Parks and Nature Reserves

In keeping with its reputation as the "Garden City", Singapore is awash with lush gardens and parklands as tropical greenery carpets the landscape. Innumerable trees and flowering shrubs line the expressways and colourful plants hang from balconies and overhead bridges. The Singapore Botanic Gardens epitomises the tropical island's luxuriant parks - a combination of primary jungle and elegantly laid out flowerbeds and shrubs. Spread over 52 hectares, the gardens hold about 4,000 species of plant life, many rare specimens amongst them.

Singapore is one of only two cities in the world to have a significant area of primary rainforest within its boundaries. The 164-hectare
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve - just 12 kilometres from the city centre - contains more species of flora than the entire North American continent. There are dozens of other gardens and reserves in Singapore, among them the Chinese Garden and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore's first designated wetland nature reserve and a major stopping-off point for migrating birds during the months from September to March.

Bukit Timah Nature Serve

Singapore is one of only two cities in the world to have a significant area of primary rainforest within its boundaries - the other being Rio de Janeiro. This 164-hectare reserve, only 12 kilometres from the city centre, contains more species of trees than the entire North American continent. At the heart of the reserve lies Singapore's highest point - Bukit Timah Hill, at 164 metres above sea level. Well-marked paths meander through the jungle, and on the way, walkers can spot exotic birds, butterflies, monkeys, squirrels and flying lemurs as well as unique plantlife like the insect-eating pitcher plant. The reserve is an ideal place for hikers.

Open:
8.30am - 6.30pm (daily)
Admission:
Free
Approximate Touring Time:
3 hours
Location:
177 Hindhede Drive Singapore 589333
Tel:
(65) 6462 9203
Getting There:
Take the MRT to Newton Station (NS21), then take TIBS bus 171.
Web sites :
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
(http://www.nparks.gov.sg/parks/n_a/par-n_a-bt_tim_nat_res.shtml)

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Chek Jawa

Located at the eastern tip of Pulau Ubin is a natural beach that is teeming with marine wildlife. Chek Jawa is a collection of six distinct habitats - coastal forest, mangrove, sandy beach, sand and mud flats, coral rubble and a tiny island called Pulau Sekudu, or Frog Island. Chek Jawa is unique as all these different habitats are clustered in an area that is just one sq km in size. The diversity in marine wildlife can be seen in the sand dollars and other types of starfish, sea horses and octopi living in the sand and mud flats, the sea-grass meadows that harbour carpet and peacock anemones, and the coral rubble that is home to sponges of all hues.

Visits to Chek Jawa is on a first-come-first-served basis and is only possible at low tides. To book, call the National Parks Board Ubin Information Kiosk at Tel: (65) 6542 4108. Once at Chek Jawa, guides will be on hand to take visitors on a 45-minute long walk through a designated route. Visitors should wear proper footwear and should not litter, touch nor collect any plant nor animal specimens.

To check the available dates and times for visits to Chek Jawa, visit the National Parks Board website. For more information on Chek Jawa, visit the Habitat News website.
Admission: Free, but pre-booking is required.
Approximate touring time:
2 hours
Location: Eastern tip of Pulau Ubin
Getting There:
Take the MRT to Tanah Merah station (EW4).

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Chinese Garden

Built in 1975 and designed by Prof. Yuen-chen Yu, a well-known architect from Taiwan, the Chinese Garden's concept is based on Chinese gardening art. The main characteristic is the integration of splendid architectural features with the natural environment. The Chinese Garden is modelled along the northern Chinese imperial style of architecture and landscaping.

The Garden's main features include the following:

  • Bridge - In the art of Chinese gardens, bridges play an important role; they are one of the most important structures and may denote the characteristics of various periods of civilizations. The 'Pai Hung Ch'iao' Bridge (the white rainbow, 13-Arch Bridge) at the Garden follows the style of the 17-Arch Bridge at the Summer Palace in Peking.

  • Main Arch Building - As you cross the bridge, upon entering the garden, you are welcomed by this renowned and typical Chinese arch building. Its magnificent and grandiose form has made it very popular for picture-taking. Inside the main arch building, expect to find two courtyards, namely the "Early Spring Courtyard" and "Garden Courtyard". Also, there is a fishpond in the centre which is named the "Fishes Paradise".

  • Stone Boat and Tea House - A famous traditional feature of Chinese architecture is the Stone Boat structure. Its unique design and splendid architectural beauty is a fine art which has long been praised by people throughout the world. The style of 'Yao-Yueh Fang' (the Stone Boat) in the Chinese Garden is based on an adaptation of the Peking style design. The 'Ming Hsiang Hsieh' (Tea House) is a miniature structure following the style of the elaborate, winding gallery at the Summer Palace. This meandering design is a characteristic and graceful Chinese architectural feature.

  • Pagoda - In ancient times, the pagoda, originally a simple tower located beside a temple, was used for the keeping of human bones by Buddhists. Later, with improvements in architectural skills, incorporated with the traditional art of building, the pagoda was developed into a structure of striking architectural beauty. The 'Ru Yun Ta' (7-storey pagoda) is situated on a small hill in the Chinese Garden. Its typical pagoda design follows the style of Ling Ku Temple Pagoda at Nanking.

  • Pavilion, Plateau, Tower - The Chinese Pavilion, Plateau and Tower represent the soul of the Chinese gardening art. The artistic features, typical of Chinese architecture have long been appreciated by man. The arrangement of these structures is very important and one of the essential rules of the structural arrangement is that the position of each structure must be balanced by its height and size. Further, the building must be linked with plants, rocks, a winding stream and footpaths so as to create a poetical scene. The design of the four (4) pavilions at the Chinese Garden is based on the style of Northern Chinese Pavilions, and decorated to blend harmoniously with the Garden.

