Our city never sleeps – scores after scores of new HDB flats, new hotels, and new malls have sprung up over the past few months, with the latest being the retail mammoth that is Jewel Changi. It might appear that our Garden City is morphing into more of a concrete jungle than it already is.
But that’s not entirely true, because much has been done to preserve our existing green spaces and create new ones.
Opened on 27th April 2019 after 7 long years of work is Lakeside Garden – the first section under the umbrella of Jurong Lake Gardens, which will join Botanic Gardens and GBTB as the third National Garden in Singapore. We trooped off to the heartlands of the West and braved the sun to uncover the best of this sprawling nature haven:
Say hello to the next pre-wedding photography hotspot of 2019 and beyond: The Grasslands. This mildly hilly area is covered in a sea of lalang and tall grass tufts, making the perfect dreamy backdrop for couple portraits. It’s an enormous stretch of land, so don’t worry about having to fight for space with other lovebirds.
Seletar Reservoir’s “Instagram tree” has gotten passé, and Punggol’s has since been rendered dead and removed after a lighting strike (R.I.P.). But the Grasslands has a striking Lone Tree that will soon be worming its way into everyone’s photos.
Save for a few HDB blocks peeking out from behind the surrounding greenery, the scene of this tree perched majestically amidst the lalang is reminiscent of an African savannah. Well, our scorching weather certainly adds to that atmosphere so you might want to slather on some sunblock.
Spoiler: The Lone Tree is not actually a living organism, but a huge sculpture made of recycled iron parts – which explains why it has a deeper russet brown hue compared to the other trees around it. If anything, at least this stately metal tree won’t be subject to the mercy of nature conditions, and will hopefully stand strong for many years to come.
You’ll also want to pop by A Bridge Between Habitats, a dome-shaped structure for birdwatching from without scaring off our feathered friends.
Note: Try to work your way through the empty patches of dirt in between the lalang instead of trodding straight on it. This will help prolong the lalang’s life so that we’ll all be able to enjoy it for a longer time.
Hop along or simply sit down and relax on the Logs Trail, a cluster of wooden stumps made from old Rain Trees and Senegal Mahoganies. Don’t be alarmed if you find toadstools and other types of fungi growing on the sides of the logs – it’s normal, particularly during the wet season.
The slightly uneven, neutral-coloured surface of the logs looks great in pictures, especially from a high angle.
Peel your kids from their screens and let them go wild at Forest Ramble, which consists of 13 play zones named after freshwater swamp animals based on their movement characteristics.
Slither down a giant slide like a snake, zoom down a zipline like a heron in flight, or bounce on trampolines like a frog jumping across lily pads.
It’s heartening to know that Forest Ramble is all-inclusive, with wheelchair-friendly structures that include a swing and merry-go-round.
You’d wanna come prepared with a towel, swimsuit, or at least a change of clothes for your little ones. Clusia Cove has a shallow water play area with real sand, so things are gonna get messy!
The pool comes with water gates which kids can operate to learn about the flow of water. Rest assured that for hygiene purposes, shoes aren’t allowed in the pool.
Not to worry, parents – there are toilets with shower facilities nearby so you won’t have to drive home with a car full of sand.
Coming in from the entrance near Lakeside MRT, one of the first features you’ll be met with is a boardwalk that stretches out to Jurong Lake.
Here, you’ll be able to get closer to nature and if lucky, you might come across wildlife like hornbills and otters. We happened to spot a water monitor lizard swimming while there.
Towards the other end of the park is Rasau Walk, a striking red boardwalk winding along the water’s edge, which gives you more opportunities for animal spotting.
For some fun in the sun, embark on a kayaking, pedal boating, or dragon boating adventure at Passion WaVe @ Jurong Lake Gardens, with the Chinese Garden’s serene pagodas in the background.
Opening hours: Tue-Fri: 9AM-6PM | Sat-Sun: 8AM-6PM (Closed on Mondays)
Exploring the gardens is going to get you all sweat-drenched, but do resist the urge to jump into the lake – save it for the ActiveSG Park @ Jurong Lake Gardens instead. They’ve got a large lap pool to cool off in, along with a fitness corner, small playground, and a gym.
Opening hours: 7AM-10PM, Daily
Lakeside Garden might be a bit of a travel for those who don’t live in the West, but that’s no excuse – it takes only 1.5 hours max to make your way from one end of Singapore to the other via public transport. And take our word when we say you’ll be majorly missing out if you pass up on the ravishing naturescape here.
In fact, despite Lakeside Garden being located in the heartlands, we deem it worthy of bringing our foreign friends to for a dose of tropical nature after mandatory tourist spots like Sentosa and the best bars in town have been covered.
This park is just one portion of the vast Jurong Lake Gardens, and we must say we’re pretty darn impressed. The other sections of the garden – namely Garden Promenade and the renovated Chinese & Japanese Gardens – will be rolled out from 2021, and we can’t wait to see what else is in store!
Address: Yuan Ching Road, Singapore
Opening hours: 24/7
Nearest MRT: Lakeside (5-minute walk)
Photography by Pichan Cruz
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