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  • Writer's pictureMaureen Pfaff

15 Hikes & Parks of Singapore

Updated: Apr 5, 2021

A lot of people think of Singapore as a concrete jungle. When you stand next to Lau Pa Sat in the Central Business District I could almost agree. However, for anyone living in Singapore they can tell you how much nature there is on this small island state. Covid forced us to really explore every corner of this island, but a lot of good came from it: Here is a list of 15 great walks and hikes through different areas of Singapore!

1. McRitchie - half day hike

Yes, yes. Everyone has heard of this one. McRitchie Reservoir is actually the oldest one in Singapore, completed in 1868. The great thing about this park is that you can choose a hiking route based on your time and ability from the shortest 3km one to the all-encompassing 11km long route. The main reason why people go to McRitchie, is to see the Treetop Walk. It’s a bridge between two towers that spans high above the treetops and therefore grants an incredible view of the reservoir. It’s worth getting there early, as the bridge has been known for forming a bit of a queue. Watch out for the sneaky macaque monkeys that are waiting for you to drop something (a bottle of water, or maybe even some snacks) and definitely avoid eye contact, as they see it as a threat and might attack you. Other than the treetop walk I can also recommend climbing up the Jelutong Tower, which gives you a different but equally majestic view of the reserve. On top of that if you are feeling hot from all that hiking, you can go kayaking on the reservoir river.

2. Southern Ridges & Henderson Waves - 2h hike

This walk above the city is by far not as green or remote as McRitchie, however, it’s a completely different perspective of Singapore. It’s a 10km walk that is made up of several shorter and smaller walks (which you can also do separately) including Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and Labrador Nature Reserve. I can recommend though to do them all back to back for a lovely afternoon activity. Mount Faber is the second highest peak in Singapore (with an astounding 94m) and is one of the oldest park areas. My personal favourite is the Telok Blangah Hill Park, which brings you up quite high as well surrounded by a beautiful garden with an incredible view of the city. The view is almost surreal. It also includes a long winded ramp down to the road at the end of the path, which is built into the treeline and therefore thrones above the city. Whilst walking down this path you feel very far away from Singapore. Lastly I need to talk about the Henderson Waves Bridge, which is an architectural grandiosity. At 36m above the ground, this bridge is the longest pedestrian bridge in Singapore with 274m across. As expected from its name, the bridge is shaped in a way that mimics waves, which make it look almost alive.

3. Sungei Buloh & Kranji Marshes - 2h hike

I am always surprised to hear when locals tell me they have never been to this place, because it’s “too far away”. Yes, it’s almost in Malaysia, however, that doesn’t mean much when people live in Malaysia and commute to Singapore every day (pre-covid). From the city centre it’s about a 45min cab ride, basically to the completely other side of Singapore. It’s definitely worth it though! Especially if you are into crocodiles. Crocodiles? Yes, they have wild crocodiles in Singapore. This is not a zoo. The full loop is around 8.5km

long, but it’s all on even terrain without much elevation. It’s so far North West, that for some of the trail my phone lost connection as it thought I was in Malaysia. Now, why go all the way to (almost) Malaysia you ask? Ah yes, the crocodiles. When I went I was incredibly lucky as I saw four crocodiles within the first hour. As it’s not a zoo, you never know when you will get to see one. There are some areas where it says they are more common here, however, I know a lot of people have been disappointed. The trick is to take your time, look at the wetlands for longer times

until you see some movement. Apart from the crocodiles I was also really surprised by the size of the monitor lizards. Having seen komodo dragons on Komodo island before, it felt they were almost the same size. Crazy big! And lots of them, everywhere. My absolutely favourite part though was the fruit bats. These are usually hanging out by the entrance and were so fun to watch (and even had little babies, can you see it in the photo?)

4. Thomson Nature Park - 1.5h hike

Thomson Nature Park is truly unique, as it’s not only a great hike and time spent in nature, but it’s also culturally very rich, because it’s the home of an abandoned Hainan village. Whilst walking around the 3.8km trail you will find all sorts of ruins from this former village in the 1930s. It might be half a wall or just bits of a pathway, but in some areas you can see ruins of full houses even, including the kitchen tiles and toilets. Hainanese immigrants established the kampung in the 1930s and by the 1960s, there were close to 100 residents, and you can even still see 2 road signs! In the 1980s the residents moved out due to housing development plans, and then nature took over. There’s something about this place that really sets it apart. Seeing ruins of abandoned villages is not a usual sight in Singapore, where a new building shoots up every month it feels like. I can highly recommend this one as it’s so different from other parks in Singapore.

