Pasir Ris is located in the eastern region of Singapore, and is bounded by Sungei Serangoon, Tampines Expressway, Upper Changi Road North and the Serangoon Harbour. It was originally a low-lying, undeveloped area with kampongs and villages. The beach was a popular venue for water skiing in the 1950s.1 Today, the landmarks in the area include NTUC Downtown East and Pasir Ris Park.2
The origin of the Malay name, Pasir Ris, was conjectured to be a contraction of Pasir Iris, where Pasir means "sand", and Iris means "to shred".3 Being a stretch of white sandy beach along the northeastern coastline of Singapore, it was called 白沙 [White Sands] in Chinese.4 The name was first referenced to a village, Passier Reis, in 1852, where the headman’s son was purportedly killed by a tiger.5
Pasir Ris was originally a low-lying, undeveloped area with kampongs and villages, such as Kampong Pasir Ris, Kampong Bahru and various Chinese kampongs along Elias Road.6 The area was well-known for its many plantation estates, including the Singapore United Plantations, Loh Lam Estate, Hun Yeang Estate and Thai Min Estate.7 The beach was a popular resort for water skiing in the 1950s.8 There was also the Pasir Ris Hotel, venue of many memorable parties and picnic gatherings from the 1950s to the early ’70s.9 In the late ’80s, the government built Pasir Ris New Town, and developed the Costa Sands and Aloha Loyang resorts.10
Pasir Ris today comprises seven sub-zones, and covers a total area of approximately 1,533 ha.11 The NTUC entertainment hub, Downtown East, is popular with locals. The 14.7-hectare hub boasts eateries, a bowling alley, chalets and several theme parks.12 The popular landmark embarked on a five-year redevelopment project in 2012. The first phase was completed in July 2015 with the opening of D’Resort, Singapore’s “first nature-inspired resort with an integrated waterpark experience”.13 When the second phase is completed in 2017, Downtown East will have a world-class water park, six new attractions, 500 renovated chalets and a 1,000-seat amphitheatre.14
Pasir Ris Park, located off Elias Road, is popular with residents due to its proximity to the beach. The park also contains a six-hectare mangrove forest.15 New projects are planned for Sungei Api Api and Sungei Tampines in Pasir Ris.16
According to the 1990 population census, an estimated 147,500 people lived in Pasir Ris. Much of the area was undeveloped then, and space was allocated for residential, industrial and recreational uses. The town was envisioned as a coastal residential area with waterfront recreational facilities.17 The first occupants of Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats moved into Pasir Ris in 1988.18 By March 2015, the town had 111,000 HDB residents.19
As part of the 2014 East Region Masterplan, the cycling route network in Pasir Ris was slated for expansion to boost sustainable transport. This continuous network of cycling paths will link housing, amenities and work places, as well as provide residents with more transport choices. Cycling routes linking towns and major parks, including Pasir Ris, Tampines and Bedok, were also planned.20
1. Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore), Pasir Ris Planning Area: Planning Report 1995 (Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, 1995), 5, 8. (Call no. RSING 711.4095957 SIN)
2. “Town By the Beach,” Straits Times, 23 September 2008, 82 (From NewspaperSG); “Pasir Ris,” Housing & Development Board, accessed 30 November 2016.
3. Victor R Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013), 290. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
4. Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore), Pasir Ris Planning Area, 8; Pan Xing Nong 潘, 醒农, Xing ma mingsheng星马名胜 [Celebrated places in Singapore-Malaysia] (Singapore: South Island Press, 1961), 33. (Call no. RCLOS 959.5 PHN)
5. Charles Burton Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore (Singapore: Fraser and Neave Limited, 1902), 565. (From BookSG)
6. Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore), Pasir Ris Planning Area, 8.
7. “Town By the Beach.”
8. Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore), Pasir Ris Planning Area, 8.
9. “Town By the Beach.”
10. “Fact,” Straits Times, 5 June 2011, 14. (From NewspaperSG)
11. Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore), Pasir Ris Planning Area, 6.
12. “Town By the Beach.”
13. “Refreshment Downtown East,” Downtown East, accessed 30 November 2016
14. “East Region Masterplan,” Urban Redevelopment Authority, 30 November 2016.
15. Housing & Development Board, “Pasir Ris.”
16. “Pasir Ris: Draft Master Plan 2013,” Urban Redevelopment Authority, accessed 30 November 2016.
17. Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore), Pasir Ris Planning Area, 10, 14; Urban Redevelopment Authority, “Draft Master Plan 2013.”
18. “Town By the Beach.”
19. Housing & Development Board, “Pasir Ris.”
20. Urban Redevelopment Authority, “East Region Masterplan.”
The information in this article is valid as of 2017 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.