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THE BACKPACKSTERS

Park-hopping in Singapore

Besides Universal Studios and Sentosa, Singapore is very popular for its nature parks and zoos with nearly 1.7 million people visiting each year!

 

The conservation projects at the parks in Singapore are quite inspiring!

 

At present there are 4 beautiful zoological parks in the city that host different species of birds and animals, including some creatures whose existence is threatened in our world! We take you through the highlights of these parks, so you can plan your own visit!

 

1. Jurong Bird Park:

 

Located on the southern side of the country, this park is all about our feathery friends! It is a free-flight aviary with open spaces and large enclosures and has been built very aesthetically. The Jurong Bord Park is supposedly home to about 5,000 birds ranging from the common-sighted to the rare. The park has live shows at the amphitheatre every day and its quite interactive too, with birds flying from behind the crowds on to the stage and even across from one end of the theatre to the other! Some of the popular spots at Jurong Bird Park include the sections for Hornbills, the Lory Loft, Birds of Prey, the descendants of Dinosaurs, Parrot Paradise and the Flamingo lake. And the ones you must NOT miss are the Waterfall Aviary, the Penguin Coast and the Wings of Asia.

 

The park is home to an incredible and diverse set of birds

 

The Waterfall Aviary is a very large walk-in aviary, created with an African theme around the second tallest man made waterfalls, the Jurong Falls. There are many species of birds inside flying around, hiding in the bushes, feasting on their lunches and even walking around the visitors at the cafe. Don't be surprised to find a peacock standing next to you when you are busy photographing other birds!

 

The Jurong Falls, man-made yet marvellous

 

The Penguin Coast is right after passing through the visitors' entrance. It has different penguin species swimming in their temperature controlled enclosures. One open section of this hosts a group of African Penguins (which are the only penguins that have adapted to warmer temperatures) - visitors can see them eating, swimming and even posing for photographs!

 

African Penguins in their tropical-themed home

 

The most impressive "Wings of Asia" aviary is spectacular! It has been created with a tropical rainforest theme including simulations of a thunderstorm at noon everyday. The scenery inside is quite enchanting and its no wonder that the birds living here feel at home. A small waterfall, running water, little ponds and thick foliage characterise this overwhelmingly beautiful bird house.

 

The waterfalls inside the scenic "Wings of Asia" Aviary

 

Things to keep in mind:

  • The entry ticket costs SGD 29 (~INR 1,450 considering an exchange rate of SGD 1: INR 50) and the park operates between 8:30 am and 6 pm. There are discounted tickets for kids and senior citizens (residents) and special discounts if you buy online.
  • There is also a PARKHOPPER pass that you can buy, to use across the 4 parks in Singapore (read about it at the end of this article)
  • "Birdz of Play" is a special kids' zone where children can indulge in water games! So don't forget to pack in some swimwear for them.
  • The best way to cover the park is on foot, but that requires ample time and stamina as the park is quite big! The most effortless way of doing it to take the tram service which stops at 4 stations near the large attractions - use this as a hop-on-hop-off service so that you can cover more in lesser time, comfortably! We did a combination of using the tram and walking and feel that, thats the best way to do it.
  • There are many restaurants and cafes (and Pizza Hut) inside, so there's no problem if you are hungry.
  • The park is very beautiful - spend at least 2.5 to 3 hours here for the best experience - its something you will reminisce often! 
  • Getting there is easy - Take the MRT to the Boon Lay station from where you can walk it, alternatively take a cab - its a little outside from the city centre.

 

 

2. Singapore Zoo:

 

The Singapore Zoo is actually quite popular with most visitors to the country. The zoo is characterised by a surreal rainforest theme, that stretches further into the Upper Seletar Reservoir, the main rain catchment area of Singapore. The neighbouring River Safari and Night Safari parks were also created with similar themes. The Zoo is home to about 2,500 animals like Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Hippos, Giraffes, Zebras, Sun Bears, Komodo Dragons (wow) , Lemurs, Orangutans, Warthogs (yes, Pumba!) and Kangaroos. Of course, there are many more special creatures - don't miss visiting the Polar Bear!

 

The Rhinos by the Seletar Reservoir

 

Our personal favourite was the Fragile Forest - a protected enclosure, home to some sensitive creatures like the Ring Tailed Lemur, Flying Foxes and Bats. The best part is that you can actually walk into the enclosure and be surrounded by these creatures, some of which are actually quite interactive and even sit very close to you while they munch on fruits and berries!

