As a thriving business hub that is home to nearly six million people, there seems to be a new building popping up seemingly every other month in the Lion City. However, despite its veneer as a densely packed concrete jungle, Singapore is actually home to plenty of green spaces, which is how it earned the moniker “The Garden City”. From futuristic city parks like Gardens by the Bay to wilder spots like MacRitchie Reservoir, the city-state offers myriad choices to enjoy a respite from the urban sprawl.
As part of a campaign between Ink and the Singapore Tourism Board centred on the theme of Strength, documentary photographer Mindy Tan takes us on a personalised tour of Singapore that you can watch here.
In this short video, Tan gets acquainted with some of the more characterful spots in Singapore such as the bird singing club at Kebun Baru and the durian stalls lining the streets of Geylang. She says, “During my four years living in Europe, my love for Singapore grew even stronger. When I returned, I made it my mission to capture as much of my country as I could.”
“I feel that committing our people and our traditions to photographs would be my way of preserving our strong history and culture,” Tan adds.
Feeling inspired to head outdoors and snap a few shots yourself? This photography-centric itinerary offers a few suggestions on where to go to capture the best of the Garden City.
Get an early start at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, a nature reserve located in the northwest of Singapore. Spread across 130 hectares, this sprawling reserve forms an important stopover point for a large variety of migratory birds, including some that fly from as far as Siberia to escape the winter months. Apart from spotting the different migratory bird species, see if you can catch sight the other wildlife that call Sungei Buloh home. From the resident family of smooth otters to even the occasional saltwater crocodile, the place is teeming with life, especially in the early hours of the morning when the weather is cooler and the animals are more active.
From Sungei Buloh, make your way the popular MacRitchie Trail, home to mischievous long-tailed macaques and other wildlife such as the Sunda Pangolin. While the TreeTop Walk is currently closed for maintenance works, you can still admire postcard-perfect views of the water while traipsing along the Chemperai Trail, which is built on mostly boardwalk. Do also make time to visit the less-crowded but no less beautiful Upper Peirce and Lower Peirce Reservoir Parks. Both offer plenty of picturesque views to add to your photo collection.
Get some respite from the hot midday sun by stopping for lunch at the famous Casuarina Curry. Fuel up on hearty Indian dishes such as prata and murtabak, and wash it all down with their signature Milo Dinosaur – a dessert-like drink where the chocolate malt powder is heaped atop a glass of icy cold Milo.
Before heading off for an afternoon of photo-taking, catch some shuteye and recharge your tired muscles with Ganbanyoku Hot Stone Therapy at Antioxidant Wellness, a spa located along Upper Thomson. The treatment involves lying on heated stone beds that naturally emit Far Infrared Rays (FIR) and negative ions, which is said to improve blood circulation and lower stress levels. Perfect for putting you in the right state of mind to get those creative juices flowing!
Make your way to the Unesco-listed Singapore Botanic Gardens, located on the fringe of Orchard Road. Founded in 1890, this grand old dame is an urban Eden, with towering trees and lush, verdant landscapes interspersed with tranquil ponds. Some of the best spots for nature photography in the labyrinthian park include the National Orchid Garden, which features more than 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids, as well as the Learning Forest, which consists of a series of boardwalks and elevated walkways.
Located about 15 minutes away by taxi, Mount Emily Park is another inner city green space that offers many beautiful photo ops. The park has a history that dates back to the early 1900s, and judging by the height and girth of some of the trees dotting the space, these gentle giants have been around for at least a hundred years too. With Mount Emily perched atop a small hill, this offers a great vantage point to watch the fast-changing colours in the sky as the sun sets.
Even as night falls, you can still catch some great shots at the photogenic Gardens by the Bay. With its futuristic supertree structures, towering vertical gardens and unique conservatories, this city park is easily one of the most photogenic places in Singapore. Be sure to check out the newly reopened OCBC Skyway, a 128m-long aerial walkway that offers mesmerising views of the Marina Bay area. The free light and sound show at Supertree Grove have also been reinstated – with a twist. Instead of the usual shows happening at 7.45pm and 8.45pm, the Supertree lights will be turned on to light background music continuously from 7pm to 10pm.
After, head over to the nearby Marina Bay Sands for a sumptuous meal at stellar establishments such as Adrift by David Myers, Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay and Cut from celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. After a long day of capturing the best of Singapore’s green spaces, go on and indulge in a sumptuous spread!
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.