I have no more excuses to delay my visit to Sembawang Hot Spring Park because I have run out of places to go! And I can’t travel out of Singapore right now, all thanks to Covid-19.
Anyway, I don’t mean to make this relatively new attraction in Singapore sound like a place that isn’t worth your time. It’s just that Singapore is a country that is HOT all year round – very hot actually! Therefore, there isn’t a strong motivation for me to visit a hot spring park when I’m feeling super-duper hot most of the time.
Well, today presented a real opportunity as it rained in the morning, and the weather was pretty cool and comfortable (eh, by Singapore’s standard lah! It’s still 29°C). Therefore, let me make my first trip to the only natural onsen we have in Singapore.
Come, I’ll show you around my backyard. :)
About Sembawang Hot Spring Park
Sembawang Hot Spring has been around since early 1900s, and was once acquired by F&N in 1921 to sell bottled spring water. During World War II, this place became recreational grounds for Japanese soldiers, because well, we all know how much Japanese love onsen.
After the war, Sembawang Hot Spring was acquired by the government for military use, and only reopened early this year (Jan 2020) as an attraction. Most people rushed to visit it then. As for me, I waited.
My operandi has always been to “avoid the crowds”. Today, I believe I’ve waited long enough and therefore decided to pay Sembawang Hot Spring Park a visit. On a weekday afternoon 10 months after reopening, I was hopeful that the park would be quiet.
Would it be? Make a guess! :)
Let’s explore Sembawang Hot Spring Park!
From the nearest bus stop, it took me 7 minutes of walk to reach the entrance of Sembawang Hot Spring Park. A rustic nature trail with colourful florals, edible plants and ancient-looking trees welcomed me. Here, you can even see a stream which is an extremely rare sight in Singapore.
TIP: How short is Floral Walk trail? Very short – only around 200m. Slippers would do.
I couldn’t resist the temptation anymore and whipped out my phone and started snapping away. The tourist in me was unleashed!
Along the short trail, many visitors walked past me carrying big plastic buckets, apparently all the way from their home. Hmm…why did they bother? Weren’t there free wooden buckets at the park, which I’ve seen in online articles?
I’d assumed that the park would be quiet during such lull period, and therefore, most should stand a good chance in getting hold of the free buckets.
Well, it turned out that they were right! I’ll elaborate more on this later. :)
Sembawang Hot Spring Park on a Weekday Afternoon
As I entered the hot spring area, I was surprised to see that the park wasn’t as quiet as I’d expected on a Thursday afternoon at 4.30pm. There were probably 50 people at different areas of the park – the cascading footbath, the trellises resting areas and egg cooking station.
INFO: Admission is free for all.
But fortunately, the park was far from being crowded – you should see how the crowd was like when it first opened.
During my visit, there were plenty of empty seats for me to take a rest, have a drink and just indulge in people-watching. :)
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How big is Sembawang Hot Spring Park?
The park is relatively small, perhaps just slightly bigger than a basketball court, or two. Here, I’m referring to the relaxation and dipping areas which exclude the trail, restaurant and washrooms.
So, where are the wooden buckets & scoops?
As a “solo traveller” and an info-creator, I recced the hot spring area to gather information before enjoying the onsen experience. What I saw was a feet-washing area, egg-cooking station and ample resting areas.
But hey, where were the wooden buckets and scoops that I’d seen in online articles?
I walked another round and still couldn’t spot any free buckets in sight. Since no one was using wooden buckets, I reckoned that they are no longer available for public use. No wonder people were seen bringing their own buckets!
Fine! It seemed like I had no choice but to join the crowd and dip my feet directly into the hot spring. Unfortunately, the circular structure could only sit around 15 people. With safe-distancing measures in place, this meant fewer seats.
TIP: Over here, you can only dip your feet in the hot spring. If you like to dip your body, you may consider bringing your own HUGE collapsible bucket. Saw a few people doing that.
You’ve got to join the queue to dip your feet
Without a bucket, I joined the queue which thankfully wasn’t long – I was the fifth in line. After perhaps 10 minutes of wait, I finally secured a spot around the hot spring.
Alas, the spot happened to be the one closest to the water source, which meant that the temperature should be pretty hot! OMG!
How hot is Sembawang Hot Spring?
The are three tiers of water, with the hottest (top tier) being 70°C. By the time the water cascaded down to the lowest tier (the feet-dipping area), the temperature should have dropped to 40°C, according to official information.
