Once you’ve ticked off the cultural highs, don’t miss Singapore’s acres of parkland, blooming gardens, islands, wetlands and rainforests. This is one metropolis with a lush heart and a wealth of natural wonders on its doorstep.
You don’t even have to leave the city to find peace and tranquility. Established by Sir Stamford Raffles, Singapore’s Botanic Gardens date back to 1822 and the Unesco-listed site is home to immaculate lawns, tropical gardens, placid lakes and colonial buildings that now house top restaurants. See the world’s rarest orchids at the National Orchid Garden, take shade under old banyan trees and visit a rare patch of verdant tropical rainforest. Check the website for themed tours and free park performances by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.
The MacRitchie Reservoir Park is another natural gem in the heart of Singapore. Here in the region’s oldest rainforest, eagle-eyed visitors may even cross paths with long-tailed macaque monkeys and flying lemurs.
Isles of plenty
Singapore is an undeniably exhilarating city full of glitz, glamour and dynamism – but its 40-plus islands off the coast are a natural wonderland and a great change of pace. Explore the Southern Islands by ferry from Marina South Pier and head to Lazarus Island with its blue lagoon and the tortoise sanctuary on beautiful Kusu Island, or rent a private yacht from Marina at Keppel Bay or One°15 Marina Club to island-hop in style.
The rural hinterland of Sungei Buloh is heaven for nature lovers, with 87 hectares of wetlands where herons, monitor lizards, snakes, seabirds and otters make their homes. Observation points dot the park and there are free guided tours. From September to March, flocks of migrating birds are spotted here. Inland in the Sungei Tengah area, animal lovers can visit the wildlife sanctuary at Acres Wildlife Rescue Centre and kids can have a whale of a time feeding and petting the animals at Farmart Centre.
One of the best ways to experience Singapore is from up top! The unmissable canopy walk in the Southern Ridges offers spellbinding views and is ideal for hikers, runners, history buffs, shutterbugs, nature lovers, bird watchers and families looking for a day trip in the great outdoors. The 9-kilometre walking trail links three main parks: Kent Ridge park, Telok Blangah Hill park and Mount Faber park and offers spectacular views of the city, harbour, Southern Islands and CBD. At Kent Ridge park, head to the top of the hill for jaw-dropping views of Singapore – visitors can also see the World War II tank on show and war memorial museum, Reflections at Bukit Chandu here. Look out for the Terrace Garden at Telok Blangah Hill park, which is often used for wedding photo shoots, then walk along the iconic Henderson Waves pedestrian bridge. Standing 36 metres high, the ergonomic, undulating masterpiece of Henderson Waves is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore. At Mount Faber, visitors can take a cable car to Sentosa, home to Universal Studios and other attractions.
Last but not least, take a walk on the wild side at Singapore Zoo, where you can breakfast with orangutans, take a guided tour, embark on a splash safari, meet, feed and pet the animals, dine in teepees at night beside a secret lakeside location overlooking Upper Seletar Reservoir, or enjoy cocktails and dinner as you weave through the zoo on a night safari.