From the futuristic designs of Gardens by the Bay to the natural climes of the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, here’s how you can explore Singapore’s hidden urban jungle.

Singapore has always surprised me. My first trip here taught me all about the city-state’s culinary prowess. Gorging on Char Kway Teow and Laksa amongst the Hawker stands of Chinatown and digging into Biryanis and Masalas in Little India introduced me to Singapore’s multicultural makeup. 

As I ate my way around Singapore, though, I was taken aback by the futuristic architecture and blinding modern skyline. The metropolis seemed to have consumed the nature around it, but on my second and third trips to the city, I discovered I couldn’t have been more wrong. Singapore may have come a long way from when Sir Stamford Raffles founded a lonely trading post on a rainforested island in 1819, but surprisingly, much of the jungle remains.

Wetland reserves, public parks and botanic gardens are hidden amongst apartment blocks and on holiday islands. Hotels and resorts prioritise the country’s unique biophilic designs, with an emphasis on sustainability and greenery. The government has even committed to planting One Million Trees by 2030 to turn Singapore into a ‘City in Nature’. In this article, I’ll show you the best places to visit to explore this urban jungle. Keep reading, to find out more.

1. Gardens by the Bay

Once you’ve checked into your holiday rentals in Singapore, make a beeline straight for the futuristic jungle of Gardens by the Bay. A modern landmark in Singapore’s Marina Bay area, Gardens by the Bay epitomises the city’s innovative blend of nature and technology. 

Spanning 101 hectares, this horticultural haven features the iconic Supertree Grove, where towering vertical gardens illuminate the night skyline. The Cloud Forest, with its indoor waterfall and misty, verdant mountain, offers a cool escape from the humidity, while also showcasing diverse plant species from southeast Asia’s highlands. 

Opened in 2012, Gardens by the Bay embodies Singapore’s vision of becoming a ‘City in Nature’. The park is not only a botanical delight but a unique example of sustainable urban development that reflects Singapore’s commitment to ecological innovation and urban greening.

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. Photo credit:

2. Singapore Botanic Gardens

The Singapore Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a historic, verdant sanctuary amidst the urban landscape. Established in 1859, the 82-hectare garden is home to a botanically rich collection of tropical flora from across the world. Central to its design is the National Orchid Garden, which boasts over 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids, including Singapore’s national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim.

The gardens are a hub for research and conservation, playing a crucial role in the study of tropical botany. The Rainforest Trail offers visitors an immersive experience through a preserved patch of ancient rainforest, while the Eco Lake and Swan Lake are both glorious spots to escape the city.

The Bandstand in Singapore Botanic Gardens. Photo credit:

3. The Southern Ridges

The Southern Ridges is a 10-kilometre network of green spaces and trails that seamlessly link several parks along Singapore’s southern ridge. This scenic corridor connects Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and Labrador Nature Reserve, offering spectacular views of the city, harbour and lush greenery.

A highlight of the Southern Ridges is the Henderson Waves. Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge is known for its undulating wave-like structure and striking architectural design. The Forest Walk, an elevated walkway, provides an immersive experience among the forest canopy, allowing visitors to appreciate the rich biodiversity of the city.

The Southern Ridges. Photo credit: Richard Collett

4. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is found in the northwestern part of Singapore, and it’s a vital sanctuary for the city’s biodiversity. Covering 202 hectares, the wetlands are a crucial stopover for migratory birds along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, attracting species such as the Whimbrel and Common Redshank.

The reserve’s extensive mangroves, mudflats, ponds and forests support a huge array of wildlife, including mudskippers, water monitors and otters. Boardwalks and observation posts allow visitors to observe the wildlife up close without disturbing their natural habitat. The reserve also offers educational trails and exhibits which highlight the importance of wetland conservation in Singapore.

An otter in the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in Singapore. Photo credit:

5. Fort Canning Park

Fort Canning Park is a historic hilltop landmark in Singapore. Situated in the heart of the city, this 18-hectare park has witnessed pivotal moments in Singapore’s history, from its days as a palatial abode for Malay kings to a strategic military base during colonial times. The park’s historical significance is evident in its many relics, including the Fort Gate and the nine-pound cannon.

Nature lovers can explore the Spice Garden, reminiscent of Singapore’s early botanical and agricultural experiments, and the ASEAN Sculpture Garden, featuring works from regional artists. The park’s lush trails and scenic lawns provide a tranquil escape from the urban sprawl, while its archaeological excavations offer a glimpse into the island’s past.