But I seriously doubt it. As someone who loves bathing in hot water, I couldn’t get my feet submerged for more than 2 seconds. :) In fact, my feet only managed to touch the base of the footbath once! LOL! Most of the time, they were hovering above the water surface, like dragonflies.
And I wasn’t the only dragonfly around as you can see in the video below.
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Not many tourists know that Singapore has a natural hot spring. I visited it on a cloudy day and it was perfect – did not perspire at all after dipping in very hot water. Got to cook some onsen eggs, immerse in rustic nature and do people watching. . In the 2nd photo (swipe), you can see: 1. Tree-climber 2. Steambath lover 3. Egg-cooker 4. Water-collector . I'm about to publish a blog post on this….stay tuned! . . . #sembawanghotspring #hotspring #onsen #singapore #exploresingapore #singaporeinsiders #nicoleSGtips . . . . #VisitSingapore #travel #sgblog #sgblogger #travel #travelgram #travelphotography #travelstory #globetrotter #southeastasia #nature #travelogue #travelingram #travelawesome #island #instagramsg #instasg #SingaporeLife #sgtravel
Perhaps, it was due to the spot I was sitting (the part further away from park entrance is closer to water source). Or maybe the water wasn’t 40°C. My feet were pinkish by the time I ended the session, which lasted for no more than 10 minutes. The actual feet-in-water duration would likely be less than 2 minutes. ;)
That’s alright. There are other things to do at the park. Let’s cook some eggs.
Time to cook onsen eggs at Sembawang Hot Spring
One of the things that people do at Sembawang Hot Spring Park is to cook eggs. As such, I brought along 3 eggs for this trip.
For hygiene purpose, we can only cook eggs at the Egg Cooking Station, where you see hot spring water gushing out from the collection point. The general cooking advice that I read online was to place the eggs directly under running water. Unfortunately, all spots were taken.
As an alternative, I used my container to collect some hot water and submerged my eggs in it. Every 5 minutes or so, I would replace the water to ensure continuous source of hot water for the eggs.
How long does it take to cook an egg?
After 20 minutes, I tested one egg only to see that it was far from being semi-cooked. Although I didn’t break the membrane totally (ain’t I skillful or what? LOL!), I could see that the egg interior was watery.
Luckily by then, a free spot was available for me to cook my egg under running hot water. With the help of my slipper, I shoved my container under the running hot water and waited for another 15 minutes.
This time around, the eggs turned out to be somewhat perfect as soft-boiled eggs. Yay!
Is Spring Water here drinkable?
As one egg had part of its shell removed during testing, I noticed that some hot spring water had seeped into it. Would I be still able to consume the eggs? Is the hot spring water at Sembawang Hot Spring Park drinkable?
Reliable sources said it is. Remember, it was once sold as bottled water in the early 1900s?
Great! Let me enjoy my onsen eggs after a good 35-minute wait. Luckily, the weather was good such that I didn’t perspire while waiting for the eggs to be cooked. And my onsen eggs seasoned with salt and pepper made a delicious afternoon snack.
Amenities at Sembawang Hot Spring Park
At the Sembawang Hot Spring Park, you can find toilets, water cooler and a vending machine selling beverage.
I suggest that you bring along your own water or at least have an empty bottle (for refill purpose) as the vending machine was almost empty during my visit.
A few walks away is a cosy Chinese restaurant that seems like an ideal place for a solo or couple retreat!
For info, the hot spring park opens daily from 7am to 7pm. And the restaurant operates from 8am to 8pm.
Next, let’s chill at the rustic Chinese Restaurant
The only restaurant in the park – Sembawang Eating House – looked like a perfect place to chill and to get some work done.
Just look at the rustic greenery surrounding the restaurant. I don’t think you can find many eateries in Singapore with such a 270 degree nature view. Best of all, it was quiet at the time of my visit – only one other table was occupied. It would make a great place to work without the guilt of overstaying and depriving the restaurant of business.
Hence, I ordered a cup of Teh C Kosong (Tea without Sugar), chilled in the air-conditioned restaurant and started working on this article.
Reasonable Food Pricing
I had wanted to have my dinner here, but the three eggs that I just had were surprisingly very filling. I thought I would have my tea first and wait till I got hungry.
But I never did and the restaurant was soon closing.
In any case, I have read good reviews about the food here. And the prices were affordable, considering how quaint and tranquil the setting was. For instance, my Iced Teh C costs only $1.70, and the main dishes ranged from $4 to $6. The restaurant, being a seafood place, also sells Tze Char dishes at reasonable prices.