 

The Ring Tailed Lemur posing for some photos!

 

Things to keep in mind:

  • The entry ticket costs SGD 33 (~INR 1,650) and the park operates between 8:30 am and 6 pm. There are discounted tickets for kids and senior citizens (residents) and special discounts if you buy online.
  • There is also a PARKHOPPER pass that you can buy, to use across the 4 parks in Singapore (read about it at the end of this article)
  • "Rainforest Kidzworld" is a special kids' zone where children can play many games and interact with rabbits and ponies. There is also one wetzone here for water games, for kids.
  • There is a large food court at the entrance of the Zoo and there are so many restaurants and cafes inside the park.
  • The tram covers a route that winds along most of the enclosures, but we suggest you skip the tram here - its actually too fast for enjoying the sights and before you finishing looking at the first enclosure, it seems like you have missed the next one already.
  • Spend about 2 hours here for the best experience - give more time at the enclosures like Wild Africa and the Ethiopian Rift Valley, as the animals are not frequently viewed in most zoos.
  • Getting there is easy - Take the MRT to the Khatib station (NS14) and there is an express shuttle service to Mandai Parks (for SGD 1 or INR 50) - it takes 15 minutes from the MRT station.

 

 

3. River Safari:

 

With over 6,000 land and aquatic animals across 200 species, the park has been built with a theme comprising eight major rivers of the world: Congo, Nile, Ganga, Mary, Mekong, Yangtze, Amazon and the Mississippi. 

Each river theme hosts a collection of native riverine species such as the African Dwarf Crocodile and the Tiger Fish (Congo), Alligator Snapping Turtle and Gar (Mississippi), Giant Puffer Fishes and the Nile Crocodile (Nile), the Indian Gharial and the Goonch Catfish (Ganges), Australian Lungfish and the Mudskipper (Mary), Crab-eating Macaque and the Giant Catfish (Mekong), Chinese Giant Salamander (Yangtze). The giant aquariums are surely impressive with towering glass walls behind which we can gawk at the Manta Rays and Sharks swimming.

 

Manta Rays inside the aquarium

 

The most adorable part of the River Safari is the Panda enclosure! There are two Giant Pandas, which live in a bio-dome regulated at 16 degrees Celsius and visitors get to walk amongst KaiKai and JiaJia.

 

Kai Kai inside the Giant Panda enclosure

 

The 15 minute Reservoir Cruise takes visitors through the Upper Seletar Reservoir, whilst showcasing animals from the Zoo from a different perspective. You might find it a little un-enthusing, but after a long day of walking around, a peaceful river cruise is always nice! The Amazon River Quest, on the other hand, is something you should not miss! The Squirrel Monkey Forest and the Amazon Flooded Forest are other interesting sights in the park - you will find these as you exit from the Amazon River Quest. 

 

The handsome Emperor Tamarin, a monkey species

 

There is also a "River Trails" show twice a day.

 

Things to keep in mind:

  • The entry ticket costs SGD 35 (~INR 1,750) and the park operates between 10 am and 7 pm. There are discounted tickets for kids and senior citizens (residents) and special discounts if you buy online.
  • There is also a PARKHOPPER pass that you can buy, to use across the 4 parks in Singapore (read about it at the end of this article)
  • There is a large food court at the entrance of the Zoo and the River Safari.
  • The walking trails at the River Safari are quite long, but is not strenuous. There is no tram service, like in the other parks.
  • There are many restaurants and cafes (and Starbucks) inside, so there's no problem if you get hungry.
  • The park is big - spend at least 2.5 to 3 hours here for the best experience - skip the Reservoir Cruise (its not worth the giant queues)! Don’t miss the Amazon River Quest (both need separate tickets).
  • Getting there is easy - Take the MRT to the Khatib station (NS14) and there is an express shuttle service to Mandai Parks (for SGD 1 or INR 50) - it takes 15 minutes from the MRT station.

 

 

4. Night Safari:

 

Opening only by 7 pm every night, the Night Safari adds a wonderful twist to the experience of visiting a zoo! It showcases nocturnal animals and birds, ranging from owls and bats to lesser seen creatures like the Giant Flying Squirrel, Binturongs, Mousedeers and the Slow Loris.

 

The Spotted Hyena coming out of its enclosure at dusk

 

But the highlight of the Night Safari is the Creatures of the Night show that is hosted four times every evening starting from 7:30 pm. The show features many nocturnal creatures, as they come out with their trainers as they interact with the curios audience. Some lucky visitors even get to go up on stage and join the performance!