Fort Canning Park. Photo credit:

6. Sky Greens

Sky Greens is the world’s first ‘vertical farm’. Established in 2012, Sky Greens uses cutting-edge technology to address the challenges of limited land and the need for sustainable food production in densely populated urban areas like Singapore. A pioneering project, the farm features tiered, rotating towers up to nine metres high, optimising space and enabling the growth of leafy greens in a controlled environment.

This vertically integrated system utilises a hydraulic water-driven mechanism, which is energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. By minimising water and pesticide use, Sky Greens produces fresh, high-quality vegetables with a lower carbon footprint compared to traditional farming methods. It shows how urban areas can innovate to meet their food needs while reducing environmental impact. Travellers can sign up for a tour of Sky Greens to learn more.

Urban gardening. Photo credit:

7. Hampstead Wetlands Park

Hampstead Wetlands Park is located within the Seletar Aerospace Park in Singapore, showcasing the country’s dedication to integrating green spaces within urban developments. Spanning 3.23 hectares, this park is designed to mimic natural wetland ecosystems. 

Visitors can enjoy scenic walking trails, boardwalks, and observation points that offer close-up views of the park’s biodiversity. The carefully designed landscape features native wetland vegetation, contributing to the conservation of local ecosystems and enhancing the park’s ecological value within the urban environment. 

Read more: Exploring Singapore’s Sentosa Island

8. MacRitchie Reservoir Park

MacRitchie Reservoir Park is Singapore’s oldest reservoir. Completed in 1868, it is part of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, playing a crucial role in preserving both the city’s water supply and its unique Southeast Asian biome. 

The park is home to an extensive network of boardwalks and trails, including the popular 11-kilometre MacRitchie Nature Trail. The Treetop Walk, a 250-metre suspension bridge, provides awesome views of the forest canopy. 

A rainforest walk in Singapore. Photo credit:

9. The Lost Forts of Sentosa Island

Sentosa Island is today known for its theme parks and high-end resorts, but the island harbours a lesser-known historical past. Hidden amongst the jungle is a series of lost forts that once stood as sentinels, watching over the Straits of Melaka.

Fort Siloso, Fort Serapong and Fort Connaught were integral to Singapore’s coastal defence system during the British colonial era, but now they are largely overgrown by the rainforest. Fort Siloso, the most well-preserved, offers visitors an insightful glimpse into the island’s military past with its extensive collection of World War II memorabilia, tunnels, and coastal artillery. 

Fort Serapong and Fort Connaught, though less accessible and largely overgrown, still echo the island’s strategic importance, with remnants of gun emplacements and bunkers hidden amidst dense vegetation.

Abandoned Forts Sentosa Singapore
Overgrown forts in Singapore. Photo credit: Richard Collett

Read more: The Lost Forts of Singapore’s Sentosa Island

10. Sisters’ Islands Marine Park

Sisters’ Islands Marine Park spans approximately 40 hectares, encompassing the Sisters’ Islands and the western reefs of St John’s Island and Pulau Tekukor off the coast of Singapore. Established to protect and enhance Singapore’s marine biodiversity, the park is an underwater haven for marine life, including hard and soft corals, clownfish and giant clams.

The park is a hotspot for marine research and conservation, with efforts focused on habitat enhancement and species recovery. The intertidal areas, accessible during guided tours, provide a glimpse into the rich marine ecosystem, showcasing seagrasses, anemones, and starfish. Diving trails around the islands allow divers to explore coral reefs and observe marine life in its natural habitat. 

Read more: How Many Countries in Asia? Everything You Need to Know.

11. Changi Airport

Best of all, you can explore Singapore’s urban jungle while waiting for your flight home. Changi Airport is not only a global aviation hub, but a remarkable example of how to integrate nature within an urban setting.

The centrepiece of this urban jungle is the Jewel Changi, where you can find the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, the Rain Vortex, which is surrounded by a terraced forest called the Shiseido Forest Valley. 

Changi Airport’s terminals are also home to themed gardens. The Butterfly Garden in Terminal 3 is the world’s first airport butterfly garden, hosting over 1,000 tropical butterflies amidst flowering plants and a cascading waterfall. Terminal 2’s Sunflower Garden and the Cactus Garden, featuring over 100 species of cacti and arid plants, provide outdoor retreats with stunning airfield views.

The Rain Vortex in Changi Airport. Photo credit:

There you have it, Singapore’s hidden urban jungle! Where will you visit on your next trip to the Southeast Asian city?