Singapore is a fantastic place to live – vibrant with great food and even better weather – but occasionally, we find ourselves craving a bit of greenery to relax and unwind. Of course, the beaches of Bali or Langkawi are but a short flight away, but here are our top picks for getting back to nature, without having to get your passport out!
MacRitchie Reservoir Park
MacRitchie is a firm favourite, and for good reason, as it’s got something to suit pretty much everyone. Whether you want to take a leisurely stroll along the boardwalks, explore the calm reservoir waters by kayak, or take in the view over the lush canopy at the Tree Top Walk, MacRitchie is a wonderful place to explore Singapore’s flora and fauna. There are a number of trails to follow, and the whole area is a big hit with runners too, in case you want to work up a sweat. Make sure you pack plenty of water, whatever you’re doing; some of the trails are lengthy. Just watch out for the naughty and surprisingly bold monkeys which inhabit the park – they like to steal food so make sure you don’t carry any with you!
Recently opened, Coney Island is Singapore’s newest outdoor space to be explored. It’s not quite as manicured as some of Singapore’s other nature options, but frankly that makes it sound good to us – something a bit different! The pathways are mostly gravel and a bit rough in places, but it’s worth it to discover secret beaches, an abandoned villa, and the elusive ‘Coney Island cow’ – yes, really.
Pulau Ubin is an island located off the north shore of Singapore, a short bum-boat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. Stepping onto Pulau Ubin is like stepping back in time, as it remains one of Singapore’s few remaining kampongs. Hire bicycles, or simply explore by foot, and discover a simpler way of life. Explore the numerous trails, take in the tranquility by the old quarry, and meander along the boardwalks at the Chek Jawa wetlands area. If you’re feeling a bit more energetic then trek up Puaka Hill for spectacular views. The island is packed with wildlife, from monitor lizards to oriental hornbills. There are even wild boar roaming around up by Chek Jawa, but they are pretty used to people.
Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve
Take yourself up to the north of the island, to explore the Sungei Buloh wetlands reserve, the largest mangrove area in Singapore. It’s really peaceful up there, walking along the boardwalks and spotting mudskippers, crabs, monitor lizards, and estuarine crocodiles! The boardwalks weave around the mangroves, enabling you to take in a variety of vistas and wildlife spotting opportunities. Looking out to sea you can also spot the Malaysia coastline – the only real indicator that you aren’t in the middle of the jungle.
There’s a brand-new Visitor Centre, with an extension offering better connections to public transport, making this peaceful spot more accessible than before.
Sisters Island Marine Park
A bit of a hidden gem, even to seasoned Singapore residents. The Marine Park encompasses Sisters Islands, and the western reefs of St John’s Island and Pulau Tekukor. The Park offers a variety of habitats, including coral reefs, sandy shores and seagrass areas. The Park was primarily set up to protect Sinagpore’s coral reefs, which house an ecosystem of seahorses, clams, sponges, starfish, and other marine life. In fact, more than 250 species of hard corals can be found in the Singapore waters. As Singapore is such a busy port – it’s hard to escape this fact – the Park offers a safe refuge for the biodiversity which is found around the Southern Islands. NParks offers guided intertidal walks, to allow you to experience this unexplored part of Singapore, and find out more about the species which call this area home. These are free of charge, but you do need to register in advance.
The Green Corridor
If you don’t want to venture too far off the beaten track, but want to enjoy some greenery and see a slice of Singapore’s history before it goes, then check out The Green Corridor – the former railway that ran between Tanjong Pagar and Woodlands.
Visit the abandoned Bukit Timah station, as well as several iron bridges around Bukit Timah and stretching up to Dairy Farm Road. There’s tons of rail-related features to discover, as well, like the old junctions and switches. There’s also some beautiful houses dotted along the way, so it’s great for a bit of property nosiness! It’s a pretty flat walk, regardless of what section you decide to explore, and you can dip in and out of the whole route. The Green Corridor website has some great walking maps to help you on your explorations.