18 Best Singapore Parks and Natural Spaces

Singapore Attractions

    Singapore is packed with natural attractions, and – as with many other facets of the City-State – Singapore’s nature parks are extremely well organised and planned. Singapore night safari has many fascinating draws, as does the zoo and the aquarium. The Jurong Bird Park is justifiably world famous and another big draw is the Reptile Park.

    Set in the gorgeous Botanic Gardens, the National Orchid Garden has a collection of more than 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrid orchids. Below, see our guide to the best natural attractions in Singapore.

    1

    Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

    Bukit Timah Hill is Singapore's highest point at a mere 163 metres. The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is a 164-hectare primary rain forest reserve just a half-hour ride from the heart of the city. It’s located along Upper Bukit Timah Road, at the end of Hindhede Drive. Admission is free, and the visitor centre opens daily from 8.30am in the morning to 6.30pm in the evening. The reserve is a popular spot during the weekend, with visitors ranging from teenagers on mountain bikes to groups of serious joggers.

    The park is clearly marked with trails, and you can breathe in the sights, smells and sounds of an authentic primary forest as you walk. This essentially, was Singapore hundreds of years ago, before development. Tall timber trees, liana vines and huge ferns abound in the forest. The place also boasts abundant wildlife – watch out for the noisy long-tailed macaques, who may just decide to follow you on part of your walk, swinging from tree to tree.

    Location: Bukit Timah Hill, about 12 kilometres from downtown Singapore

    Open: Daily from 6am to 7pm

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    photo by Holiday Point (CC BY 2.0) modified

    2

    Singapore Butterfly & Insect Kingdom

    Fans of butterflies and insects will enjoy the Butterfly & Insect Kingdom, located on Sentosa Island. It features about 3,000 species of butterflies and insects with an exhibition hall explaining their life cycle as well as an informative frame collection. The park caters to visitors ranging from nature enthusiasts to curious kids and insect lovers who simply want to take back home some happy memories.

    Location: 51 Imbiah Road, Singapore 099702

    Open: Daily from 9.30am to 7pm

    Phone: +65 6275 0013

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    3

    Central Catchment Nature Reserve

    If your idea of a true nature adventure is to trek for hours on end, always running the risk of getting lost, then Central Catchment Nature Reserve would probably come closest to satisfying you. This 2,000-hectare reserve is made up of the forests around the Upper Peirce, Peirce, MacRitchie and Seletar Reservoirs. You can enter the Upper Peirce forest via the Old Upper Thomson Road. There's no admission fee, which also means there's no visitor centre and you are left to your own devices. Unlike the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, though, the forests of the Central Catchment are secondary forests.

    You can hike for quite a long distance here, as the park leads right on to Bukit Timah Reserve and beyond. Bring a hat for protection from the blazing equatorial sun and lots of water.

    Open: Daily from 7am to 7pm

    Phone: +65 1800 471 7300

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    4

    Chinese and Japanese Gardens

    The Chinese and Japanese Gardens are off Yuan Ching Road, next to Jurong Bird Park. Each garden covers 13.5 hectares. The Chinese Garden is on an island in the middle of Jurong Lake and is done in the classical Northern Chinese Imperial style. Stroll around the Chinese Garden and take in the majestic stone lions at the entrance, the stone boat, the towering pagodas and the statue of Confucius. Marvel at the rockeries in the Garden of Romance and breathe in the smell of the culinary and medicinal herbs in the Herb Garden. The most interesting section of the Chinese Gardens is the Suzhou-styled penjing (bonsai) garden. This section houses some 2,000 pots of penjing and is a must for bonsai buffs.

    Across the Double Beauty Bridge are the Japanese Gardens, which are more minimalist in style. You'll find serene gardens, zig-zag bridges, pebbled pathways, stone lanterns and traditional summer houses here.

    Location: 1 Chinese Garden Rd, Singapore 619795

    Open: Daily from 5.30am to 7pm

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    5

    East Coast Park

    East Coast Park is not only the most popular, but also the largest (1.85sqkm) park in Singapore. It was built on reclaimed land and offers various activities from water sports to cycling, rollerblading, bowling as well as an 18-hole indoor mini-golf course. Other facilities include a manmade sandy beach, shops/kiosks, restrooms, barbecue stations and holiday chalets.

    Singaporeans are famous for their love of food, and there are plenty of dining venues to choose from here. The East Coast Seafood Centre consists of 8 seafood restaurants. Some must-try dishes include the spicy sambal stingray and satay (grilled meat skewed on sticks served with sweet peanut sauce).

