. sembawang hot spring .

Suffering from stiff joints, arthritis or rheumatism? Or, insomnia and other sleep-related discomforts? Why not consider a trip to the natural hot springs that are often said to contain rejuvenating healing properties? By this, I’m not asking you to splurge by spending a huge sum of money on overseas vacations to beautiful countries that are famed for their geothermal hot springs such as Taiwan, Japan or Korea. How about making a visit to Singapore’s only hot spring (on main island. The other hot spring is located on P. Tekong so we can forget about paying it a visit anytime soon!) that has been in existence since 1908? Yes, our very own hot spring! Bet that this is a little fact that you didn’t know about Singapore!

Brief History of Sembawang Hot Spring

1908 – Sembawang Hot Spring was founded by Chinese merchant, Seah Eng Keong

1909 – A bottling plant was built next to the hot spring to bottle the spring water for sale. The hot spring was renamed as “Seletar Hot Spring”

1921 – F&N bought over the company (originally known as Singapore Hot Springs Limited) and started advertising the spring water under brands such as “Zom” and “Vichy Water”

1942 -1945 – The area was taken over by the Japanese during WWII and used as a recreational thermal baths for their officers

1985 – The land was acquired by the government for military use

2002 – The hot spring was eventually opened to public, free for all

From my lens: A pictorial view of my virgin hot spring experience (and as silly as it might sound, I’m stoked that it all started in Singapore.)

For those who of you who are expecting to see a pool of hot spring nestled amidst lush greenery and floral (like those in Japan or Taiwan), I’m sorry to disappoint you but the reality is that you will be greeted by a concrete base with metal pipes channeling hot spring water. Probably, the only hot spring of its kind in the region. Doesn’t look too welcoming, does it?

The actual hot spring well that is hidden and locked behind the bars

A basic shelter for the caretaker

While doing my research on the Sembawang Hot Spring, I came across this article (dated Feb 2010) in STOMP regarding the mis-use of the Hot Spring by this particular Chinese woman. To summarize it, the woman was spotted utilizing free water supply by washing her clothes with buckets of mineral water. A year later, we spotted this lady, with a gentleman whom I presume is her husband, turning a corner of the public facility into their own makeshift “home” (please see below). Not surprisingly, she was washing piles and piles of clothes with the free water (she claimed that the hot water is good to sterilize herΒ  clothes and get rid of all bacteria/dirt) and as if that’s not inconsiderate enough, her husband had intentionally left 3 taps turned on so that he can enjoy the steam from the hot spring. Honestly, this is exactly the sort of undesirable behavior displayed by these black sheeps that simply supports the stereotyping of this particular group of people.

Preparing a bucket of hot mineral water so that we can starting soaking our feet. Just in case if you were wondering, there are plenty of chairs and pails available within the area but do take note that it’s on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Enjoying our therapeutic foot bath! Water was pipping hot, said to be about 50-80 Degrees Celsius. We had to wait for about 15mins before we could even attempt to immerse our feet into the pail and even then, we had to constantly mix the water with cooler water (that had been left untouched for several hours) just so that it was at an ideal temperature (40-50 degrees?).

Spending an hour at the hot spring also gave us the opportunity to people-watch – Spotted a couple of guys, armed with empty containers, collecting containers-load of water to bring home. Most probably for the “detoxifying/healing” properties that the natural spring is said to have. It was also a hilarious sight to see people actually soaking themselves in makeshift bath-tubs! Yes, you heard me right … al fresco bath-tubs!

My verdict? As pathetic as it might look (3 of us sharing 2 buckets of water), I actually found myself enjoying this cheap thrill of pampering my tired and often abused feet (due to long standing hours at work). Very refreshing and therapeutic, highly recommended for those who do not mind a no-frills DIY hot spring session!Β  You might also want to consider bringing eggs to cook, just for the thrill of it lol. Yes, apparently the water is so hot that you can whip up a yummy egg breakfast for yourself right at the hot spring! Am planning a weekend getaway to the Sungei Klah Hot Spring Park in IPOH with some of my girlfriends soon. πŸ™‚

Details of Sembawang Hot Springs

Operating Hours: 7am to 7pm
Admission: Free
Address: Along Gambas Ave, in between the fenced-up military camps

11 responses to “. sembawang hot spring .

