The Hidden Trails of Singapore
Explore the island-set city’s tropical nature and multicultural heritage by foot, wheels, or paddling.
Despite being one of the world’s most futuristic cities, you can easily get away from it all on day trips to explore mangroves and rainforests within Singapore’s city limits. It’s well worth escaping the skyscrapers to see exotic wildlife such as macaques, giant monitor lizards, and otherworldly colugos – Singapore’s very own flying lemur. The tropical city-state is also incredibly diverse and rich in history, with curated heritage trails and historical landmarks woven through its streets.
Trek to the TreeTop Walk in MacRitchie Reservoir
Part of the island-nation's central catchment reserve, MacRitchie Reservoir is a gateway to nature recreation and plays an important role in forest canopy research, as well as providing a water source for residents. As the highlight of several hiking routes in MacRitchie, the TreeTop Walk has a free-standing suspension bridge offering a bird’s-eye view of forest canopy. It’s popular among avid birdwatchers, and if you’re lucky, you may spot native species such as the greater racket-tailed drongo and olive-winged bulbul.
At up to 6.2 miles, a round trip to the TreeTop Walk takes around half a day. The terrain is a mix of hiking trails and boardwalks that make for an easy trek. En route, you may spot signs of a former kampung village through the coconut palms and vegetation while discovering the wetland habitats of dragonflies and giant monitor lizards.
Insider tip: Get started early in the day to avoid the sweltering afternoon heat, and download the DIY guide to the walking trail and map of MacRitchie that’s conveniently located on the National Parks site.
Cycle the city’s accessible park connectors
With its proximity to the equator, Singapore has little seasonal variation in weather, which makes it perfect for a bicycle trip. Cleverly linked up via the Park Connector Network or PCN, cycling makes it easy to discover nature spots, with access to different parks and great scenic views along the journey. Covering more than 186 miles, the PCN is divided into six loops that pass through seldom-seen sights such as the neighborhood beaches and rivers of Singapore, along with flora and fauna including the wild smooth-coated otter families and the elusive nocturnal colugo.
Whether you’re cycling with children, or a seasoned rider, there are various difficulty levels – including the round-island route, green rail corridor trail, food tour loop, and a discovery of East Coast Bay.
Insider tip: Bicycle rentals are conveniently dotted along the way, so you can pick up and drop off your bike anytime you like.
Paddle island waterways
Singapore comprises 64 offshore islands – one of them is the beautiful and pristine Pulau Ubin, situated on the mainland’s northeastern coast. Split by tidal rivers and just a 10-minute boat ride from Changi Point ferry terminal, Pulau Ubin is a hidden wonderland of mangroves and wildlife that’s best discovered on a kayaking adventure. You can paddle through large mangrove forests where you’ll be able to spot wildlife such as long-tailed macaques, giant monitor lizards, kingfishers, and white-bellied sea eagles.
After returning your kayak, make a stop on the island and step foot in 1960s Singapore with its rustic beauty that’s untouched by urban development. Don't miss the boardwalk leading up to Chek Jawa Wetlands – one of Singapore’s richest ecosystems.
Insider tip: Chek Jawa Wetlands is best visited during low tides of 1.65 feet and below, so plan your visit around the tides table to avoid disappointment.
Stroll through heritage landmarks
Apart from nature walks and activities, you can experience the culture and heritage of Singapore through curated trails. The five-mile Jubilee Walk, for example, covers 24 historical landmarks that show the milestones of Singapore’s development, from 14th-century ancient Temasek through the colonial era, to nationhood and its future. Encompassing areas such as Fort Canning Hill, the Singapore River, Civic District and Marina Bay, the walk is easily navigated with bronze plaque markers along the way and a downloadable map to learn more about the various landmarks.
Begin at the National Museum of Singapore, which was once the Raffles Library and Museum, before stopping by lesser-known landmarks that you’d otherwise miss, such as the Armenian Apostolic Church, Old Hill Street Police Station, and the Old Parliament House.
Insider tip: Take a rest stop midway along Singapore River and enjoy a refreshing cocktail or local seafood meal to scenic views of old shophouses contrasting with the Central Business District’s towering buildings.