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Best public parks for kids

Why drop cash on jungle gyms when there’s a whole bunch of public parks to explore for free, asks Will Chin

Sure, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and all that. But as much as we’re proud of that fact, there are scores more public parks in this ‘City in a Garden’ that are perfect for unleashing the little ones in.

For water sports
1/5

For water sports

Pasir Ris Park

Which other park allows families to carve through water on a kayak and then explore a 6-hectare mangrove forest? And that’s not even mentioning the playground here, one of the largest in town. 

The PA Water-Venture branch (125 Elias Rd) takes full advantage of the park’s location overlooking the sea. You can pick up kayaking and laser sailing (you gotta be above 12) or, for those 13 and up, abseiling and sport climbing. 

Also venture to the western tip of the park and embark on the Mangrove Boardwalk. The trail leads to the Bird-watching Tower – remember to pack a pair of binoculars and keep an eye out for monitor lizards. Oh, and Pasir Ris Park also allows camping. All you have to do is to apply for a permit at an AXS station on the day itself.

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Pasir Ris
For a family fishing trip
Photo: NParks
2/5

For a family fishing trip

Punggol Park

Clocking in at 5 hectares, Punggol Park’s pond is ideal for a casual fishing ‘trip’ with the family – there’s even a promenade for that. But if you guys have brought food, Punggol Park has a few designated picnic spots, too.

If the little ones have too much energy to expend, take them to the playground or head to the bicycle kiosk, which can be found at the north-western tip of the park. The route around the central pond may not be long and winding, but that makes it perfect for kids who are only starting to learn how to skate or ride.

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For budding gardeners
Photo: NParks
3/5

For budding gardeners

HortPark 

It may be the smallest on our list, but HortPark’s part of a larger collective of neighbouring parks. They’re known as the Southern Ridges, and the family can easily spend an entire day there parkhopping. What makes HortPark special is that it’s touted as a gardening resource centre and a treasure trove for those with green thumbs: it regularly organises activities, some specially for kids, held across its 21 gardens.

One event to look out for is the Gardeners’ Day Out. While parents shop at the bazaar, children can attend storytelling and arts-andcrafts sessions. The next Gardeners’ Day Out is on September 10, from 9am to 5pm, so save that date.

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Kent Ridge
For the good ol' days
4/5

For the good ol' days

Changi Beach Park

Changi Beach bears the unsavoury reputation of being the site of the Sook Ching massacre – but that’s a long time ago. Because the beach, one of the oldest in Singapore, is located so far away from the city centre that it has remained relatively undeveloped. And that’s a good thing.

Unlike East Coast Park, Changi Beach Park has a distinct kampong vibe. You’ll feel it the moment you sink your toes into the white sand. In fact, we daresay that this park is your best bet if you want to escape the weekend throngs. Rent bicycles for the family and hit the nearby Park Connectors, or book one of the 20 barbecue pits across the entire park – and since most people flock to its cousin on East Coast, it’s relatively easier to score one here.

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Changi 
For pint-sized hikers
Photo: Thilak Piyadigama
5/5

For pint-sized hikers

MacRitchie Reservoir Park

Given the number of trails found here, hiking is the main draw of this park. The 3.2-kilometre and 4.8-kilometre routes are the most popular among families – they’re not too exhausting but are still rugged enough for everyone to feel as though they’re in another country altogether.

If you’re up for bashing through vegetation, a Japanese Shinto shrine hidden within the park is worth a visit. The Syonan Jinja was built by the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII, but the same soldiers, in fear of its desecration, razed it to the ground after surrendering to the British. Today, only the foundations of the shrine and remnants of the bridge, submerged in water, leading to it remain. Getting to it requires a bit of work: hop on the Terentang Trail and, when the trail forks, follow the path marked by three large boulders.

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Central Water Catchment

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