take one of two public buses that stop by the Bird Park from Boon Lay Bus Interchange. Admission charges here are slightly cheaper than the Singapore Zoo at about $18 excluding the $5 tram ride mainly because the Jurong Bird Park is smaller and only has birds in the park. The Singapore Zoo, on the other hand, is much bigger and has different species of animals not just species of birds.

At the park, there were a lot of things to see and do so I wanted to get a brochure of the park with the map in it. Unfortunately, when I reached the information counter, the maps of the park were all printed in Japanese which is ironic considering that Japanese isn't a language widely spoken in Singapore. They need to make more English maps and place it in different places around the park. Thankfully, there was a map board and I took a picture of it so I can easily refer to it on my phone. 

Near the gift shop, there was a tram station and a Panorail station. Unfortunately, the Panorail ceased operations and it was replaced by the tram similar to the one at the Singapore Zoo. I have always wanted to take a ride on the Panorail so it was a bummer that I can't get on board. I guess monorails aren't popular in Singapore. The Sentosa Monorail also ceased operations back then in 2004. Nevertheless, the tram still provided a nice form of transport around the park and it duplicated the Panorail route so it's a good replacement. Also near the gift shop was a statue of a big bird and a bird photography corner where you can get a professional photo of you taken with some birds for a fee.

Just right opposite the tram station was the exhibit about flamingos. The flamingos were gorgeous looking and the colour of the feathers made it even more gorgeous. It's too bad that the cluster of flamingos were located quite far away so it was slightly difficult to properly take a photo of them. The water surrounding the flamingo exhibit was slightly dirty but maybe it's just the way they like it, I think. As you can see from the picture above, there is the track or guideway for the Panorail. Since it already ceased operations, no trains were running and the tracks are probably going to be dismantled sooner or later which I hope they don't do so.

There's also a play area for children at the Jurong Bird Park and it's called Birds of Play. The bird park is very kid friendly and there are all sorts of equipment for children to play. There is even a big bucket of water in which it fills until it's full and splash the water onto the ground and onto the people standing underneath the bucket similar to the one at NEX shopping mall in my previous article here

The playground is colourful and there's also a safety board which will give parents and children advice on how to be safe while playing at the playground. Just right next to the playground, there is an arcade where children and teenagers can hang out and have fun without getting exposed to the hot sun. There is a Ben and Jerry's Cafe next to the arcade if you want to have some delectable ice cream desserts after hanging out in the hot sun for long periods.

Apart from the children's play area, the Jurong Bird Park has several free shows for the public to enjoy and learn more about the birds. The one that I watched was called the Kings of the Skies Show in which they gave a presentation on wild birds. Each day, there are only two timings for this show. One at 10am in the morning whereas the one that I watched was at 4pm in the afternoon. If you want to catch a nice seat in the shade, you better come early because most of the seats (the ones with shade) have mostly been taken up and that's just 20 mins before the show started. Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to get a seat under the shade and there were two fans just right above me. The latecomers had to get a seat in the hot sun and worse still, some of them stood under the hot sun far away from the main presentation stage. Being late never pays.

Once the show started, there was someone riding a horse and the horse went around the stage twice which was really a good opening act. The presenter came out and talked to us about the wild birds and talk more about their lives, diet and where they came from. Of course, what would a wildlife show be without stunts or performances? There were plenty of them. I can't fully remember all of them but there was one whereby the presenter stood near the audience and the bird flew from his arm all the way to stage to get its food. Pretty cool indeed. There's also another free bird show at the amphitheatre so do catch both shows if you can as they make your visit to the Jurong Bird Park more worthwhile.

Right after the King of the Skies show, it's time for me to explore the other parts of the bird park and before that, it's time to get something refreshing to quench my thirst. Thankfully, at almost every part of the park there are stalls selling frozen ice blended fruit juices called Icy Slush. It's almost like the one you can find at food courts and hawker centres but this one is about 2 times the price. For one bottle of Icy Slush, it costs S$5.90 which is really steep. There are three flavours which are Orange, Pink Guava and Apple. 

It seems that the Pink Guava is the most popular because there were four dispensing machines that dispenses the Pink Guava juice compared to the other flavours which only have two dispensing machines each. The taste was great and it was really refreshing after a hot day out. The bottle that comes with it is uniquely shaped although it's 500ml which is the standard bottle size. For $5.90, is it worth buying? Yes, it is but please just buy one.

