Mar 13, 2020

8 Ulu Open-air Places to Chill in Singapore because Social Distancing (ALL FREE!)

If you are afraid to head out with the family because of the current escalating COVID-19 situation, I totally understand. Sometimes it may be better to stay at home....

BUT if you are like me who simply just can't stay at home with the kids (because they drive me up the wall 😅) then good news, there are actually places in Singapore that are ulu (or out of the way) and are devoid of crowds!

I've compiled 8 places in Singapore which are less crowded than the usual parks - places that are not only vast in area (lots of fresh air!) but also FREE to enjoy for everyone! 😄

So head on out with the family to soak in some sun!

1. Changi Point Coastal Walk

This boardwalk hugs the scenic Changi coastline from Changi Beach Club to Changi Sailing Club. The boardwalk is made up of six segments: Sunset Walk for a splendid view of the sunset, flanked by a hill of lush greenery on one side and the sea on the other. Kelong Walk: a stretch of the boardwalk with kelong stilts built over water. Cliff Walk: built slightly inland, this part is a path through lush greenery. Viewing decks along this stretch at vantage points provide panoramic views. Sailing Point Walk: the longest stretch of the boardwalk, and provides open views of the sea. Beach Walk: second longest stretch of the boardwalk and faces the Serangoon Harbour and Changi Beach. Creek Walk: this portion lies on the southern bank of Sungei Changi.

With marine life and birds being sure visitors here, the best time to visit is in the late afternoon to catch the sunset. The boardwalk totals 1.2 km and is extremely easy for children. Continuing the walk from Changi Beach Club to Changi Village covers a total of 2.6 km and forms the Changi Point Coastal Walk.

Address: 51 Lorong Bekukong, Changi, Singapore 499172
Download NParks' DIY Walk Map HERE

2. Jurong Eco-Garden

Just a stone's throw away from Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle is Jurong Eco-Garden, the 'green lungs' of CleanTech Park and Singapore’s first freshwater swamp forest located within an industrial park. If we had not visited Thow Kwang, we would not have discovered this gem of a find. Simply because the Eco-Garden has an amazing variety of wildlife and nature and is home to many birds, dragonflies, butterflies and insects.

Spread over four areas - Summit Forest, Wildlife Corridor, Stream Ravine and Freshwater Swamp Forest - the 5-hectare park intersperse building parcels seamlessly with green spaces. One interesting station to visit is the Composting Station which features the processes how horticulture waste are converted into resources. If you are planning to expose nature to the kids minus the crowds, Jurong Eco-Garden will be your best bet!

Address: 1 Clean Tech Loop, Singapore 609434

3. Tampines Eco Green

Tampines Eco Green is probably the most underraated park in Singapore because it is unlike any other nature park we had visited. For starters, it is a sprawling 36.5-hectare ecological park resembling a savannah with marshlands, secondary forests and freshwater ponds. Not only that, the park was designed with minimal intrusion, leaving most of the land untouched and in its original state. In fact, the park is NOT lit at night - so go before 7pm! - so as to minimize disturbance to its wildlife inhabitants.

But if you are looking for playground structures to keep the kiddos occupied, there are NONE here. What is present in the park is plenty of flora and fauna to keep the little ones fascinated. And the main difference here compared to other nature parks is the footpath is carpeted with Manila Grass rather than concrete or gravel, making it a unique walking experience.

The park offers three trails weaving through the forest: Diversity Trail, Forest Trail and Marsh Trail. In total, one loop of the park covers 3km, with a walking time of between 1.5 to 2 hours. The terrain is flat throughout, making it extremely easy for kids. Read more about our experience HERE.

Address: Tampines Avenue 9 and Tampines Avenue 12
How to get there:
Alight at Tampines MRT station and walk 20 mins to the park via Sun Plaza Park.
If you drive, the nearest parking is at Block 408, Tampines Ave 9
NOTE: No lights after dark

4. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Make your way through the mangrove forest boardwalks, or watch the birdlife over the freshwater wetlands – especially during the September to March migratory season. Boardwalks keep visitors safe – and their feet dry – as they venture deep into the mangroves to catch sight of tree climbing crabs scuttling up trunks of trees, mudskippers skimming across swamp waters and archerfish shooting insects with jets of water.

The Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve extension is more kids-friendly, with three different boardwalks catering to all nature enthusiasts. The Mid-canopy Walk immerses visitors in the understory of a secondary forest through an elevated, 120m-long boardwalk, where they can spot birds and insects like cicadas that reside in the mid-canopy region and forest floor while the Coastal boardwalk offers a scenic and breathtaking view of the Kranji waterfront with a lookout point where raptors such as the Ospreys and White-Bellied Sea Eagles can be spotted hunting for prey.

At low tide, visitors can even observe crabs and fish foraging for food in the waters. Lastly, the Forest Trail offers visitors the chance to experience the sights and sounds of the reserve up close, and learn more about the plants and wildlife which are unique to the reserve.

