The name of both the town and planning area, Pasir Ris is situated on the northern coast of Singapore’s East Region. As well as its coastline, the area also has the Serangoon River which forms its western boundary (with Punggol). Changi lies to the east, Sengkang to its southwest while Paya Lebar and Tampines are both on its southern border. Pasir Ris is a little over 15 square kilometres in area, and currently is home to approximately 140,000 residents.
Though there is a school of thought that the town somehow derives its name from the Malay word for bolt rope – ris, accepted wisdom (understandably) is that it comes from the Malay phrase white sands, a feature of that stretch of the coastline.
The first mention of a Pasir Ris village comes in the early 19thcentury. At that time, the area was home to several small kampongs, but was mainly known for its plantations. Fast forwarding to the 1950’s and it got a reputation for water sports (mainly water-skiing) and parties, the Pasir Ris Hotel being the prime location for the latter, as late as the 1970’s.
Modern day Pasir Ris started its life in 1983, with development continuing to the present day. These developments have both taken inspiration from, and been sympathetic to, the resort nature and feel of the area, in terms of their design, their features and their names.
The Beach and Park
The two best known features of Pasir Ris are its white sandy beach which gives the town its name, and the park. They are actually part and parcel of the same area, with the beach – which overlooks the Straits and Pulau Ubin, forming part of the park. The park itself, at 70 hectares, is one of the largest on the island and has been attracting local residents and visitors from all over Singapore since it opened in 1989.
Attractions include a large natural mangrove forest, complete with boardwalks and a 3-storey tower perfect for crab and bird watching respectively. There are also a couple of good bars and restaurants that make full use of their location and views, a cycle track, a large children’s playground as well as the usual BBQ pits and picnic tables.
Besides the park, Pasir Ris is home to the very popular Downtown East. This NTUC development markets itself as an affordable one-stop leisure, lifestyle and dining destination. As well as the adrenalin and water soaked Wild Wild Wet – one of the top ten waterparks in Asia – there is Market Square, a dining and entertainment hub and the nature themed D’Resort.
The area boasts 6 shopping malls, the most high profile being the newly redeveloped White Sands. It has a handful of primary and secondary schools, and the international Overseas Family School.
As is often the case with the relatively more remote or outlying areas of Singapore, the region is not blessed with transport links. Pasir Ris station is the only access to the MRT network, and sits at the end of the East West Line. The future Cross Island Line will benefit residents, particularly when travelling to and from Punggol, but that is not set to be completed until 2030.
The TPE forms its southern boundary, and the KPE starts from its southwest corner. On its southeast corner are the PIE, while the ECP is only a little further away. Pasir Ris enjoys very good access to Changi Airport.