Decades of planning and cultivation has earned Singapore the name of Garden City. The truth is, as our city becomes increasingly built-up — and down; with an intricate underground labyrinth of train stations — lush, landscaped spaces will become all the more important as a relief from high-density, urban living.
Thankfully, there’s no need to escape to nearby Malaysia or Indonesia (or even Sentosa for that matter) when you want to bring your child for some much-needed fresh air. Take your pick from our list of 6 green spaces to get a fix of fresh air and lush greenery, all nestled nicely amidst this lovely island we call home. Best of all, they’re all free!
1. Singapore Botanic Gardens
The oldest garden in Singapore and also our country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is a 150-year-old green sprawling grounds with numerous highlights to last you a whole day.
Visit the National Orchid Garden and rub shoulders with one-of-a-kind orchids named after famous personalities like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Catherine, special guests such as Nelson Mandela and celebrities like our very own Stefanie Sun. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to enjoy a wonderful concert at the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage. The Singapore Symphony Orchestra holds frequent free concerts at the Gardens for all to enjoy. Just remember to bring your picnic mats.
2. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
A mere 12km from the bustling city centre, take your child on a pristine experience of nature at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. By virtue of our location on the equator, the reserve has one of the richest and most diverse ecological systems with astonishing varieties of plants, animals, and insect lives.
The Reserve recently reopened in October 2016 following the completion of restoration works. Journey back in time to the days before Sir Stamford Raffles arrived as you trek among the original vegetation and undisturbed tropical forest. Hike up Singapore’s highest hill, the 163m tall Bukit Timah Hill, on trails that wind through pockets of hill dipterocarp forest, not found anywhere else on the island. Do bring along enough bottles of water.
3. Springleaf Nature Park
The first of four new nature parks around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Springleaf Nature Park, located at Nee Soon Road, used to be a kampong and a rubber plantation.
Prior to its identity as a nature park, the area was formerly part of the Chan Chu Kang village — named after headman Chan Ah Lak who acquired the land near Seletar River to cultivate gambier and pepper. As the footsteps of urbanisation becomes more apparent and inevitable, the Chan Chu Kang village as well as its nearby plantations were left to rest and became nature corridors between the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and the surrounding green spaces.
In addition to its rich heritage, Springleaf Nature Park is an area of high biodiversity home to more than 80 species of resident and migratory birds. The park even has an observation deck for bird-watchers to look out for species like the White-throated Kingfisher, the Yellow-vented Bulbul and the Blue-tailed Bee-eater.
4. Far East Organization Children’s Garden at Gardens by the Bay
Open six days a week, the Far East Organization Children’s Garden features tree houses, climbing ropes, slides and water play areas for children aged one to 12.
With a dedicated Toddlers Play Zone for 1 to 5-year-olds, you can drain the seemingly inexhaustible energy of your little ones by letting them clamber and explore the play area boasting miniature slides, a caterpillar-shaped topiary, and a Fish Fountain with an interactive landscape of water tunnels and fish sculptures.
Don’t forget to bring swimwear or a change of clothes for your children to have a splashing good time at the water play area — with dozens of orchid-shaped splash buckets; hydro vaults from which beautiful projectiles of water sprout out from (much to the shrieking delight of the little ones!); and water splines, vertical “reeds” which spin water 360 degrees.
5. Coney Island Park
An ecologically sustainable park with rich biodiversity in a rustic setting, Coney Island Park has grown to become one of the most popular parks in Singapore since it opened last October.
Located off Singapore’s North East coast, Coney Island Park is home to a wide variety of habitats, including coastal forests, grasslands, mangroves, and casuarina woodlands. Guided walks conducted by NParks volunteers will also give you a chance to visit the Haw Par Beach Villa — a place with historical links to the Haw Par brothers and Tiger Balm.
6. Fort Canning
Fort Canning. A place in Singapore where Malay royalty once ruled in medieval times, where the British surrendered to the Japanese during World War II, and more recently, where thousands of screaming fans were treated to a massive performance by some of the world’s greatest music acts.
Today, Fort Canning is a delightful venue, where expansive, sprawling lawns play host to concerts, theatre productions, and critically acclaimed festivals like Shakespeare in the Park (it’s never too early to expose your child to the 16th-century literary genius). Whether you’re drawn by its ancient artefacts and rich heritage or simply the tranquillity of the lush greenery, this hilltop oasis offers something for the whole family.