It might be hard for the denizens of present-day Bishan to imagine, but the town stands on the site of a large Chinese burial site called Peck San Theng, from which it derives its name. Today, Bishan is a well-connected and much sought-after residential estate for families looking for a well-balanced mix of shops, recreational facilities and schools.

For families looking for weekend activities, here are some places to check out:

Image source: NParks

Forest bathing in MacRitchie Reservoir

While the popular Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park that borders Ang Mo Kio town and Bishan town might be the more high-profile recreational green space in the vicinity, let’s not forget the other well-loved nature destination – MacRitchie Reservoir.

Singapore's oldest reservoir, MacRitchie, is part of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. The park offers a 20km network of trails and boardwalks for different ages and fitness levels. Park highlights include the HSBC TreeTop Walk, a 250 metre aerial free-standing suspension bridge and the Chemperai Trail which runs along the water’s edge.

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Book lovers’ paradise at Bishan Public Library

Completed in 2006, the award-winning Bishan Public Library is a distinctive four-storey public library designed by local architecture firm, LOOK Architects. With 250,000 titles spread over five floors, including a basement, book lovers have a choice of reading spaces to indulge in their fav past-time such as suspended “reading pods”, a subterranean cavern-like children’s section and a café on the first floor.

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Sweat it out at Bishan Harmony Park

If you have skaters, rollerbladers or cyclists in the family looking for more space to do their thing, the park is for you! Located not far from Bishan MRT, Bishan Harmony Park is a dedicated skate park which boasts a variety of ramps and a large bowl suitable for both beginners and pros. There is even a circular hedge maze for some hide and seek with the little ones right next to it.

Image source: NParks

Playgrounds at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park

What’s a park without playgrounds? At Bishan-AMK Park, there’s a playground for everyone – a water playground to splash around and cool down, an adventure play space complete with a pirate ship to climb, hide and slide, and even an inclusive playground built for young wheelchair users and those with special needs.

Image source: Burp Kitchen & Bar

Cafes & Sweet Treats

Looking for a nice spot to indulge in some nice grub after all that activity? Bishan’s a great place to explore unique cafes for hearty meals and sweet treats.

If you’re at Bishan-AMK Park, head for Canopy Garden Dining. This pet-friendly restaurant has a selection of brunch items as well as kids’ favourites like pizzas, burgers and pasta in an alfresco dining environment. Those who prefer more laidback, affordable options can make their way to Burp Kitchen & Bar or Good Bites at Bishan Sports Centre. For sweet treats, check out Grin Affair for their "cakes in a jar", waffles and ice-cream made with seasonal ingredients.