While there are no great mountains, deep forests or rugged coasts to hike along in Singapore, there’s no shortage of trails that will get you back in touch with nature just minutes from the bustle of city life. From half-day to full-day hikes, here are some of my favourite routes leading to or through nature that you might consider for your next dose of the great outdoors in this sunny island. This list includes routes I have done or intend to explore, as well as suggestions from the National Parks Board and across the internet.
Half-day hikes in Singapore
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (3.7km for Coastal Trail and Migratory Bird Trail)
The trails within Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve present an opportunity to experience unique habitats and wildlife no curated zoo or garden would have been able to offer. The Coastal Trail allows you to get within mangrove swamps without having to get all muddy or worry about destroying the fragile habitat. The Migratory Bird Trail on the other hand provides views of flocks of migratory birds on their stopover without the worry of possibly disturbing them. Different views await at different times of the year. Yet on any given day, there’s a good chance that you’ll spot an amazing variety of wildlife here.
In another year or so, surrounding nature areas would be integrated into the Sungei Buloh Nature Park Network. This would enhance connectivity across the zones both for wildlife and visitors. Fortunately for nature, not all of the nature reserve will be accessible to humans. Nonetheless, the new accessible areas should, together with the existing trails, provide plenty of fun for a half/full day out.
Changi Point Coastal Walk (4km round trip from Changi Village Bus Interchange/ Food Centre)
The Changi Point Coastal Walk is a scenic boardwalk along the coastline near Changi Village. Recreational clubs and chalets are spaced out along the way, keeping the air peaceful and relaxed. Soak in the sea breeze while looking out for interesting trees, wildlife, or rocky formations by the coast. Not enough for the senses? Head over to Changi Village Food Centre for a feast of local delights, well deserved after the walk. For information on the plants and animals to expect on the trail, check out this information sheet from NParks.
Fort Canning Park (Approximately 4km to cover most points of interest)
Fort Canning Hill has held much historical significance to Singapore across centuries. Traces, big and small, of past rulers remain on this hill, and nature has filled in the spaces in between. A few rounds around the hill are probably required to reach all the points of interest, which include historical landmarks, majestic trees, lookout points and instagrammable spots, as well as more recent additions to enhance the heritage of the park. For some resources on planning a trip to Fort Canning Park, here’s an overview and a Walking Trail guide.
Southern Ridges (8km from Vivocity to Haw Par Villa)
The Southern Ridges trail reconnects a series of hills that used to form a continuous ridge in the south of Singapore. The hills are covered in thick foliage, shutting the world outside, but the openings in the foliage and hill top viewpoints provide some of the most panoramic views of the city. A couple of historic spots line the route, as well as Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge, the Henderson Waves. Here’s an information sheet from NParks on the things to look out for and possible detours along the way. For a first hand account, here’s my post from a few years back.
Sentosa – Imbiah Trail and Coastal Trail (8km)
Most head to Sentosa for a weekend of fun at Universal Studios or the beaches, but there’s actually a couple of lesser known hiking routes that lead to quiet spots teeming with nature. Imbiah Trail, for one, heads through the trees up Mount Imbiah, a small hill. On the summit, there’s a commanding view of the coast, a bird watching tower, and the remains of an old British gun placement (Imbiah Battery). For some route ideas, here’s a 10,000 step route from the National Steps Challenge that will take you from Vivocity to Imbiah Trail, the Coastal Trail, Fort Siloso and finally along Siloso beach to Beach Station for public transport back to the mainland.
Macritchie Reservoir and Tree Top Walk Loop (12km)
This is a combination of the yellow trail on this map as well as the tree top walk. The loop around Macritchie Reservoir will take you from the depths of the forests to the edge of the water. Every time the trail threatens to get just a little bit boring, the view changes dramatically. The tree top walk is just a slight detour away so it’s an easy addition to the route. Do note that the tree top walk appears to be closed at the moment for maintenance but seems to be scheduled for reopening soon.