5. Bukit Timah - 2h hike

This one is another quite well-known one, especially for people who have lived in Singapore for a while. The 163-ha reserve includes Singapore’s highest mountain (well… hill rather) at 163m. Even though this is by no means a mountain it still turns your afternoon hike into quite the workout! You are greeted with steep hills and stairs, which will work those glutes.

Due to the tropical weather here, Bukit Timah has one of the highest biodiversities when it comes to plants and animals. Doing a full round would probably take around 2h.

On top of great hiking routes there is also a mountain bike trail (which I haven’t done yet, but if you are into cycling you can find more cycle routes in Singapore here).

6. Bukit Batok - 1h hike

Bukit Batok is a relatively small park area, and the distinguishing feature is the quarry in the centre of it, that attracts a lot of visitors on a daily basis. The quarry has a lot of history as it was a place where Japanese soldiers memorialised the dead during their Singapore occupation. You can still see the old transmission tower! It’s a great place to take any visitors, as the quarry is quite impressive. From the quarry (which is pretty much at the centre of this park) span a few different short hiking routes through the green forest. It’s a short hike (if it can be called a hike…) and can be a fun activity with kids as well, as there are some playground areas for them to enjoy.

7. Green Corridor (Railway Corridor) & Clementi Forest - full day hike

I am grouping these two together, as Clementi Forest is essentially part of the Green Corridor. If you are interested in a longer walk, I would definitely recommend to do the entire Green Corridor. It’s also called the Railway Corridor because a lot of it runs through old railway tracks. It hasn’t been fully completed yet (and only will around 2025), which means the 42km of it get interrupted by construction sites every now and then, however, it’s still absolutely worth it. There is a South route of it and a North route of it. The northern one starts at Kranji Marshes (almost in Malaysia) and ends at the Old Bukit Timah Railway Station. The southern one goes from Bukit Timah Railway Station all the way to Jalan Kilang Barat at Alexandra. The best part of the southern part is Clementi Forest. The forest is one of the wildest and most rural areas I have seen in Singapore. It consists of two parts, one which is the Railway track, and the other is an open area. The 14km railway is known as the Jurong Railway Line and was completed in 1965. It was used to transport cargo goods between Malaysia and Jurong in Singapore. What’s great about it, is that they are now abandoned and have been for a while. During these past years nature has taken hold of the tracks and in some areas they disappear completely. Trees and plants have grown so quickly about it, that they created a sort of tunnel around it that you can walk through. Definitely bring some good shoes, as depending on the season it can get very muddy and slippery.

Once you emerge from that nature tunnel a huge lush green expanse opens up in front of you, as you can see in the photo. There is a small path going through the banana leaves and if you are small (like me) you can disappear underneath them. The giant trees that mark the sky make you feel like you are in a jungle. This place in particular always makes me feel like I am somewhere far away from Singapore and the city life, but it’s only a 20min cab ride from the city centre. Once again, the prejudice that Singapore is a concrete jungle is disproven. I have been there a few times and would be eager to go back any time.

8. Pasir Ris Park & Tampines Eco Green - 2h hike

Two of the lesser known parks in Singapore, but great to be done together. I would recommend to take a walk through Pasir Ris Park first (maybe even have a picnic there) and then walk the 20min to Tampines Eco Green, which is very rural and kept quite wild. It almost looks like Singapore authorities tried to tame the area, but it just didn’t work and nature fought back. The official NParks site calls it a “sanctuary for flora and fauna and a place for nature recreation”. It’s an oasis from the city with a relatively short walk all around it, including some wetlands, grassland and forests. Definitely some of the best nature Singapore has to offer. Pasir Ris on the other hand extends into a huge 70 hectares park, which connects to the beach even. It includes activities for kids and families, in-line skating and even pony riding.

9. Jurong Bird Park - 3h hike

I know what you are thinking. Bird Park? Like a zoo? I’m definitely not a fan of zoos, but this one is a huge, beautiful park where the birds get to roam around freely. It’s spread over 20 hectares big! It’s Asia’s largest bird park with 5,000 birds from 400 different species. My favourite was the Flamingo Lake, which looked absolutely beautiful, especially when all of them moved in the exact same direction at the same time. The highlight of the park was a huge enclosure, which had all sorts of bird walking and flying around and that’s where I saw these ones. Turns out this is a Victoria Crowned... Pigeon. It actually takes quite a while to walk around the entire park, I would recommend to calculate around 3h. The only thing about the park that really annoyed me was that they had a cooled down area with Penguins… definitely don’t think they were needed and they didn’t look like they were enjoying themselves in their cold prison very much.

10. Pulau Ubin - half day to full day hike

Pulau Ubin (also a great place to cycle, check out my Cycling to see Singapore blog post here) is the biggest Singapore island, off the Eastern coast. In the 1960s the island was home to a few thousand settlers, but only a few dozen remain. People say what the island looks like now is what Singapore looked like 60 years ago. In order to get to Pulau Ubin you need to take a ferry, which costs around SGD 2-4.

