Set between the giant skyscrapers and bustling crowds of Asia’s largest cities, you’ll find some of the most gorgeous urban parks in the world. These aren't your run-of-the-mill green spaces. Featuring futuristic trees and conservatories in Singapore to blossoming cherry trees in Tokyo, take a trip to the East and visit the most beautiful parks in Asia.
Gardens by the Bay
You can't start a list like this off without mentioning Singapore’s stunning Gardens by the Bay. This incredible garden complex features futuristic Supertrees and jaw-dropping conservatories; it's a must-see while you're in the city. The park has three outdoor garden sections that are free to visit. It contains a massive green lawn as well as tree-covered areas, complete with their own embedded solar lights. The conservatories include the Flower Dome (the largest glasshouse in the world) and the Cloud Forest with numerous tropical mountain plants and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. There’s even a cool children's garden with a fun water playground.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
If you take the train to Yoyogi Station, you’ll find a fantastic garden sanctuary—right in the middle of Tokyo. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden was once the home of the royal family during the Edo period, and has become a popular haven for tourists and locals alike. There are three garden styles on display, including a serene pond, and hundreds of cherry trees, known as sakuras, making this park a prime place for cherry blossom viewing. And if you need some refreshment, stop by Rakuutei, a Japanese tea house, for tea and traditional sweets, called matcha.
Cheonggyecheon Stream Walk
Seoul, South Korea
Cheonggyecheon Stream Walk is an excellent example of urban renewal done right. This 5-mile-long stream was once a polluted eyesore, and then a highway, before local authorities decided to restore the stream as a form of Eco-friendly urban development. The stream is now the centerpiece of an urban park where people can escape the hustle and bustle of busy Seoul by relaxing and enjoying nature. During the many festivals held in Seoul, the water and the paths along the stream light up , providing a romantic atmosphere for locals and tourists alike. The shores are actually very cool during the hot summer months, so bring some snacks, a good book, and share some time with the locals.
Jing'an Sculpture Park
For anyone looking for a little artwork to spice up their garden time, head to Shanghai. Jing’an Sculpture Park wraps itself around the Shanghai Natural History Museum, and is a relaxing and whimsical piece of green space in Shanghai. This artful escape is worth a visit, even if you don’t visit the museum. The unspoiled lawns are dotted with gigantic modern sculptures and the occasional water feature. The manicured flower beds add beauty to the park and are changed with the seasons. Make a stop at the cafe, sit on the patio, and do some people watching while sipping on a cup of green tea.
You'll find a little slice of heaven at Ritan Gongyuan, aka The Temple of the Sun Park. The anchor of this 600-year-old site is the old sacrificial altar. Today, the magnificent beauty of the park draws locals to practice tai chi on the peaceful grounds, and visitors flock to the ornate pavilions, pristine lake, and rainbow-hued gardens. If you want a bit more action, you can try your hand at fishing, miniature golf, rock-climbing, or badminton. Kids are drawn to the park for kite-flying and the rides at the amusement park. After working up an appetite, check out the quaint restaurants and outdoor cafes serving up fantastic ethnic food.
Ueno Park offers more than just the famous Giant Pandas that call Japan’s first zoo home. The park has more than a thousand cherry trees that line the main pathway, blossoming into an unbelievable pink-and-white canopy each spring. Ueno Park also has the remnants of the park’s former life as a temple site, where pagodas and shrines give the park a romantic feeling of a bygone era. Join in the fun by paddling a swan boat on Shinobazu Pond during the Hanami Festival, which starts when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom (April and May).
Smack dab in the middle of Bangkok’s frenzied business district is Lumpini Park. Take an early morning stroll through this lush oasis and you’ll catch locals doing tai chi or meditating before they’re off to their busy day in Bangkok. In addition to the tree-lined walking paths, the lake offers paddle boats for rent, where you can try to get a photo of the park’s resident water monitor lizards. The street food is great too! You can get pad Thai and many other tasty treats from the many vendors who line the park's trails.