Go Green: Seven of the Best Parks and Gardens in Singapore

Explore the “garden city” as it was meant to be seen, via one of Singapore’s many green spaces. From sandy seafronts to magical superparks, these are our favourite spots for a perfect picnic

Singapore might be best known for its tech-smart infrastructure and dazzling skyscrapers, but look beyond the concrete and you'll find the city is filled with as many green spaces as it is with gadgets. Anointing itself a "garden city" upon its founding in 1959, with a view to becoming the world's sustainability capital, the Southeast Asian metropolis is now home to a staggering 350 parks and four nature reserves, which carpet more than 56 per cent of the small island.

Touch down at Changi, the city's international airport, and you'll immediately experience Singapore's verdant splendour at Jewel, a lush forest centred around the world's largest indoor waterfall. Look up as you head into town and you'll see buildings dressed with cascading vertical gardens in a bid to increase plant life, which is now mandatory across all new developments.

Ready to hit the hiking trails? Load up a picnic, step away from the crowds and into nature in one of these magnificent urban parks.

Seven of the best green spaces in Singapore

Photo credit: Singapore Cyingfinite / Shutterstock.com

Rail Corridor

Although officially neither a park nor garden, this pioneering green passage couldn't be missed off our list. Built along a disused railway line, the 24km-long corridor slices right through the city, connecting many of Singapore's biggest green spaces while allowing wildlife movement between its major parks. Much of the area has been rewilded with native plants, and there are no lights along the corridor in order to encourage animals to pass through at night. Our advice? Hire a bike and cycle along its network of tracks and underpasses to experience a new dimension of this pea-green garden city.


Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

Set on the slopes of Bukit Timah Hill, Singapore's highest natural peak, this sprawling forest was one of the first nature reserves to be created in the city. Once the home of tigers, the area is now one of the last primary forests left in the country, with some 40 per cent of Singapore's native flora and fauna living among its network of hiking, biking and rock-climbing trails. Recently connected to the nerve centre of the city via the Bukit Timah-Rochor Green Corridor, the newest addition to the Rail Corridor, the nature reserve is a welcome patch of untamed wilderness away from the crowds (just keep your eyes peeled for marauding long-tailed macaques).

Photo credit: Robert Ang / Shutterstock.com

Jurong Lake Gardens

Skirted by a long boardwalk trail that curves around a lake and large swamp forest, this vast network of wetlands is one of the newest additions to Singapore's line-up of green oases in the city. As the largest park in the heartlands, it's a favourite among dog walkers (and one of only a small handful of places where canine friends are allowed off-lead), as well as runners, watersports enthusiasts and wildlife watchers. Chiming with the country's commitment to conservation, the park is home to a bird and butterfly park, as well as themed gardens including the Chinese Gardens (currently undergoing redevelopment), which nod to the area's natural heritage.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Plant lovers of all stripes will weaken at the knees upon entering this Eden-like garden. The only tropical garden to be listed as a Unesco World Heritage site, its 74 hectares are home to a staggering 10,000 different plant species. Now a world-leading centre for research and plant conservation, the botanical wonderland is furnished with emerald lawns, glassy lakes and a rare patch of primeval rainforest, as well as the world's largest orchid collection. Monitor lizards, roosters and otters are just some of the animals to be found roaming freely around the grounds - guard your food carefully if you pitch up with a picnic.

Mac Richie Reservoir, Singapore

MacRitchie Reservoir

We wouldn't blame you for forgetting you're in a city at this lush, jungle-like park anchored around the oldest reservoir in Singapore. The main drawcard here is a waterside walking trail that hugs the reservoir's edge for 11km. You'll need a good couple of hours to complete the full loop, but plan on leaving at least half a day if you want to make time for the many worthwhile (and Insta-worthy) pit stops you'll come across along the way. First up, aim for the TreeTop Walk - a 250m-long suspension bridge perched high in the forest canopy - where you'll come nose to nose with the resident flying lemurs. Then, either continue along the main hiking route or explore one of a number of side roads that fork off from the main trail, before ending the day at Paddle Lodge for a late-afternoon kayaking session.


East Coast Park

We've always gone a little giddy over urban beaches and, being an island state, Singapore is one of those special cities surrounded by the sea on all sides. East Coast Park, with its slender coconut palms and gentle surf, is one of the most accessible of its many beaches - offering a 15km stretch of blonde-beer sands just a couple of underground stops from the busy central business district. Escape the urban throng and head to this waterfront idyll to experience a slower slice of Singapore life, joining the locals who gather daily for swimming, windsurfing, wakeboarding and skating sessions.

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Gardens by the Bay

Made famous by its cluster of "supertrees" - sky-scratching, 50m-tall vertical gardens that house all manner of vines, ferns and other plants - this 100-hectare superpark is leading the charge for the future of man-made urban gardens. Sustainable by design, the park is solar-powered and recycles all rainwater to tend to its abundant flora and fauna, while a series of climate-controlled biodomes offer a window into tropical plant life from around the world by replicating various microclimates. Our favourite part? Entry is free (although certain exhibitions have admission fees), meaning you can spend the best part of a day meandering between its green walls without spending a penny. Don't miss the park's iconic views across the bay to Marina Bay Sands.

Hari Budha Magar
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