Address: 301 Neo Tiew Crescent, 718925 (*To access the new extension, enter via the new entrance at Kranji Way)
Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 7.30am to 7pm | Weekends & PHs: 7am to 7pm

5. Thomson Nature Park

Even though there isn't a playground for kids, Thomson Nature Park is home to the ruins of an old Hainanese village that was there from the 1930s which offers adults and kids a glimpse into life in a Singapore kampung back in the 1960s.

Located to the east of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR), between Old Upper Thomson Road and Upper Thomson Road, Thomson Nature Park complements existing nature parks including Springleaf and Windsor Nature Parks to extend the green buffer for the CCNR. This 50-hectare buffer park is unique for its rich cultural heritage as the site of a former Hainan Village as well as housing a rich array of biodiversity and is notably a key conservation site for the critically endangered Raffles’ Banded Langur.

There are a total of five walking trails spanning 3.8 km around the former village's road network - Ruins & Fig Trail (1.5km), Stream & Ferns Trail (1.4km), Rambutan Trail (0.4km), Langur Trail (0.15km) and Macque Trail (0.35km). All of them are relatively short distances which means kids will be able to go on them pretty effortlessly!

The trails have been specially curated to provide visitors insight into the ways of life during the kampung days as well as into the variety of floral and faunal species found in Thomson Nature Park.

If you love nature, then go on the Stream and Ferns Trail which enables visitors to appreciate the freshwater habitat in Thomson Nature Park and observe the great diversity of ferns and aquatic animals present. Personally, I think the Ruins and Figs Trail is the most interesting trail of the lot because it will bring visitors along a trail where there will be plenty of abandoned and old buildings to spot, giving them a chance to experience the heritage highlights of the Hainan Village through carefully conserved ruins.

Thomson Nature Park is unlike your usual nature parks in Singapore. The presence of an abandoned Hainanese village with its ruins scattered throughout the park definitely makes it an intriguing day out with the kids, giving them a glimpse of what life was like there in the past.

Address: Off Old Upper Thomson Road
Opening hours: 7am – 7pm daily (entering or remaining in the park after 7pm is not allowed)

6. Kranji Marshes

Spanning 56.8 hectares (half the size of Gardens by the Bay), Kranji Marshes is the largest freshwater marshland in Singapore. It is home to a combination of lush, marsh, woodland and grass habitats with more than 170 species of birds, 54 species of butterflies and 33 species of dragonflies lies in the north-western part of Singapore. And not only is it open to everyone, it is FREE to visit!

There are two main areas – one that is open to public and the core conservation area which can only be accessed via guided walks. For the public walk, the start journey begins at Kranji Gate which is located at the end of Neo Tiew Lane 2 (beside D'Kranji Farm Resort).

The walk is a relatively straight-forward linear one, a 1km route which ends at 10-metre tall Raptor Tower which offers a panoramic view of the entire Kranji Marshes. Suffice to say, scaling the tower is the highlight for the kids!

To complete an educational day out, be sure to head to the nearby Marsh Station where they can learn more about the birds and their respective bills and feet.

Address: 11 Neo Tiew Lane 2, Singapore 718814
Opening hours: 7am to 7pm daily

7. Marsiling Park

After a 22-month makeover, Marsiling Park re-opens with plenty of activity areas and amenities for families with kids. Popular elements of the park - such as the viewing tower, Chinese pavilions and stone bridge - have been retained and improved, including the addition of boardwalks which extend to the water at certain parts around the perimeter of the reservoir.

For kids, the main highlight of the park has got to be the inclusion of three new playgrounds - the first being a butterfly-shaped playground with climbing ropes!

There is also a ninja warrior-style playground located just opposite the butterfly playground, which might just appeal to older kids.

Got younger kids? Then head to the Fun Play area located at a short walk away (nearer to the car park entrance). Here, kids get to hit on play equipment with musical elements for an interactive play experience. If you are feeling peckish after all the play, there is a 24-hour F&B outlet at the park.

Address: Woodlands Centre Road adjacent to Bukit Timah Expressway
Park lighting hours: 7.00pm to 7.00am

8. Dairy Farm Nature Park

The 63-hectare Dairy Farm Nature Park serves as an alternative recreational venue to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve with two biking trails, with catering to the intermediate level of riding, and the other for beginners who wish to have the thrill of mountain biking. Be sure to end your biking trail at the south-western end of the park where the Singapore Quarry lies. Here, it has been transformed into a wetland habitat and boasts a magnificent view of the quarry.

For something less relaxing, go on the Wallace Trail at Dairy Farm Nature Park. The 1-km long Trail is a relatively easy trek, taking visitors through a dense forested area which used to house a kampung community. In fact, you can still see signs of past ‘civilisation’ – remnants of walls of houses, and wells. You will also come across a number of little meandering streams with crystal clear water. Kids will have a field day treating their tiny feet to a cool dip, and trying to spot pond skaters skipping on the surface too!

Also, be sure to make a stop at the Wallace Education Centre, Singapore’s first field study hub for schools. Located in a restored cow shed, the Centre now houses the Wallace Environmental Learning Lab (WELL), as well as an interpretative centre, where visitors can learn about the changing landscapes of Dairy Farm and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve through various exhibits.

Address: Along Dairy Farm Road

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