Perhaps you are apprehensive about visiting enclosed malls during this unprecedented time. Or you may have run out of sightseeing spots to amuse the young ones with. If you are itching for fresh family fun ideas, how about taking a trek across the heartlands?

In this new series, we explore the unassuming neighbourhoods around Singapore and discover places and activities that will delight the entire family.

We are kicking things off with Tampines, a bustling regional centre for the eastern part of Singapore that was awarded the World Habit Award by the United Nations in 1992. This award recognises innovative and successful human settlements – Tampines was first developed in the 1980s to resettle some 3,720 villagers.

What exactly can visitors do here? Let’s take a quick tour.

1. Reconnect with nature at Tampines Eco Green

At this nature park, you will find no playground, lightings or carefully pruned bushes. Instead, plants and wildlife are allowed to flourish as they may. Along the flat footpath (which makes a loop of about 3km), you will see freshwater wetlands, a secondary rainforest and of course the occasional monitor lizard. Keep a lookout for the gregarious birds and various species of butterflies and dragonflies going about their day. This 36-hectare green compound is quietly tucked away at Tampines Avenue 12, about a 20-minute walk from Tampines MRT station.

Tampines Eco Green 

Image source:

2. Revisit your childhood at the Watermelon Playground

For a nostalgic blast to the past, make a beeline for the mosaic-tiled watermelon-shaped playground located in front of block 858 Tampines Ave 5 (a 2-minute walk from Our Tampines Hub). While the sand and the swing may have been replaced with a rubber mat and benches, the tall, slippery slide still generates lots of squeals and laughter from children in the neighbourhood. Have a go to relive your childhood. While you’re there, check out the mangosteen playground just a stone’s throw away – great for hide-and-seek games with the kids.

Watermelon Playground 

Image source: Tampines Central Facebook page

3. Hang out at Our Tampines Hub (OTH)

From laser tag and wall climbing, to jogging, swimming (there are six pools in all) and bowling; a fun exciting day awaits you and your family at OTH. Plus, this open-air complex boasts over 100 stalls at its hawker centre and a myriad of restaurants so you can rest up over a casual meal after your workout. Prior to the pandemic, OTH was also where residents gathered for live music, movie screenings, sports matches and group fitness workouts. Today, you can enjoy the live entertainment options online. Check out OTH’s Facebook page for news and a schedule of virtual events. The sprawling building is an easy 10-minute walk from Tampines MRT station and bus interchange.

Our Tampines Hub 

Image source:

4. Feel your heart flutter at Tampines Changkat Butterfly Garden

The Tampines Changkat Butterfly Garden is a colourful paradise in an unassuming HDB estate. The netting-covered circular enclosure is home to about 50 butterflies belonging to seven different species. There is an information board for you to learn more about these fluttering friends and the plants they feed on. Located at block 124 Tampines Street 11, the garden is open to all visitors and is wheelchair-friendly.

Tampines Changkat Butterfly Garden 

Image source: Tampines Changkat Butterfly Interest Group Facebook page

5. Get a sense of the rural life at Tampines Link

At the quiet enclave of Tampines Link is a cluster of Chinese Taoist and Buddhist templates that were relocated after the kampongs in Tampines and other parts of Singapore made way for modern development. Many of these temples boast long histories dating back between the 1800s and 1980s, and were of cultural importance to villagers of that era. The most striking of the lot is the Tampines Chinese Temple, which houses 12 constituent temples from the past. It features a 270m-long colourful dragon on the exterior that can be spotted from afar. Our multi-religious society is most evident in the Jiutiaoqiao Xinba Nadutan Temple, which houses both Hindu and Taoist deities and draws worshippers of both faiths to the premises regularly.

Tampines Link 

Image source: National Heritage Board