Explore the city state’s outdoorsy side!
Singapore is primarily known as an urban getaway, with its architecture, shopping and dining options. Singapore, however, and primarily the National Parks Board, has made great progress and conserving green spaces and other outdoor spaces for everyone to enjoy. Beyond the beaches and adventure parks on Sentosa Island (some manmade), there are many under-appreciated ways to explore Singapore’s natural diversity. From nature trails to mangrove forests to treetop walks, here are ten spots in Singapore to enjoy the outdoors.
Chestnut Nature Park
At just over 200 acres, Chestnut Nature Park is Singapore’s largest nature park. The park is planted with native tree species as part of the National Parks Board’s biodiversity conservation efforts. The park offers separate trails for hikers and mountain bikers to enjoy. There are two hiking trails: the one on the north side of the park is 3.5 kilometers (just over 2 miles) long while the south side has a shorter trail at 2.1 kilometers (1.3 miles). The mountain biking trails in Chestnut Nature Park totals 8.2 kilometers (5 miles) of trails.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Sungei Buloh is the island nation’s first ASEAN Heritage Park and encompasses 202 hectares of wetlands including a mangrove forest. The free guided walks and new trails in the reserve are a great way to enjoy the biodiversity of Singapore. Sungei Buloh is a haven for bird watchers year-round, but especially during the migratory season between September and March as the mudflats here serve as a stopover point for these birds.
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Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Some know Bukit Timah as a residential area for the wealthy, but the name comes from a hill in the area—Bukit Timah is the highest peak in Singapore. While the hill is not that tall at around 537 feet, the 163 acres of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve offers various hiking trail and bicycle routes, some of which take trekkers to the top of Bukit Timah. The area surrounding the peak is one of the last remaining primary rainforests in Singapore (referring to untouched forest that is in its original condition). It was declared an ASEAN Heritage Park in 2011. This nature reserve also has the first mountain biking trail in Singapore and holds a nature appreciation walk every month.
Treetop Walk at MacRitchie Nature Trail & Reservoir Park
The MacRitchie Reservoir Park offers a nice balance of ground and water activities between the nature trails and canoeing in the reservoir, but one of the major highlights is the treetop walk. The treetop walk is a suspension bridge that connects Bukit Peirce and Bukit Kalang, the two highest points in MacRitchie Park, and offers a bird’s eye view from above the forest canopy. Standing 82 feet above the forest floor at its highest point, the treetop walk starts from Peirce Track and ends at Petaling Trail (traffic on the bridge is one-directional). While the treetop walk is a short walk, the entrance is about a mile from the park entrance, so combine it with other trails for a nice day hike.
Palawan Beach on Sentosa Island is one of the best free beaches to go to for families with its white sandy beach and facilities including lockers, free showers, and restaurants around the beach. Palawan Beach offers additional kid-friendly activities with its aviary and an animal show at the Palawan Amphitheatre. For a mini-adventure, there’s also a suspension bridge connecting it to an island off the coast which is Singapore’s closest point to the equator (there are signs indicating it is continental Asia’s southernmost point, which is true when considering the island is connected to continental Asia by a bridge).
Lazarus Beach offers a quieter escape compared to the beaches on Sentosa Island, thanks to its relatively remote location. Lazarus Beach is harder to get to, but that means fewer crowds. Lazarus Island can be reached via a 15-minute boat ride from the Marina South Pier to St. Johns Island followed by a short walk across the bridge connecting St. Johns Island and Lazarus Island. What the small island lacks in amenity, it makes up for it in serenity and landscape.
Fort Siloso Skywalk
This free skywalk on Sentosa Island was opened in 2015 as part of Singapore’s Golden Jubilee celebration. The treetop trail is 11 stories high and 181 meters long, bringing explorers to historic Fort Siloso, a gun battery built in the late 1800s. There is a glass elevator that takes you to the beginning of the skywalk running from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., but there are also stairs the public can use during off-hours.
Mega Adventure Park
Sentosa’s Mega Adventure Park is the destination for thrill-seekers as well as for team building activities. The MegaZip is a 450-meter-long zip line that starts off 75 meters off the ground. The popular zipline takes you from the treetops and across the water, landing on one of the islets off Siloso Beach. There’s a high ropes adventure course, a bungee jump from 15 meters high, as well as a bungee assisted trampoline. Plan a full day out with family or friends and save by getting a package deal for all three activities.
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Eastern Coastal Park Connector Network Cycling Trail
This 26-mile loop is a favorite among cyclists as it connects the diverse sceneries of the East Coast including beach parks, heritage trees, and mangroves. There are easy starting points such as Sun Plaza Park near the Tampines MRT station. If there’s extra time, the Changi Park Connector is a good spot to take a boat trip to Pulau Ubin, where the Ketam Mountain Bike Park is located. East Coast Park, Singapore’s largest park, is a good pit stop with various food and entertainment offerings.
Marina Bay Walk
This urban walk is easily accessible and passes by many attractions along Marina Bay and the waterfront. The Merlion statue at Merlion Park is a good starting point, followed by a stroll along the water to The Esplanade. Check out the architecture of Theatres on the Bay’s concert hall, nicknamed the Durian by locals as its shape and design resemble the spiky tropical fruit of the same name. Head east towards the Singapore Flyer before turning onto the Helix Bridge to Marina Bay Sands. There is much to explore in this area before looping back around to your starting point.