The gifts we receive from embracing nature and the great outdoors are aplenty. Even in land-scarce Singapore, we preserve pockets of nature and take green, open spaces into consideration in our city development. If you think all there is to hiking are Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Botanic Gardens, you need to check out our recommended trails, suitable for the whole family to conquer together.
This park boasts a wide variety of habitats, from coastal forests, grasslands, mangroves, to casuarina woodlands. Home to plenty of fauna (as many as 80 species of birds!) and flora, bird and nature enthusiasts can even spot some critically endangered species. You can also get up close to the beach at five different spots.
An ecologically sustainable park with many environmental initiatives, timber from uprooted Casuarina trees were even collected and recycled into park signage, seats, benches, boardwalk, and exhibits – something meaningful to share with your children during your hike.
Singapore’s newest national gardens in the heartlands, the 90-hectare space comprises Lakeside Garden (formerly Jurong Lake Gardens West), Chinese and Japanese Gardens (formerly Jurong Lake Gardens Central) and Garden Promenade (formerly Jurong Lake Gardens East). Opened partially to visitors since end April 2019, work is still going on to create even more family and community-friendly landscapes, slated to be completed progressively from 2021.
This charming and rustic 56.8-hectare freshwater marshland is home to unique biodiversity and one of the largest freshwater marshes in Singapore. Appreciate a rich array of flora and fauna, including more than 170 species of birds, 54 species of butterflies and 33 species of dragonflies. Take a break at Marsh Station, one of the bird hides, and have your children try spotting shy marsh birds with you. Or enjoy a panoramic view of Kranji Marshes and Kranji Reservoir from the top of Raptor Tower.
Punggol Waterway Park
This is a great place for park users to enjoy a fun-filled day of leisure activities. Segmented into four different themes: Nature Cove, Recreation Zone, Heritage Zone and Green Gallery, parents can burn off more of your children’s energy at the water playground – something to consider after a leisurely stroll. Alternatively, find a bench, enjoy your picnic while listening to the soothing sounds of running, trickling, splashing and cascading water.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
This is Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park, with an extensive mangrove forest. First opened as a Nature Park in 1993, the 130-hectare park was officially gazetted in 2002 as a nature reserve and renamed Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Since then, the nature park has expanded to 202 hectares of mangroves, mudflats, ponds and forests, providing an even larger sanctuary for the flora and fauna that call it home. Try spotting crocodiles (from a safe distance, of course) here!
Tampines Eco Green
Another place to spot wildlife, this park is an ideal place to view Baya Weavers in close proximity; or take shelter at bird hides to have your children observe perching birds and waddlers in the park's natural ponds. With multiple natural habitats such as open grasslands, freshwater wetlands and a secondary rainforest, there are hiking trails with some carpet grass pathways, making an easy stroll for the whole family.
The Southern Ridges
Comprising 10-km of green, open spaces that connect Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and Labrador Nature Reserve, these ridges make great family outings. Don’t miss Henderson Waves - a structure connecting Mount Faber Park to Telok Blangah Hill Park. Standing 36 metres above Henderson Road, it is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore, and is boasts an artistic, distinctive wave-like structure consisting of a series of curved 'ribs'. Other highlights include the Forest Walk and Canopy Walk, as well as Berlayer Creek at the newly launched Labrador Nature and Coastal Walk.
Check out National Parks Board’s list of parks popular with families here. Many of these offer (free) guided tours.
Also, some tips for your family to make the best out of your outing:
- Involve your kids when deciding on the destination and planning your hiking route.
- Check the weather forecast (especially during the year end period).
- Wear good quality hiking shoes and comfortable walking attire.
- Remember your mozzie spray, hats and shades.
- Maintain a safe distance from other visitors where possible, spreading out to less congested areas. (If there are safety ambassadors onsite or at certain points, do cooperate with them.)
- Have your masks handy and wear them when you are not exercising.
- Pack some snacks or a picnic, but know where you aren’t supposed to eat (to avoid exposing your food to wildlife). Check up suitable picnic and rest spots in the premises.
- Keep your children hydrated and take regular breaks.
- Have your children stay within sight during the hike.
- Know when to keep your volume down, such as in close proximity to wildlife.
- Take the chance to educate the kids about respecting nature and the environment, at the same time keeping them engaged by spotting wildlife together.
- Keep the parks clean – take your litter with you when you leave.