7 Lush Parks In Singapore With A Rustic, Overseas Vibe

From summery grasslands to Bali-inspired gardens, we highlight the best of each locale.

By Steve Thio        9 April 2021

We never really appreciate how scenic Singapore is until we’re stuck and unable to travel overseas for our holidays. The ongoing pandemic has forced us to ‘travel’ locally and in the process, many of us have discovered hidden scenic locations and gems that remind us just how how beautiful our island can be.

And in these trying times, a breezy escapade to a soothing and green haven can do wonders for frayed nerves!  We’ve compiled a list along with cafe and restaurant suggestions nearby for a quick break if you’re feeling peckish:

Punggol Waterway Park
Along Sentul Crescent Road

One of the newer parks, this lush 12.25 ha area was created to give green respite to residents of Punggol New Town. Segmented into four different themes – Nature Cove, Recreation Zone, Heritage Zone and Green Gallery – and running across the North Eastern Riverine Loop of the park connector, the park offers a stunning landscaped riverside view of forest greenery. Visitors can soak in nature’s refreshing ambience while jogging, cycling or chilling out on one of the many shady park benches.

But it is the architecture of the bridges and walkways that give this park a strong Australian park vibe. If you’re an early riser, make a beeline for the Sunrise Bridge on the Eastern side; as the name suggests, you will be able to catch the sunrise in all its glory.

Located on the Western side of the park, visitors won’t miss the Jewel Bridge with its iconic dome-shaped structure at the centre of the walkway. You can enjoy beautiful views of the setting sun from this bridge and it has become a favourite spot for many Instagrammers. Nature enthusiasts should keep a lookout for the local wildlife, from birds to otters and more. For kids and the young-at-heart, have a dousing good time at the Recreation Zone with its water park and play area. Beat the heat under jet sprays of water and lounge around the cool, wet spaces.

Most of all, the park is ideal for joggers and cyclists as it allows you to experience the gorgeous natural scenery from one end to the other. You can rent a bike for yourself and your family at Bikes@Waterway at SAFRA Punggol!

Foodies will like:

SAFRA Punggol
9 Sentul Crescent, Singapore 821313

Nestled right within Punggol Waterway Park, SAFRA Punggol is the first eco-friendly SAFRA club. Located just behind a big green lush park connector, the building offers unparalleled views of the entire park. The food establishments here will whet any palate: you can enjoy Western fare at Jack’s Place, or indulge in Sichuan-style hotpot at Huo Guo Kung Fu restaurant. There is even a Heavenly Wang, Wing Zone, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s.

Upper Peirce Reservoir
Along Old Upper Thomson Road

The drive along Upper Thomson Road, with its cathedral-tall trees stretching overhead and many monkeys chilling along the pavements, give you the impression of gliding deep into a cool and dusky unknown forest – miles away from the busy shophouses and condos just a few minutes’ walk away!

Turn into the reservoir entrance and you are driving up and down hillocks, deeper into more wild foliage and towering trees that eventually open up to a panoramic view of the Lower Peirce Resevoir and park – a view that captures shimmering water, wide green grounds and soaring blue skies. Neat landscaped open spaces, quiet, lapping waters and gentle breezes transport you to another world – you can imagine yourself picnicking by the shores of a lake in Australia or New Zealand! Only the humid weather reminds you that you’re still in Singapore.

The lush grounds and calm surroundings are perfect for a picnic, just chilling and napping under tall arching trees and dreaming you’re miles away from home on a resort holiday.

Foodies will like:

Casuarina Prata
136, 138 Casuarina Road (Off Upper Thomson) Singapore 579524

Mount Faber Park
Junction of Kampong Bahru Road and Telok Blangah Road

We may not have a beautiful scenic location like Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak, but we do have Mount Faber! The park is covered by secondary rain forest and a trek up to the peak is a cooling experience, allowing you to soak in fully the ambience of the greenery comfortably. Along the way and at the peak (where there is a viewing platform), there are viewing locations with telescopes that offer views of the surrounding landscapes, whether it’s the bustling habour below, endless sea and distant horizon or a panoramic visual of the urbanised Singapore skyline. And just like Victoria Peak, Mount Faber has a cable car which departs from Faber Peak (the highest point) to Sentosa Island, running above shimmering waters and offering a bird’s eye view of the hill itself and island.

Best of all, the park is connected to the Southern Ridges which includes Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and Labrador Nature Reserve.