The ferries are running all day, however, they don’t have a specific schedule, meaning they only leave once around 10-12 people are on board, in order to make it worth a trip. Therefore, make sure you come with some extra time to spare. Once you get to the island there are A LOT of different hiking paths and you could hike around the island all day and still discover new ones (it’s a lot bigger than you might think). Some are along the main road and tarmaced, others are more hiding and lead to some beautiful views in cul-de-sacs. One area I’d like to call out specifically are the wetlands on Ubin. A boardwalk has been created to walk through them without special shoes or equipment, and if you are into seeing mudskippers and other flora and fauna I would highly recommend it! On top of cycling or hiking around this beautiful island, it’s also possible to camp overnight. They have 4 different campsites, but make sure to apply for your permit in advance.

11. Coney Island (Pulau Serangoon) - 1h hike

Another island! This one was also mentioned in my other blog post article “Cycling to see Singapore”, however, if you are more into hiking than cycling, read on. Coney Island, or also called Pulau Serangoon is to the North of Singapore and it’s a long stretched piece of land. It’s lovely to enter on one side (by crossing a bridge on foot) and walk to the other side of it (exiting through another bridge). The path is very easy to follow and it’s all very flat, great for an afternoon stroll, but nothing too exhausting. I would recommend planning around 2h to walk across it, especially if you want to check out some of the smaller more hidden paths and stop at the beaches to take photos or look across to see Malaysia. The most memorable part for me from this island was the amount of wildlife we saw. From the common macaque monkeys (we saw lots of them), to monitor lizards, otters and even a herd of wild street dogs! This is definitely an area that is highly underrated and not visited by too many people (especially in comparison to Pulau Ubin).

12. East Coast Park - 2h hike

Whilst being very well known as a cycle route, you can also walk through East Coast Park. It’s a lovely weekend stroll, and you can appreciate all of the 15km promenade along the way. Granted the views aren’t amazing, as Singapore is one of the biggest ports in the world and therefore a line of cargo ships hides the horizon, however, it’s lovely to stop for a drink along the way, or you can even rent rollerblades! The park was built under the motto “Recreation for All” and offers activities for all age groups. You can camp, do picnics & BBQs under the palm trees, play beach volleyball or just go for a walk. Most recently you can also camp at the park again!

13. Fort Canning - 1h walk

This is a park in the city centre of Singapore (close to Clarke Quay) that consists of 9 historical gardens. It’s easily accessible by foot through some of the stair entrances and can turn into a lovely morning or afternoon walk, spanning around 2.5km. It makes for a nice weekend activity that is not too strenuous but will give you a new perspective of Singapore with the incredibly green views right in the city centre, walking across cobblestones. If you are interested in cycling the park, you can check out my blog post here.

14. Bollywood veggies - 1h walk

I wasn’t sure whether I should include this one here, as it’s less of a hike and more of a walk around a beautiful garden. However, with the intention to show as many beautiful places in Singapore as possible, I couldn’t not share it. Bollywood veggies is first and foremost a restaurant that prides itself in using only fresh produce from their own garden.

Whilst I can highly recommend eating here (the food is delicious), my favourite part about this place is the actual garden, which you can walk around in. Now, when I say garden, don’t underestimate the size of this thing. I would plan at least 1h to get lost in it, and longer if you are very interested in species of plants. Every plant has their own name tag, and so it’s heaven on earth for the botanists amongst you. If you are interested, you can take a 30-45min tour, or even help with the harvest. Bollywood veggies is run by an elderly couple, and besides investing a lot into farming in Singapore and local produce (no pesticides or fertilizers used on site) they also make it a point to hire challenged and less fortunate Singaporeans. No matter if you are a hobby botanist or just enjoy great and fresh food, this place should definitely be high on your list. It’s quite far away from the city centre, however, worth spending an entire afternoon here.

15. Coast to Coast Walk - full day hike

Yes, it actually is what it sounds like. A walk that runs coast to coast.

I have included this walk here, as it’s definitely unique to Singapore that you can walk from one end of the island to the other end in a single day. It spans 36km, and took us around 8-9h (including a lunch break at this hawker centre). I have to admit that it’s definitely not the most scenic park. This walk has one goal, and one goal only, that is to get you to the other coast. It skips any parks or green areas worth visiting and a lot of it is along busy roads. It still feels like a great achievement and I can highly recommend doing it with a bigger group! What makes it very easy to find are all the signs scattered along the entire path, with checkpoints and motivational notes to keep you going.

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt”
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