Nature is one of the best antidotes to stress. Over the years, numerous studies have shown that being in nature can benefit our mental health in a variety of ways. A 2019 study by the University of Exeter, for instance, found that people who spent two hours a week in green spaces were more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who didn’t. Being surrounded by greenery, taking in fresh air, and listening to the sounds of nature go a long way towards improving our mood, relaxing our body and mind, and lowering our blood pressure and heart rate.
While Singapore is a bustling concrete jungle, it’s not short of parks and natural environments to spend time in. Here are six places to escape to when you feel anxious, stressed or overwhelmed and crave a little peace and quiet.
1. Coney Island
Located in Punggol and accessible from Punggol Central, Coney Island is home to mangroves, casuarina woodlands and grasslands. It’s also perfect for birdwatching. Bring your bike and ride along the 2.5km Coney Island Park Connector, which gives you the best views of Serangoon Reservoir. If you’d like a quiet night outdoors, Coney Island is also a good spot for camping. The park is ecologically sustainable – the signage, benches and boardwalk over the mangrove swamp were all crafted from uprooted casuarina trees.
Indulge in a pampering facial or body treatment after your bike ride at The Spa by The Ultimate at SAFRA Punggol! SAFRA members enjoy 10% off, while all NSmen can present their NS55 credits to enjoy a 60-min Signature Body Massage at $88.
For more NS55 deals, go to safra.sg/
2. Kranji Marshes
This freshwater marshland is located along the north-western shore of Kranji Reservoir. Here, you’ll find more than 150 species of birds, 50-plus species of butterflies and more than 30 species of dragonflies. Make your way to the top of Raptor Tower, where you can take in panoramic views of the lush greenery and nearby reservoir, or keep an eye out for woodpeckers, the Changeable Hawk Eagle, the Common Moorhen or the Japanese Sparrowhawk. Note that cycling is not allowed at Kranji Marshes and the Core Conservation Area is closed to the public.
3. Marina Barrage
With its rooftop park, Marina Barrage is a great place to fly kites, do a bit of yoga or stretching or enjoy a family picnic. The park is accessible via an elevator inside the main complex or the looping pathway, and is a quick walk from Gardens by the Bay. One of the best times to visit is early evening, when the sun begins to set. Pick your spot on the grass, enjoy the cool tropical breeze and focus your gaze on Marina Bay or the downtown skyline.
4. The Learning Forest
Located in the Tyersall-Gallop Core of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the Learning Forest was designed to integrate with the existing Rain Forest. The boardwalks and elevated walkways are ideal for exploring the various habitats, like the lowland rainforest and the freshwater forest wetland. Don’t forget to look up – the forest is home to some of the tallest tree species in Southeast Asia.
5. Central Catchment Nature Reserve
The largest of our nature reserves, this “green lung” in the central part of the island features the MacRitchie Trails, a 20km network of boardwalks and nature trails; a suspension bridge called Treetop Walk; and Jelutong Tower, a seven-deck observation tower. Enjoy a long walk through the forest and along the trails by the reservoirs (Upper Peirce, Peirce, MacRitchie, and Seletar). You’ll come across a range of birds here, from the Plaintive Cuckoo and the Purple Heron, to the Collared Kingfisher. There’s no visitor centre here, so plan your trek well beforehand to avoid getting lost.
Reward yourself after your trek with a cuppa or a hearty meal overlooking the scenic golf course at Golf Spot Cafe & Bistro. SAFRA members get 1-for-1 on the Signature Golf Spot Fountain Cheese Wagyu Beef Burger in commemoration of SAFRA’s 50th anniversary, while all NSmen receive 10% off the total bill or a free cake of the day with min. $15 spend on food items to mark NS55.
For more NS55 deals, go to safra.sg/membership/ns55-recognition-package-singapore/ns55-deals/more-ns55-deals
6. Chestnut Nature Park
This verdant, rustic park is made up of two areas – North and South. Together they total 81 hectares, making Chestnut Nature Park Singapore’s largest nature park by far. You’ll find a lot of native tree species, such as the Jelutong and the Braided Chestnut. Besides hiking, this is a good spot for bird watching and biking. There is even a kiosk where you can rent and wash bikes. Be sure to check out the Chestnut Nature Park Observation Tower, located along the gentle and serene Northern Trail.
If you’ve signed up for the SAFRA Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon 2022, these nature spots are perfect for clocking your distances. For more info and to register, go to www.safra.sg/whats-on/safra-singapore-bay-run-army-half-marathon-2022
Want more articles like this, and other lifestyle content right in your inbox? Sign up for the eNSman Newsletter – you don’t need to be a SAFRA member to subscribe – and never miss another story!
Photos: SPH Media Trust