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(Clockwise from left) Bukit Batok Nature Park, Punggol Park and Admiralty Park are some of the green spaces you can find in our 'hoods. Photos: (clockwise from left) Instagram/@chienderella06, @longadin and @kobedu

8 Parks To Explore In Singapore Besides The Botanic Gardens

Whoa, did you know that tiny Singapore actually has 300 parks and four nature reserves? Now that you do, get out of your air-conditioned cocoon and make a date with good ol' Mother Nature.

1. Toa Payoh Town Park

Built in the 1970s, this used to be the venue for wedding and convocation photos. These days, residents living in the area come here for their morning tai chi and foreign workers gather in the open spaces on weekends. Drop by and take retro photos on the Art Deco-ish bridges and try spotting one of 18 species of dragonflies and damselflies here. Then decide if you want to pop over to Toa Payoh Central or head to Balestier – the park is flanked by both areas.

2. Punggol Park

This huge 16-hectare park is like a centerpiece in the residential area, surrounded on all sides by towering HDB flats and condos alike, and accessible by a number of entry points, depending on where you live. And it was actually developed with a theme, “Family Leisure”. There are cycling tracks, exercise stations (we spotted quite a few hardcore workout enthusiasts here) and a five-hectare pond. When you get peckish, the dog-friendly Five&2 café within the park serves salted duck soup, laksa, spam fries and crab meat pasta.

3. Punggol Point Park

Not to be confused with Punggol Park, this one lies adjacent to the Punggol Jetty – formerly home to many seafood restaurants – and now boasts a promenade for pedestrians. The highlight: a more-than-3,000 sq ft ship-inspired deck where you can catch a view of Pulau Ubin and even the Straits of Johor.

4. Bukit Batok Nature Park

Located at Bukit Batok Hill, this was developed on an abandoned quarry site in the 1980s, the reason why you’ll still see a granite quarry here now. A World War Two memorial plaque lies beneath 120 steps that lead up to a transmission tower. Bird photography fans flock here to look for rare birds like the white-crested laughing thrush.

5. West Coast Park

This is so big – think 50 hectares of land – that it’s been billed as the play centre of the west. In the centre of the park is the Adventure Play Area with play zones for young children. There’s also a bicycle and go-kart rental kiosk where you can pick up a family-size go-kart for four.

6. Admiralty Park

Kidults have been known to indulge their inner child and head to the largest park in the north. The reason? It has a whopping 26 slides, more than any number you’ll ever find in any park in Singapore (or even anywhere else, we think). The playground is inclusive and caters to children with and without special needs. If you are more of a nature lover, get onto one of the many trails in the 20-hectare nature area and look out for more than 100 species of flora and fauna, including monkeys, birds and the rare Hedgehog Rattan – that’s a plant, by the way.

7. Sembawang Park

This park comes with a beach (one of the last remaining natural ones in Singapore!) and is a popular fishing venue for that reason. Restored pathways once used during the British occupation take you to the Sembawang jetty, the remains of the Seletar Pier and the Beaulieu House restaurant.

8. Pasir Ris Park

There’s quite a lot to do here. First, the three-storey Bird Watching Tower located in the mangrove forest lets you get up close and personal with the avian residents. Or just explore the Mangrove Boardwalk and the six-hectare mangrove forest. The best thing? Gallop Stable offers pony riding lessons for children aged three and above, and pony and bunny feeding sessions.

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