Friday, March 7, 2014

Go Local :: Singapore's Last Hot Spring @ Sembawang

Did you know that we have a natural hot spring in Singapore? In all my years of living here, I never realised we had one until very recently when I visited it with Lil Pumpkin and a few other friends. It's nothing like the onsens in Japan.. although it was used that way during the Japanese Occupation.

Sembawang Hot Spring {三巴旺溫泉} is the only natural hot spring on our main island. It was discovered in 1909 and thought to have healing powers. In its early days, the water was also bottled commercially by Fraser and Neave, under the brand name of "Seletaris". The Ministry of Defence {Mindef} acquired the land containing the hot spring for the expansion of the nearby Sembawang Air Base in the late 90s but through strong petition from the community, they conserved the hot spring and the public can still access it via a small side gate {shown above}.

You are constantly reminded that this is military ground, and no trespassing across the fences!! And no littering, hawking, pets, cycling or even washing of your clothes there too :P

As you enter, there's a marker with more information about the history of the hot spring. The brick building behind contains the original well. There's also an evil curse written in Chinese on the wall against anyone that vandalises the hot spring and its properties. Spoooky!! Wonder who wrote it there...

That round thing there is the original well. The source of the hot spring isn't exactly known, but it's somewhere in Bukit Timah. Pretty far away!

The hot spring water is slightly alkaline {due to the presence of minerals} and its sulphide content is three times that of tap water. Some people believe that spring water contains powerful medicinal properties that can treat ailments such as rheumatism, arthritis and cure skin conditions like acne and psoriasis.

Healing properties or not, it's also pretty popular with cyclists who go there at the end of their route to soak their tired legs... and eat eggs cooked with the steaming hot springs water #winalreadylor

Yes, they came prepared with raw eggs! I was pretty amused. Next time I go back, I'll bring my own eggs too haha. No need to go to Japan or Japanese restaurants to eat onsen tamago hahahaha.

There's 2 areas with taps to access the hot spring water. The hot spring water that flows out from this area is supposedly hotter since it's right under the hot sun. This is the one that's usually used to cook the eggs too :P

The other area is under the shade of the tree, so the hot spring water is supposedly slightly cooler... but no matter what, your kids should always be supervised near the pipes or as the hot spring water flows out at around 70°C and can still scald!

Lil Pumpkin was very eager to take off her shoes and try out the hot spring water too! Just some little splashes, not full-on soaking of the feet. Since she has eczema.. it might help :)

You don't have to worry about bringing your own basin or bucket, as there are quite a few left around for communal use. How thoughtful. There's a small caretaker hut at the corner. I like how the caretaker spruced it up with some welcoming plants at the entrance :) Didn't get a chance to talk to him but I guess you can try if you want to find out more about the history of the hot spring and how it has developed over the years.

Another hot spring apparently exists on Pulau Tekong, but that's not accessible to the public as the small island is used exclusively for military training. From what I've seen online, it seems that it may not be active or bubbling hot anymore so the one in Sembawang may very well be Singapore's last natural hot spring.

Sembawang Hot Spring
Within Chong Pang camp, off Gambas Ave near the junction of Sembawang Road & Gambas Ave
Free admission.
Open 7am - 7pm daily.

Read about the other fun activities we did with Lil Pumpkin or my list of Kid-Friendly places in Singapore.


Lydia C. Lee said...

Wow! That is amazing...And more amazing if the source is Bukit Timah...there are lots of little hidden secrets in's a very fascinating city.

Masshole Mommy said...

What a hidden gem - and free? How nice is that? We don't have anything like that least in my part of the country!

Claireyhewitt said...

We will be there in July, I think I might check this out!

An Apel a Day said...

That's pretty interesting. You should bring eggs next time. :)

Fit Mother Hubbard said...

Looks great. Can't believe it's free! I wish I'd had more trips to Singapore. I've only been through transit unfortunately. thanks for sharing.

Grace said...

How about that? Onsens in Singapore!
Love the hot springs in Japan - especially after a day of snowboarding :)

Unknown said...

Amazing to see how the earth creates this types of springs in all sorts of places.

Stacy said...

Now how do you find out about such places?! Gosh with an evil curse too.

Hey you could open up a stall there and sell eggs...

Theresa Mahoney said...

What a find! We don't have anything like that here. I think that is very amusing that people bring their own eggs to cook!

Serenely said...

It's always amazing to find these little remnants of history and nature throughout Singapore still thriving in the midst of all the urbanisation. Thanks for sharing your discovery!

Prudent Mummy said...

Wow this is so cool. Didn't know such a place existed in SG!

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