Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, MacRitchie Reservoir and Pulau Ubin aren’t the only places to get in touch with nature! Get exploring with our rugged round-up
This may come as a surprise, but we do have a sheer number of parks and nature reserves that are hidden away from our rapidly developing cityscape! From forested hills to swampy wetlands, Singapore’s parks have loads to offer to the intrepid hiker. Here’s our list of 17 trails that’ll get you out of the urban gridlock and back into nature.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
It’s no Everest, that’s for sure, but you’ll certainly give your calves a workout as you make your way to the summit of Singapore’s highest peak. Keep your eyes peeled and you might spot some of Singapore’s more elusive wildlife like the Sunda Pangolin and the Blue Bronzeback snake. The hill also retains historical significance, being the spot of the British military’s final stand against the invading Imperial Japanese Army.
Connecting parks along Singapore’s south is this 10km connector trail that offers its fair share of scenic vistas. While not a hiking destination in itself, the trail connects to five other parks, so hikers can use this path to begin exploring other areas. For instance, connecting Mount Faber to Telok Blangah Hill Park is the Henderson Waves – Singapore’s tallest pedestrian bridge, and a structure famous for its distinctive wave-like architecture.
Macritchie Reservoir Park
Macritchie Reservoir Park is probably one of Singapore’s most popular hiking trails, and for good reason! For starters, the park offers hikers beautiful tropical scenery, an impressive variety of wildlife and peaceful, secluded hiking paths. Spanning Bukit Peirce and Bukit Kalang, you’ll find the HSBC Treetop Walk, an aerial walkway that will give you a bird’s eye view (definitely Insta-worthy) of the forest’s canopy. Here, you’ll get to see flying lemurs and long-tailed macaques up close in their natural habitat.
Fort Canning Park
If your knowledge of Fort Canning Park merely extends to its reputation as a site for music festivals, you’re missing out big time! Delve a little deeper into the lush greenery and you’ll find remnants of the park’s rich cultural heritage, like the Battle Box. The hill’s history goes back much further than that though, archaeological digs have unearthed remains of ancient brick buildings, thought to be palaces of ancestral kings. Definitely a must-see for history buffs who prefer the great outdoors to stuffy museums.
Paved paths and built-up treetop walks not rough enough for you? Hop on a bumboat and take a trip back in time at Pulau Ubin. Here, you’ll catch a glimpse of what Singaporean life was like back in the ’60s. Put on a good pair of boots and take to the Chek Jawa wetlands where you’ll trek through six distinct ecosystems. Don’t forget to fill up on some rustic kampung fare before you leave the island too!
Labrador Nature Reserve
Shutterbugs will want to pack their cameras for this park! One of Singapore’s most scenic seaside trails, the Labrador Nature Reserve boardwalk will bring you past cliff sides, secondary forests and marshes. The trail also gives hikers a stellar view of Singapore’s picturesque coastline. The park is also well known for its abundance of wildlife, so you’ll quickly get used to seeing squirrels scurrying across the boardwalk. Cuties!
The Green Corridor
Once a railway track, The Green Corridor has since been repurposed into a hiking trail. Much like the Southern Ridges, this trail serves as a connector between several parks, like Bukit Timah and Kranji Wetlands. Along this trail, you’ll find grasslands, streams and marshes that are teeming with life, thanks to the area being relatively untouched.
In light of the Murnane Pipeline Project, sections of the Green Corridor south of Holland Road will be closed. Reopening of the affected areas will commence end of 2017. For updates, refer to the Public Utilities Board Facebook page.
Upper Peirce Reservoir
This tranquil park offers several easy-going lakeside trails that won’t leave you huffing and puffing. Like most of the parks in the Bukit Timah area, the forest is home to large populations of long-tailed macaque, so keep an eye on your trail snacks!
Lower Peirce Reservoir
Continue hiking from the Upper Peirce Reservoir and you’ll find yourself surrounded by the dense forests of Lower Pierce Reservoir. The 900m boardwalk will lead you through the forest and along the reservoir, offering hikers some captivating scenes.
Sungei Buluh Wetland Reserve
Singapore’s first wetland reserve is home to a myriad of riverine species including water monitors, mudskippers and, if you’re really lucky (or unlucky), the ferocious estuarine crocodile. If you happen to be trekking through the park’s many trails during migratory season, you’ll definitely be able to see flocks of shorebirds like sandpipers and plovers.
Mount Faber Park
One of Singapore’s oldest parks, Mount Faber offers guests much more amenities than most other trails. If you’re not that big on the great outdoors, skip the hike and take the cable car to the summit where you can take a peek through several telescopes at the look-out points.
Bukit Batok Nature Park
Want to enjoy the greenery without working your butt off on a crazy hiking trail? Bukit Batok Nature Park offers some pretty laid-back walking trails that’ll reward you with some stunning views and crystal clear lakes. Hardcore hikers looking to get closer to nature can go off the beaten path and explore some of the less-travelled forest paths – just be careful!
Changi East Boardwalk
Sure, the more intrepid hikers might scoff at a ‘trail’ that’s pretty much all boardwalk, but there’s plenty to see here besides the holiday chalets and the famous Changi Village Food Centre. This easy-going boardwalk will take you past fishing villages and beaches before finally culminating at Changi Point, where you can reward yourself with some killer nasi lemak.
If you think Pulau Ubin is rustic and untouched, Coney Island is even less developed. Only recently opened to the public, this ecologically sustainable park makes use of timber from fallen Casuarina trees to build signage, benches and the mangrove boardwalk. Budding botanists with keen eyes should look out for several rare plant species that are presumed to be extinct in mainland Singapore. And the island also serves as a refuge for migratory birds, so wildlife enthusiasts might want to pack a camera and a zoom lens.
Dairy Farm Nature Park
The Dairy Farm Nature Park’s Wallace Trail is not as done-up as other trails in Singapore, so expect mud and some harrowing terrain. While mostly used by mountain bikers, the trail is easily traversable by foot. At the end of the hike, you’ll find the Singapore Quarry that has been converted into a wetland habitat with a viewing area that lets hikers admire some of Singapore’s freshwater flora and fauna.
Chestnut Nature Park
If you prefer a more laid-back hike, grab the family and head to the newly opened Chestnut Nature Park and take advantage of its relatively flat 2.1km hiking trail that’ll hardly break a sweat. Want a little more adventure? Hop on your mountain bike and own the 1.6km mountain bike trail instead.
With three unique biomes, Kranji Marshes is the perfect destination for wildlife enthusiasts. The marsh habitat is home to a broad range of aquatic plants, insects, fish and water birds like the purple heron. Lucky explorers in the woodland area of the park might even spot threatened bird species like the Changeable Hawk Eagle and the Grey-headed Fish Eagle.