Singapore hopes to lure Malaysian tourists with new nature-inspired experiences

The cavern at Rainforest Wild Asia is inspired by Sarawak’s Mulu Caves. — Photos: Mandai Wildlife Group

The fact that Malaysia and Singapore share many similarities does pose a challenge for the latter to find unique points to entice Malaysian tourists. However, it’s a challenge that Terrence Voon, executive director (South-East Asia) of Singapore Tourism Board, is taking in stride.

During an event in Kuala Lumpur recently, Voon expressed his hopes of welcoming more Malaysian tourists to Singapore this year.

He shared that the tourism industry’s recovery has been promising since Singapore reopened its borders in 2022. “Last year, we received 13.6 million tourists,” Voon said, glad to see the number gradually returning to the pre-pandemic figure of 19 million tourists.

“We are looking at about 15-16.5 million tourists for 2024,” he added. Hence, the introduction of new or upcoming attractions and experiences in Singapore. Among these, Mandai Wildlife Reserve and its future additions may be the most enticing, especially for families.

Home to four wildlife parks, namely Singapore Zoo, Bird Paradise, Night Safari and River Wonders, it will soon welcome its fifth wildlife park – Rainforest Wild, which will give visitors the opportunity to explore South-East Asian and African rainforests.

The new experience is divided into two: Rainforest Wild Asia and Rainforest Wild Africa. The former is a 12.6ha zoological park – the first in Asia to integrate adventure elements – that ends with a 220m cavern inspired by Sarawak’s Mulu Caves.

The latter, meanwhile, features immersive aerial adventures amid an Afro-Tropical and Madagascar-inspired landscape.

A great way to take in the view is via a 3.3km-long boardwalk skirting the perimeter of River Wonders and Singapore Zoo, which will be opening later this year and gives visitors the chance to enjoy nature outside the ticketed parks.

Curiosity Cove teaches young children about nature though tactile play.Curiosity Cove teaches young children about nature though tactile play.

For visitors looking to explore beyond the lush greenery, try the space-themed experiences instead. Housed in two buildings dedicated to indoor attractions are Exploria, Green Canvas, Mandai Gallery, Curiosity Cove, and ZooSchool.

Exploria uses technology to provide an immersive edutainment and take visitors on digital expeditions across five worlds, while Green Canvas is a 2,800sq m event space where travelling exhibitions, stimulating talks and nature-themed lifestyle events will be held.

Mandai Gallery, set in the adjacent building, is a free-access permanent exhibition. Also there is Curiosity Cove, an indoor play scape that uses tactile play to familiarise young children with nature and wildlife.

Last but not least, ZooSchool will be introducing nature-based outdoor adventure programmes to encourage young minds to appreciate and care for the natural world.

Voon shared that one day is not enough to fully explore the many offerings of the Mandai Wildlife Reserve. “Visitors would take multiple days over the weekend to do so,” he said.

The opening of the Mandai Rainforest Resort in early 2025 will prove convenient, as visitors will no longer have to look for accommodations near the area – they can just stay in the reserve itself!

An inaugural resort for Singapore by Banyan Group, the 338-room accommodation is a four-storey building set on a site surrounded by native tree species. To truly be one with nature, guests may opt for one of the 24 seed pod-shaped treehouses, some of which offer views of the reservoir.

Mandai Rainforest Resort also offers stays at its 24 seed pod-shaped treehouses.Mandai Rainforest Resort also offers stays at its 24 seed pod-shaped treehouses.

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