  • Bonsai Garden - Opened in June 1992, the Suzhou-style Bonsai Garden cost an estimated SGD 3.8 million to build. This 5,800 sq metres garden with Suzhou-style buildings (incorporating a main hall of 50 sq metres) and landscape houses a collection of some 1,000 bonsais imported mostly from China. This world-class Bonsai Garden has since taken on a new look. Newly revitalised, after spending an estimate of another SGD 500,000 - the Bonsai Garden is a wonder that must be seen to be believed. A Bonsai Training Centre will also be launched where resident Bonsai experts from Shanghai and Suzhou (China)will teach on how to prune and care for Bonsais and how to appreciate the beauty of this unique artistry.

  • Garden of Abundance - You will find 100-year-old pomegranate trees from Shantung, China, planted alongside sculptures of the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals. This creative concept of planting materials, with meanings of longevity, abundance and fulfilment, is designed according to Chinese tradition and folk culture.

Open: Main Garden 6am - 7pm (daily)
Bonsai Garden & Garden of Abundance:
9am - 7pm (daily)
Admission: Free. Admission charges to Bonsai Garden SGD 5 adults, SGD 3 children (3 - 12 years), SGD 3 senior citizens (55 years and above)
Approximate Touring Time: 1 hour
Location:
1 Chinese Garden Singapore 619795
Tel: (65) 6261 3632
Fax: (65) 6261 1390
Getting There: The gardens are a 5-minute walk from the Chinese Garden MRT Station (EW25).

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East Coast Park

East Coast Park, located off the East Coast Parkway, is a favourite play area for Singaporeans, either at the beach or on its landscaped vistas and terrains where cycling is much enjoyed. Hire a bicycle or pair of rollerblades or just laze on the sandy beach. Eat at the many fine seafood restaurants or amuse yourself at the various leisure attractions. These include a bowling alley, golf driving range, tennis and squash complexes, watersports centre, swimming lagoon and the East Coast Sailing Centre.

Open:
Daily
Admission:
Free
Getting There: Take a taxi from Orchard Road, or take SBS bus 16 and alight at Marine Terrace. Then use the underpass to cross the ECP expressway.

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Fort Canning Park

Established in 1859 as an arms store, barracks and hospital, Fort Canning is now a park overlooking Orchard Road. It contains memorials of Singapore's early history dating back to the 14th century and Sir Stamford Raffles' personal bungalow. Look out also for the Spice Garden, a small replica of the original 19-hectare tract Raffles established in 1822 as the first experimental and botanical garden in Singapore. Fort Canning is also a popular venue for the arts, including sculpture exhibitions, plays and open-air ballet.

Open: Daily
Admission:
Free
Approximate Touring Time:
1 hour
Location:
51 Canning Rise Singapore 179872
Tel:
(65) 6333 0510
Fax:
(65) 6333 0590
Getting There:
Take the MRT to Dhoby Ghaut Station (NS24) and walk towards Fort Canning Road. Click here to view MRT route map.
Web sites :
Fort Canning Park
(http://www.nparks.gov.sg/parks/loc/par-loc-for_cann.shtml)

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Labrador Park

Labrador Park is an oasis of tranquillity and natural wonder. Identified by the British as a strategic defence site to protect the entrance to the harbours of Singapore in 1843, the park offers a picturesque view of the sea. Nature lovers will be delighted to find a rich variety of flora and fauna such as the White-crested Laughing Thrush, the Yellow-vented Bulbul, scurrying squirrels and the regal White-bellied Sea Eagle. You can also have a glimpse into the past as you explore the underground complexes used during WWII for storage of ammunition and supplies.

Open
: 24 hours, park is lit from 7pm to 12 am
Admission: Free
Location: Along Labrador Villa Road off Pasir Panjang Road
Tel: 1800-471 7300
Fax: 6472 3033
Getting there: Services 10, 30, 51, 143 and 176. Alight along Pasir Panjang Road and proceed on foot via Labrador Villa Road Service 10 from Clementi MRT Station.
Click here to view MRT route map.
Website:
Labrador Park (http://www.nparks.gov.sg/parks/loc/par-loc-lab.shtml)

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MacRitchie, Peirce and Seletar Reservoirs

These reservoirs are surrounded by broad swamps, jungle and greenery, which run through the central northern parts of Singapore. The reservoirs are popular for family outings and picnics. They are a quiet contrast to the bustle of the city and provide a variety of recreational facilities like paddle boating and golf at Upper Seletar or sport fishing at Lower Seletar. MacRitchie Reservoir has a 12-hectare park with a jogging track, exercise area, playground, tea kiosk and fountain. On most Sundays, local school bands or orchestras play at MacRitchie (check local dailies for time of performances).

Open:
Daily
Admission:
Free
Location:
MacRitchie:
off Lornie Road
Upper Seletar: off Mandai Road
Lower Peirce: off Upper Thomson Road
Lower Seletar: off Yishun Avenue 1
Getting There:
MacRitchie: Take SBS bus 132 or TIBS bus 167 from Orchard Road.
Lower Peirce: Take TIBS bus 167 from Orchard Road.
Upper Seletar: Take the MRT to Ang Mo Kio Station (NS16) then board SBS bus 138.
Lower Seletar: Take the MRT to Yishun Station (NS13) then take TIBS bus 171.

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  Information provided by Singapore Tourism Board.

 

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