 

Can you spot the Fennec Fox?

 

Normally, most visitors prefer to take the tram here, as it has a very good reach, and passes through almost all the important sections of the park, without you having to get off - we recommend doing this, especially since its very likely that you will be exhausted from park-hopping all day long (or even if you have done other sightseeing activities). 

 

 

Things to keep in mind:

  • The entry ticket costs SGD 45 (~INR 2,250) and the park operates between 7:30 pm and 12 am. There are discounted tickets for kids and senior citizens (residents) and special discounts if you buy online.
  • There is also a PARKHOPPER pass that you can buy, to use across the 4 parks in Singapore (read about it at the end of this article)
  • There is a large food court at the entrance of the Night Safari, and you can even buy souvenirs here.
  • The tram service is very good, but the queues are normally quite long - don't worry, they actually move quite fast!
  • There are many restaurants and cafes at the Entrance Courtyard, so there's no problem if you get hungry. 
  • The park seems a lot bigger than it is, since the tram takes a very detailed route winding continuously through out - plan to spend about 2 hours here for an immersive experience!
  • Getting there is easy - Take the MRT to the Khatib station (NS14) and there is an express shuttle service to Mandai Parks (for SGD 1 or INR 50) - it takes 15 minutes from the MRT station.
  • The queues for the Creatures of the Night show can be very very long - but don't worry, you will most definitely find a seat in the amphitheatre. We suggest buying tickets for the 7:30 pm show (the first one) and head straight to the Amphitheatre and get in the queue. Once you finish there, head back to the tram station and begin the night-ride through the park.

 

Now, the Jurong Bird Park is the only park of the three that is presently in a different location, but come 2020, the park will be moving into Mandai Lake that is home to the Zoo, River Safari and the Night Safari (another large Rainforest is also expected to come up there by then). There are buses/minivans that operate from Jurong Bird Park to Mandai Lake parks (and back) to ferry Park-hoppers for SGD 6 (INR 300), it is more convenient than the MRT and cheaper than Ubers too. 

The cost of visiting all the 4 parks, buying tickets at each individual counter comes up to SGD 142 (INR 7,100). A PARK-HOPPER pass costs SGD 78 (INR 3,900) and you can enter all 4 parks easily. A Park-Hopper Plus Pass (SGD 88) includes some additional benefits like tram rides and the river cruises as well. We would recommend taking the latter, since you will definitely need the tram rides!

You can always buy tickets online - there are many websites like Klook.com and even WRS (the official site of the Wildlife Reserves department that manages the 4 parks), that sell discounted tickets, so make sure to scout around online, before actually buying the tickets - you can save a lot of money! For those who want to visit many places in the city and avail entry to multiple attractions, you can get an all-day pass like the HippoPass. This is what we did and we saved some good money, considering we visited most of the major attractions in the city. They even offer a hop-on-hop-off city bus service that you can use instead of other transport means!

Carrying a water bottle is very helpful since you will find water-spouts everywhere and you can refill your own container instead of buying use-and-throw plastic bottles. We walked about 8 kms in the hot weather (in the 4 parks) - by noon it can get very exhausting because of the heat and the humidity, so don't forget to pack your sunscreen and hats.

The parks are equipped with endless free WiFi for all guests. Visitor centres provide free maps of the parks that you can use to plan your visit!

 

Can I visit all parks in one day?

Yes! It is definitely possible to see all 4 parks in one day - we did just that.

Starting off with Jurong Bird Park at 8:30 am, we spent a good 3 hours (we had breakfast at Hawk Cafe); later, we headed over to the Zoo by noon (we took the private park-transfers on the spot at Jurong Bird Park for SGD 6 per passenger).

We had lunch at the food court and an hour later, we entered the Zoo. By 4 pm we came out of the Zoo and entered the River Safari, right next door and spent about 2 hours there (including the cruise and Amazon River Quest).

We bought tickets for the 7:30 pm show at the Night Safari (it was about 20 minutes long) and then we rode the tram to explore the place.

 

We had effectively walked 8 kms that day and it was a little tiring - so we would only suggest this if you don't have enough time in Singapore and would not mind walking all day - but older visitors might not enjoy it. You can even choose to do it over two separate days, combining it with other itineraries. 

 

How did you do your Park-Hop? Tell us about it! 

 

 

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