Moving on, after watching the show and enjoying the Icy Slush, it's time to explore the other parts of the Jurong Bird Park. I took a tram since the Panorail ceased operations and unlike the Singapore Zoo which has a lot of stops along the way, the Jurong Bird Park's tram system only has 3 stops including the first stop. The tram costs $5 for unlimited rides and it's certainly a good amount of money to pay if you're tired and still want to explore the bird park. When I wanted to take the tram that day, what's weird was that it was free. Yes, you saw that right, FREE. The reason why it was free was because the tram counter staff ran out of tickets so it was free for everyone at that time. However, don't expect to wait all the way until it's near closing time to get a free ride on the tram. I was lucky that time.

After hopping on the tram, the voiceover in the tram talked about the surroundings and the bird exhibits that the tram passes by and also encourage us to participate in the shows and activities. I didn't alight at the second stop of the tram ride because I was short on time. While the tram was stationary waiting for the passengers to get on board, I took a picture of this windmill type of thing and the Panorail station which is no longer in operation.

Even though I did not stop at the second station, I did stop at the third station to check out what's going on. There was this exhibit in which it was in the tribal theme. There were quite a number of interesting tribal-themed statues around.

This is also one of the main reasons why I did not stop by the second stop and dropped off at the third station instead. Just right after walking past the tribal-related statues, it was the African Waterfall Aviary. The waterfall is also known as the world's largest man-made waterfall in an aviary which was pretty cool. When I heard that it's actually man-made I didn't believe it because the waterfall looks real and natural. I guess they made it so real some people may actually mistake it as natural. It was fascinating and I have never seen a waterfall that high before. If you're tired from all that walking, you can stop by this cafe/souvenir shop where they sell some light snacks, drinks and nice-looking souvenirs. There are also seats on the outside so you can consume your snacks and drinks here too.

Just right behind the cafe/souvenir shop, is the stairway that leads to the now defunct Panorail station in which I still think it's a waste to close down the system. After checking out the man-made waterfall and the tribal-themed sculptures, it's time to hop back onto the tram. Even the tram station has that tribal African look.

Before I head back home, I decided to check out one more exhibit which is near the entrance of the Jurong Bird Park. It's called the Penguin Coast and it's free to enter (minus the entrance fee). Thankfully, the exhibit is located indoors so that means that there's air-con.

Right behind the glass panels, as you can see, is a family of penguins hanging out and carrying out their daily duties. There was one particular penguin that was sleeping soundly. I forgot which is the penguin that slept but see if you can spot it yourself. There is air-con like what I've mentioned earlier and there are also seats if you want to have a seat and watch the penguins. It must be really awkward for the penguins to be watched by hundreds of people. Sadly, I didn't get a seat in the penguin exhibit because they were all taken up by people who just sat there for the air-con and comfortable seats.

On the way out, there is a gift shop where you can get souvenirs and gifts to remind yourself about the trip to the Jurong Bird Park. I don't buy stuff from gift shops mainly because they're ridiculously expensive and gimmicks but they're good for tourists who are in Singapore for a short period of time. Pictures and the map are already good souvenirs for me. Also on the way out, I spotted these two shelters which are cool-looking mainly because of the tribal theme and I also spotted a Souvenir Pennies machine. If you don't want to spend a lot of money at the gift shop, you can come to this machine and get yourself a pressed penny as a souvenir for cheap. If you're hungry, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants near the entrance.

Overall, The Jurong Bird Park is an awesome place. It's not a free attraction at all but admission is slightly cheaper than other wildlife attractions at S$18. You can learn more about different species of birds, kids can have fun at the Birds of Play playground, entertain yourself at the various bird shows and so much more. There is something for everyone at the Jurong Bird Park. Just remember to bring some extra money for spending, a cap, an umbrella, comfortable shoes and comfortable clothing because you'll be walking long distances. You can come here via public transport easily too thanks to the bus stop and its close proximity to Boon Lay Bus Interchange and Boon Lay MRT Station although you have to make transfers.

Getting Here 

Bus services available: 194, 251 (Bus stop along Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim outside Jurong Bird Park)

Nearest MRT Station: EW27 Boon Lay MRT Station (East West Line)


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