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sungei buloh
Photograph: Ria Tan/Flickr

The best public parks for kids in Singapore

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

By Time Out Singapore editors
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Being out and about with kids can be hard work. You'll have your hands full keeping them well-fed, happy, not throwing a tantrum and occupied. Which is why parks in Singapore are great places to bring the young ones to. From picnics in a UNESCO World Heritage Site where they can run and tumble on spacious lawns to kayaking and exploring mangrove swamps along the Pasir Ris coastline, there are scores that public parks in Singapore can offer for the kids and the whole family.

RECOMMENDED: The best hidden parks in the city and the ultimate guide to Singapore's offshore islands 

For the ultimate park life experience

Things to do Marina Bay

Gardens by The Bay

Spanning 101 hectares, Gardens by the Bay definitely does not lack in play and leisure spaces for the kids and the whole family. There's plenty of open spaces and green lawns to set up your picnic mat, an amazing waterplay area for kids, flora and fauna to take in, the convenience of clean toilets, shops and eateries for snacks and beautiful trails and views within the park to see. What can we say? Gardens By The Bay is the ultimate park in Singapore. 

sungei buloh
Photograph: Ria Tan/Flickr

For some wildlife spotting

Things to do Lim Chu Kang

Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve

A great day out for both kids and adults, strap on your best walking shoes and trudge through the swamps of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Follow well-marked trails with defined footpaths (in case you're worried about the kids getting lost) and learn more about the flora and fauna that call this mangrove forest home. There is also a Junior Wetlands area if trekking the entire park is too overwhelming.

Weekly, volunteer-led tours – they regularly change – introduce the plants, birds, insects and other indigenous species found in this ASEAN Heritage Park (Singapore has two, the other being Bukit Timah Nature Reserve). Take a spot at observation hides or rent binoculars to bird-watch. You might be lucky to spot some monkeys, snakes and crocs swimming in the river. 

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For pint-sized hikers

Things to do Walks and tours Bukit Panjang

Hindhede Nature Park

If you're looking for a leisurely hike with the family, head to Hindhede Nature Park located next to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve which has easy trails and well-defined footpaths perfect for families, children and hiking beginners. Scenic and serene, it is also an excellent spot for wildlife watching as it is home to inhabitants like the banded woodpecker, clouded monitor lizard and plantain squirrel so it pays to keep your eyes open when taking a walk. The main highlight is the picturesque Hindhede Quarry which is located at the end of the park. 

clusia cove, lakeside garden
Photo: NParks

For fun and education

Things to do Jurong East

Lakeside Gardens

Lakeside Garden is specially landscaped and designed for families and the community to come together to play, learn and bond. The waterside park features many play areas for children – adults, feel free to join. Clusia Cove is a water playground where children can experience water movements that mimic tidal patterns, surface ripples and directional currents similar to those at actual coastal shores. Drawing inspiration from animals that live in the wild, the Forest Ramble playground offers many interesting play stations that let you see and feel what it is like to be an otter, crab, hero, frog and other creatures.  

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For a picnic day

Attractions Parks and gardens Tanglin

Singapore Botanical Gardens

This family-friendly spot was established in 1852 and are a tranquil respite from the city buzz. Pack a picnic with the fam and sit on the lawns by the magnificent swan lake where kids can run free and then feed the black Australian swans.

During weekends, tours to its rainforest patch are available, while outdoor concerts are often held at Symphony Lake. And with the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden, where children can run wild and explore the farm, orchard, and forest which has its own stream and ponds, this nature spot is family-friendly.

For water sports

Attractions Beaches Pasir Ris

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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Punggol Park
Photograph: Delfina Utomo

For a waterside jog in the heartlands

Things to do

Punggol Park

Clocking in at 5 hectares, Punggol Park’s pond is ideal for waterside jog with the family. 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 various play areas around the park 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.

HortPark
Photo: NParks

For budding gardeners

Things to do Kent Ridge

HortPark 

It may be the smallest on our list, but HortPark’s has many garden sections that will be a great learning experience for kids. Take them on a quick trip to the Balinese gardens, get them fascinated with the light-reflective plants at the Silver Garden or you can even make them work at the gardening resource centre. The centre is a treasure trove for those with green thumbs: it regularly organises activities, some specially for kids, held across its 21 gardens.

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For the good ol' days

Things to do Changi 

Changi Beach Park

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.

Hit up these other green spaces

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