Lonely Planet Pathfinder, Jessica Palmer of familyholidaydestinations.com, recently spent 11 days exploring Singapore with her family. From the vibrant hues of the Gardens by the Bay to the surprisingly tranquil East Coast Park beach, here are her highlights…
Cities are not usually my thing. Even though they can be incredibly vibrant and exciting, I don’t enjoy the lack of nature, fresh air and, often, cleanliness of the concrete jungle… Singapore however, is completely different! Singapore has nature, colour and space. It has architecture designed with greenery in mind, and gardens designed with healing in mind. Singapore is modern, clean and friendly. I set out to explore Singapore’s green areas with my young family, and very quickly discovered that it really does deserve the title of ‘Green City’, and is a fantastic place to visit with children!
Sci-fi movie landscapes
This looks like something out of a sci-fi movie, right? It’s actually the view from the Singapore Flyer two minutes before the heavens opened! The Singapore Flyer is basically a huge Ferris wheel, or as it’s called here, an ‘observation wheel’. You’re looking at 101 acres of glorious green lung right in the heart of Singapore – the famous Gardens by the Bay. Hiding behind the rain haze is the South China Sea, full of enormous ships carrying all sorts of things.
Cycling Pulau Ubin island
A cheap, ten-minute bumboat ride from Changi Point ferry terminal will take you to the island of Pulau Ubin. After stepping off the wharf into Pulau village, you will be greeted with a single street, lined with hundreds of pushbikes for hire and plenty of options for kids. From here we cycled on dirt tracks through the jungle, passing cheeky little long-tail macaques rummaging through a bag they had obviously stolen, before finally arriving at Chek Jawa Wetlands. Here you can stroll on a sturdy bridge over the mangrove wetlands, as well as a coastal bridge over the ocean. If it’s low tide you can see a host of marine life under the coastal bridge too.
Fort Canning Park
I came across a construction worker escaping the Singapore humidity by having a nap in the shade of this overgrown fort wall. It wasn’t long before his supervisor marched up the hill and told him to get back to work! I had a little chuckle to myself as, not for the first time, I was reminded that some things are the same no matter what country you are in.
Fort Canning Park is a beautiful green space on a hill that has witnessed some of Singapore’s historical milestones. It was once home to the palaces of 14th century kings, as well as the headquarters of the Far East Command Centre and British Army Barracks. In 1942, a decision was made to surrender Singapore to the Japanese in the underground tunnels and bunkers known as Battlebox, which you can now visit via a tour.
This is Singapore’s East Coast Park, and whilst the beach is no French Polynesia, it’s still nice and clean with plenty of sand and ocean. The seafront park stretches for 15km and has coconut palms, bushland, overgrown trees, and lots of green grass. There is also an awesome kids park and restaurant area, as well as a paved walking track that cyclists and skaters take advantage of.
Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden
The Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden is seriously amazing! It’s located at the Singapore Botanic Gardens and is a great example of how Singapore caters to little people. Chock full of greenery, the garden somehow manages to combine both fun and learning, with a hedge maze, water play area, playground, obstacle course, zip-line and a potting and sensory garden. The kids really enjoyed being allowed to touch and smell the different herbs and plants in the sensory garden, and, to be honest, I did too!
The Cloud Forest Dome
The Cloud Forest Dome is out of this world! This three-storey waterfall is what you’re greeted with upon entry, and a series of pathways (and escalators and elevators if you need) take you to the top and back down again with different zones and gardens along the way. A huge bonus is that both this dome and the flower dome are cooled, which is a welcome relief from Singapore’s humidity!
Do you love to write about your travels? Or perhaps Instagram is your thing? Find out more about how you can contribute to Lonely Planet here.