Hiking in Singapore: A Guide

Samuel Clennett
31.03.20
5 minute read

People flock to Singapore for incredible manmade attractions such as the Esplanade Theatres on the bay and towering hotels with skyline views. But Singapore also has its greener side, making it the perfect location for hiking.

Once you’ve strolled through the Singapore Botanic Gardens and futuristic Gardens by the Bay, it’s time for a bigger adventure. Explore the real Singapore with amazing hiking trails out in the rainforests and even surrounding offshore islands.

And while you’re planning your Singapore hiking trip, don’t forget about travel money. Get a TransferWise debit MasterCard and you can spend in Singapore dollars just like a local¹ – getting the real (fairest) exchange rate with every transaction.

Hiking in Singapore

You’ll have a fantastic choice of hiking trails in Singapore, but most tend to be shorter treks. There are absolutely beautiful parks, nature reserves, marshes and forests to explore, but you won’t spend longer than a half-day completing each trail and seeing all the sights.

This can be a blessing in disguise, especially for those wanting to cram in as much as possible into a short trip. It means you can see some of Singapore’s most stunning natural sights without spending days out in the wilderness.

While there aren’t many multi-day hikes in Singapore, there’s still plenty to attract experienced hikers on the hunt for a challenging trek. For example, a great coast-to-coast trail cutting across the whole island, plus a choice of ambitious hiking trails heading into the rainforest.

Best hiking trails in Singapore

Whether you’ve got just an afternoon or a whole week to explore Singapore, you’ll find a choice of treks and trails to suit all abilities.

Here’s our guide to the top hiking trails in Singapore⁷,⁸:

  1. Thomson Nature Park

Take your pick from five trails, each offering beautiful natural scenery and plenty of chances to see wildlife. Look out for elusive creatures like the Malayan porcupine and the endangered Raffles’ banded langur monkey. You’ll even find the ruins of a former Hainan village in the heart of this nature park.

  1. Chestnut Nature Park

A great mid-level hike, Chestnut Nature Park has a choice of trails covering a total distance of around 5.6 kilometres. You can enjoy an afternoon here in Singapore’s largest park, tackling mountain hiking trails and discovering hidden streams and endangered bird species.

  1. Coast to Coast

With a total trail length of 36 kilometres, this is a whole day’s walk – or more if you want to see absolutely everything. The C2C trail links Coney Island to Jurong Lake Gardens, cutting across the whole island. If you fancy making this a multi-day trek, you can even incorporate other trails on this list as you make your way across the island.

  1. Coney Island

An ecologically sustainable park, Coney Island in the North East of Singapore offers a chance to see the island’s true character. It’s a short trek easily completed in an hour, but you might want to spend longer exploring hidden beaches and woods – not to mention meeting rare birds, macaques and butterflies.

  1. MacRitchie Trails

For some of the best trails for hiking near Singapore’s centre, head to island’s oldest nature park – MacRitchie Reservoir Park. Here, you’ll find a choice of easy walks and more ambitious 11-kilometre hikes. If you’re fine with heights, take the HSBC Treetop Walk. You’ll be holding your nerve on a 25-metre-high suspension bridge, seeing wildlife and incredible panoramic views from above. The MacRitchie Trails also offer a gateway to the heart of the rainforest.

  1. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

If your idea of a great hike involves conquering a towering mountain peak, you may be a little disappointed in Singapore. Its highest point is Bukit Timah Hill, boasting a height of just 164 metres². However, its still a satisfying hike, and you may even be rewarded with a glimpse of the Sunda Pangolin or Blue Bronzeback snake.

  1. The Learning Forest

This 100+ year old forest is nestled in the Botanic Gardens, offering a rustic, expansive extension to the existing rainforest. On this short trek (of around 2.5 kilometres), you’ll encounter wild fruit trees, wetlands and a bamboo garden.

  1. Southern Ridges and Labrador Nature Reserve

If you want to see a number of Singapore’s nature parks in one go, tackle the Southern Ridges trail. This connects five parks, acting as a gateway to exploring areas such as Labrador Nature Reserve. This spot offers rocky sea cliffs with incredible sea views. This is one of the best spots in Singapore for bird lovers, and there’s even something for history buffs – as there’s a chance to explore tunnels and a fort from WWII.

Guided tours

Guided hiking tours in Singapore are a great way to discover more about the local flora and fauna along the trail. If you’re new to the country or a hiking novice, it can make sense to join a guided tour group.

What’s more, some of the most exclusive sights in Singapore can only be seen on a pre-booked guided tour. For example, the popular guided tour of Sister’s Islands Marine Park to see wild dolphins, or the chance to explore the wildlife-rich core conservation area of Kranji Marshes (which isn’t usually open to the public)³. You can also join a guided walk with an English-speaking guide in the Sungei Buloh Wetlands⁴.

Many of these guided tours are free, and all you need to do is book an appointment before places fill up.

Things to watch out for when hiking in Singapore

Sun cream and insect repellent are absolutely must-haves when hitting Singapore’s hiking trails. Just as crucial in this hot, humid and tropical climate is plenty of drinking water.

Singapore also has two separate monsoon seasons. These are from December to early March, and June to September⁵. You’ll find Singapore quieter during these months compared to the dry season, but you can expect heavy (but usually short-lived⁶) rain showers and thunderstorms during these times.

Pack your waterproofs and always take advice from the locals if you’re not sure whether it’s safe to head out on a hike.

There’s so much more to Singapore than meets the eye. If you’re expecting just a futuristic cityscape, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the abundance of greenery, and wildlife, plus the fantastic choice of hiking trails. You never know, Singapore could even end up being your new favourite hiking destination.


Sources:

  1. SGD Travel Card
  2. Highest Mountains in Asia
  3. Guided Walks
  4. Sungey Buloh Wetland Reserve
  5. Climate of Singapore
  6. Best Time to Visit
  7. Best Hiking Trails
  8. Essentials

All sources accurate as of 09-March 2020.


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