Seeking out a breath of fresh air in the bustling megacity that is Singapore? Culture Trip has curated the ultimate list of parks, gardens and green spaces to give your lungs a boost of vitality.
Singapore is increasingly gaining recognition for its green initiatives – take David Attenboroughs 2016 hit series Planet Earth II, which singled out Singapore as one of the cities leading the environmentally friendly charge.
Although it might be one of the most densely populated regions in the world – with nearly 6 million people living across just 700 square kilometres (270 square miles) – the city-state has earned the nickname the ‘City in a Garden’ thanks to its verdant spaces.
Perhaps Singapore’s most famous garden, Gardens by the Bay is a favourite among residents and a must-visit. The park is dominated by its Supertree Grove – 18 foliage-covered metal structures, the tallest of which reaches 16 storeys. A walk around the Supertree Grove is not complete without a trip up to the OCBC Skyway, a bridge that connects two of the tallest Supertrees and gives a bird’s-eye view of the entire park. Other attractions include the Heritage Gardens, which boast plants specific to the area’s different geographic regions, and the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest Conservatories. Gardens by the Bay is free to enter, although the exhibitions have admission fees. It’s a great option for a memorable yet budget-friendly date.
East Coast Park takes the trophy for being Singapore’s largest park, covering nearly 185 hectares (457 acres) of reclaimed waterfront land. The best way to explore the 15-kilometre (9.3-mile) coastline of East Coast Park is on wheels, via the dedicated cycle and skating lane. On weekends, you’ll see people using all kinds of transportation to get around the park, from bicycles and scooters to rollerblades and even quadricycles carrying entire families. There are several bicycle rental shops throughout the park, usually located near car parks or eateries. East Coast Park also offers barbecue pit rentals, which you can book through the National Parks website.
MacRitchie Reservoir Park is perfect for nature lovers. Located around Singapore’s largest reservoir, the park offers extensive hiking trails, including the TreeTop Walk, a 250-metre-long (800-foot-long) suspension bridge that brings hikers over the forest canopy. Besides hiking, there is also a beautiful boardwalk and rental facilities for canoes and kayaks. It is far enough away from the city that visitors should be able to spot the exciting wildlife that inhabits the park, including monkeys, monitor lizards and even flying lemurs. When planning your MacRitchie adventures, keep in mind that the only concessions shop is at the entrance to the park, so be sure to carry sufficient water and snacks, as well as suntan lotion and insect repellent.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens first opened in 1859, making them one of Singapore’s oldest parks. It’s home to over 10,000 species of plants and is considered one of the premier orchid research and breeding centres in the world. With relatively quiet grounds, the park also has a host of jungle creatures, including 0.9-metre-long (three-foot-long) monitor lizards – but don’t worry as they’re quite harmless. Admission to the park is free.
Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park is well known among the residents of the Bishan and Ang Mo Kio neighbourhoods but is rarely on the radar of visitors. Located in the middle of housing developments in said neighbourhoods, the park covers 62 hectares (166 acres) and is full of amenities, including a cycling track, a promenade along a meandering river, bookable lawn spaces, several restaurants and even a spa.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve benefits greatly from being the oldest and largest forest reserve in Singapore. It may seem like a trek to get to this far-flung park, but with 163 hectares (403 acres) of land and 40 percent of Singapore’s species of flora and fauna, it is well worth the journey. The reserve boasts many hiking trails for all skill levels, as well as rock climbing and mountain biking. The National Parks association organises monthly discovery walks for visitors who want to learn more about the wildlife that inhabits the park.
Fort Canning Park is much smaller than the other parks on this list – it’s a hill in the middle of the city. However, it’s the most historically significant park on the island thanks to its beautiful location and elevation. Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern-day Singapore, built his first home on Fort Canning. During World War II, the fort was the headquarters of the British Army until the Japanese defeated them. Today, Fort Canning is popular with runners, as well as being a frequent location for festivals and concerts.
A nature photographer’s dream, Lower Seletar Reservoir Park – with its calm, clear waters and meandering boardwalks – seems a world away from Singapore. Its boardwalks make the park popular with joggers and couples alike. For visitors who would rather be on the water, there are facilities at Rower’s Bay to rent kayaks, and, for the more adventurous, dragon boats.
Another park that’s a reasonable distance from the city is the Chinese and Japanese Gardens. The ‘Bai Hong Qiao’, a white bridge inspired by a similar one at the Summer Palace in Beijing, connects the gardens. Besides the stunning architecture, the park features The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum, where visitors can see and feed the reptiles. The entire park lies on two islands located on Jurong Lake.
Pasir Ris Park is another green space that’s often forgotten, due to its far-flung location and lack of landmarks. Although it is far from the city, the park is a favourite among Central Business District-dwellers looking to escape the crowds of the city centre for a few hours. With facilities for cycling, barbecuing, canoeing and even pony rides, Pasir Ris Park makes for an easy getaway from hectic city life.