Singapore is a strange anomaly in Southeast Asia. Perhaps, indeed even the world. Where in other Asian cities you expect poor infrastructure, pollution hanging low in the sky and lots of tootling motorcycle horns, Singapore is happy to surprise.
It offers you spanking new shopping strips, an efficient metro network, and a commitment to eco-friendly civil engineering.
But perhaps most surprising of all is its number of quality public gardens and outdoor spaces. And it’s a welcome relief too because developed or not, I find those quiet escapes essential in today’s modern cities.
It’s even more enticing in a place like Singapore, where the temperatures hover in the 30s daily and the humidity can be suffocating.
Below are enclaves you can retreat to for some fresh air and shade. But they’re also a space you can refocus your mind and find a sense of peace in your hectic travel schedule. They also have the added advantage of all being fairly central.
Fort Canning 14th Century Walk
Fort Canning is conveniently located almost smack bang in the centre of the city, with the Singapore River right beside it and Raffles Hotel not too far away.
But although it’s not much talked about, it’s actually historically super significant to the city. Malay kings once lived here, in the 14th century, in abodes that are now nothing but a thin brick outline in the dirt. Later, it became the British Army Barracks.
Today, in its latest reincarnation, it’s a great park and fantastic cool spot to retreat to in the middle of the sweltering city, especially since it enjoys a (very slightly!) minor drop in temperature at the top.
There’s a great trail called the 14th Century Walk that takes you through the history of the area and through most of the park as well.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens are further out of town and definitely demand a trip on public transport unless you’re feeling in a bizarrely fit mood. But once you enter the serene gardens, your cares are bound to drop away.
Absolutely everybody will tell you to go to the Orchid Garden, which is indeed cool. But it’s also packed full of tourists who want to take photos of absolutely everything.
If you’re after a bit of P&Q away from the crowds, I highly recommend the Evolution Garden. There seemed to be no one there when I passed through this garden, yet I was amazed at the concept.
The Evolution Garden showcases life as it evolved on earth, replicating (to a degree) the types of plants that would have predominated on earth at various periods of our planet’s history.
Singapore River Walk
There’s nothing quite like a stroll along Singapore River at twilight to make you become whimsical about this city.
Singapore River is known for its lively quays, replete with bustling restaurants and bars, and some pretty impressive artwork. At dusk, you’ll share the footpaths with ambitious joggers, but otherwise, it’s pretty empty away from the main quays.
Gardens by the Bay
In terms of quiet retreats from the crowds, you’re probably not going to have much luck at Gardens by the Bay. But it would be an oversight not to mention Singapore’s most famous gardens.
Gardens by the Bay comprises 250 acres of reclaimed land, with most tourists gravitating towards the Cloud Forest, the Flower Dome and the Supertrees.
In their rush to get to these main sites, most tourists completely bypass the Heritage Gardens, which feature Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Colonial gardens and are a beautiful quiet spot amid all the hubbub.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Venturing away from our outdoors theme, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown is my final suggestion as a safe haven away from the crowds and cars.
Step inside this Buddhist temple and all outside noises, along with your cares, will drop away. Instead, you’ll find monks chanting in unison, walls adorned with golden statues, and a rooftop garden, of course.
Just make sure you come appropriately attired – long pants and t-shirts with sleeves for girls.
About The Author
Amanda Bensted is a solo travelista who writes on the ARoamerTherapy travel blog about the realities of travel – including unfiltered travel stories, and advice for your wellbeing while on the road.