    Location: E Coast Park Service Rd, Singapore

    Open: 24/7

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    6

    Fort Canning Park

    Fort Canning Park is a small swathe of green natural space in downtown Singapore, walking distance from Clarke Quay and City Hall. One of Singapore’s historical locations, this small park faces Orchard Road and is next to the National Museum of Singapore. It’s home to a few colonial buildings – one of them was Sir Stamford Raffles' home – and is a popular venue for art exhibitions as well as art performances.

    Location: 70 River Valley Road, Singapore 179037

    Open: 24/7

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    photo by Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker (CC BY 2.0) modified

    7

    Gardens by the Bay

    Gardens by the Bay is a huge, colourful, futuristic park in the bay area of Singapore. The famous Supertree structures offer an impressive skywalk over the gardens, over-sized seashell-shaped greenhouses recreate chilly mountain climates and there are hundreds of trees and plants to discover, making this destination great fun for both kids and adults.

    Location: 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953

    Open: Daily from 5am to 2am

    Phone: +65 6420 6848

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    8

    HortPark

    HortPark is a gardening and leisure/recreational concept. There are 20 themed gardens, for example the Fantasy Garden features characters from the Wizard of Oz . Then there's the Recycling Garden, Herb & Spice Garden, the Water Garden and a tree-climbing corner. HortPark serves as a link that connects Telok Blangah Hill Park and Kent Ridge Park. 

    Location: 33 Hyderabad Road, Singapore 119578, Off Alexandra Road

    Open: Daily from 6am to 10pm

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    photo by blackbass (CC BY 2.0) modified

    9

    Jurong Bird Park

    This 202,000 sqm bird park is located on the western slope of Jurong Hill and houses about 8,000 birds from 400 different species. On the opening day in 1971, a total of 12 countries, 7 zoos and 40 private donors contributed birds to the park. Jurong Bird Park has large aviaries so the birds have plenty of space to fly around, and you can enjoy a range of interesting demonstrations throughout the day.

    Location: 2 Jurong Hill Jurong Bird Park, Singapore 628925, Singapore

    Open: Daily from 8.30am to 6pm

    Phone: +65 6265 0022

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    photo by Jan (CC BY 2.0) modified

    10

    Marina Barrage

    Marina Barrage in Singapore is a dam and recreational site that’s just a short walk away from another of the city’s major attractions: Gardens by the Bay. This multipurpose attraction on the very southern tip of the main island aids water storage and flood control for the whole of Singapore.

    Even so, most visitors know Marina Barrage as a place of recreation. The rooftop park part of the dam is especially popular for picnicking and kite flying. With the main elevated section of grass overlooking the city’s skyline, the place is also popular among sightseers and for taking in the stunning Singaporean sunsets.

    Location: 8 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018951

    Phone: +65 6514 5959

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    11

    Mount Faber Park

    Mount Faber offers superb panoramic views of Sentosa, the harbour, islands to the south as well as the busy central district. It is also home of the Merlion, Singapore’s mythical symbol which sits on top of the hill. Many people go up there to enjoy the scenery then take a cable car to Sentosa for more amazing views along the way. 

    For those who love good food, Mount Faber features some well-recognised dining venues including Faber Peak with Dusk panoramic dining and Arbora for a more casual setting. Over the weekends, there are quite a number of hikers using different trials to go up to the top which can also be accessed by road. 

    Location: 109 Mount Faber Rd, Singapore 099203, Singapore

    Phone: +65 6377 9688

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    12

    National Orchid Garden

    Set within the lush Singapore Botanic Gardens, the National Orchid Garden contains some of the most exotic orchid collections on the planet. Even though the National Orchid Garden was opened in 1995, beautiful and rare orchids have been a part of the Singapore Botanic Gardens since its founding in 1859. As a result of an orchid collection programme instigated by Henry Ridley – the first director of the gardens – an orchid house was opened in 1899 whose further expansion was initiated by successive directors such as I H Burkill and R E Holttum.

    Location: 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569

    Open: Daily from 8.30am to 7pm

    Phone: +65 6471 7361

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    photo by ABrocke (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    13

    Singapore Botanic Gardens

    The Singapore Botanic Gardens was originally established by Sir Stamford Raffles, but the original site was closed down after his death in 1826. The current garden was founded in 1859 and has developed into something quite unique, featuring a small tropical rainforest, a ginger garden and an orchid garden. The National Orchid Garden has a collection of more than 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrid orchids.

