For those parents who spend time outdoors (other than a beer garden or BBQ pit) with their kids, you’ll be aware Singapore is crammed full of fantastic parks and gardens. Most it seems are owned and managed by National Parks Board and it has to be said – they do a damn fine job.
One of my favourite adventures with my boys is Ang Mo Kio Town Gardens – West which is located directly opposite the Ang Mo Kio Town library on Ang Mo Kio Ave 6. There is of course an “East” version – but that’s another story. The great thing about this place is there is something for everyone. There’s a good play area with loads of swings, slides and climbing stuff, as well as lots of green open spaces, ponds and paths that criss-cross everywhere – all making for great exploring adventures.
Here’s our usual route. We park on the street opposite the library – you need coupons for this carparking area. As soon as we’re out the car, the boys are exploring the plaza area, which is also a popular local hang-out for the Aunties of the area. The boys love this area as somewhere (although we have never located it), is an ant’s nest with the biggest red ants outside of the rainforest. These ants are always beating a path somewhere and the boys love following the trail – until one gets bitten that is…
Off to the left is the playground area, but we head up the HUGE set of stairs directly opposite to the shelter area at the top, which is #1 hang out for the local Uncles. Continue up the path to our “Dragon Castle”; which is actually a massive raised circular flowerbed. The boys see this as their dragon castle, and love taking their binoculars to see over the area from the top of this hill. They also race each other in opposite directions around the walls of the castle, climb the trees, etc. It’s quite a steep walk up, so around about this area, it’s time for water and snack break.
Once finished here take the path behind, just off to the left side (as you have just walked up the hill) beside the small herb garden through the “Jungle”. This is great for finding massive leaves – which are also handy if you get caught in the rain (Yep! I’ve been caught a few times). Follow the path, all the time looking for wildlife and you will pass another shelter in approximately 500mts. Another 200mts further on take the path down to the left (or right if you want to head back to the stairs) and follow the path down the hill. If it’s been raining the kids can race sticks down the big storm drain off to the right. If it hasn’t been raining, they can race each other down the same open drain.
At the bottom, the path curves round to the right and will bring you to a big pond, which is very close to the car parking area. At this point you can bail out and go home, or follow the path straight to the playground – which is great. The only trouble is there is absolutely no shade at all except around the outside and toward the middle of the day it is sooooo hot it’s not funny, and there is no air circulating at all. STEAMY!.
But help is at hand, another 100mts down the same path is McDonalds, which although it gets really busy over the weekend, it also has a pretty small shaded kids play area.
Apart from McDonalds, there are no toilets along this route. Also you will need hats and sunblock as a fair amount of this trekking adventure is in the open. Although we have never had any problems, if you are planning to visit late afternoon / early evening mosquito repellent should also be on your list.
The great thing about this place is options, which as we all know, is key to keeping kids engaged and amused. Try the playground on your first visit – it’s big and varied enough to easily entertain for a couple of hours. On your next take a walk up the stairs. It doesn’t have to be our route as there are so many paths to explore.