6 Free & Affordable Park-tor Ideas For Nature-Loving Couples

From island hopping to nature trails, plan for the ultimate nature date with our guide.

By Mandy Lim Beitler        21 September 2023

Our second monthly curation of affordable date ideas is dedicated to couples who find romance in the great outdoors among flora and fauna. With options ranging from casual rambles to adventurous hikes and even offshore expeditions, there’s something for everyone, even on a tight budget.

1. Discover Mandai Wildlife West

You’re probably familiar with the Mandai Wildlife Reserve, which comprises Singapore Zoo, River Wonders, Night Safari, and the newest Bird Paradise. But did you know that there’s another area called Mandai Wildlife West? Besides serving as the entryway to Bird Paradise (and the upcoming Rainforest Wild Asia), it boasts its own array of attractions that are worth a visit for those who love being in nature but aren’t into overly vigorous activity. Best of all, it’s free to enter! You only need to buy tickets if you plan to include a visit to the wildlife parks.

There are wefie ops galore, starting with an impressive 10m-tall man-made waterfall. Enter the waterfall cavern and enjoy the cool mist from the curtain of cascading water as you follow the circular ramp up to level two. There, you’ll find pangolin-inspired adventure play areas, a Forest Stream trail where you can learn about epiphytes and foraging, as well as several dining and retail options, from A&W to UnPackt.

SAFRA members enjoy up to 40% off admission to all three wildlife parks (Singapore Zoo, River Wonders and Night Safari). Find out more at safra.sg/promotions/mandai

2. From sunrise to moonlight at Changi Beach Park

Spanning about 3.3 km from Changi Coastal End to Changi Ferry Terminal, the 28ha Changi Beach Park is probably the closest thing to being in the countryside in Singapore. Amid a distinct kampung vibe, you can ‘paktor’ like your parents and grandparents did. Catch a beautiful sunrise along the sandy beaches and look out for marine life at low tide. Then walk among towering casuarina trees and see if you can spot the delicate white flowers and brown seed pods of Petai Laut, a native medicinal plant.

At the western end, you can catch glimpses of Pulau Ubin, watch quaint wooden bumboats chugging in and out and explore Changi Village and its hawker delights. You can also consider packing a picnic or booking a barbecue pit. For a spot of star- or plane-gazing after dark, the eastern end along Changi Coast Road is ideal.

Extend your date with a staycation — SAFRA members enjoy exclusive rates to National Service Resort & Country Club bungalows and 15% off stays at Village Hotel Changi. Find out more at safra.sg/lifestyle/nsrcc & safra.sg/promotions/village-hotel-changi-sg

3. Explore biodiversity at Lakeside Garden

Or head to the west, where the sleepy shores of Jurong Lake were recently transformed into an inviting waterfront landscape full of lush green spaces and diverse ecosystems to explore. Enter from the south entrance of the 60ha Lakeside Garden and ramble straight into the Grasslands habitat, which is characterised by bird hides scattered amid tall grasses for you to observe wildlife without disturbing them.

Along the water’s edge, meander through Rasau Walk, a 300m boardwalk set over a restored freshwater swamp, which extends over to the man-made Alstonia Island. See how many native plant, insect and animal species you can spot there, as well as along the shallow Neram Streams that channel stormwater runoff into the lake. Need a break? Snuggle up on a wooden ‘daybed’ facing Heron Island for a spot of birdwatching. End your day by taking in a glorious sunset reflected in the tranquil waters of Jurong Lake.

All that exploring making you hungry? SAFRA members enjoy free lunchtime parking at SAFRA Jurong till 31 October 2023. Find out more at safra.sg/promotions/free-lunchtime-parking-at-safra-jurong-2023

4. Birdwatching at the Southern Ridges

Love a good hike and spotting feathered friends? Then pack water, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and binoculars or a camera with decent zoom lens, and take your significant other on an expedition across the Southern Ridges. The 10-km green belt not only provides multiple vantage points for observing over 40 species of birds in their natural environment, but also bird’s eye views of Singapore’s harbour and across to the Southern Islands.

Key hotspots include Mount Faber Park’s Marang Trail, where you might spot the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and Black-naped Oriole. Look out for the Pink-necked Green Pigeon and Straw-headed Bulbul along the elevated Forest Walk at Telok Blangah Hill Park. Stop by the Singing Forest, where you might hear the voices of the Dollarbird and White-throated Kingfisher. Atop the Canopy Walk at Kent Ridge Park, traverse a secondary forest at eye level with the forest canopy and its inhabitants such as the White-crested Laughingthrush.

Round off your date with a romantic sunset ride with a panoramic view — SAFRA members enjoy 30% off Cable Car Sky Pass; more info at safra.sg/promotions/sg-cable-car

5. Hike the Mount Imbiah Nature Trail on Sentosa

There’s more to Sentosa than theme parks, luxury resorts and beach clubs. For nature-lovers, head to Imbiah Lookout. Besides being where fun-seekers alight from the cable car or Sentosa Express and plunge into attractions such as Skyline Luge and SkyHelix Sentosa, it is also the gateway to Sentosa Nature Discovery where nature, heritage and history take centrestage.

You can embark on the 2.3-km Mount Imbiah Nature Trail via a 200m-long canopy bridge leading from the Nature Discovery Gallery, or through its main gate near the MegaZip Adventure Park. As the path snaking up the hill has a gentle gradient, it’s suitable for most hikers, but do watch out for tree roots and uneven dirt tracks. Highlights include three natural waterfalls, as well as trees and wildlife unique to this part of the island. There’s also a lookout tower at the summit, which stands 80 m above sea level.

SAFRA members enjoy 15% off SkyHelix Sentosa and 30% off the Sentosa Island Bus Tour. Find out more at safra.sg/promotions/skyhelix & safra.sg/promotions/sentosa-island-bus-tour

6. Island Hopping across the Southern Islands

There is so much unspoilt natural beauty on the little islands off Singapore’s southern coast waiting for you to discover. And at just $15 per adult to visit St John’s, Kusu and Lazarus islands via ferry, it’s also super pocket-friendly. There’s even more to look forward to come 2024, when Sisters’ Islands reopens to the public, complete with a new lagoon tidal pool and forest trail. But in the meantime…

For a full day of fun, hop on the first ferry that departs Marina South Pier for St John’s Island at 9am daily. During low tide, spot marine creatures from sea stars to fiddler crabs at the beach lagoon, then encounter flora and fauna along a 2.8-km trail through the heart of the island. If you’d like to visit temples and a turtle sanctuary, board another ferry to Kusu Island. Otherwise, a 15-minute walk across a ‘causeway’ takes you to Lazarus Island, where white sandy beaches and friendly cats abound. The last ferry back to the mainland leaves St John’s Island at 6pm.

If you can stretch your budget, why not consider an overnight stay in the comfort of an eco-friendly tiny house? SAFRA members enjoy 20% off published rates at Tiny Away Escape @ Lazarus Island. Find out more at safra.sg/promotions/tiny-away-escape-@-lazarus-island

Read on for more ideas for a romantic date under $50++!

Save more with SAFRA! Enjoy special deals and discounts on dining, shopping, entertainment, travel, fitness and more from over 1,500 merchant outlets islandwide. Sign up or renew your SAFRA membership for three years at the price of 1 year ($43.20 inclusive of GST)! Plus, get your spouse and children on board to enjoy the same privileges too – 1st dependent pays $5.40/year, and it’s free for the 2nd dependent onwards. Visit safra.sg/savemore for more details. 

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