I would definitely consider returning to enjoy the dishes and the perfect rustic ambiance. If you have tried food at this restaurant, drop a comment here and share with us your dining experience. Is it good?
You can rent a bucket here
It wouldn’t make sense to carry a bucket to the park if you stay at the other end of the island from where this hot spring is located.
If the park is crowded, you can consider renting a bucket at the restaurant. Here are the prices:
Alternatively, you may consider bringing collapsible bucket if you have one. I saw quite a number of people using them, some big enough for them to submerge their entire body within. :)
How to get to Sembawang Hot Spring Park?
Here are the various ways to make it to Sembawang Hot Spring Park.
The nearest bus stop to the park is this one. Use Google map to help you navigate to this bus stop, by using the “Directions” feature. It took me 7 minutes of walk to reach the hot spring area from the bus stop.
If you are coming by train, the nearest train stations would be Yishun or Canberra MRT. I recommend the former as it is attached to a large mall and may fulfil your dining and shopping needs, if any.
From either train stations, getting to the hot spring park would take about 22 to 24 minutes of walk. Alternatively, you can take buses from there to reach the bus stop mentioned above. Some of the bus services that can reach the said bus stop from Yishun MRT Station include 811, 856, 859 and 969.
Are you coming to Sembawang Hot Spring Park by car? The nearest carpark is at Blk 114 Yishun Ring Road (see map). You will take about 7 minutes to reach the hot spring park by foot.
11 Tips to know when visiting Sembawang Hot Spring Park
To make sure that your stay at Singapore’s only natural onsen is enjoyable, I’ve prepared some tips for you. Here you go!
- Come on a cool day. Don’t torture yourself lah! :)
- Bring cold water (in thermal flask if you have one)
- Apply sunblock even on a cool day as the park is mostly unsheltered
- Wear shorts, slippers and thin/airy clothes
- Wear a disposable mask instead of cloth ones as the thinner material will make your stay more comfortable
- Bring collapsible bucket if you come on a busy day (or rent one at the restaurant)
- Bring teaspoon, salt & pepper and container to enjoy your eggs
- Your container should be able to withstand hot water. Try to bring one that serves multiple functions. For instance, mine carried my eggs to the park and doubled as a cooking container as well as a dining “bowl”. :)
- Bring extra plastic bags – you may need to contain your dirty “dishes” or clothes
- There weren’t any mosquitoes during my visit. But bring along an insect repellent just in case.
- See guidelines for using the hot spring. Specifically, this may not be suitable for pregnant women.
Is Sembawang Hot Spring Park worth a visit?
It’s definitely a ‘yes’ for me. I enjoyed the entire experience, from embracing the rustic nature to footbath, egg-cooking and chilling at the quaint restaurant. I mean, just look at the number of activities taking place in the photo below.
From left to right, you can see two ladies dipping their feet in plastic basins, a few others waiting for their eggs to be cooked, a young chap climbing the ancient tree, a man steaming his body over a drain cover, and another man ready to collect some hot water.
But would I come again? I certainly think so although I may not come as often as I would love to as I stay quite far from Sembawang Hot Spring Park.
Do I recommend it to tourists?
If you have limited time in Singapore, I don’t think this is a must-visit place in Singapore. Sembawang Hot Spring Park is located far from where most tourist attractions are and may be logistically more challenging to incorporate into your itinerary.
Furthermore, you may be disappointed if you are expecting hot spring experiences like those you’ve enjoyed in Japan or Taiwan. Over here, you can only dip your feet.
But do come here if you have run out of touristy places to visit in Singapore, or you are a fan of onsen and like to experience it everywhere you go.
Suggested One-day Itinerary
Does this article arouse your interest in visiting Sembawang Hot Spring Park? Here’s a suggested itinerary if you’ve decided to make a trip here (click links to see map locations):
- AM – Sample local food at Chong Pang Food Centre
- AM – Sembawang Hot Spring Park
- PM – Tea/Lunch at Sembawang Eating House
- PM – More fun at Singapore Zoo and Night Safari OR Shop till you drop at Northpoint City mall
And that’s all to today’s story. :) Do you find this article useful? How about sharing this post with your friends? Don’t forget to subscribe to more honest beauty, travel and lifestyle contents by clicking the button below. See you soon in the next post!SUBSCRIBE
(The first draft of this post was written on 9 Oct 2020, at the mentioned restaurant.)
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