Singapore is so close to beautiful Indonesian islands and plenty of home-grown natural beauty

Singapore is within easy reach of some beautiful islands and lots of home-grown nature spots.

Indeed, almost half of the city state is covered in greenery, thanks to charming urban parks, unspoilt nature reserves and a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Lion City has long been the place to be if you enjoy an urban lifestyle but love nature.

Singapore is transforming into a ‘City in a Garden’, having cultivated greenery in its architecture and urban infrastructure for decades. Photo: Alamy

“Our first prime minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, [was] the architect of Singapore’s transformation,” says Masagos Zulkifli, Singapore Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. “He focused on creating a ‘Garden City’ [and] planted the first tree in 1963, which kick-started the annual Tree Planting Campaign. Today, we are building on the legacy of our pioneer leaders and transforming Singapore into a ‘City in a Garden’.”

Locals and tourists also enjoy Singapore’s easy sea links to neighbouring islands such as Bintan, which is the largest island in the Riau archipelago of Indonesia. An hour’s ferry ride from Singapore, Bintan is famous for its luxurious resorts, turtles and the charming rocks of its Trikora Beach.

There are also “pristine mangrove forests” on Bintan’s “meandering, clear river of Sungei Sebung”, says Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism. “Visitors can take a boat ride almost right to the source of the river, and experience a thrilling trip into the world of tropical mangroves.”

Nature lovers might also trek to the island’s Gunung Bintan Besar hill, whose forest tracks offer sweeping views of the island.

The Indonesian island of Karimun lies to the west of Bintan on the Strait of Malacca, and is popular for its water sports, white-sand beaches and fine sea food. Along with the neighbouring island of Batam, it forms the Indonesian government’s Batam-Bintan-Karimun Free Trade Zone for tourism.

If you have little time to explore these beautiful islands, do not worry, because there is plenty of nature in Singapore. The boomerang-shaped Pulau Ubin (Malay for Granite Island) is popular for its forests, wetland and a rich variety of local flora and fauna among its abandoned quarries in the northeast of Singapore. Just a 10-minute bumboat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal, Pulau Ubin’s ecosystem also includes several threatened species of birds.

Changi Airport’s new Terminal 4 reflects Singapore’s commitment to sustainability. Photo: Alamy

The star attraction is the Chek Jawa Wetlands,” the Singapore Tourism Board advises. “The intertidal flat comprises coral reefs, which are home to extensive marine wildlife, such as sea hares, sea squirts, octopuses, starfish, sand dollars, sponges and cuttlefish.”

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