When you think about Singapore, hiking is probably not what first comes to your mind. Perhaps you thought about Marina Bay Sands, Orchard Road, the Botanic Gardens, or Gardens by the Bay. Well, you are in for a surprise. Singapore has some wonderful hiking and outdoor experiences for you to sample.
I was born and raised in Singapore. My partner, Sue Davies, and I live in the U.S. for most of the year and enjoy winter sojourns in Singapore and South East Asia. This has given us a lot of time to explore (for Sue) and revisit (for me) many areas of Singapore.
Singapore is a city-state of about 300 square miles. For the purpose of this article, everything lies within the city of Singapore, and none of the suggested hikes are more than 30 miles apart. The following parks and reserves are all part of the National Parks of Singapore.
1. Wander The Sungei Buloh Wetland Nature Reserve
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is Singapore’s first Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Heritage Park. Comprising 215 acres of immense biodiversity, this ecological site is full of mudflats, mangrove swamps, ponds, and forests.
If you are an avid bird watcher, then visit the reserve during migration season to see herons, kingfishers, sunbirds, and others. There are many bird blinds in the park. You’ll also find native inhabitants, including mud crabs, mudskippers, and even otters. Occasionally, you may run into monitor lizards sunning themselves on the many trails and along the boardwalks.
Most people spend just a few hours, especially if they have not brought enough food or drink, but you can easily spend most of the day at Sungei Buloh wandering all of the paths.
Download a map of the reserve that lists the many trails, boardwalks, and observation pods. If you have children, the worksheets on the website are helpful when it comes to identifying the creatures you may see along your walk. Make sure to follow the loop trails back to the visitor center when you are leaving.
The visitor center has additional information and maps. It also has vending machines (beverages only) and bathroom facilities. You’ll need to bring your own food. The park is wheelchair accessible and the boardwalk trails are easy.
How To Get There: Bus 925 from Kranji MRT takes you to the Kranji Reservoir Carpark B, which is across the road from the visitor center.
2. View The Southern Ridges: Mount Faber Road To Kent Ridge Park
Growing up, I always wanted to hike Singapore’s Southern Ridges, which comprise Telok Blangah Hill, Mount Faber Park, and Kent Ridge Park. I used to spy hikers as they walked along the treetop canopy walkways from the windows of my parent’s high-rise flat.
Extending over six miles, the trails connect three parks from Kent Ridge (I attended university at the Kent Ridge campus) to the HarbourFront. At almost 120 feet above ground, Henderson Waves is not to be missed. The beautiful architectural, undulating wave-like structure bridges two parks, Telok Blangah Hill and Mount Faber Park, and offers excellent views with benches for resting.
In the bustling city of Singapore, you will experience tranquility while hiking along the tops of trees in the reforested area while observing fauna and wildlife.
The trails are all easy with good signage. In some areas, the gradient is a little steep. There are a lot of stairs on the way to the tops of the hills, the canopy walks, and the Henderson Waves.
Do note that the canopy walks are constructed of metal grills, and if you are afraid of heights, it might be best to avoid looking down. Bathroom facilities are available throughout the parks.
Allow three to four hours to walk from Telok Blangah to Mount Faber. Add another two hours if you plan to cover Kent Ridge Park. There are butterfly and landscaped gardens in HortPark, which is part of Kent Ridge.
Try to do the walk either in the early morning or at dusk when the temperatures are not too high nor the sun too strong. A hat and water are essential along with some insect repellent.
We recommend breaking your hike to have lunch or a cold drink at Alkaff Mansion. It is a lovely restaurant at the top of Mount Faber and features alfresco dining options.
This walk can be done in one day (you’ll have to start very early to beat the sun) or broken up into different segments.
How To Get There: MRT to HarbourFront, then locate the Marang Road stairs that will bring you up to Mount Faber Road to begin your hike.
3. Experience MacRitchie Reservoir Park
What started as the country’s first catchment area for rainwater in 1858, MacRitchie is one of four reservoirs that bound Singapore’s nature reserves. Measuring almost 30 acres, the peaceful and serene reservoir is very popular with families. It has many trails and boardwalks. Canoes and kayaks are available for rent. There are fitness areas, exercise stations, and picnic benches.
During one of our trips to Singapore, we stayed within walking distance of this park named for the engineer who oversaw the construction of the reservoir. We took a few morning walks and observed older folks using the outdoor exercise stations while younger runners pounded the trails.
You can even join in a tai chi or yoga class near the Mushroom Cafe or learn how to kayak. It is a pleasant way to spend your morning as you walk along the mostly flat surfaces. Enjoy the expansive view of the reservoir from the Lim Bo Seng Memorial perched at the top of a small hill. One morning, a four-foot-long monitor lizard swam lazily alongside us during our walk on the trail.
There are well-posted signs showing information on the trails. We recommend taking the suspension bridge Tree Top Walk which is an 820 feet bridge suspended 80 feet above the forest floor. If you are interested, there are also designated areas for fishing.
The Reservoir can get rather crowded on the weekends. Again, the best time to go is in the morning or early evening. Some of the boardwalks are shaded and can be enjoyed despite the afternoon sun.
Bathroom facilities are rather limited but can be found near the Mushroom Cafe.
There are long-tailed macaques in the park. Do not feed them or leave your food or valuables unattended.
How To Get There: Several buses go along Lornie Road, or the park is a short walk from the Caldecott and Marymount MRT stations.
4. Visit The Heritage Village In Thomson Nature Park
Less than five miles north of MacRitchie Reservoir, Thomson Nature Park is a section of the green buffer of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. The unique park is a conservation site for an old heritage village. Five trails loop around the former site of the old Hainan Village. You can still see the brick foundations of some of the old houses and the orchards where rambutan fruit trees were cultivated. The ruins are well roped off, but be mindful of the small elevation changes with rocky steps leading up to the houses.
If you are lucky, you will catch sight of the critically endangered Raffles’ banded langur, a subspecies of monkey found only in Singapore.
How To Get There: Buses bring you to Old Upper Thomson Road; get off after Tagore Drive.
More Pro Tips
- You can download maps and other information at the National Parks website.
- Singapore is located one degree north of the equator. That means that it is sunny and humid year-round. These hikes are best done in the early morning when it is cooler. You need plenty of sunscreen, water, and a hat.
- Dengue fever is endemic in Singapore, so insect repellent and long sleeve shirts are a good idea.
- Most of these trails can be done in sneakers or a good pair of walking shoes. Thomson Nature Park has the most uneven ground.
These are our four favorite nature hikes and walks in Singapore. You might also like to check out Labrador Nature Reserve, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Punggol Waterway, or Fort Canning Park. And, of course, there are extensive walks within the Botanic Gardens.
Singapore is full of wonderful things to do. These hikes are among its many hidden gems. We hope that your next trip to Singapore will include at least one of these hikes or walks.