Have you heard of Yunnan Garden at NTU? This new heritage park complete with Chinese Heritage Centre, a lake, waterfall, and playground is well worth the trek out to Western Singapore with the kids!
On a cloudy afternoon, we drove to Jurong to explore a scenic heritage park. The Yunnan Garden Park is located at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) campus and although a little far out, the trip is truly worth it! Built in the 1950s, this park is the birthplace of NTU and has many historical monuments dotting its grounds. The garden has been recently renovated and is now a 9-hectare heritage precinct. Yunnan Garden has been seamlessly integrated with the Chinese Heritage Centre and an expanded Nanyang Lake. 1,000 new trees of over 80 different species have been planted, making this garden a nature enthusiast’s wonderland! Here’s what to see and do with kids at Yunnan Garden @NTU!
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Things to do at Yunnan Garden
1. Take pictures of the waterfall
Upon arriving, we parked at the Hall of Residence 4. The garden is just around the corner, a short walk away from the parking. As you walk in you are greeted by the sounds of gushing water from a spectacular waterfall. It’s a 5.6-meter tall man-made waterfall that flows down the Nanyang Lake. It really does take your breath away and as you look down from this high vantage point; you get a birds-eye view of a sprawling, symmetrically laid out Chinese Garden.
2. Explore Yunnan Garden’s themed trails, heritage monuments, and pavilions
We continued to walk down the wide boardwalk ramps towards the garden. Bigger than the size of 12 football fields, it features a diversity of flora and fauna. It has been beautifully landscaped, preserving the old heritage monuments like the red-roofed pavilions, the Grand Nantah Arch and the Nanyang University memorial. The garden’s design, a series of loops and geometric patterns, is inspired by elements from traditional Chinese gardens and the formal, symmetrical gardens of the French Renaissance periods.
One can’t help but feel a sense of calm and tranquility surrounded by the greenery. My son cycled ahead, zigzagging the avenues and looking out for koi fish in the many ponds. We soon reached the grassy slope in front of the Chinese Heritage Center that bears a Chinese saying in white lettering. We took a quick juice break under the shade of the red pavilions- it’s such a blissful setting. There are many benches and rest stops throughout Yunnan Garden.
We continued to explore Yunnan Garden’s rich biodiversity through its mini gardens and trails based on various themes, such as orchids, herbs, pitcher plants, national flowers and plants for cosmetics. There are 19 such trails that one can explore and this is a great way to discover and come in close contact with many varieties of plants, herbs and flowers. A lot of information about the plants can be found on the information kiosks placed throughout the garden. There is also a butterfly garden and lily garden.
3. Take a walk on the Boardwalks and stroll by the Nanyang Lake
We then walked back up towards the Nanyang lake. The broad boardwalks spanning almost a kilometre will take you right above the water and are stroller and wheelchair-friendly. We crossed a cascading water feature made with stones and artificial wetlands full of Koi Fish and lily pads. The water features not only uplift the aesthetics of the place, but are also designed to create a storm water management system that purifies rain water before releasing it to the ponds.
My son really enjoyed cycling up and down the ramps amidst the foliage. The footpath and boardwalks weave through the garden with information kiosks, pavilions and decks for resting and appreciating the scenery and biodiversity.
4. Have fun at Yunnan Garden’s playground and water play fountains
Yunnan Garden aims to be an inclusive space for all to enjoy. The health conscious can enjoy an outdoor workout at the fitness stations! Sandwiched between the two sets of outdoor gym equipment is a children’s playground that has large climbing nets and slides which the kids will love. Water coolers are conveniently located close by too.
There is a water play fountain area close to the Chinese Heritage Centre that is great to cool off at after all the walking, but be mindful of the slippery mossy tiles and don’t let the little ones run too fast.
Food & Amenities at Yunnan Garden
If you get hungry, there’s a small food court at the upper end of the Nanyang Lake called Food Paradise which offers a wide variety of local and international cuisines.
Food Paradise, 41 Students Walk, Singapore 637719
At Food Paradise you’ll also find the closest accessible toilets. Unfortunately there are no toilet facilities at Yunnan Gardens, and the ones at Chinese Heritage Center are closed for renovation till the second quarter of 2021.
Tips for Visiting Yunnan Garden
The garden does not have many mature shady trees and can get quite hot during the day. Do come with sun hats and lots of water! We love that Yunnan Garden has Wi-fi connectivity – originally made as a perk for students from NTU to take a break from classrooms and enjoy the outdoors, but also serves the general public who visit the gardens.
Bus: Take Bus 179 from Boon Lay MRT or Pioneer MRT station. It stops in front of Yunnan Garden.
Car: It’s a 30-minute drive to NTU in clear traffic. If you drive, park at the parking lot in front of Hall of Residence 4 on Nanyang Circle Road.
On foot: Another way to reach Yunnan garden on foot is to cross the overhead bridge next to Blk 910 at Jurong West St 91 over the PIE. The overhead bridge is next to the garden at the other end.
Where: Yunnan Garden @ NTU, 12 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 637721