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Coney Island
Photograph: Delfina Utomo Coney Island

The best secret and hidden parks in Singapore

You love the great outdoors but have you dropped by one these secret green pockets in Singapore? We explore hidden parks around the island

By Delfina Utomo
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Besides impressive skyscrapers, the 'city life' and air-conditioned shopping malls, there's also plenty of other things in Singapore to celebrate. We're thinking of something more green, closer to the ground – and sans aircon. While we've got hiking trails, farms and beautiful parks at every corner, there are also hidden pockets of green everywhere – including within the bustling city. If you know where to look, there’s always space to take a breather wherever you may be. 

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OUE Downtown
Photograph: SHMA Designs

OUE Downtown 2

Property Raffles Place

Shenton Way is full of office buildings – and OUE Downtown 2 is one of them but take a walk around and you will find many retail shops and hip eateries in the building. One of the best areas in the building is the outdoor garden on the fourth floor. The soothing fountain and lush plants and trees make you forget that you're in the middle of the CBD.

Rower's Bay Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

Rower's Bay Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Yishun

Rower's Bay Park at Lower Seletar Reservoir is named for the reservoir's popularity with kayaking and dragon-boating enthusiasts. But for now, the park is one of the best secret nature spots in the Northeast. Walk on the park's boardwalk for some great waterside views. The wetlands surrounding the boardwalk are filled with plant species that attracts and provides a habitat for native wildlife in the area – look out for the grey heron and copper-cheeked frog. 

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Telok Ayer Green
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

Telok Ayer Green

Things to do Tanjong Pagar

Sandwiched between two national monuments, the Thian Hock Keng temple and Nagore Durgha Shrine, Telok Ayer Green sits hidden from the usually busy main streets. Telok Ayer used to be the landing site for immigrants in Singapore and the park is also designed after the original shoreline. You'll find some sculptures in the park which pay tribute to its history like a sampan used to carry goods, a Chinese lantern procession and an Indian milk trader. 

Duxton Plain Park
Photograph: Delfina Utomo

Duxton Plain Park

Things to do Walks and tours

Known for its buzzy eateries and bars, there's never a quiet or boring day in the Duxton and Keong Saik precinct. If you do need some respite, Duxton Plain Park is a narrow but lush park, flanked by shophouses. There are plenty of benches in the shaded areas where you can sit and watch pigeons or the see the black stray cat who lives in the area basking lazily in the sun. There is also a mysterious and solitary Muslim tomb in the area which is believed to hold special powers. 

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Jurong Eco Garden
Photograph: Danny Ye/Shutterstock

Jurong Eco Garden

Attractions Parks and gardens Jurong West

Hidden in the industrial CleanTech Park in Jurong is a tranquil eco-garden. The five-hectare park covers over four main zones – the Summit Forest, the Wildlife Corridor, the Stream Ravine and the Freshwater Swamp Forest. The eco-garden is also home to plenty of flora and fauna like several butterfly species, birds, and dragonflies.

Hampstead Wetlands Park
Photograph: Delfina Utomo

Hampstead Wetlands Park

Things to do Seletar

While The Oval is bustling with the brunch crowd, next to it is the tranquil Hampstead Wetlands Park. Though just a small pocket of green in the somewhat industrial area, the former marshland area has seen been spruced up so that it looks like a lush English garden with a pond – complete with lily pads – now. Though there are observatory decks and railings (so you don't fall over!), the area has retained its rustic element and is not as 'polished' as other parks. There is a short trail loop you can take which will take you through the forested area and by the waterside. You can easily explore the place under 30 minutes but keep the peace – it's a favourite haunt for birdwatchers in Singapore. 

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Ann Siang Hill Park
Photo: Delfina Utomo

Ann Siang Hill Park

Things to do Tanjong Pagar

The Ann Siang area is known for its great restaurants and heritage shophouses that warrant a picture for the 'gram but stick around a little and take a little detour from the street and you'll find a lush spot of respite. Who knew that between buildings and offices, there's enough space for a pretty park as well as different tree species, in particular, the tamarind, cinnamon, nutmeg and breadfruit trees. 

National Gallery of Singapore
Photo: Fernando Javier Urquijo

National Gallery Singapore

Art City Hall

Yes, it is an austere-looking building that houses a whole lot of important Southeast Asian art but the rooftop of the National Gallery of Singapore is one of the most tranquil places in town you can find. With foliage walls, a reflecting pool, benches and one of the best views of the city, this is a good spot to get some respite in your free time.

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Orchard Central Rooftop
Photo: Karen/Flickr

Orchard Central

Shopping Shopping centres Orchard

Who knew you'd find a peaceful pocket of green on the rooftop of a busy mall in one of Singapore's busiest streets? Come take a breather at this park high above the crowd and you'll also find some quirky sculptures by none other than Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese doyenne of visual art herself. 

Pearl's Hill City Park
Photo: NParks

Pearl's Hill City Park

Things to do Chinatown

Built around a reservoir on top of Pearl’s Hill Terrace, this park is quite the hidden spot in the city. Take a short stroll from Outram Park MRT Station and with a little trek, you're on top of a hill where you can relax in the wooded ambience, feed the terrapins in the pond, spot the occasional squirrel, or continue your jog. 

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The Learning Forest
Photo: Delfina Utomo

The Learning Forest

Things to do Tanglin

Located in the Botanic Gardens, the Learning Forest was designed to integrate with the existing 6-hectare rainforest to form an enlarged forest habitat. Unlike the rest of the Botanic Gardens, the Learning Forest is a little more rustic and sprawling, segmented into different areas like the bamboo garden, an arboretum of wild fruit trees, and wetland ecosystems for curious sorts to explore, discover and like its namesake, to learn about Singapore’s rainforests.

Tampines Eco Green
Photo: Jnzl/Flickr

Tampines Eco Green

Things to do Tampines

It's one of those parks that don't seem so special at first untill you continue to walk further in. Walk along the Pasir Ris park connector towards Tampines and you’ll come across sprawling greenery formed by open grasslands, freshwater wetlands and a secondary rainforest – you’d never guess they wrap around one of the most populous neighbourhoods in Singapore. 

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Coney Island
Photograph: Delfina Utomo

Coney Island

Things to do Punggol

Though located on an island, no ferries are required to get to this park. This ecologically sustainable park uses timber from fallen trees for all the signage in the park, benches and the boardwalk over the mangrove swamp. Everything on the island is kept rustic and so expect hidden beaches and some wildlife out and about like macaques and snakes.

More parks to visit

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