We can’t list all 350 parks across Singapore (Yes, 350!), but here are 10 secret naturesque spots to start where you can spot rich wildlife in their natural habitat, take a dip in the swimming pool, unleash your inner kid playing a life-sized board game and more.
On a more serious note, if you do see any wild animals lurking around in public spaces whilst exploring, don’t provoke them. These wild animals are protected by law and deserve better handling and care. Call the Acres wildlife rescue hotline at 9783 7782 for emergencies.
This nature park in Bukit Panjang skirts around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and serves as its green buffer. Because of its link to the nature reserve and its diversity of plant life, the park attracts rich wildlife – think olive-backed sunbirds, flameback woodpeckers, and even long-tailed macaques. Oh, and squirrels, of course.
Facilities include a pavilion, a multi-purpose lawn, a children’s playground, an exercise station, public toilets, shelters, as well as jogging and cycling tracks for both young and old.
This park is a favourite spot for residents nearby to exercise and relax – and even a transportation shortcut that makes for a relaxing walk.
The green space is home to an array of tropical fruit trees like durian, star fruit, coconut and more. Bring the kids to the two children’s playgrounds, one which has a sand pit – an uncommon feature in new Singapore playgrounds; plus, fitness corners, an amphitheatre, a multi-purpose court, as well as the Safra Clubhouse which houses a swimming pool and more.
An ecopark is designed to look like a savannah – with various natural habitats such as marshlands, secondary forests and freshwater ponds – walking trails are covered with creeping grass in place of typical concrete footpaths.
The park doesn’t allow cyclists or pets (It’s supposedly a savannah, remember?); instead, take a stroll through to spot close to 200 species of birds, butterflies and more.
It also features the first flush-free ecotoilet in public parks here. This converts human waste into compost using bacteria and wood shavings.
Tucked away in the northern corner of Singapore facing the Johor Straits, this park features one of the few remaining natural beaches in Singapore, making it a favourite spot for anglers to hang out.
The park, which is laid out on undulating terrain, also offers visitors a glimpse of Singapore’s colonial past – the Sembawang Naval Base was developed there by the British in the 1920s to 1930s, and some remnants from that era remain even today. Overlooking the jetty is Beaulieu House, built around 1910 as a private seaside retreat and later occupied by the British during the naval base years. It now houses a restaurant, which serves Chinese seafood, Western cuisine and local delights.
In 2011, a new playground was built in the form of a giant battleship, to tie in with the park’s past as a naval base.
Jurong Central Park brings a new twist to the board game experience. At its snakes and ladders playground, the pavement on the ground is marked with numbers and players move through the playground based on the number they “roll”.
Complete with, well, snakes and ladders. When players land on a ladder, they have to climb across an obstacle to a higher number. When they land on a “snake”, they have to go down a slide to a lower number.
Meanwhile, the Ludo Garden features a life-sized Ludo board game and players act as the “pieces” that move around on the board.
A 3-hectare seawater fishing pond can be found at this park, which is full of mature shady trees. Alongside this are smaller ponds for catching crabs and prawns.
While the park is now a more commercialised version of its former, quieter self, it’s not much to complain about – the space nonetheless remains a great space to seek respite in nature. Hungry? By the ponds are two bistro-bars and a halal seafood restaurant, that are popular at night.
With the opening of the Northern section of the park in February this year, it’s now Singapore’s largest park, spanning across 81 hectares of land (That’s more than 110 football fields!).
Located next to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, the park offers separate biking and hiking paths. Haven’t got a bike? There’s a bike-renting kiosk in the park, too.
You’ll also find remnants of old kampung (olden day village) dwellings, rich biodiversity and local bird species to watch and more.
More than half the size of its eponymous New York cousin, this hipster-beloved destination is completely off the grid – perhaps the farthest away you’d be able to get from civilisation on mainland Singapore.
Even the signages and seats are made from Casuarina timber from uprooted trees in a bid to keep the island as untouched as possible.
Casuarinas – tall, slender trees – line the gravel paths that run along the length of the island, connecting the West and East entrances to frame a picturesque scene. Earth paths lead you to the beaches, where along the beach promenades, you’ll even be able to spot Johor Bahru in the distance.
Do note, though, to bring along sufficient water and snacks to refuel, as there are no amenities on the island.
This park witnessed one of Singapore’s most significant WWII battles, and visitors can drop by the nearby Reflections at Bukit Chandu museum to learn more the nation’s history.
Walk along the park’s Canopy Walk and let the hooting calls of the blue-collared kingfishers lead you to the rich wildlife. On the eastern side of the park is a natural pond teeming with turtles and fish.
Once you reach the vantage point, take in magnificent views of Singapore’s offshore islands like Pulau Duran Darat.
You’ll need to catch a 10-minute ferry ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal to nearby Pulau Ubin, but it is well worth the effort, as you get to enjoy the island’s good food, rustic charm and, of course, the Ketam Mountain Bike Park that’s an Ubin hotspot even for non-bikers.
At its highest point, Ketam offers a bird’s-eye view of Pulau Ubin that makes the climb – an adventure to remember in itself – worth it.
For a post-hike indulgence, head to the seafood restaurant on the island, or fuel up with a cooling coconut.
By Pinky Chng, adapted from The Straits Times, August 2017 / Updated January 2019
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