This entire route is within the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, a green oasis in the middle of a densely developed island. Native animals rare and common can be found here, but most stay away from the paths as the paths tend to get quite busy with humans. Just in case it’s your lucky day, here are some tips on staying safe in animal encounters.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
There are plenty of trails and lots to discover in Singapore’s first UNESCO Heritage Site, the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Its rich history and significance aside, the gardens are full of scenic spots, with a couple of intriguing themed gardens. Sometimes it almost feels as if stepping through the gates of the Botanic Gardens brings you somewhere far away. The noise from the busy roads just outside quickly fade away, replaced by that of the wildlife (no worries, all tame) that has found refuge in the sprawling grounds of the gardens. Hoping to add a post on the Singapore Botanic Gardens soon. For now, the abundant resources available online should get you all prepared for a trip there. Or better still, go without a plan and enjoy the adventure.
Full-day hikes in Singapore
Quarries of Singapore (15km)
This route connects some of the old granite quarries around the central region of Singapore. Granite from these quarries were once used to develop infrastructure in Singapore. The quarries closed decades ago, and nature (with some intervention) has taken over to create spectacular scenic spots that’s worth a visit, if not a day’s hike. The stars of the show are probably the Singapore Quarry and Hindhede Quarry, read all about them here.
Pulau Ubin (16km)
Being practically untouched by the relentless development of the mainland meant everyone can not only get a glimpse of life in Singapore decades back, but also enjoy the lush nature that would have been if not for our desire for progress. The abandoned quarries, the quiet beaches, old villages, forest roads and of course, Chek Jawa, are among the draws to this offshore island a short boat ride away from Changi Village. It can get crowded at times, and at certain places, but each fleeting moment of peace and quiet among the trees will definitely stand out. Covering most of the walkable areas, such as to Puaka Hill in the west, Chek Jawa to the east and Mamam campsite to the north would take approximately a day and 16km. Hoping to add a post about Pulau Ubin soon but meanwhile here is some information from NParks.
Rail Corridor (24km)
Tracing the old railway tracks which brought trains from Malaysia from Woodlands to the Central Business District, there’s plenty of nature along the Rail Corridor, also known as the Green Corridor. Some parts of the old railway have been conserved, while other parts of this corridor skirt nature reserves. These provide interesting viewpoints along the way. Sections of the Rail Corridor are still undergoing restoration works, so check out the latest updates on the works before heading over. Looking forward to doing the whole thing once it is all completed (currently scheduled for 2025)!
North Eastern Riverine Loop (26km)
While Sengkang and Punggol are pretty densely built, nature spaces along the 2 rivers that define this north eastern region, Sungei Punggol and Sungei Serangoon, provide quick respite from the towering residential blocks filling the spaces in between. This brochure by NParks probably provides all you’ll need for an enjoyable day outdoors in the North East. Highlights along the way include Sengkang Floating Wetland and Lorong Halus Wetland. Possible side trips include Coney Island and the bridges of Punggol Waterway.
Gardens by the Bay to Woodlands Waterfront – An alternative Coast to Coast Trail (42km)
Here’s a slightly longer hike in Singapore, from down south all the way up north of the island. This route connects parks and reserves while minimising time through densely built up areas. From Gardens by the Bay to Central Catchment Nature Reserve and finally to Woodlands Waterfront, there’s a little of everything in this not so little walk. Read more about it here!
More to look out for
Can’t get enough mileage out of the current park connector network? With a couple more coast to coast trails as well as a round island route in the works, there’ll be many new opportunities to string up your favourite spots all around the island just using park connectors. For more details on NParks’ designated and upcoming routes and trails, check out the following resources:
- Routes and Trails
- Map of Current Park Connector Network
- Bukit Timah-Rochor Green Corridor (Planned)
- Map of planned cross-island trails and round-island route
- Articles on the new cross-island trails (planned):
- Article on the new round-island route (planned):
Hope this has been useful, and do let me know your thoughts in the comments below!