Foodies will like:

SAFRA Mount Faber
2 Telok Blangah Way, Singapore 098803

The clubhouse is located near the dense greenery of Mount Faber Park and Henderson Waves. A food and leisure oasis of fun amenities and facilities, you can unwind after a hot day’s trek with a variety of yummy cuisine. Enjoy local delights at popular café Heavenly Wang, scrumptious Western and fusion dishes at Old Habits Boutique & Café (the eclectic, retro ambience makes this a must-visit place!), or a gastronomic Indian feast at Sakunthala’s restaurant. 

Changi Beach Park
Nicoll Drive

There’s something very old school and nostalgic about Changi Beach Park. Even though it has been upgraded with modern amenities and facilities, and many of the old stores and coffeeshops at the nearby Changi Village have been replaced by hip eateries, there are still many places that evoke Old World Singapore. It’s a scene that reminds one of a quaint and rustic Malaysian or Thai coastal town.

One of the older beach parks in Singapore, there is a 3km running/ cycling path traversing the entire beach – wonderful for slow cool evening walks. The sunsets here are spectacular and the many seats and rest areas allow you to while the night away pleasantly. Look out for close-up views of soaring jets and planes taking off from nearby Changi Airport!  

Foodies will like:

The Coastal Settlement
200 Netheravon Road, Singapore 508529

Charlie’s Corner
2 Changi Village Rd, #01-70 Village Hawker Centre, Singapore 500002

Jurong Lake Gardens
Yuan Ching Road

One of the bigger park and recreational developments sited near the heartlands, the park/garden is build around Jurong Lake and its surrounding wetlands and swamps. With myriad facilities and activity spaces, there’s really something for every outdoor enthusiast. But the park highlights that are truly unique was the Rasau Walk, Grasslands and the Alstonia Island & Freshwater Swamp Forest. Mekong River anyone?

Dense with tropical foliage and trees, these areas allow one to experience nature freely and fully. With helpful signs along the way, visitors get to learn more about the unique vegetation of the area, along with information on the animal and bird species that reside there. It’s surprising that mere minutes away is the bustling road and HDB estates! For Instagrammers, these locations are ‘IG-perfect’ locations for gorgeous photos as well.

Foodies will like:

Fusion Spoon
102 Yuan Ching Rd, Singapore 618663

Fort Canning Park
River Valley Road

One of the oldest parks in Singapore that was also the site of 14th century Sultan palaces and World War II British army barracks, this peaceful and tranquil hilltop park located in the heart of the urbanised city centre is an oasis of lush tropical greenery.  Iconic monuments from the past still dot the nine historical gardens of the park, from the Bali-inspired Sang Nila Utama Garden to the First Botanic Gardens that feature plants with rich heritage value, including national flowers and spices commonly used in local cuisine.

The meandering paths lead up and around the hill, reaching the top where ruins of Fort Canning now dot the open spaces that feature open-air performances, events and even exhibitions. The views from various elevated spots along the hill paths offer panoramic views of the surrounding cityscapes, which you can enjoy from thoughtfully placed benches and rest areas.   

Foodies will like:

Butterknife Folk
238 River Valley Rd, Singapore 238296

Bukit Batok Nature Park
Along Bukit Batok East Ave 2 and Bukit Batok East Ave 6

The entrance to the park itself looks like a scene out of some Chinese wuxia movie – 10-storey high cliff walls topped by clouds of greenery and towering over a placid pond reflecting the sandy rocks and dense foliage. It’s no wonder that this park is nicknamed  “Little Guilin”, thanks to its resemblance to the real Guilin in China, a city known for its dramatic limestone karst hills. Not as large as some of the other parks, Bukit Batok Nature Park manages to have its own serene charm amongst soaring trees and walls of green plants.

Developed around an abandoned quarry site, the cliff walls are the focal point of the entire park. Around it you can meander along paths that take you deep into secondary tropical forests, so still and silent you can hear every bird tweet and cricket chirp. For the more adventurous, there are rocky paths of cobbled stones on which you can trek or jog into the forest. Climb up to the lookout point on top of the cliffs and you get to enjoy lovely views of the surroundings.

Foodies will like:

446 Bukit Batok West Ave 8, #01-01, Singapore 650446

Do you have a hidden getaway in Singapore? Share them with us at magnsman@sph.com.sg!