    Location: 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569

    Open: Daily from 5am to midnight

    Phone: +65 6471 7361

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    14

    Singapore Night Safari

    Singapore Night Safari is a world-class attraction that provides entertainment and wonder for visitors. But it is also dedicated to conservation, rescue, and research to help improve the lives of animals both in captivity and in the wild. Trams and trails lead you through a nocturnal journey to see wildlife after dark.

    Various animals from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas roam in their spacious natural enclosures at this ethical wildlife attraction. This popular highlight at Singapore Zoo has also helped Singapore earn a well-deserved reputation as one of Asia’s most family-friendly destinations.

    Location: Night Safari, Singapore 729826

    Open: Daily 7.30pm to midnight

    Phone: +65 6269 3411

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    photo by Allie_Caulfield (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    15

    Singapore Zoo

    Kids and adults alike will find plenty to get excited about at the Singapore Zoo, which houses more than 2,500 animals from 315 species in a large rainforest environment. Many displays offer a 'token' feeding experience or other interactive features, letting visitors get an up-close view of the exotic creatures in action. See animals big and small from all parts of the world, from butterflies to Asian elephants, from colourful tropical birds to polar bears. Monkeys and large primates are a major attraction here, with full exhibits devoted to orang-utans, proboscis monkeys and baboons. The Zoo is also a centre for wildlife rescue, health care and research, and is part of Singapore's Wildlife Reserves area.

    Location: 80 Mandai Lake Road, Singapore 729826

    Open: Daily 08:30 – 18:00 (Last admission at 17:30)

    Phone: +65 6269 3411

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    16

    Sungei Buloh Nature Park

    The Sungei Buloh Nature Park is a great place for bird-watching, being a regional stopover for birds on their North-South migrations. An 87-hectare wetland reserve, the park is a little less than an hour's ride by car from the centre of town.

    The park gives you an idea of the mangrove swamps that once surrounded Singapore. There's a visitor centre, boardwalks and bird-watching hides, where you can go to spot night herons or the white-breasted water hen. Also, keep a lookout for various species of butterflies, mud-skippers and monitor lizards. If you're interested in aquaculture, prawn and fish farming is carried out in the park, too.

    Location: 301 Neo Tiew Crescent, Singapore 718925

    Open: Daily from 7am to 7pm

    Phone: +65 6794 1401

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    photo by Qingwu Zhou (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    17

    The Southern Ridges

    The Southern Ridges is a 9-km-long trail across the south of Singapore, linking Mount Faber, Telok Blangah Hill Park and Kent Ridge Park. It’s a great place for outdoor activities, especially for runners, nature lovers and hikers. There are several different trails around Southern Ridges. All of them are well connected with good facilities along the way, with facilities including toilets, vending machines, restaurants and cafes. Popular trails include Marang Trail (800 metres), Henderson Waves (a 274-metre-long undulating bridge), Forest Walk (a steps-free elevated walkway) and Faber Trail (a 1-kilometre-long trail).

    The best thing about the Southern Ridges is that visitors can take as much time as they like, knowing that there are many places along the route where they can get public transport.

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +65 1800 471 7300

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    photo by Zairon (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    18

    Treetop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir

    The Treetop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir is a big project and a pioneer of its genre in Singapore. Some 25 metres high and 250 metres long, the wooden walkway bridge gives you the opportunity to see Singapore in a different way – without one tall building in sight – just a fantastic panoramic view of the forest.

    This free-standing suspension bridge is a one-direction traffic system and allows only 30 people at a time on it. The starting point is at the Ranger Station via Peirce track (about 4.5 km from the bridge) and it will lead you through mature secondary forest. Another option is to get to the Treetop walk from Venus Drive off Upper Thomson Road which will help shorten the distance by about 2 kilometres.

    The walk along the bridge offers an unusual view of the forest canopy. Good walking shoes are necessary, as are drinking water and mosquito repellent. The round-trip hike takes from three to five hours depending on your choice of routes. It’s a wonderful day out but not for those afraid of open spaces.

    Location: MacRitchie Reservoir Park, Singapore

    Open: Tuesday–Friday from 9am to 5pm, Saturday–Sunday from 8.30am to 5pm (closed on Mondays)

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    photo by Walter Lim (CC BY 2.0) modified

    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveler

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