Not Your Usual Staycation: The Call Of Nature In Kranji
Rushing to work every day surrounded by HDBs and skyscrapers, you’d be forgiven for not knowing that Singapore is home to sprawling farmlands. In fact, there are over 100 farms in the Kranji “countryside”, with a number of them open to the public. In addition, Kranji has a beautiful reservoir park, hiking trails, and restaurants offering the freshest ingredients straight from their backyard.
Whether you’re up for a farm hopping daycation or planning to spend the weekend in a more pastoral (ok, kampung) way, it’s time to step away from the hustle and bustle of urban Singapore, and rest and recharge in the great outdoors!
WHERE TO STAY
If it weren’t for the Singapore national flags around the resort, I’d be fooled into thinking that Gallop Kranji Farm Resort was in a kampung in Malaysia. This pet-friendly resort (yes, they even allow big dogs too!) has 35 villas and a host of farm-based activities to keep everyone in the family entertained.
Kids will like the pony rides, koi feeding, prawning, goat milking and farm tours at the resort, while you get to chill and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere.
Accommodation options start from the Standard or Superior Villa, all the way up to the Executive Villa and Family Suite. The Executive Villa comes with a jacuzzi and steam room (closed temporarily, check with the resort) for you to get rid of those year-end Japan onsen trip withdrawal symptoms, while the Family Suite is a spacious home with four Queen beds, a kitchen and even a BBQ Pit to host a party away from the city.
Reviews are really mixed – I recommend you stay for a night first and see how it goes. Call Gallop Kranji Farm Resort at 6898 9228 for room availability and prices. The online booking system is more of an enquiry form, so you’ll have better luck calling them directly.
WHAT TO DO
Unless you own a car, going farm hopping in Kranji can be a challenge. Thankfully, the Kranji Countryside Association has a private bus shuttle service that starts and ends at Kranji MRT. It only costs S$3 for the whole day and takes you to all the places we’ve listed below.
Otherwise, buses 925 (between Woodlands and Choa Chu Kang bus interchange) and 975 (from Bukit Panjang bus interchange) are what you need to look for to begin your farm hopping experience.
Early risers should go to the Kranji Resevoir Park to get a breathtaking view of the sunrise. This idyllic chill spot is also great for picnics. For Malaysians who miss home, you get a clear view of Johor Bahru city only 1km from the water’s edge (but please don’t geh kiang and swim over).
This is also the spot where the Japanese first invaded Singapore, dubbed the Kranji Beach Battle site. A commemorative plaque at the park will tell you everything you need to know about the Battle of Kranji during World War II.
Don’t stay too long here, because you don’t want to miss the goat milking experience at Hay Dairies from 9am to 11am. Plus, you can also bring the milk home! There are more than 800 mixed breed goats here from Minnesota, USA.
Many say that the milk here tastes better than anything you can buy off NTUC supermarket shelves. Take home either the 200ml or 800ml bottles in original or chocolate flavour. Remember to give them a call beforehand to book a farm visit.
The next place you’ll want to visit is Bollywood Veggies. This farm is operated sustainably without the use of fertilisers or pesticides. Book one of their guided farm tours or take up a culinary class; then buy some seasonal produce from the Earth Shop to bring home for dinner. Speaking of food, you can grab lunch at the Poison Ivy Bistro at Bollywood Veggies – more on that below.
If your kids are tagging along for the journey, they are going to have a blast at the Jurong Frog Farm as long as they aren’t squeamish about it. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities available to learn about these amphibians. Since it’s a frog farm, you can buy fresh frog meat to take home too. Now you can try and replicate the famous Geylang Dried Chilli Frog Legs in your own kitchen.
Or try the cereal frogs recipe by MasterChef Singapore runner-up Gen Lee in this episode of our makan series, “Surprise Supplies”.
Apart from farms, Kranji has plenty of nature trails to explore. The Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is Singapore’s first ASEAN heritage park (the other being Bukit Timah Nature Reserve) and it’s pretty big – you’re going to need half a day just to explore the entire area.
It’s a birdwatcher’s paradise - one may even spot hornbills! Otters, crabs and shellfish also call this mangrove forest their home. The park is well-maintained with picture guides and explanations, but don’t forget to wear the right gear when you’re following the nature trails. A guided tour is the best way to learn about everything there is to see here.
If you don’t have much time on your hands but still want to immerse yourself in Mother Nature, then check out the Kranji Marshes. This area is home to 170 species of birds, 54 species of butterflies, and 33 species of dragonflies. Stay on the trails and boardwalks, and look out for the Raptor tower to get a panoramic view of the entire area.
History buffs (or those who aren’t scared of cemeteries) should visit the Memorial Park. It’s sort of serene observing the 4,000 white gravestones neatly arranged along the hillside.
Also in the area is a memorial stone designed by Sir Edwin Luytens, and a huge Singapore Memorial bearing the names of 25,000 soldiers who lost their lives in wars. You can find the tombs of the first two Presidents of Singapore here as well.
Before you make your way back to civilisation, how about satisfying your inner Need for Speed? Nearby Kranji MRT and next to the Singapore Turf Club is the KF1 Karting Circuit.
With 30 km/h carts for beginners going at S$35 for peak hours S$28 for non-peak hours, you can race to your heart’s content around a track designed by Hermann Tilke, an F1 track designer.
Take note that there’s a queue system in place between the different kart types so that everyone gets a chance to race.
Last but not least, the Singapore Zoo and River Safari are also easily accessible via Kranji MRT if you’re looking to have a fun-packed day with the fam.
WHERE TO EAT
With so many farms in Kranji, you’re sure to get the freshest food served farm to table. Bistro by Gardenasia is one of them – all their ingredients are sourced from Singapore farms. Their dishes are a modern take on our favourite hawker fare. We recommend their ribeye hor fun, wild mushroom fried rice, and pasta mee goreng. Before you leave, be sure to grab some locally grown and freshly harvested veggies from the Local Farm Grocer here.
Another spot for an authentic Kranji farm-to-table experience is at the Poison Ivy Bistro in Bollywood Veggies. After you’re done with your farm tour, sit down for a meal proudly served using ingredients grown on their farm, no fertilisers or pesticides used. Their rendition of the nasi lemak is a big hit here, but you won’t go wrong with their otah omelette, Bolly wings, and the Bollywood 3-in-1 for dessert.
Once you’re done farm hopping, head to the Owen Seafood Restaurant at the Singapore Turf Club for dinner. Football fans will recognise that the establishment’s logo looks familiar to a certain team that “never walks alone”. Order the garlic bamboo clams, plus your favourite fish, prawns, or oysters in the style of your choice, and enjoy the fresh air in their alfresco seating.
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