Singapore’s parks get short shrift when compared to the many things to do in Singapore. Unfairly we may add. Our parks are great for a stroll, running or cycling, or simply for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the trappings of a city. But what many people (locals included) often overlook is that within some of these parks, are gems that often go unnoticed. Here is Tribe’s very own independent review on the best:
PARKS, NATURE RESERVES, GARDENS & A LITTLE ISLAND
1. SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENS is THE one park you must visit. Just as you must pay a visit to Hyde Park in London or Central Park in New York and Tuileries Garden in Paris, this is the one. Why? So much of Singapore’s early history in the 19th century can be traced to The Gardens, from the cultivation of economic crops for trading to its role in rubber trees and Singapore’s national flower- the Orchid. Visit the National Orchid Garden within the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
2. MACRITCHIE RESERVOIR is spoilt with running trails amidst lush greenery. Walk along the boardwalks at a water’s edge with a love one. If the movie Before Sunrise was shot in Singapore, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy will have their endless chats at beautiful MacRitchie. Do not miss the Tree Top Walk, a 250 metre aerial suspension bridge surrounded by forested nature reserve. MacRitchie is also a popular spot for kayakers and yogis. Besides the odd exercise stations littered throughout the park, there are also showers and locker facilities conveniently situated throughout the parks. Makes you wonder why people pay hundreds per month to the local gym…
3. FORT CANNING PARK is centrally located and one that is steeped in Singapore’s history and war history. Visit the Battle Box, the former headquarters of the British army. Also worth a walk through is the Spice Garden significant because it was here at Fort Canning that was the site of the first experimental botanical garden where Singapore’s founder Sir Stamford Raffles had spices like clove, nutmeg seeds sent from Bencoolen and planted here.
4. BUKIT TIMAH NATURE RESERVE If you’ve heard that there are very few spots in Singapore of untouched land spared from the development bulldozer, you are half right. Singapore does an amazing job juggling between development and conservation (and to a lesser extent preservation). Bukit Timah is one such left and boasts one of the largest swathes of primary forest left in Singapore. There are marked routes by way of four coloured trails.
5. PULAU UBIN If you can’t get enough nature and unspoiled beauty, prepare for a day trip to Pulau Ubin (one of 63 islands or islets that make up Singapore). It doesn’t get more rustic than Pulau Ubin! Best way to describe Ubin? Imagine one of our founding fathers wanted to preserve what life in Singapore in the 1960s, rather than have a museum of old pictures and paneled boards, a living island was ring fenced, this would be Ubin. Except that this is not what happened. Here you still see rubber plantations, mangrove swamps. You can rent a bike and cycle to Chek Jawa wetlands to see coastal forests, mangroves and coral rubble. How to get there? Hop on a bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. For those interested in visiting Pulau Ubin, we have a half day tour each Sunday that covers Changi followed by Pulau Ubin. For more details, see A Day Out in Changi and Ubin.
6. GARDENS BY THE BAY On the other end of the spectrum of untouched is Gardens by The Bay, Singapore’s newest attraction. Over 101 hectares, the Gardens houses over 250,000 rare plants. As you can imagine, the Gardens opened to a few murmurings and criticism about it’s “manmade-ness”, its costs and the opportunity costs of the use of prime land. Here’s our impartial two cents worth thrown in. First, it is not as if 101 hectares of nature was cleared for the Gardens. This was reclaimed land anyways. In fact, it was a brave decision by the authorities to keep the area as a large park in spite of many other higher-value (read: not another swanky luxurious condominium) property. So go visit and be your own judge.
8. WEST COAST PARK is a treasure trove of crazy obstacles that can drain the limitless energy of the most active tots. It has a giant pyramid of ropes, a pirate ship playground, and flying foxes to zip from point to point. A convenient meeting point is the MacDonald’s nearby.
9. SOUTHERN RIDGES and HENDERSON WAVES BRIDGE Shame on us. We almost concluded our list of parks and nature without including a fast rising favourite of ours. But what’s a bridge got to do with parks and nature? The Southern Ridges links a series of hill trails between Mount Faber, Telok Blangah Hill and Kent Ridge Park. The highlight is the Henderson Waves Bridge, an architecture beauty, especially at night. Don’t take our word for it. Google image “Henderson Waves Bridge”. Here’s a useful guide and map of this 3 – 5 hour walk.