Tampines Eco Green is a 36-hectare park in Singapore’s east, boasting grasslands, freshwater wetlands and secondary rainforest — right in the midst of a high-rise, high-density township. As part of Tampines Park Connector, the park is linked from Bedok Resovoir Park to Sun Plaza Park, then to Pasir Ris Town Park and finally to Pasir Ris Park on the north coast. All up it’s about a seven-kilometre walk.
Located at the fringe of Tampines and Pasir Ris townships, if you’re not getting to Tampines Eco Green by taxi, you’ll have to take a bus or train to Tampines and walk through Sun Plaza Park, or to Pasir Ris and walk through Pasir Ris Town Park. The Eco Green will seem a totally different world; it’s where the wild things are.
The park was developed with minimal intrusion, leaving most of the original landscape and plants untouched — even dead trees, as they are important nesting sites for several species of birds. Other bird- and butterfly-attracting trees and grasses have been introduced. What makes this park special is that the trails are neither gravel nor paved, but grass, which means no bikes are allowed. Cyclists will need to push or park their bike at the stands near the main entrance.
The Eco Green is well designed with recycled materials for signage, benches and bird hides. Unfortunately, many of the signs explaining the biodiversity are faded and are difficult to read and all but one of the QR codes, which your mobile can scan to provide you with additional information about the park, lead to dead links.
However, it’s impossible to get lost here, given the way the wetlands are in the centre, with trails along the circumference of the park. Two main trails intersect each other: a marsh trail, which runs alongside the swamp, and a forest trail. Both take less than an hour to complete. Be brave and check out the vibrant ecosystem that lies within the dank area of any one of the ’snags’, or dead tree trunks.
Whether you see the wilder fauna, including hunting birds such as the white-bellied sea eagle or brahminy kite really just depends on your luck, but you’ll definitely get to see several species of butterflies, dragonflies, bumble bees, and pretty flora. Tampines Eco Green boasts Singapore’s record number of spider species, with 32 recorded. Arachnophobes fear not, we didn’t see a single one.
From any point within the park one can see beyond to some of Singapore’s public housing estates. At peak hours, such as in the evenings, you’ll see many retiree joggers — the 4.4 kilometre trail is a great distance for a daily run and the grassy paths are gentle on the knees. Going too late is not advised because there’s no lighting within the park. If nature calls, try out the eco-toilet, a waterless, chemical-free system that turns human waste into organic compost. Tampines Eco Green is a smoke free park. Don’t forget a hat and mozzie repellant.
Linked Pasir Ris Town Park and Pasir Ris Park are less wild, with manicured lawns and paved paths, but we actually saw more wildlife in Pasir Ris Park than at Tampines Eco Green, so it’s worth the walk./p>Pasir Ris Town Park boasts a large pond, artificially filled with fish from Malaysia every few hours. Avid anglers rejoice — you can join the throngs of locals and participate for S$60 for three hours which includes tackle, but you’ll have to bring your own bait. There are weekly prizes for the biggest fish caught. Bike rental is available from a kiosk in the park too. Rates start at S$7 per hour — you will need to leave your passport.
Across a busy main road, Pasir Ris Park is the place to catch the sea breeze. It features a six-hectare mangrove forest with multiple trails and a mangrove boardwalk. It’s home to large bird species — we saw trees bursting with hornbills and storks. Barbecue pits can be rented here too for S$20, starting at 12:00 on the day of permit to 4:00 the following day— you need to do this online. Camping is possible within the park in two designated areas but sadly only for Singaporean residents, as you must apply for a permit and have a valid Singapore address and identity number.
The Tampines Eco Green and connecting parklands are excellent examples of how the Singapore government continues to find innovative ways to squeeze out pockets of greenery amid the concrete sprawl. Singapore actually has more than 300 parks and four nature reserves and with a large interlinking network of park connectors, you can pretty much park hop all over the island.
If all the cycling, jogging and fresh air becomes too much, you can cool off in the nearby Wild Wild Wet waterpark located right on the edge of Pasir Ris Park.
How to get there
From Tampines MRT walk 20 minutes via Sun Plaza Park or from Pasir Ris MRT walk 20 minutes via Pasir Ris Town Park.
By Sally Arnold
Last updated on 28th May, 2016.