A Bus to the North: the 975

If you want to really get out and explore the remote corners of Singapore, there may be no better way to cover more ground than on the public bus. To see a combination of the residential heartland and the wilds of the northwest, I would highly recommend spending a couple of hours on the 975.

The 975 follows a loop through three areas: Choa Chu Kang, Lim Chu Kang, and Bukit Panjang. We picked it up right about here, at the Bukit Panjang Interchange:

For the beginning of the ride, the view is pretty much nothing but HDBs (Housing and Development Board apartment complexes) as far as the eye can see.

This scenery may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m a sucker for the tremendous variety of colors and architectural detailing in the HDB world. Tucked in among these government-built residences are shopping malls, a few condos, community centers …

… temples …

… and mosques …

… but you’re mostly looking out at one HDB after the other:

Eventually, you round a bend by Hai Inn Temple …

… and the Warren Golf Course …

… and the whole scene changes. Now you’re in flat, green lands that house plant nurseries, orchid greenhouses, pet shelters, and military training sectors. The 975 soon passes a few dormitories that house migrant workers (until recently, these were the last battleground of the government’s the war against COVID) …

… and a giant air force base:

Then the bus route runs along the enormous Choa Chu Kang cemetery area, where you can find everyone buried from Bahai’s to Zoroastrians. If you hop off the bus here, you’ll find Christians on one side of the road …

… and Muslims on the other:

From this point, the bus makes a brief jog onto Old Lim Chu Kang Road …

… and then you break out into what little is left of Singapore’s agricultural heart:

Lim Chu Kang Road was once home to row upon row of rubber, gambier, and pepper plantations; it’s now a Singapore Heritage Road crowned by lush greenery. As the 975 rolls north along the road’s length, it passes more military bases, long stretches of forest …

… side roads to who-knows-where …

… and multiple nurseries …

… before finally arriving at the loop’s northern terminus: a police coast guard base that looks to be pretty inaccessible. From here, you can see all the way across the Straits of Johor to Malaysia:

As it turns back around, the bus retraces all of these steps right back to Bukit Panjang. You can stay on for the second half of the ride or get off somewhere along the way — but the northern half of this ride is so interesting that I’d recommend seeing it more than once.

It’s worth noting that for sightseeing purposes, the 975 route is best if you can find a double decker bus — and then you’ll want the front-row seats at the top!

For another northern bus route, this time to the northeast, you might want to try the 117 through Sembawang, Seletar, and Punggol— it’s entirely different, but also fascinating.

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