Normally, we would associate hot springs in areas with volcanic activity. So for Singapore to have a hot spring seems very unlikely. But we actually have 2 hot springs; one which is located on the main island, and the other which is located on Pulau Tekong, which is used by the military and not accessible by the public. So if you can’t travel to Japan due to Covid and you miss soaking in an onsen, then this might a good place to visit.
I decided to visit the hot spring in Sembawang during the recent New Year break. I’ve been hearing so much about this place but never had the chance to visit as it’s not the most accessible of attractions. It’s located off the main road (Gambas Avenue) beside a military base and there isn’t any carpark beside it. The best way to get there is to take a public bus to the nearest bus stops (along Sembawang Road) and walk, or park at the nearest HDB carpark and walk. Either way, it’s a short walk of around 500m which should take you 15 minutes or so.
Upon walking into the hot spring park, I could catch the faint whiff of rotten eggs and sulfur in the air, reminiscent of volcanic activity. Which is strange as Singapore is not known to have any volcanic activity although we are inside the Pacific Ring of Fire.
A few years back, the hot spring was actually inside the military base and consisted of just a standing pipe with a tap for people to fill up their containers with the hot water. But it has been now turned into nice public park where we can access the hot spring conveniently.
As this is a public hot spring and its free to use, there are some rules to ensure everyone has a good experience. We could only soak our feet. No bathing or soaking of your whole body is allowed due to the small size of the pools. And also due to Covid restrictions limiting the number of people sitting and soaking their feet, we had to limit our time to 15 minutes.
How is the experience? If you’ve never been to any hot springs overseas, then this could be a novel experience. But for me, soaking my feet in 45°C water, in 30°C heat and 90% humidity wasn’t exactly a relaxing experience. It would have been nice if Singapore could have it’s own natural onsen type of facility, but I guess the flow of hot spring water is just too small to have something like that.
So after soaking our feet in the hot spring, it was time to try another activity; cooking eggs in the hot spring.
It’s amazing how many people were cooking so many eggs that day. A family of four had a carton of eggs cooking in a pail. We placed our eggs under the running hot water for half an hour and got 2 soft boiled eggs.
The best time to visit the hot spring park is probably early in the morning (the park opens at 7am and closes at 7pm) when it’s cooler and not so crowded. What could you do there besides soaking and cooking eggs? Many people bring their own folding chairs, pails, tubs and food for a no frills outing. It’s also a good stopping point for many cyclists who are touring the northern side of Singapore.