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Singapore is known for its many skyscrapers and apartment blocks. But hidden in the northwestern corner of this island nation is an area with barely a tall building in sight and instead offers a touch of nature and almost feels like you are in another country altogether. Here’s our guide to this area known as Kranji Countryside, an alternative side to Singapore around Kranji Reservoir filled with farms, trees, and a little bit of history.
There are over 100 farms in this area, but only around 20 of them are open to the public and offer tours, activities or retail. Look out for the monthly Farmer’s Market – one easy way to explore is via the private shuttle bus service that runs from Kranji MRT (S$3/day) or via public bus numbers 925 and 975.
Singapore’s only goat farm is especially popular with families because you can see (and smell) all the goats lined up in their pens. Watch them get milked in the mornings and you even have the chance to feed them. You can also buy fresh goat’s milk here in small bottles of original or chocolate flavours. Bring along a refrigerated box if you want to tote your milk around with you, as it is preservative-free and meant to be consumed as soon as possible.
Wander around Jurong Frog Farm on your own to marvel at the 10,000 American Bullfrogs on site. Alternatively, you could book a guided tour to learn more about the frogs and have a more hands-on experience feeding and handling them. For those who would rather eat them, you can buy frozen frog meat products from the farm or through their online shop.
Hausmann Aquarium was one of the first fish farms in Lim Chu Kang and specialises in the care and breeding of aquarium fish, providing everything from fish feed to pond maintenance. On site is a large rectangular seawater pond known as ‘Auntie’s Fish Pond’ where you can partake in recreational pond fishing. It’s located right next to Max Koi Farm so you can check out the more ornamental Japanese koi fish as well.
There are a few restaurants where you can sit down and have a meal, but you can be sure these spots are serving up farm-fresh food.
Bistro Gardenasia has a nice outdoor area around a pond. It serves a variety of international favourites and local dishes, including some very large bowls of farm-fresh salads. You can even chill out with some local craft beer. The bistro is just one segment of the larger Nyee Phoe Group, a landscaping and horticulture company with over 100 years of history. Besides hosting corporate events and weddings, you can also spend the night at one of its farm villas.
This vegetable farm is home to the Poison Ivy Bistro, which serves up an array of reasonably priced local dishes like nasi lemak and chicken curry, as well as vegetarian and vegan options. The farm is the largest producer of bananas in Singapore, so make sure to try some of their homemade banana bread and other dessert kuehs. Work off your meal by taking a walk around the vegetable farm’s various garden plots, complete with whimsical names and signs, including a surprising nudist-friendly zone.
The Singapore Zoological Gardens are world-renowned but the parks around nearby Kranji Reservoir are thriving and surprising areas for those who prefer the wildlife experience.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is Singapore’s first ASEAN heritage park and beloved by bird watchers as a prime area to spot migratory birds that come from as far as Australia and Siberia from September to March. Keep an eye out for shorebirds, hornbills and kingfishers, as well as other fauna including mudskippers, monitor lizards, and even the odd crocodile. Well-maintained boardwalks with specially designed bluffs let you observe these creatures out on the mudflats and shoreline, with pictorial guides to help you identify what you are seeing.
This nature reserve located around Kranji Reservoir is one of the largest freshwater marshlands in Singapore, created when the reservoir was dammed in the 1970s. The public can only access a small area of the park – you will need to join a guided tour to see some of the restricted conservation areas. Check out the forested stretch called Neo Tiew Woods with tall trees that often attract hawks and eagles, as well as the West Marsh where you might see marsh birds and reptiles wading around the shallows. The highlight of Kranji Marshes is climbing up the 10-metre tall Raptor Tower to take in the surrounding view and flying birds at canopy level.
Amid the greenery are some historical remnants of Singapore during its World War II days.
The Kranji Memorials are actually made up of three separate cemeteries. The most visited is the Kranji War Cemetery, where neatly aligned gravestones of soldiers and prisoners of war – who died during the Japanese Occupation and the two World Wars – cover a serene green hillside. Several tall, white structures tower over the cemetery – these are memorials that honour the many soldiers who either died overseas or without a known grave.
Also on-site is the Kranji Military Cemetery, a non-war burial ground for servicemen with around 1,400 graves. The final site is the State Cemetery, which houses the graves of Singapore’s first two Presidents – Yusok bin Ishak, whose face can be found on the current bank notes; and Benjamin Sheares, who followed after.
This small picturesque park is sandwiched between Kranji Reservoir and popular with fishermen. Kranji Reservoir Park also offers an unblocked view of the Straits of Johor, the Malaysian shoreline only about a kilometre away. Look for a plaque that marks this spot as one of three landing sites in Kranji where the Japanese first invaded Singapore shores by crossing over the straits from Malaysia during low tide in 1942, which led to the Japanese Occupation of World War II.