Neo Tiew - Abandoned Housing Estate

In Lim Chu Kang, there is a small public housing area known as Neo Tiew Estate (or Lim Chu Kang Rural Centre). The whole area was en-bloc in 2002, with the residents shifted to Jurong West. The estate was vacated since then, and is currently used for FIBUA (Fighting in Built-Up Areas) trainings by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). Visitors must exercise caution not to venture into the compound during a military drill.

Built in 1979, there are three 3-storey flats in the estate, numbered 3 to 5. The abandoned flats are accompanied by a wet market and a playground. Lacking maintenance, the flats are left with dirty walls with paint peeling off and rusty windows. Overgrown bushes nearly cover the entire neighbourhood.

Walking along the corridors, we could see through empty shops that once occupied many of the spaces on the first floor. Something that we seldom see these days - Wire mesh installations above the shop entraces allow for air circulation within the unit. As the place has been vacant for many years, people have found their way in and vandalised the walls with graffiti. I captured some of the better works of "art" below.

A flight of wooden stairs takes you to the second floor of the shophouse. The upper floor is made up of a kitchen, bedroom, and living room. Although all the fixtures are gone, we could still see the pipes that once carried water to the unit.

Moving on, we explored the units on the first and upper floors of the housing  flat. Most of the units are run down with paint peeling off the doors and walls. However, the tiles in the kitchens still remain mostly intact. Scott even stuck his head into the rubbish chute for a closer look.

As we walked around the void decks of the flats, we noticed some very familiar fixtures that are still present in many HDB estates. Round stools and tables with achinese chess motifs, bases of mailboxes, and stone benches that one can see in government housing all over Singapore.

Moving up to the second floor, we popped into a few units and realised that all the tiles and whats left of the decor are different in each house. The layouts of the units also differ from each other. The corner units are slightly larger with an extra bedroom.

Blk 2 houses the now defunct wet market and food centre. It is a structure that most would recognise as many of the current estates have it in the same design. I wonder what food stalls once operated in this hawker centre. The orange structure next to the market is a rubbish dump - strangely enough, it remains bright orange and looks somewhat new.

Near the entrance / exit of the estate, we found a very old-school playground. This brought back childhood memories of days when I was young and played with friends in playgrounds not dissimilar to this. It even comes with must-have see-saw horse.

History of Neo Tiew
Credit: 石叻周報, April 1976 by 彭松濤

Neo Tiew Road was named after Mr Neo Tiew (before his demise), by the British Colonial Government for his contributions in developing Lim Chu Kang. The main road, Neo Tiew Road, was paved and created by Mr Neo through his personal efforts and measured 3.5 miles past “Tong He” Village, “Nan He” Village and Sungei Buloh Besar. Originally a “buffalo-cart road” for the access of buffalo-towed carts, this was subsequently widened and tarred under the initiatives of Mr Neo Tiew to allow access and smoother traffic of motor vehicles, allowing better access and convenience for modern transportation.

When the Japanese troops first invaded Singapore from the North (Malaysia), Lim Chu Kang was a heavily guarded region by the British troops (especially near the then Tengah Airport which was used as a military base). All residents and/or passers-by of Lim Chu Kang had to possess a security pass, issued and signed by Mr Neo Tiew, who was highly regarded and respected by local residents and the British Government officials alike.

Mr. Neo led and managed workers to clear the forested area in Lim Chu Kang, paved roads, built workers quarters, grew coconut trees, and developed pineapple, pig and poultry farms from the early 1900s. The first mini-mart in Lim Chu Kang, Nan He Mini-Mart, located in Nan He Village along Neo Tiew Road, was set up by Mr Neo to ensure a constant supply of daily necessities, fish, vegetables and eggs for the welfare of the farmers, fishermen and their families in the vicinity.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Mr. Neo made further contributions to the community with the development of a school – Kay Wah or Qi Hua, offering both lower and upper Primary education – and a delivery hospital. He received numerous awards and accolades in recognition of his work, such as the Certificate of Honour from HM King George the Sixth and the Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth the Second.

45 comments to Neo Tiew - Abandoned Housing Estate

  • Royson

    I heard that the place is haunted isit true ?

  • Katie

    Anyone knows this place is open for wedding photography?

  • Jaslynn Puah

    Hi Joy, Thank you for the lovely photos too! I was a resident there for 18 years and really missed the tranquil environment & kampong spirit. Kinda "forced out" due to en-bloc exercise but was glad that the estate remained. It's been a while since I last visited. How I miss my childhood! If anyone remembers, my dad sells carrot cake! He's still in business at Blk 442 Jurong West though :P

  • Hi, Just stumble onto this site. Love the "urban decay" buidlings.

    However, can't help but noticing the white bowls in the picture of the round chess table. What are those? I hope not your lunch packs. They seems to be wrapped in cling-films.

    • Joy

      LOL Daniel, I think those bowls had rice in them... Some sort of religious offerings I assume. Definitely not our lunch, but perhaps someone/something elses!

