First Time To Singapore’s Natural Hot Spring

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Did you know that Singapore has a natural hot spring which is open the public? I didn’t know that either until a Japanese acquaintance (trust the Japanese to find out about hot springs) wanted to go there. I merely tagged along.

Apparently, my parents knew about this place too but they’ve never been there nor did they bring me and brother there when we were younger. Looks like I’m the only one in the family who loves hot springs and soaking my feet in warm water. Yup…no wonder I’m into spas, right?

Located at Sembawang, this hot spring is very nondescript and this is the only sign indicating where it is. I find it hilarious that there’s a sign telling you that you’re not permitted to wash your laundry there! LOL. Hmm…would washing clothes with water from a hot spring make it cleaner?

Path towards the hot spring

The land is owned by the Ministry of Defence, which comes as no surprise since there is an army camp right next to it. You can tell that they really do not want this place to be some crowded public spot because there are really no signs and when we consulted Google Maps on how to walk there, it told us to walk beyond this gate and to make a huge turn. Hmm. Thank goodness we trusted our instincts instead.

Interesting fact: the hot spring is natural and was discovered in 1908! It was even bottled and sold under several names, even F&N had procured the rights to bottle and sell this water. Again, trust the Japanese to build onsens in this area during WW2 but they were destroyed by the Allied Forces’ bombing. Otherwise, we’d probably have lovely working spas here.

Walking towards the taps, we could smell the distinct scent of sulphur. Yup, this was a legit hot spring. My friends and I were wondering how the heck does Singapore have a hot spring when we’re so far away from volcanoes? Is the land here particularly shallow, which is why whoever discovered it need not have to dig very far to get to the hot spring?

The hot spring water flowing out from taps

Foot soak anyone?

There are 3 areas with 4 taps each and visitors can bring stools and pails to fill the water up and soak your feet or other appendages. If you didn’t bring either, there are some lying around the area which you can grab and use but if it’s all taken up, then…too bad.

Do not turn off the taps – By order

The water from the taps are really hot. One of the visitors there told us that it’s nearly boiling point. It was quite funny how the 3 of us suddenly went very Japanese and said, “Oh…we should’ve brought eggs to cook onsen tamago!”

In order to fulfil our need (yes, need) to soak our feet, we had to tarik our water from one pail to the next to cool it down sufficiently.

We only managed to take this one shot before a nice army boy came in to round us out as he wanted to lock the place up. Yes, they are quite strict with the closing hours at 7pm.

On the way to our dinner, I couldn’t help but start thinking of what else we could cook in the hot spring water besides eggs. I reckon anything that can be cooked sous vide style would work, wouldn’t it? Hmm…salmon, beef…veg…yum!

Needless to say, I’m thinking of another trip to Sembawang Hot Springs for a full on picnic with family and friends! I’m also thankful that this place is free and hasn’t been commercialised because although it looks a bit shabby, I like that there are parts of Singapore that aren’t that manicured.

How to get there:

  1. Take the MRT to Yishun station. 
  2. From the bus stop just in front (facing Northpoint Shopping Centre), take bus service 858/ 969/ 811/ 965 and alight on the 4th stop (Blk 118 or opp Blk 115B). 
  3. Walk straight ahead, along Sembawang Road towards Gambas Ave.
  4. Turn left onto Gambas Ave until you see that nondescript gate on your left.

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