  1. I went there during my sec sch days. it was such a hit then.. when news of this hot spring was broadcast to the citizens.

    each time i go pass here, it brings back fond memories.. hehe

  2. I MUST SAY STEPH, you’re really good at sourcing for such gems in SG! I’ve to salute you!

  3. Thanks to your blog entry it helped me to find the hot spring today! Thanks for that! It was very nice to soak in the hot spring water, with greenery and soft breeze.
    That PRC woman you mentioned also arrived there about an hour after I did and proceeded to do her laundry, brush her teeth etc. She even soaked a couple pairs of slippers etc. Too much stuff, came with a market trolley full of stuff.
    I suspect that my boyfriend and I maybe unintentionally ‘took her corner’ because she came over to our corner, then went over to some uncles at the other far corner. The uncles have been ignoring us all these time and she said something to them. Then one of them came over and told us we are doing something wrong and the army will fine us. That was when the PRC woman chimed in “yeah! fine $1000!” in mainland accented mandarin. I really wanted to ask her how much is the fine for washing clothes then, since the signs there clearly stated, in picture (cannot say she is illiterate), that you are not allowed to wash clothes there. But I kept my peace. We were not doing anything wrong either, but just kept quiet and continued soaking quietly, while she continued her washing.
    Sigh, such a nice little corner of Singapore, our only hot spring (besides inaccessible Tekong). I think it should be enjoyed by the people of this country. Such a shame that there’s people like that to spoil the tranquility of the place and want to use the facilities for their own selfish reasons and do not want to share.

    • Hi Christy πŸ™‚

      First of all, I’m so glad that you and your bf managed to find this hidden gem! It is certainly therapeutic to soak our often tired and “abused” feet into a pool of hot mineral spring water. I look forward to visiting a bigger natural hot spring in Malaysia, Taiwan or Japan soon.

      OMG. I cannot help but to agree with you on how gross and disgusting the lady is. She has absolutely no right to scold or lecture anyone regarding the mis-use of the hot spring. In fact, she’s probably a prime example of someone who lacks manners and abuse public facilities. such an embarrassment! I’m really sorry that you have to suffer the brunt of her complaints and lack of mannerism. It’s rude enough that she’s already making a home out of the place, but pls don’t chase other people from sharing the facilities when the place obviously doesn’t belong to her. Makes me wonder if there’s something that the authority can do to prevent her from being a public nuisance. 😦

      Nonetheless, I’m so happy to hear that you and your bf have enjoyed yourselves so much! Ever consider a return trip? πŸ™‚

  4. Actually my bf has psorasis which was what prompted my search for the hot spring in the first place. We went to hot springs overseas and by accident realised it helped a lot? Then, I seem to vaguely remember one in SG and Googled for it, which brought me to your blog entry! πŸ™‚
    So yeah, probably we would be going back again, cos other then that one unpleasant episode it was a really relaxing experience and hopefully it helps with his skin condition. Haha, my bf sat in a chair with his feet soaked and a soaked towel on his head, and fell asleep. πŸ™‚

    • Oh, I see.

      Likewise, my mum has eczema. The hot spring could have helped her skin condition by a little, but insignificant. Perhaps, we might have to consider staying there for a longer period of time in order to see the effects. HAHA. Wow, sounds like you got yourself a hot-spring addicted boyfriend! :p I can’t believe that he actually fell asleep while getting his feet soaked.

      Have you visited the hot springs in Sungai Klah, Perak? Wanted to head there over this coming long weekend or May Day long weekend but I’m afraid that I might not have the time to do so. It seems like a fun-filled place with great natural hot springs catered to people of all ages! Am certainly very interested to check it out πŸ™‚

  5. We spent one evening in a hot spring near Manila and his psorasis was so much better. We were thinking if we knew we would have spent more days at the hot spring to see if it helps. He said he has psorasis on his shoulder as well but a week long hol at a beach destination and soaking in the sea cured that. Now he just has psorasis on his scalp. Let’s see if the Sembawang hot spring helps! My parents want to do too so I can probably make it a family outing.

    I’ve never been to hot springs in Malaysia but it sounds fun! I hope you get to explore, and blog about it. πŸ™‚ Let me know if it’s any good and I can go too. I love exploring!

    • That’s great news for your boyfriend! Good to hear that his condition has improved by tons. Yes, it’s a great place for a family outing. Sure, the place might look a little too barren but who cares when there’s a hot spring? :p I might be making a return trip with my mother and grandmother sometime soon too.

      Yes, trust me that I’ll definitely blog about the hot springs in Msia … when I finally get the chance to head down there. Work’s getting so busy these days that it’s getting harder to find a breather. I need work-life balance!

  6. Pingback: 11 places in S’pore you said you’d explore but didn’t because excuses | Mothership.SG

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