  • Hi. We visited last Friday. The buildings had been painted and the grass cut. Sadly the gates were padlocked and the fences were covered in do not enter signs. Interesting bus journey there though and got to see a part of Singapore I'd not experienced before

    • Joy

      Thanks for the update Bridget! Perhaps they are closed for excercise during the weekdays. Will be passing by sometime next month and will check to see if it's indeed closed for good. Keep you informed :)

      • Joy

        Passed by here yesterday, and sadly it has indeed been fenced up and repainted. Looks like you can now only see the blocks from outside the fence.

  • kalindu

    Hello. Thanks a lot for the info :) I am planing to visit there too. I checked on Google map street view and saw a "no trespassing" sign nearby. How did you entered? :D Is it ok to enter?

    • Joy

      Hi kalindu! When we were there, the gates were wide open and there were a few others inside the compound taking photos. So we entered with no issues, but as with any abandoned buildings, best to be careful :)

  • Celebrian

    Awesome info and pics :)

  • I heard about this estate recently, looks like a fascinating place to visit.

  • LimCK

    Are the houses still there? I bet they are all demolished by now already? Been there for my ICT excerise once.

  • Ah Neo

    HI Joy, Thank you very much for all those photos. I used to ran around the market after school in 1990s, I was 13 at that time and the playground was our favourite spot. There was this Tao Hua drink stall and Tong Xin Wanton noodles stall. These are my favourite. Not sure if anyone still remember about this "Mo Li" provision stall. We used to get all our provision there.

    • Joy

      Hiya Ah Neo, thanks for visiting my blog and for sharing your experiences in the Neo Tiew estate! Glad you enjoyed the photos too :)

  • Jeff MAk

    Are we allowed to enter this premise now? Isn't it supposed to be a FIBUA training ground for SAF?

  • ThoseWereTheDays

    During my NS days in the early 90s, we trained in the dense forests across the street. We brave the heat and rain, survived on old school combat ration. "Neo Tiew" is the code word to sneak in a morale boosting pack of chicken rice treat for all the troops from the coffeeshop. Chicken rice might be out now from New Tiew but it serves our Singaporean Sons with a more realistic FIBUA setup.

  • Frank Neo

    Bring back memories. I grew up in my grand father's house (Neo Tiew), close to the area.

  • kwwwwwwww

    is it actually save to go inside?

    • Joy

      Hi kwwwwwwww, the structures are pretty sturdy when we last visited, but as with any abandoned buildings, best to be careful :)

  • sjw

    Why is this guy not mentioned in any of our history book since he made such contributions to the society too.

  • Ah Hong

    It reminds me of my kampong day in Neo Tiew Road, Thanks a lots..

  • Oh wow, thank you so much for blogging about this! You guys are awesome! I've always wanted to explore inside ever since I passed by it once, but have always been afraid to (after all the multiple signs of no trespassing and being shot isn't a pleasant idea to have)

    The pictures are so lovely and invoking. I've always loved being in old, abandoned buildings and imagining myself how life was like before :-)

  • Marc

    Hey guys, just passed by this place recently, but i noticed that the Whole area is not fenced up! Meaning we can't go in to explore anymore?

    • Andrew

      hi, I'm just confused, do you mean "now fenced up" or "not fenced up" as you told us that we can't go exploring it anymore, Thank you!

  • Keith Ng

    "such as the Ceritificate of Honour from HM King George the Sixth". Typo error?

  • Aloysius Phang

    I stayed there for 20 years. Love the place. Miss the times back then so much!!

    • kafkaesque

      hi Aloysius
      i've always been curious about the lifestyle of the residents there. there is almost nothing recreational in the vicinity. transport seems to be an issue too. care to share more? :)

  • Funny Rajj

    Is there any proof that this whole estate is haunted ? But still wonder, why its abandoned as in Singapore every bit of land is priceless..

  • singaporean

    Reminds me of NS! Trained here... never expected it can be accessed by civilians. Should go back maybe :)

  • Hi Joy, thank you for these lovely photos. I used to live in one of the housing blocks there. We couldn't enter the premise when we went back in January. So these photos really serve as a good remembrance :) Thank you.


  • Cassy

    How to get there?

  • hen ling

    Are these the latest photo of Neo Tiew Estate?

  • Meiyo

    Lovely post! Wish I had the guts to venture in too. Esp love the pic of the door with paint peeling off.

    • Joy

      Thanks Meiyo, glad you enjoyed the post. The place is so nostalgic reminding me of my younger days :)

  • anybody want to go exploring with me and Samantha Gabrielle Demello?

  • Doris

    It reminds me of my days in Dawson rd.d flat we are living is a 3 storey. N nw its revamp. N there is a shopping mall name Dawson shopping Centre or Dawson plaza.

    • Joy

      Thanks for that useful bit of info, didn’t know the history about dawson plaza :)

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