Jun 18, 2020

5 Non-crowded Parks to bring the family after Phase 1 in Singapore (ALL FREE!)

After 2 months of Circuit Breaker and 2.5 weeks of Phase 1, we are returning to a little more normalcy in our lives with Phase 2 tomorrow (19 June 2020). And while I understand the pent-up feelings of people yearning to head out to celebrate, please bear in mind we are not out of the woods yet.

It is not time to go shopping at the malls.
It is not time to participate in social gathering after social gathering over the weekend.
It is not time to meet up with huge groups of friends at parks, beaches and playgrounds.

But I'm a parent too. And I also understand the need to bring the kids out for some fresh air and move those limbs after the past few months.

So my suggestion is to bring them to a nature park, where the area is vast and social distancing can be kept to a desirable level. Of course, certain parks are going to be jam-packed with visitors come weekends - I'm looking at you, East Coast Park, Jurong Lake Gardens, Botanic Gardens, Gardens by the Bay and other usual suspects - so it is best to avoid them and head to more remote (or ulu) parks in Singapore.

Like these five below. 

But most importantly, wear a mask at all times, stay away from crowds, and stay safe at all times. Amd please, do not head out if you or other family members are not feeling well.

Oh, and remember to check Safe Distance @ NParks (https://safedistparks.nparks.gov.sg/) to see if the park you are headed to is experiencing high visitorship before heading out!

1. 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

2. 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

3. 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)

4. 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

5. Nature Playgarden at HortPark

There is a new playgarden at HortPark but you cannot find a single seesaw or slide here. Rather, the Nature Playgarden at HortPark is designed to encourage kids to spend more time outdoors and reconnect with nature. Built with pre-schoolers in mind, the playgarden is best for kids aged between 3 and 6 years old.

This playgarden is NParks' first Biophilic Playgarden, which integrates play features with more natural elements such as trees and sand. In all, there are a total of nine play features at the playgarden. There are none of the usual slides, seesaws or even climbing structures that one usually associates with playgrounds but I love how the playgarden has ingeniously blended play activities with nature... along with plenty of hideouts for kids to explore. Read more about it in my review HERE.

Address: 33 Hyderabad Road (off Alexandra Road), Singapore 119578
Opening hours: Daily except for Mondays.
*The playgarden is lit by natural sunlight only. For your own safety, please refrain from entering at night or during bad weather.
Admission: FREE

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