The Last “Fishing Village” in Singapore

Located at the mangrove area between Yishun Ave 1 (or commonly known as Yishun dam) and Pulau Punggol Barat, Seletar Fishing Village is probably one of the last places in Singapore where you can find local fishermen making a living by the sea.

There are several huts located along the shore, and each has its own wooden boardwalk stretched into the open waters. The fishing village is said to be owned by an old fisherman who used to live nearby at Pulau Punggol Barat, but his former village ceased to exist due to the development and building of roads to the island.

Long before Sir Stamford Raffles landed on Singapore, there were native aboriginal coastal dwellers living at the mangroves areas at the mouth of the former Seletar River (now Lower Seletar Reservoir). The natives were known as orang laut, and ones living at Seletar were called orang seletar. When Singapore was part of Malaya, these orang seletar roamed freely in the Johor Straits, between Pulau Seletar and the southern coast of Johor. When Seletar became inhabited by other locals, orang seletar were shifted to Sungai Pulai of southwest Johor by Sultan Abu Bakar.

Most of the fishermen, a mixture of Chinese and Malay, at Seletar fishing village do not actually live there. The little kampong-styled huts are more like a working place for them, where fishing nets, buckets and fuels for the boats are stored. Nevertheless, many are attracted by the rustic and rural feel of this place, where they can also buy fresh seafood from the fishermen at affordable prices.

One of the fishing spots at Seletar fishing village is named by one of the Malay fishermen as Jenal Jetty, which becomes more famous than its original name.

The conditions of the fishing village may not be ideal for a city dweller though. The wooden boardwalks, and some huts, are built on stilts on the swampy lands infested by mosquitoes and filled with garbage and animal carcasses.

Here is an interesting video clip of Seletar fishing village (Mandarin):

With plans to expand the connectivity between Yishun and the new Seletar Aerospace Park by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), Yishun dam is expected to be developed into a dual-lanes road by 2015 to cater for heavier traffic.

In the nineties, Yishun dam was one of the check points of the route marches planned for the recruits at Nee Soon Camp. Today, it is a popular hangout for car enthusiasts, cycling groups, lovers and families having a break from the busy city life. It is not uncommon to see cars of the same model having gatherings here at nights during the weekends.

With the roadworks to expand the lanes, the peaceful ambience of Yishun dam will definitely be disrupted, but it remains unclear whether Singapore’s last fishing village will be affected by the rapid changes at Seletar.

Published: 11 March 2011

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23 Responses to The Last “Fishing Village” in Singapore

  1. ken says:

    i’ve driven by that place a number of times and have always wondered what it was. Thanks for the info!

  2. Ordinary Singaporean says:

    I think government should better allows the traditional village re-opened there and let fishermen had their own houses build and occupied so they stay close to the sea. It can be a tourist attraction too, when homestay included

  3. Thanks for this. As a non-Singaporean who has visited you country twice, and got bored of the glitzy CBD, I now there’s a lot more than the usual visuals the tourism department use to market Singapore.

  4. Tualang Tiga says:

    Very intresting information…lets the “village” stay…must come and visit the place

  5. manbai says:

    I strongly believe that this kind of fishing village should be given our youngsters could learn our own the same time they could be our eyes and ears by the shore.

  6. Sulastri says:

    This fishing village actually has a beautiful, quiet & peaceful atmosphere for those who really appreciate a simple life and away from the busy city. And for those who love photography you can even catch the sunrise/sunset. Especially when night falls, you can even have a clearer view of the sky with stars & even the moon without having any buildings blocking you. Such places should be kept alive and given full support. A place where you can just relax your mind after a hectic day. Well, I had a great time admiring the stars & moon & relaxing my crazy brain after a hectic day at work with my friend. I recommend this place to everyone. 🙂

  7. kevin says:

    Yepp i agreed with your post, fishing in Singapore is become more popular and must thing to do in Singapore. will visit there

  8. lupbear says:

    Going to be evicted soon, within 7 days, sad

  9. manbai says:

    Sad ending,what started as a weekend activity.hopefully there’s a win win solution.

  10. Tim says:

    I wonder how did the authorities came to know of this recently? this place looks to be around for at least 20 years?

  11. Richard Neo says:

    We were so self sufficient then. What happened ? And to our culture and way of life ?? Is too much progress and modernisation good for us – high blood pressure, live to work, etc….????????

    Great site and many thanks.

    • criminycrickett says:


      The issue is sustainability….with so many people, the issue of resource priorities and production/industry sector of choice becomes an issue… self sufficiency is good, but not easy for the population now; the island as a natural ecological community cannot handle so many people… it means we have to import alot of stuff … water is key, and therefore the greater the reservoirs, the more assured are the basic of survival… food remains something that technology, one day, may resolve, but in the meantime, trade will have to do… we must not forget our roots, but at the same time, we also must not let nostalgia distort our current challenges and our future goals. the truth is, progress and modernization is not the main cause of high blood pressure and work; that is, in part, due to an imbalance of personal desires, and the mad dash for wealth and opulence. if people take time to breath and care about their surroundings and each other, and not treat every co-worker as a threat to their career ladder-climb, then stress automatically decreases.

      Ultimately, the race is long, but it is only with yourself, life is also short, so ask yourself what really matters with your life, and you will find contentment, happiness and family/love to be at the core; the relationships with each other is the only true validation of your worth. money might be stolen, stocks crashed, houses burnt down– your value and worth gone — but the people who truly love and care for you will continue to do so whether you be a prince or pauper… and that might be something worthy to pursue.

      and, thank you, Remembering Singapore for another excellent entry!
      Please keep up the good and valuable work!

  12. What a great read!!! thanks so much

  13. ziggyman says:

    its a good read

  14. Good post! We will be linking to this great content on our site. Keep up the good writing.

  15. Rich says:

    Great post here. I’ll link my blog to this so more will be aware of Singapore’s fishery. Glad I came across it.

  16. Edward Lim says:

    The government was too quick to demolish many places of historical value. The pre-war structurally-solid commercial buildings like HSBC, Mercantile Bank, Chartered Bank, Arcade at Raffles Place should have been conserved. We lost part of our history. These would be better memories than just old photos. When the government removed part of Mount Faber to extend Henderson Road to Telok Banglah Road Mt Faber lost the connectivity to Alkaff Mansion and the now-demolished Ten Thousand Buddha Temple. We should have put back the mountain instead of building the ‘concrete and steel wave’!

  17. EMF says:

    Is there anything left there now? Or has the whole village been demolished already?

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